Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Short Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Review: Video game adaptations have a horrible track record in cinema. Sure we do get the occasional Resident Evil. But RE is considered the exception as where everything else is the rule. So going in my expectations were low. Like, really low. To my surprise, however. Sonic turned out to be a real treat. Introducing the classic character to a new generation while also paying tribute to its past with callbacks to the classic games. Sonic isn't perfect, it certainly has it’s flaws. But it’s a faithful adaptation fun for the whole family!

Rating: 8/10

Review: Child’s Play (2019)

Review: The original Child’s Play has a very important significance to me. It’s the film that traumatized as a child. To a point that, I developed a paralyzing phobia for dolls. By the time my tween years rolled around my phobia had reached it’s peak level of intensity when being in the same room as a doll would result in extreme hyperventilating, sweating, and the inability to think rationally. Needless to say, I was pretty fucked up thanks to that little fucker. I did, however get over my fear of the movies some time ago and have even learned to appreciate the movies for it’s dark sense of humor along with blood and gore. The fear of dolls is still very much still there mind you, but it’s a slow work in progress.

But I digress. I hold the original Child’s Play, and more importantly the original Chucky up there in high regards. Right next to Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Pinhead, and even Leatherface. but, more specifically to say, much like Freddy and Pinhead, and that there is only one of them. So I was pretty damn skeptical about Orion Pictures’ remake. You can’t just replace the vocal genius of Brad Dourif. Not even if it’s with the likes of another master of the vocal arts such as Mark Hamill. You just don’t! And besides. Remakes are never an easy task to begin with. like any franchise it is incredibly difficult to reinvent that in which has already been established, whether it be the story, or the character itself. And yet somehow against all odds Orion Pictures managed to do just that with it’s 2019 reimagining. Similarly to the ogrinal, the reimagining is a bit of a slow burn in it’s first, and most of it’s second act. Though much dfferently from the original, the 2019 film goes about the story progression in a completely different way. Removing the supernatural aspect of the original, and the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray and replaced with an artificial intelligence made by the Kaslan Corperation (this movie’s universe equivalence to Apple).

After a disgruntled employee from Kaslan tampers with the safety features of one of the compeny’s Buddi dolls. It sets into motion a chain of horrific events. Chucky doesn’t immediately begin as a murderous doll. He actually begins as a sweet and purely innocent toy, and genuinely loves it’s owner Andy. And wants to do anything and everything it can to make his owner happy. For the most part, Chucky means well and bares no ill will towards anyone (at first). But as the story continues and Chucky is exposed to the harsh elements of life, he slowly begins to develope a more murderous side. The movie pays tribute to the original in many ways, but does not fallow in it’s exact footsteps. It carves out it’s own bloody path which on it’s own merits is pretty damn entertaining and creative. However, It is not without it’s flaws to bare. While the first half plays off pretty strongly, the movie does stumble a bit in it’s second half with the big climax feeling a tad bit rushed, which makes you feel somewhat robbed of the the moment to fully appreciate the payoff that the film was building towards. I also wasnt too excited over the design choice for the new Chucky. Don’t get me wrong. Original Chucky looked ugly as fuck just the same. But the new one looks like Ken’s methhead cousin who lives behind the dumpster of a 7-Eleven. The design definitely takes some getting use to (if that’s even possible). Is it a bad movie? Far from it. The remake/reimagining is a fantastic film teeming with loads of ambition and deserves to be given a fair shake. Is it superior to the original? Nope, the original is a classic that cannot be beat.

Final Verdict: Child’s Play (2019) is a bold and fresh new take on a iconic character and I look forward to see what Orion Pictures has planned for it’s future.

Rating: 8/10

Review: Joker (2019)

Review: Joker isn’t quite your average comic book movie. In the sense that, it isn’t really one at all. Remove the name Gotham City, the Waynes, and Arthur Fleck, and what you have is a psychological character peice focused on a troubled man suffering from mental illness brought on from years of abuse (both physical and mental) by his mother, whom also suffers from her own mental issues. The city in which Arthur lives in, is a cold and heartless place completely divoid of empathy and warmth.

There is only the haves and the have not. Gotham’s privileged few, and those trapped in the city’s underbelly. And it’s the privileged who are calling the shots. In Alan Moore’s 1988 masterpiece The Killing Joke, there is a moment in which Batman’s arch nemesis, the Joker, mentions the “One Bad Day” theory, in which the most sanest of men can be driven completely mad through the act of a single bad day. Proving that under the right circumstances anyone can be like the Joker if pushed to their limits. And maybe deep down inside us all, there in lies a hint of what makes the Joker, Joker.. While not exactly the same for Arthur Fleck in terms of a single bad day, Arthur is a man who has battled his own demons his entire life. We witness his fragile state gradually decline into madness over the course of the film. What happens to a man who dances ever so closely on the very edge of sanity in a city that does not care about helping society’s most vulnerable?

Joker is a deeply unsettling and bleak movie that strives to make you feel an unwavering sense of discomfort throughout. Hanger director Todd Philips, delivers a movie that makes you sympathize with it’s title character but only to a degree. There is most certainly a point in Joker where you, the viewer, realizes that Arthur has crossed a line, and is heading down a path in which there is no return from.

Joker is without question an amazing film. But far from perfect. In my opinion, Joker suffers from number of issues. Most noteworthy being a plot that is hardly original. After having seen it I also conclude that it’s also an overly hyped film. It’s not nearly as violent or as some opponents of the film have sited as “dangerous”. This is a huge misconception of Joker. Disturbing? Yes. Unsettling? Oh you betcha! But violently dangerous? Not even close. The odds of this movie inspiring real life violence is as likely as My Little Pony inspiring the next World War. And if that happens then I’ll gladly eat crow (oh please god don’t let me be wrong!). The movie tends to drag on a bit longer for my liking in it’s second act, but to it’s credit that is easily forgiven with Joaquin Phoenix’s fantastic proformence. While I don’t think the movie itself is deserving to “sweep the Oscars”, I do think it will be a damn crime if Phoenix isn’t at least recognized for his bone chilling performance.

The cinematography was something I appreciated. Particularly the way the film goes about it’s color schemes. Some scenes have a notably blueish hue, while other scenes have an almost orange like hue. One thing, however that was a bit of a turn off was the fact a chunk of the plot is centered around the Wayne’s. And that Bruce was used as a plot device at one point. As a long time fan of Batman it has always bugged me when there is an attempt to link Batman’s origin with Joker’s. It’s highly possible for these two individuals, Gotham’s Dark Knight, and it’s Clown Prince of Crime, to be arch nemesis that battle through the ages and not be as strongly linked to each other. Especially Batman. Because in my opinion, it feeds into the whole “Chosen One” narrative. This is something Burton misunderstood about Batman. And despite how amazing his 1989 classic is and how much I adore it, I never fully got onboard with the idea that Joker is somehow responsible for making Batman. This is something Nolan understood right away when making The Dark Knight. And sadly, Todd Phillips did not.

Final Verdict: Overall, while it isn’t perfect. Joker is a pretty engaging film that will stick with you for quite some time. It is worth checking out at least once.

Rating: 7/10

Review: Pet Sematary (2019)

Review: From the moment I heard John Lithgow say “Sometimes death is better” in the trailer, I knew I was going to have issues with the 2019 remake. Which I found very disappointing considering it’s been 30 years since the orginal Pet Sematary was released, and was well within justification for an update. It seemed so promising with the potential of being on the same level of greatness as the IT remake. But alas, the finished product sacrificed everything that made the novel great in the name of cheap jump scares. What made the novel such a great book is that it’s more than your average run of the mill horror, it’s also a tragedy that hit’s you where it counts, and leaves you with questions of morality if put in similar circumstances. This is something lacking in the 2019 remake. It lacks the ability to invest any sort of emotional bond with it’s viewer and thus feels heartless. This, of course could not be more true than in the film’s big twist... By shifting the tragic death of Gage to Ellie, the film robs us of her grief, and how she copes with the loss of a sibling. And turns her into a genric killing machine. This leads me to the other issue. In the novel the series of tragic events is largely due to Louis’s inability to accept the finality of death, and instead continues repeating the vicious cycle out of desperation and hope things will differ this time around. Except they don’t. The story of Pet Sematary is every bit as much a tragedy as it is a horror. And yet, in the 2019 remake, we are deprived of some of the most key elements.

Rating: 2/10

Review: The Irishman (2019)

Review: Netflix’s The Irishman is a depressingly beautiful film about the hard choices we make in life. And the price we pay with those hard choices. The movie has an atmosphere about it that is both deep and impactful. It’s probably one of Scorsese’s best work in years. It also shows that Scorsese has not declined in quality as he ages, but rather improved. Some may argue and debate on who is the true antagonist of The Irishman. But the truth is, time itself is the real villain of this story, as it is in life itself. Death comes for us all sooner or later. There is no avoiding it. What The Irishman leaves us with is, the most importance is what we do with the time we are given, and how it effects those around us.

The new de-aging tech used in this film is a true marvel to behold. It most certainly will open the door for many in Hollywood continue to obtain oppatunities with age. and the acting is phenomenal and top notch. The runtime may be a bit lengthy for some to stomach. And I certainly can understand why some may find it tiring and repetitive. But with a story like this, anything below 3 hours would do the source material a great disservice. I really enjoyed every minute of The Irishman. It’s definitely worth a repeat viewing.

Rating: 10/10

SHORT REVIEW: Underwater (2020)

Review: Underwater wastes absolutely no time as it forgoes backstory set up and dives right into the terror. It isn’t perfect, but it isn’t horrible either. I personally enjoyed it for what it was as it isn’t often to see films of this sub genre now days. Underwater is very reminiscent of films like DeepStar Six, and Leviathan. Which in itself is pretty self explanatory on where Underwater is likely to go critically and financially. But in time will likely find new life as a cult classic.

Rating: 6/10

SHORT REVIEW: Troop Zero (2019)

Review: roop Zero was a real surprise. I didn’t have much expectations going in, but the movie still wow’d me and swooped me off my feet with it’s warmth and oddball charm. All the girls (and boy) of Troop Zero are misfits who don’t really fit in with society. Set in 1977 rural Georgia. Troop Zero is a coming-of-age story about a gifted young girl with an ambitious dream to get her voice recorded for the Voyager Golden Record. Her determination leads her to form a troop of unlikely underdog misfits with the goal of infiltrating the Birdie Jubilee and winning the competition. But through it all, the kids learn the most valuable lesson one can learn in youth. The power of friendships, and forming bonds. Troop Zero has an earnest heart that is bursting with energy and joy, and one cannot watch it without feeling some of that energetic emotion. I’m not crying, YOU ARE!

Rating: 8/10


Review: 2016’s Suicide Squad is probably one of my least liked in the DCEU brand. There were a lot of great ideas behind it, but ultimately it’s potential was wasted with a poorly constructed plot and bad editing. But one thing that truly stood out as a saving grace for the film was without a doubt, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. There is simply no denying that she stole the film with her larger than life performance as the character, which generated major demand for more Harley Quinn in the DC Universe. For a while the potential of a solo Harley Quinn movie seemed very promising, even a Joker/Harley film which would have seen her fabulous emancipation from the clown prince of crime. But alas, none of those panned out quite as hoped. Instead, we got “Birds of Prey: & the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.” A mouth full, for one, and almost nothing to do with the actual Birds of Prey. But that isn’t to say Birds of Prey is by any means a bad movie. It does have it’s pros and at it’s core, is quite entertaining. However, it is also a very problematic film, which I will elaborate on later in this review. 

Let’s get started by addressing the acting here, which is largely well done! Mary Elizabeth Winstead is amazing as Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress. I would dare to say that her portrayal as the character was perfection. And while at first glance one might argue that she doesn’t dress like her comic book counterpart. Her counterpart from the source material was usually reduced to eye candy outfits that left very little to the imagination as where Winstead’s take has the character donning tracksuit look that comes off as tactical and more combat-like. And overall it just looks amazing as fuck if I may say so. My favorite scene with her happens in the 3rd act during the Funhouse raid. It’s probably one of the best moments in that sequence and it honestly had me thinking “she is one badass motherfucker!”. Winstead owns the role, there is absolutely no debating it. However, it Is somewhat disappointing to see her presence in the film being somewhat small. Initially I had my doubts about Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, but thankfully they were proven wrong. Smollett-Bell brought a new take to the character that was both fun and fresh. And even though she doesn’t wear the character’s signature fishnet stocking, Smollett-Bell totally rocks the gold pants like a freaking badass! I also liked Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. It took some time warming up to her take on the character, but once I did I enjoyed it a fair bit. 
Moreover to some of the other performances like Ewan McGregor, who I think did a fine job portraying infamous gangster Roman Sionis. Although there is a something done to the character I was kind of furious about, but we’ll get back to that topic later when I point out the things I did not like. But I digress, McGregor really immerses himself into the role and becomes this short tempered, easily set off type of gangster that is determined to get what he believes is his by right. McGregor is a seasoned actor and it’s evident here with the quality he pours into his performance. Margot Robbie once again shines bright like a diamond as Harley Quinn. It’s almost as if the character and herself were destined for each other. The only complaint I have with her performance is that there were a few instances in which she over does the Brooklyn accent. Which was a little annoying, but it’s a minor nitpick that can be easily overlooked. But I digress. Robbie has a lot of fun with Quinn this time around and some of it pretty damn amazing, especially with the choice of color pallets they went with in the cinematography. It’s really colorful like earlier we see Quinn blow up the Ace chemical plant as the ultimate “fuck you!” to the Joker in a drunken rage for dumping her and throwing her out into the streets. This platter of colorful shots is seen again later on in the film during the police station raid, in what I consider the film’s best moment. Harley basically goes in with a teargas gun and it taking on the cops with gas and glitter grenades. The scene is colorful and hilarious, and I adored the slapstick sense of humor that was incorporated into the action sequence. Now I would be doing the film a massive disservice if I didn’t mention the film’s soundtrack, which is pretty amazing. Love or hate the movie, you cannot deny that the soundtrack is on point and kicking all kinds of ass. 
Now that I’ve said everything I loved about Birds of Prey, and it was a lot great stuff to unload. Now I have to talk about the things I did not like. And here is where things may get a tad bit controversial. Some may agree. And some may outright lambast me for saying it. But the film’s overall tone handle’s the topic of toxic masculinity all wrong by painting literally every male character in a negative light. Seriously, you will not find a single male character in BoP that is in any way good towards women. The film portrays all men as sexist, violent towards women, or having violent tendencies. And are untrustworthy towards women. I get what message BoP was trying to get across with this narrative. But the way it went about it was all wrong. Yes showcasing toxic musicality and the violent patriarchal system of misogyny against women is something that is deserving of being told on the big screen. But not all men are trash, which is something the film failed to grasp in it’s plot. A great example of praising feminism and putting patriarchal misogyny on blast is 2017’s hit Wonder Woman, and 2019’s Captain Marvel. Both films showcased the uphill battle women face in a man’s world, but also portrayed male allies. Men who did not look down on the opposite sex, but rather respected them as equals and fought alongside them in the good fight against evil. This is storytelling done right, sadly a memo that BoP must not have received during it’s developmental phase. Which while I’m on the topic of it’s development, whoever chose the title of the film really needs a demotion. “Birds of Prey: & the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn” is simply too long of a title. To be frank, I don’t think the movie should even be called Birds of Prey as none of the Birds are formed together until the very last 15 – 20 mins of the film. Nor do the birds really get ample time to shine since Harley hogs the spotlight from start to finish. A more appropriate title for the film would have been “Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey.” Which is ironically similar to what the studios went with after it’s opening weekend. But to be frank, it’s too little, too late. 
I love actress Rosie Perez, she’s a very talented actress that is highly underrated in my opinion. She  a good match for the role of Renee Montoya. However, the way the plot portray’s the character was irksome. In the movie Montoya is seen as a joke in the GCPD. No male cop respects her. And her own boss basically steals every single bit of credit that rightfully belongs to her. This does the source material of the character a great disservice. In both the comics, novels and even animated series Montoya is viewed as a highly respected member of the GCPD. Often at times she is considered as one of Commissioner Gordon’s right hand LieutenantEven taking charge when Gordon himself is out of commission for whatever reason. Yet, here theres no indication that she and Gordon are even colleagues as she doesn’t work at the main station nor is he even referenced. This is the first time Montoya is given time to shine on the silver screen and her debut is massively botched not by Perez by any stretch, but rather by poor writing. Which is another thing. Early on WB made it clear to fans that BoP would have an LGBT+ presence in a really big way. Yet, moviegoers were queer-baited with a scene so short it lasts for maybe 1.5 seconds. A literal blink and you’ll miss it early on in the movie. And as for Montoya? The only indication made that she is a lesbian is through a voice over done by Margot Robbie as Harley in one scene when referring to Montoya’s ex girlfriend who happens to work in the Gotham City DA’s office. The characters have zero past romantic chemistry between them and the only thing suggesting that they once dated is a the voice over. In my opinion, the studios likely did this to avoid issues in certain markets. Which is honestly a lazy cop-out. Which is a running theme you will notice with BoP. It has a plethora of brilliant ideas but never quite follow through with them to be great. 
Another example of queer-baiting that the film mildly suggests that Victor Zsasz and Roman Sionis might be gay, or bisexual at the very least. But beyond hints and suggestions, just like the Montoya fiasco BoP never quite settles on it. Which is a real shame because it could have worked. But more on Roman Sionis, for those who aren’t aware, he’s a mid tier villain in the Batman rogue gallery and is most notorious for his signature black mask, hence the name Black Mask. But we don’t really get to see him in the mast a whole lot here. In fact, he doesn’t done the mask until midway into the 3rd act, for which he is seen wearing for mere portion of the climatic final battle sequence in the funhouse. After that he, surprise surprise, takes the goddamn mask off! Really? That’s like Bane taking his mask off after wearing it for a mere 5 mins. Or Joker deciding to take a wet wipe to the face because he can’t have all this makeup on before his big showdown. Which while I’m on the topic of Joker. McGregor does a fantastic job as Sionis. But he never quite achieve’s the presence of main villain in the film. Because even though he isn’t at all in the movie. Joker casts a massive shadow over the entirety of the film. From members of the BoP continuously bringing up his name, to Sionis and his gang to the officers of GCPD. Joker is literally everywhere in this movie and at the same time not. And it’s hard to take the threat of a big bad gangster like Sionis seriously when you’re constantly asking “I wonder what Mr. J is doing right now?” Or “Where is the Joker’s gang in all this?”. I’m no fan of Leto’s Joker. To be frank, he’s my least liked incarnation of the character. But considering this film is a direct sequel to Suicide Squad, it’s a damn shame we didn’t true closure to the Harely/Joker arc that began in the former. 
Final Verdict: BoP is a lot of things. It’s wild and full of stylish creativity that it deserves credit for. What it was really trying to be was a fun lighter tone answer to the dark gritty nature of Joker (2019). In some ways it succeeded, while in other ways it failed. I’ve bounced back and forth wether or not I liked or hated BoP. There is no true short answer. Because there is enough stuff in BoP that I absolutely loved, but also there were stuff I really hated. All in all, BoP isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t the masterpiece that it could have been. It’s still a watchable film, if you keep expectations at it’s lowest. 
Rating: 6/10