Life

In space where no one can hear you scream. Wait. No… Wrong movie.

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Life is a team of scientists aboard the ISS who studies samples from Mars and discover the first signs of life beyond Earth. Only to find this life-form is far dangerous to bring home to Earth. The crew must find a way to kill it before it kills them and find its way to Earth.

The crew consists of the generic combination which I assume is needed when you have a space mission. You need a doctor, a disease control specialist, an engineer, a biologist of some sort, some form of security, and the pilot/captain. One of the positive thing I’ve noticed was the movie doesn’t follow one central lead. The characters that shine more are the ones that survives longer. To avoid any major spoilers, each actors given their time frames do extremely well, particularly Jake Gyllenhaal. His capabilities to bring real honest human emotions given the circumstances is a testament of his acting credibility. And of course, Reynolds is given his wisecrack schtick.

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The alien is a force to be reckoned with. Once developed, there’s a sense of dread and fear that harkens back to Ridley Scott’s Alien. The influence of the Alien franchise is definitely evident but despite what several professional critics have expressed, the movies do have their differences. The creature of Life is definitely creepy, and like Alien, you can’t help but wonder where it’s going to be next. There’s a few nail-biting scenes that makes it worth the watch if you’re into these kind of movies.

The film’s pace moves along quickly and it doesn’t lose its narrative structure. Despite the intensity of the suspense, it does fall into a little bit of predictability.

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The special effects and the set designs are done really well. We are given some of the gnarliest death scenes I’ve seen on film in a while. Kudos, to the sfx team on that one.

If you’re into these kind of movies, Life could be worth the watch. Might be more fun for a watch at home with the lights off. That’s my honest Noble opinion. But hey, Alien: Covenant comes out soon so at least Life will whet your appetite until then.

Get Out

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out went wide on February 24th, 2017 in the categories of Comedy, Horror, with a little Mystery & Suspense. In my noble opinion I would scale down the Horror category and narrow it to a Mystery and Suspense with some comedy. Granted the plot thickens to a moderate horrific crescendo but it was not scary to me or anyone else I went with since it was tamed with comedic overtones, which by the way was done very well.

Get Out begins with an opening scene where a black man is abducted by someone during the night on some neighborhood street. Led by Daniel Kaluuya who if you remember played Reggie in Sicario, plays the role of Chris Washington, the black boyfriend, and Allison Willams as Rose Armitage, the white girlfriend. Together for several months they decided to take the next steps that elevate their relationship to another level which would be nothing more than to meet the girlfriends parents of course. Allison is portrayed as an understanding person and just downright cool, so why wouldn’t Chris go and meet her parents. She is pretty, witty, fun, and understanding so off he goes. Surprise, that ends up not being the case as the weekend progressively compiles some quirky clues and events which lead to a situation he never could have imagined. As they arrive at Allison’s parents house, Chris notices that they have black servants on the grounds who appear to act a little odd or not as “themselves”. Allison’s parents, Bradley Whitford as Dean and Catherine Keener as Missy greet both of them warmly but later appear to be overly accommodating. Chris feels their awkward attempts to be inviting and friendly toward him are mistaken and actually reactions to the fact that their daughter is in an interracial relationship with him. Well why would that be you ask, that’s because he finds out that Allison never told her parents that he was black.

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Later Jeremy arrives for dinner played by Caleb Landry Jones, who is the off-kilter’d brother of Allison. Dusk settles and Chris unveils the fact his mother had died when he was young and this is where we find out Missy is a psychiatrist who then offers to help him quit his smoking habit through hypnosis, of which Chris politely declines. That night Chris observes those wacky servants where we now see where the latest “Get Out Challenge” is derived. After those awkward encounters Chris heads back inside where Missy awaits to convince him of trying hypnosis which sends Chris into a void called the sunken place. Let the Mystery and Suspense begin here as Chris convinces himself that it was a nightmare but that could be further from the truth. However, Chris awakens the next morning with a disgust for smoking!

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Allison’s parents remind her that it is their “annual get-together” of which Allison surprisingly acknowledges, “is that this weekend”? Well why not, Chris is here and let’s get this party started! Insert creepiness and comedy here. With guests arriving and taking a liking to Chris, he runs into a black guest that reminds him of someone so he calls his friend back home who just so happens to be a fantastic TSA officer, Rod Williams, played by LilRel Howery. I must say that Rod really makes the comedic presence known in this movie and without this character I might have been less intrigued as to the nature of Chris’ character development. His meeting with LaKeith Stanfield as Logan King, the black guest, winds up with Chris trying to get a picture of him to send to Rod. The flash goes off and its as if Logan awakens from something, turning to Chris he yells “Get Out”! Allison’s father Dean tries to cover up Logan’s outburst as if he had some sort of seizure from the flash of Chris’ camera phone but he does not buy it.

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As more events unfold it leads Chris to realize something is very wrong here so he states he wants to leave, reluctant at first, Allison agrees to go with him. Later Rod gets back to Chris about the picture he sent him. It turns out that it was an old acquaintance of theirs that went missing a while back. This flips the switch for Chris and he now has to Get Out! Worried and trying to pack his stuff we find Allison in agreement but she can’t find her keys and they are heading downstairs! Oh how convenient! Chris keeps encouraging Allison to hurry up and find her keys but no luck. Missy and Dean are waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs along with the screw loose brother Jeremy. Horrific crescendo is met here as Chris navigates his way by whatever means necessary to Get Out. Struck by Missy’s key control through hypnosis, Chris is triggered by a clink of Missy’s spoon to the vintage coffee cup of his demise.

I will leave the rest alone but Chris and his hilarious friend Rod manage to succeed but the plot that is revealed once Chris tries to leave the house is really creepy and worth a watch. So Get Out and enjoy this comedy thriller mystery suspense…

Wrapping up 2016

It’s funny, I started writing this out talking about box office numbers, and how this has actually been a good year despite all the other crappy things that has happened. Then I went on making cases about how the box office numbers don’t really matter because a movie can have a horrible turnout and still be considered one of the all time greats, like Shawshank Redemption.

Really, it comes down to personal preference. And the last thing I want to be seen is narcissistic about movies. Just passionate. And the art of film, like any medium, is subjective.
This blog post is an end of the year review highlighting some of the best (at least from what I’ve seen) of the year of 2016 at the movies.

Rather than digging at what’s wrong with the movies and spending hours writing giving you guys more than you would probably care to read. I’ve broken down the films of the ones I quite enjoyed this year into lists under their respective genres. Along with my top picks with some favorites of my fellow friends and cinephiles. I did a survey on Facebook asking my fellow peers their favorite films of the year. So when you see an asterisk next to the title, that would be their recommendation. The more asterisks, the more people voted for it.

Action/Adventure/Blockbusters
– Captain America: Civil War **
– Star Wars: Rogue One
– Doctor Strange *( My wife’s favorite)
– Deadpool
– Magnificent Seven
– Star Trek Beyond
– Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them **
– Jungle Book*
– 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
– The Nice Guys
– Central Intelligence
– Passengers*
– Deepwater Horizon*

Horror/Thriller
– 10 Cloverfield Lane
– Don’t Breathe
– The Conjuring 2
– The Shallows

Oscar potentials
– Hell or High Water ***
– La La Land
– Manchester by the Sea
– Arrival *
– Captain Fantastic
– Sully
– Hacksaw Ridge *

Animation
– Kubo and the Two Strings
– Zootopia
– Finding Dory

Comedies (These are movies that literally had me laughing out loud.)
– Masterminds
– Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
– Keanu
– Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
– Swiss Army Man

Movies I need to see
– Silence
– Moana
– Fences
– Nocturnal Animals
– Moonlight
– A Monster Calls
– Allied *
– Midnight Special

My personal top five, and I spent quite a bit wrestling with this because I feel like I’m comparing apples and oranges. Also, it’s in no particular order.

– Hell or High Water
– Doctor Strange
– Manchester by the Sea
– Captain America: Civil War
– Hacksaw Ridge

Part of the movie magic is being swept up in a particular performance. And I mean like, oscar worthy performance. Just emotionally gripping that yanks at the heart-strings and makes you leave the theater somewhat changed. So here are some noteworthy performances from my fellow peers and myself

Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (really everyone in that movie)
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (and probably Silence)
Tom Hanks in Sully
Amy Adams in Arrival
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land
Denzel Washington in Fences
Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool
Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church

I was going to put a poster of each movie or maybe a trailer. However, who wants to watch an hour worth of various trailers to movies you probably already seen? So here’s a supercut made by YouTube’s Screen Junkies

Have a happy New Year and keep an eye out for the next blog. I’ll be getting back into reviewing the films as I get a chance to see them. Also coming up Top Anticipated film of 2017 and a review of the Oscars nominees as they are announced in the coming weeks.

Patient Seven

Recently released on various platforms, Terror Films presents Patient Seven, a psychodrama horror anthology taking you into the minds of insane mental patients.

Starring Micheal Ironside who plays an acclaimed psychiatrist who examines the horror stories of 6 patients of Spring Valley Mental Hospital for research in his new book. As we meet each of the patients and hear their stories, we are led into various horror shorts covering several subgenres of horror like demons, vampires, and zombies. And somehow each of these patients and their stories are all connected to the final seventh patient.

The excitement comes in meeting each patients and watching their stories. Many actors stand out, one is Dan Lench and his portrayal of a man terrified of plastic wrap. For a concept that probably sounds incredibly cheesy, Dan pulls it off fantastic. Don’t worry, there’s a legitimate reason for it.

One actor I quite enjoy is Doug Jones, mostly known for prosthetic work. His capabilities to bring creatures to life is unsurpassed. Abe Sapien, Pale Man, and now as the demon in the Visitant segment, which is both terrifying and outstanding.

The various shorts is really the glue that holds this movie together. Each short directed by different directors. Some short clearly shows their influence like Unrequited Love being heavily influenced by Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. Though I don’t know if there’s a rule of anthology film not having 2 shorts about zombies. I did have moments where I was having trouble trying to connect the particular patients and their stories. But that’s something that easily overlooked.

It’s a decent film for those who are looking to splurge on horror films during the month of October. I don’t know if this will gain massive attention to warrant cult status but there are several noticeable appeals that will give attention to both the director and the actors in the film for their future projects. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Dan Lench. That’s my honest Noble opinion.

Belated Summer Movie reviews 2

Belated Summer reviews 2

As summer has come to a close, I managed to view a few more movies before ending the season as we cross over into September and Fall films.

Now You See Me 2
The first film came out as a surprised hit, even though it wasn’t exactly a box office smash. Just entertaining enough to warrant a possible sequel and sure enough, they did. The film centers around a group of magicians called the Four Horseman as they have been summoned to perform one last major trick before having all their secrets exposed to the whole world. Whereas the first one left you with a “Hey! I did not see that coming!”, this one left us with a big, not so positive “Wait, what?!” It’s not a terrible movie by any means, just feels a little bit unwarranted. I mean, the tricks are pretty cool and the actors do well with what they are given even though each of them seem to be in their typical typecast shtick. Could be fun for a family viewing for a Redbox night. Just make sure you see the first one before seeing this one, or you’ll miss out the “big reveal”.

The Conjuring 2
James Wan returns with his haunted house franchise and takes us across the pond for what is known as the English Amityville. Where a single mother and her 4 children are plagued by a malicious spirit. Like the first one, this is based on a true account from famed “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren. Whether or not you believe them is entirely up to you, however it doesn’t discount the possibility of creating a movie out of it. James Wan is a genius when it comes to horror movies. Conjuring 2 had such an atmospheric presence that will keep your full attention and the same time make you grab a nearby security blanket of some sort. One thing (amongst many other things) that I really appreciate out of this movie is that I really truly felt the love that Ed and Lorraine had for each other and the understanding of who each of them was. There is one pivotal scene where Ed gets trapped and leaves Lorraine behind. With much fear of the evil spirit that has threatened his life, he still chooses to abandon himself in order to save the girl and Lorraine knew this even though she didn’t want him to go. It may not mean much to anyone but it resonated pretty deep for me. That aside, Conjuring 2 is the perfect summer blockbuster for the horror genre and it’s pretty spooky to boot. I may or may not have avoided looking into mirrors for the night.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Turns out the rising to fame and falling from it can be pretty damn funny. I laughed a lot more than I thought I would have. Popstar is a mockumentary following the rise and fall of Connor4real played by Andy Samberg. Along with a talented comedic casts, the laughs keep coming and the film never overstays its welcome. There’s some raunchy materials in there, so keep that in mind if the kids are around. Beyond the jokes from Samberg and his posse, is the celebrity cameos from the like of Usher, Mariah Carey, and my personal favorite cameo Justin Timberlake. Turns out, they can be pretty funny as well. If you enjoyed Spinal Tap, then this is definitely worth the watch. Even if you haven’t seen it, I still think you’ll get quite a bit of laughs.

Free State of Jones
Helmed by Gary Ross (Hunger Games), Free State of Jones is about the events of Jones County, Mississippi where a Confederate deserter (Matthew McConaughey) forms a small army of fellow deserters, runaway slaves, and locals to fight against the Confederate army. McConaughey leads with much heart as the movie plays out. The underlying story of racial tension is evident throughout. The big issue is that it’s quite long. They seem to wrap it up at an hour and a half, but no we still have about an hour to go. So we can watch more racial tension as they go into “rebuilding” now that the Civil War has ended. Maybe this could be better served as a mini series. Even then, the story fizzles out. But hey, Gary Ross has done his research, there’s a lot of history to be learned in this movie. Not a summer blockbuster type film for sure. The box office numbers can testify to that.

That’s it for the summer. Summer in review is coming soon.

Don’t Breathe

Horror films is not my go to when it comes to the big screen but the ratings were pretty high and the premise seemed a bit promising. Don’t Breathe is a tale of 3 young robbers who break into an old Iraq veteran who happens to be blind. Of course, there’s more and I’ll refrain from spoilers here.

 

One of the things I really appreciated was the simplicity of the story allowing the audience to be caught in the moment without all the boring exposition. And caught in the moment I was. I think I held my breath more than the leading cast held theirs. And there wasn’t any overt gore for the sake of shock value. Those things have their place but not in this movie. Just a pure white knuckled ride from beginning to end.
Stephen Lang (known for Colonel Miles in Avatar) is fantastic as the blind vet the poor hapless souls that decided to plunder his home. Having a Shakespearean background, Lang knew how to bring an incredible amount of intensity to a character that barely say any words.
Even though there isn’t much characterization for the leads opposite of Lang’s blind man, they, especially Jane Levy, are solid. Levy, who has her share of leading lady in the last pseudo remake Evil Dead, gets the most to work with and gives her character, Rocky, layers of nuance.
Director Fede Alveraz takes a subgenre of horror, the home invasion, and imbues it with possibilities. Coming off of a highly successful remake of Evil Dead, Fede is gaining steam in being recognized as a solid horror director among the likes of James Wan and Eli Roth. Now Don’t Breathe has taken over the box office from Suicide Squad and garnered a very positive review from professional critics and movie goers alike. All eyes are on him to see what he does next.
One of the main reasons why I shy from seeing horror flicks on the big screen was obnoxious young adults. They usually show up in these kind of movies. I’ve heard stories from friends who saw this movie express disdain over this very issue. But, I caved and decided to see it. Fortunately I was lucky this time and had a very good time. In my honest Noble opinion, Don’t Breathe is well worth it at the big screen.

 

Featured image with Stephen Lang and Dylan Minnete courtesy of Sony

Belated Short Summer Reviews

As the summer films roll out, I try to catch the movies on opening weekend. This way the reviews are fresh in case anyone were to see my perspective before seeing the movie. So here are some short reviews of the films I caught over the past couple months.

The Purge: Election Year
I waited to watch this movie because I wanted to see the first two beforehand. I enjoyed the first movie as it brought an interesting premise: The idea that once a year all crime is legal for a 12 hour period. There’s definitely a political undertone in the first films; Election Year is about politics. The story primarily follows a senator running for president who opposes the annual purge event. Apparently a lot of people don’t like that about her and use the annual purge as an oppurtunity to try and have her brutally murdered, legally of course. There’s two major problems that didn’t sell well for me as I watched through the movie. One, the heavy right-wing political angle is overbearing and that lost me. Even the addition of the evangelicals extremist was a bit much. Two, the girl who was going to kill to get her candy is one of the most annoying characters I have ever seen. Sorry for the spoilers here, but her death was extremely satisfying. Maybe that was the point. In my honest Noble opinion, I think The Purge needs to take a permanent hiatus.

The Angry Birds Movie
The ridiculous flinging birds app game gets its own movie adaptation. I must admit upon first hearing the release of this movie, I thought it was ridiculous. It still is, but that is the premise of the movie. The movie brings to memory, and a bit of nostalgia, of saturday morning cartoons like the Looney Tunes. Just a bunch of slapstick humor, and the kid in me couldn’t help but laugh. Sure it’s a kids movie, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like a kid again.

The Legend of Tarzan
Under the direction of David Yates (known for the last 4 Harry Potter films), Tarzan gets a gritty adaptation. The cast boasts incredible talents, with the likes of Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, and playing the title character, Alexander Skarsgard. The visuals are incredible and the action sets are quite entertaining, even with the heavy-handed CGI. However, Legend of Tarzan, it being Tarzan’s 49th adaptation, the story is utterly predictable. The film works as a blockbuster flick for those seeking some adventure but without leaving any impression. My honest Noble opinion, Legend of Tarzan is a decent film, but don’t expect much else.
The Shallows
Ever since Jaws, the first summer blockbuster, no summer season is complete without a shark movie. Ok, that may be untrue as there have been several summers without its shark antagonist. This summer, we find Blake Lively, whose character finds herself surfing at a secluded beach which is a feeding ground for a great white shark.
The Shallows find its strength in the simplicity of girl vs shark, nothing else. A very minimalistic B-movie with its focus on tension and simplicity. The cinematography is beautiful enough to make you want to visit the ocean, but the story may keep you from stepping into the waters. The Shallows is great fun, even at its short run-time of 87 minutes. That’s my honest Noble opinion.