Power Rangers Review

Reliving childhood memories can be one of the greatest feelings ever, especially when it comes in movie form. For me, Power Rangers is exactly that, a part of my childhood that I remember vividly. As someone who grew up with Power Rangers, I was extremely excited for this movie. It was a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation for a new take on this series. Of course, I knew kind of what to expect, but I had my expectations and they were met with flying colors.

Power Rangers is directed by Dean Israelite and stars Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, and Bill Hader. It tells the story of five teenage kids who are chosen to take the mantle of Power Rangers. They must learn to stand together and fight to defend Angel Grove from the monstrous Rite Repulsa. 

Right off the bat, it has to be said that Power Rangers is not the greatest movie in the world, however, for someone who is a fan of the series, it was absolutely amazing. The things I got from Power Rangers were the things I wanted to see; relatable and great characters, fun action, building up a franchise, and an overall great time at the theater.

Starting with the directing, Dean Israelite was behind this version of the Power Rangers. Clearly, his vision was to update the classic series and make it something for both kids who will become fans of the new Rangers and old fans who could appreciate the new feel as well. He was successful in doing so and was able to create an amazing new group of Rangers that will be remembered for a long time. Israelite was an excellent pick to direct this movie after he showed he could tell fun movies revolving around teenagers with his feature debut, Project Almanac, which I enjoyed very much. I applaud him for being able to retell something near and dear to my heart and make me extremely happy with the result. 

A big reason why I was so thrilled with how this movie turned out was due to the characters, the Rangers themselves. As a fan of the original series, it was clear that the Rangers actually needed some attitude and these new ones sure had some. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is the Red Ranger and the leader of the team. He is the captain of the football team and everyone knows him around town, but with that fame, there is a certain way people think of him, and that is not how he is at all. For his first big movie role, Dacre showed that he has talent. Other than having a strange American accent during some moments, his performance made me buy into his character completely. There are big things to come for this Australian actor, and it is clear as he will appear in season 2 of Stranger Things. Zack (Ludi Lin) the black ranger, is the reckless bad boy who is down to do relatively anything. He is head strong, so much so it leads him into trouble at times, but deep down he is that way for a reason. Like Dacre, Ludi Lin was a relative unknown and proved he has some acting talent. I was pleasantly surprised with his ability to portray this character and make it his own. Trini (Becky G) the yellow ranger is the odd one out of the group. She feels isolated from the rest of the world which is why she struggles to be around people. For her first movie role, Becky G really surprised me with how well she handled herself. She was the one person I was most worried about going into the movie, but after seeing her, I can say she did a solid job. Kimberly (Noami Scott) the pink ranger, was the least developed ranger in my eyes. Noami Scott was a badass and her performance was really good, however, the way her character was written was the least impactful of all the rangers. The best written and most impactful ranger was Billy (RJ Cyler), the blue ranger. It was so easy to fall in love with the character of Billy and his mannerisms, and the performance RJ gave was the best in the whole movie. He was the ranger I was most looking forward to seeing as I knew he had a lot of talent coming off of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. He definitely delivered, making me even more excited to see what he does in the future. Elizabeth Banks plays Rita Repulsa, the villain in the film, which sadly is one of the weak points of the movie. The performance Banks gives is not bad, but didn’t belong in this particular movie. I felt this interpretation of Rita was a lot more cartoony than I would have liked to see and had very poorly explained motivations. That being said at times she felt extremely menacing, but overall was a pretty weak villain.

For what it was, Power Rangers was an extremely fun time and knew what it was. Yes, it did try to cater to an older kind of audience and its successful in doing so, while also holding some of the original flair that young kids could enjoy. The action, while limited, is very exciting and full of energy and I loved watching it unfold. For a Power Rangers movie, the script was actually much better than anticipated. Not a lot of poor dialogue or unnecessary jokes or cringe-worthy lines. The Rangers themselves were given material that was very believable for their respective characters and the overarching story was told with consistency.

This is by no stretch of the imagination a masterpiece or an all-time classic superhero movie, however, for what the property is, this movie is more than I expected. Rebooting Power Rangers was something I wanted to see, but scared about the end result, but scared no more. This hits all the right beats for both a fan of the original and someone wanting to see a fun movie.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Beauty and the Beast Review

Remakes and reboots are the new hot thing in Hollywood, with almost ever popular or iconic property of old being turned into a modern retelling. Disney has taken it upon themselves to retell their iconic animated films and bring them back in live-action form. Beauty and the Beast is their latest project, taking one of the greatest animated movies of all time and recreating it with real life actors playing the roles. With extremely high expectations and a massive fan base to appease, Disney turned out an enjoyable and charming retelling of a classic love story.

This without a doubt has been Disney’s greatest challenge as of now in terms of their live-action remakes. This property is one of the most beloved Disney classic movies of all time and has the distinct honor of being the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. That being said, it was going to be a challenge to top that. Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite outclass the original, but nonetheless, this movie was enjoyable, charming, and beautiful to witness.

Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon, an Oscar-winning writer (Gods and Monsters) and most known for directing Dreamgirls and the final two movies in the Twilight franchise. The directing of this movie was very well done, having to recreate many iconic scenes and being able to produce a well-executed film. Unlike The Jungle Book or Maleficent, which deviated from the original animated movies, this one virtually copied and pasted scenes from the original and transformed into live-action. This is a huge credit to Condon how was able to retell this story how it is known with minor changes, and also get incredible performances from all the actors involved.

The cast of this movie was mindblowing, and their performances were almost identical to that of the animated characters. The biggest concern for me in reality with Beauty and the Beast is how Emma Watson was going to portray Belle. Well, she was absolutely divine in every way. She encapsulated Belle beautifully and was not exactly like the original but instead made it her own. A big criticism leading up to the release of the movie was the look of the Beast. Dan Stevens plays the Beast and does a great job in the role and the actual CGI look of Beast in the actual film worked for me and didn’t throw me off at all. The other CGI characters such as Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) all worked for me and the voice acting was spot on! The other two big characters in the movie where Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou (Josh Gad) were my two favorite characters in the live-action retelling. Disney was basically able to take Gaston from the animated movie and bring him to life and take the body of Luke Evans. Josh Gad plays LeFou, Gaston’s right-hand man and just like Luke Evans, Gad was able to make this character his own and give a great performance. Unlike the other Disney live-action movies to this point, Beauty and the Beast was, like the original, a musical as well. All the musical set-pieces were done beautifully and the actors singing was spot on, even the actors I didn’t expect to be able to sing like Ewan McGregor.

One of the few things that made this live-action version of Beauty and the Beast not as good as the original for me was the more modern take. The screenplay good as it was mostly the same as the animated one, but the modern feel did not give the same effect as the original. The best things this movie did was more on the technical side of things. This film should be nominated for both production design and costume design. Everything from the small town to the castle looked spectacular and felt straight from the animated movie. Just the sheer epicness of everything in a live-action form blew me away.

Beauty and the Beast was a huge monster to tackle, trying to recreate such an iconic classic and bring it to life. Disney, with the incredible talent involved, was able to make a very enjoyable and grand movie which will definitely please fans of the original. From the characters, visuals, and singing, this new live-action Beauty and the Beast will be one of the best Disney live-action movies to be released.

Rating: 8.2/10

Kong: Skull Island Review

Kong: Skull Island is the eighth time King Kong has appeared on the big-screen across both the U.S and Japan but tells a much different story than what we are used to. In the past US versions of the story, Kong meets his demise in New York from the top of the Empire State Building (Spoiler Alert), but not this time. He actually survives! Skull Island revolves around Monarch, the organizations tasked with learning about and discovering monsters on Earth. They decide to venture to an uncharted island in the South Pacific with a military escort during the time of the Vietnam War. That is when they run into Kong and all the various creatures and monstrosities that live on the island. Their goal is to try and survive and return home with proof that monsters exist.

Going into Kong: Skull Island, I wanted an epic, fun, and exciting movie where I can eat a whole bucket of popcorn and not worry about anything else, and I definitely got that. There were a lot of things this movie had to do: get Kong right, help us understand the connection for future films, and tell a fun and decent story at least, and it did all of those things.

This huge and expensive blockbuster is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a name most people will not be familiar with. He made a small indie film called The Kings of Summer which gained him huge praise and led to him directing this movie. With Kong: Skull Island, he was able to take a huge ensemble cast and put them up against Kong and do a very solid job directing. However, it was not seamless and there were some issues mainly when talking about the human characters which were presented.

Speaking of the characters, the cast of Kong: Skull Island was massive and included a lot of big stars. The main leads of this movie are Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad), Samuel L. Jackson (Preston Packard), Brie Larson (Mason Weaver), John C. Reilly (Hank Marlow), and John Goodman (Bill Randa). Corey Hawkins (Houston Brooks), Tobey Kebbell (Jack Champman/Kong), Jason Mitchell (Mills), Tian Jing (San), Thomas Mann (Silvko), Shea Whigham (Cole), and Eugene Cordero (Reles). Some of the characters in this movie were fleshed out and had very clear motivations. This was John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson who were the backbone of the movie to me in terms of the human characters. Hiddleston was meant to be one of the main leads and his character was one the audience could root for but lacked a clear motivation. Brie Larson also was used in an ineffective way, and with an actress of her talent, that was a shame to see. John Goodman’s character seemed promising at the start, however once on the island, he became sort of useless and expendable. The group of soldiers which included Kebbell, Mithcell, Mann, Whigham, and Cordero were very simple characters and served more as the comedic relief, but again were very much in the background behind Samuel Jackson’s character. All this being said, the human characters were very underwhelming to me with the exception of Rielly and Jackson, who ended up being my favorite characters. Although the movie’s characters were not the greatest, it did not take away from the epicness of Kong himself who was the main attraction. I wanted to see Kong more than anything and I wanted to see him kick some ass, and that is exactly what happened. Thankfully, I did not go into Kong wanting to see the human characters, I wanted to see Kong.

Although the movie’s characters were not the greatest, it did not take away from the epicness of Kong himself who was the main attraction. I wanted to see Kong more than anything. I wanted to see him kick some ass, and that is exactly what I got. This movie had some fantastic actions set pieces with Kong and the various creatures living on Skull Island. The visual effects used were incredible and Kong from every angle, close-up, wide shot, or and even in action looked spectacular. The other big take away is what we learned about Kong and the existence of monsters on Earth in this universe. This is a much different approach to Kong than previous, and it was really well executed.

The three objectives Kong: Skull Island had, it was able to accomplish, although it did have a few bumps along the way. It was able to execute Kong extremely well, while at the same time telling a fun and fast paced story. Although some of the characters weren’t able to keep up, a few were big takeaways and did not take away from the King himself. This movie also sets up a clear connection with the universe it is in, and you must sit through the credits to get a sneak peek of what’s to come in the future. Now comes to the grueling wait until 2020.

Rating: 7.9/10

Logan Review

Saying goodbye is always one of the hardest things to do in life. When looking at film, saying goodbye to a beloved character that has graced the silver screen can be extremely hard as well. Logan gives us our final time seeing Hugh Jackman on the screen as Wolverine. This movie is loosely based on the comic series Old Man Logan and is set in an alternate timeline in regard to the rest of the X-Men movies, although there really is no timeline. This time around, Logan is feeling the effects of his adamantium weaponization and is hiding out in a world where mutants are rare. He and an also aging Charles Xavier, find a young mutant girl who is being chased down by a strange organization who wants to capture her.

Logan is the first Wolverine movie to be rated R, and at last, depicts him in the way fans have always dreamt of. After the insane success of Deadpool, Fox and the team behind Logan realized this would be the perfect opportunity to have the movie be rated R and it worked out perfectly. This movie benefited from its rating and couldn’t have worked the same without it. If this movie was restricted to a PG-13 rating, many of the action or emotional scenes would not have worked. The direction James Mangold took with the rating and gritty feel of Logan was perfect. Mangold has always been a very low profile director and one who is not very known by wide audiences but has a decent filmography including The Wolverine, Walk the Line, and 3:10 to Yuma. With Logan, he just adds to his filmography with another incredible movie. The movie had a very gritty and dirty feel and was a slow burn when compared to other comic book movies. This movie more than anything was a character piece on Logan and his struggles as he begins to age. Mangold was able to tell this story the way he wanted to, and it helped that this was set in an alternative timeline in regard to the other X-Men movies so he had no restrictions in that department while coming up with the story.

The driving force behind this story, however, is Hugh Jackman as Logan. For the last 17 years, Jackman has been dawning those iconic claws and this film marks the supposed final time he will be seeing him as Wolverine. If that is true, then what a way to end his run, because Jackman proved once again why he is the perfect Wolverine. This is the best performance Jackman has given as Wolverine in his 17 years playing the character. He is grizzled and worn out, not the Wolverine we have been used to seeing all these years, and it truly is hard to watch him be in pain, and that all comes down to Jackman. Alongside him was Charles Xavier played by the great Sir Patrick Stewart, another X-Men legend. Sir Patrick Stewart, just like Jackman, gives his greatest performance as Professor X since he began playing the character. He plays a very old Charles, one which we are not quite familiar with, although he still remains the same wise and loving person he has always been. One of the greatest things about the movie was the interaction and banter between Logan and Charles, a relationship which has had it’s ups and downs for years. Seeing these two iconic characters begin so young and end so old made for one hell of a ride. This movie also stars a young girl named Dafne Keen who plays X23. This little girl was absolutely outstanding. This was her first movie role ever and she crushed it, not to mention she had to act opposite both Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart. Their chemistry was beautiful and she was able to hold her own against two legendary actors. The villain of this movie was played by Boyd Holbrook, someone who I was not very familiar with prior to watching this movie. However, after Logan, he is someone I will always look forward to seeing. He was cynical and suave at the same time in his performance, although his actual character was not the most threatening to me. Thankfully, the movie did not rely on him too much and focused more on Logan and his struggles.

That is exactly why Logan is so different from any other comic book movie because it is so far from one. Sure you get your easter eggs and references to other characters and moments in X-Men history, but at its core, this movie is separate from any universe. It is solely focused on telling the story of Logan and how he deals with the situation he gets put in.

The only slight problems I had with the movie, besides Boyd Holbrook’s underwhelming villain, was some pacing issues. They were very few and spaced out in the movie, but did bother me for maybe a second when I noticed them, however, the movie quickly locked me back in.

Logan not only was a great comic book movie but a fantastic film about a character struggling with himself. It was a true character piece, executed beautifully by James Mangold. As the potential final time seeing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, this was the perfect send off to what has been an amazing character portrayed by and amazing actor, who made this character his own for 17 years. Logan now becomes one of the best comic book movies ever made, and rightfully so.

Rating: 9/10

Top Ten Films of 2016

So, pretty late post, I know, but better late than never, and now I give you my top ten films of 2016. We are two months into 2017, but I finally got to see every movie from 2016 that I wanted to. It would have been a crime in my mind if I did not see every movie that I thought had at least a small chance to get on my list before I made my final list. Well now, I have seen basically everything I wanted to and here are my ten films, but first some honorable mentions!

  • Deadpool
  • The Jungle Book
  • Hell or High Water
  • A Monster’s Calls
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Green Room
  • The Nice Guys
  • Deepwater Horizon

10. Silence

Martin Scorcese’s passion project came to us in 2016 and it blew me away. Everything about this film shows us exactly what a masterful director and artist Martin Scorcese is. This story was one I was totally invested in and everything from the directing to cinematography to acting was absolutely stunning. Both Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver gave us two fantastic performances which just added to this magnificent film.

9. Captain America: Civil War

My favorite comic book movie of the year, Civil War comes in at number 9. This movie was fantastic and was able to deliver something to Marvel fans like no other comic book film since the Avengers. We got to witness one of the greatest fight scenes ever, and it introduced us to some future heroes such as Black Panther and our new Spider-Man. It was probably one of the greatest times at the theater I had this past year.

8. Manchester by the Sea

In the eighth position, we have Manchester by the Sea. I was looking forward to watching this film since I heard about it at Sundance and it sincerely touched me in many ways. It is a very small but emotional film with extremely top class performances by the whole cast. It is a devastating story but it also doubles as a light-hearted drama as well which I loved a lot.

7. The Edge of Seventeen

One of the biggest surprises of the year comes in at number seven in the form of The Edge of Seventeen. I was hearing great things about this movie, but it wasn’t until I actually saw it that I truly understood how great it was. As a teenager myself, it really resonated with me and I totally understood the characters and story at hand. I was able to connect with it and I loved every second of it.

6. Arrival

Number six is a film that absolutely blew me away and was on of my favorite’s of the year, Arrival. This story is one of the greatest and it was thanks to the great mind of Denis Villeneuve. He directed this film to near perfection, and everything from the acting to the very important message was outstanding.

5. Moonlight

At number five is a film that is one of the most important of the year in Moonlight. This was a great, human story about this man and his life growing up till his young adult years. Barry Jenkins directed this movie, and he has now become of my directors to watch in the future.

4. Sing Street

The biggest surprise hands down this year for me was Sing Street. It comes in at number four, but for a long time was my number one film for a very long time. It is a beautiful coming of age tale about young teenagers making music which I loved. The songs from this movie are some of the best of the year and I listen to them all the time. A great small indie movie with a lot of heart.

3. Rogue One

Any other year, this movie would be my number one of the year, but sadly this year was just so stacked I had to put a Star Wars film at number 3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is my number three film of 2016 and I absolutely loved this movie. It was the first spin-off in the Star Wars franchise and it delivered big time. I personally liked it more than the Force Awakens as it brought something new and fresh to the universe which I loved.

2. Hacksaw Ridge

At number two is Hacksaw Ridge, a film that shook me to my core in so many ways. This film was told a very powerful message and was beautiful to witness. War movies are some of my favorites and Mel Gibson was able to create a film that never held back and really showed how devastating war can be. It was some of the greatest war scenes since Saving Private Ryan, and it was incredible to witness. Not to mention the amazing cast and performances from this film, most notably that of Andrew Garfield.

1. La La Land

Last but certainly not least, my favorite film of 2016 was without a doubt, La La Land. This film affected me in so many ways, both on a film loving way and personal way. Everything from the directing to the acting to the amazing songs created for this film blew me away and left me in tears. This film was hyped up for me from the start and it did not disappoint me in the slightest after seeing it. It is an absolute masterpiece in my eyes and I loved every second of it.

Get Out Review

Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is one of the most difficult things to do, especially in regards to feature filmmaking. When a particular talent is type cast or in terms of directing is known for horror, or comedy, or action, and then changes to a different genre, that is a cause for concern for some people. So when I heard Jordan Peele, one-half of the brilliant comedic minds behind Key and Peele, was tackling a horror movie as his first time directing, I was a bit skeptical. Going into the film somewhat interested by the trailers and open-minded, I exited the theater knowing I had just witnessed a truly extraordinary film.

Get Out tells the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams). After being together for some time, Rose sees it as a good opportunity to have Chris meet her parents. They travel to their home, which is very secluded from the rest of civilization, and once there, Chris beings to realize some very strange things surrounding his girlfriend’s family.

I had very low expectations about this film in all honesty for a very long time. I had heard good things about it after it was screened at various film festivals and initial reviews were coming out. Even then I was still apprehensive, mainly because I am not the biggest horror fan, so some horror films which are widely regarded as great just do not hit the mark for me. That being said, Get Out is a fantastic film for so many reasons, and one of the biggest ones is the mind behind it all, Jordan Peele. This is his first time directing a feature film and he also wrote the screenplay for the movie. He completely knocked it out of the park, both directing and writing, creating a great piece of cinema. Jordan Peele is brilliant and extremely talented, but mainly known for his comedy, so seeing him do a horror film and do it this well is an awesome sight to see. He nailed all aspects of what makes a great thriller and definitely got reactions from the audience throughout the film. I was engaged one hundred percent in all the characters, characters which he created, along with the story which was remarkably smart. One of the biggest complaints about horror movies for me, is they always seem to revert to some form of cliche. Cliche’s in horror movies is one of my greatest pet peeves in movies, but Peele was able to stay away from really, any cliche’s, but rather borrow elements from other great horror films. Having known Peele comes from a comedy background I was expecting some form of comedy to be present in the film and it most certainly is. Jordan Peele’s comedic sense radiates throughout this movie and it was incredible for the simple fact that it did not disturb the flow of the suspense. It was implemented in the perfect way and was able to help the film, instead of hindering it, which was another brilliant move by Peele. Another thing I hail Peele for in his first time directing is the performances he was able to get out of his cast.

This cast relatively has no big star names but nonetheless should get massive amounts of praise for the work they did in this film. Daniel Kaluuya (Chris) was an actor I had not heard of prior to seeing Get Out. Now I will always remember his name as he gave an absolutely fantastic performance in this film which left his name ingrained in my mind. The whole Armitage family which consisted of Allison Williams (Rose), Catherine Keener (Missy), Bradley Whitford (Dean), and Caleb Landry Jones (Jeremy) gave stunning performances as well. They were the right amount of creepy, yet strangely likable in some instances which gave me conflicting emotions as the film progressed, but in a great way. LaKeith Stanfield (Andrew) has a small role in this film, but he is an actor I have fallen in love with ever since seeing him in a small film called Short Term 12 and later his role in the hit tv show Atlanta. He, alongside Marcus Henderson (Walter) and Betty Gabriel (Georgina), gave beautifully disturbing performances that gave me the chills. However, the one character that might have stolen the film for me was that of Lil Rel Howery (Rod). He plays the best friend of Chris and totally kills the small role he has in the movie. Every time his character was present on the screen, the theater came alive, and it was fantastic to witness.

There are very few negative things I have to say about Get Out, but one nitpick I had is the background regarding some of the characters. It is briefly talked about, but to me could have been explained a bit better, but really that is it. The pacing of this film is moderately quick and with a runtime of just under two hours, it flies by.

Get Out was a stellar directing feature film debut for Jordan Peele, who was able to tell a very suspenseful and interesting story, not to mention doubling as great social commentary in today’s society. He subtly discussed a very serious topic in his film and was able to make it work and incorporate it in an intelligent way that did not take away from the movie which other movies fail to accomplish. I was floored by this film and by the work of everyone behind it, and I highly recommend everyone seeing it.

Rating: 9.2/10

The Lego Batman Movie Review

Batman is back, but not Ben Affleck’s version (cause who the hell knows if that is ever happening), but Will Arnett in all his lego glory. The Lego Batman Movie is a spin-off of the highly successful Lego Movie that came out back in 2014. One of the biggest questions surrounding this movie is if a complete story revolving around Lego Batman can be pulled off and work. The answer to that question is – without a doubt! This movie was an absolute joy and surprised me at how much I loved watching it.

That story really centers around the character of Batman and his relationship with his arch-nemesis, The Joker. Surprisingly not only was it an extremely funny comedy but also had a very charming story. It really explored the character of Batman as a whole, revealing what fans of the character know best about him, in a very lighthearted and comedic way, but in no way poking fun at the property.

Being an animated movie about lego, you would assume that it would speak to kids more than adults. The first Lego Movie did a great job at appealing to both adults and kids, and this movie does it even better I feel! This is a fantastic movie for kids and will keep them entertained throughout, but it is also a great experience for adults. There are so many jokes just aimed at adults, that will fly completely over kids heads but adults will laugh hysterically at. This movie is also great if you are a DC fan, or more specifically a Batman fan. There are so many cameos, references, and easter eggs to DC properties and the history of Batman that you’d probably have to watch the movie about ten times to catch them all.

Chris McKay directed this movie to near perfection. His knowledge and love for Batman really shined in this film and it was great to see how much he and the writers understood the character. As previously mentioned, Will Arnett comes back to voice Lego Batman after his small role in the original Lego Movie, but this time he is front and center, and man does he crush it as Batman. He might not be regarded as the best Batman to grace the screen, due to it being animated and lego, but his performance as Batman is outstanding. He too, truly understands who Bruce Wayne/Batman is, and is able to bring that extra flavor to the animated character. Other standout performances were that of Micheal Cera (Robin), Zach Galafanikis (Joker), Rosario Dawson (Barbera Gordon), and Ralph Fiennes (Alfred). This cast is huge, as there are a ton of different characters, but each one brought an element of fun to the movie.

When talking about The Lego Batman Movie, there are really not many negatives to bring up. About 80 percent of the jokes hit and if I was not laughing out loud, I was at least smiling like a little kid. At times the story does get a tad repetitive, but that is pretty much it.

The Lego Batman Movie was able to take what was a great side character from the original Lego Movie, and create his own unique and crazy world and tell an excellent and super funny story. Personally, at this moment I can say I liked Lego Batman just a tiny bit more than The Lego Movie, which might be an unpopular opinion, but they are both tremendous films. The one thing The Lego movie beats Lego Batman in hands down is the original song, as the one from Lego Batman was nowhere near as memorable as Everything is Awesome. All that being said, this movie was an awesome experience, one which I highly recommend you go an experience yourself.

Rating: 9.2/10

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 sees the return of The Boogeyman himself, John Wick, who has to come out of retirement and take on a mission revolving around his past. That mission takes a bit of a left turn and throws John Wick into the path of a few unhappy and bloodthirsty individuals he must take care of, and let’s just say, John Wick is no push over.

The first John Wick came out back in 2014 and was a surprise hit! However, the box office
had other ideas, so the fact that it got a sequel was a surprise of its own. Now it is here and I have to say that John Wick: Chapter 2 is an absolutely kickass movie. If you like the first John Wick then this movie will be right up your alley as it just builds upon what we got in the first film. This time the story is not as personal and on a much larger scale, as most sequels are, but that also means the action is increased as well which is not a bad thing in the slightest. The action as a whole in this movie is some of the greatest action I have ever seen and at times left me speechless at how crazy some of the set pieces were. Some action sequences went on for a good five minutes and never stepped back to catch a breath and it was awesome to witness.

The great action is definitely a credit to the fantastic direction of Chad Stahelski. He co-directed the first John Wick with David Leitch, and this time returns to do a great solo job on the sequel. This film is littered with signs of his work as a stunt director and performer and really adds to the fantastic action which is presented. Another thing I loved about John Wick: Chapter 2 was how much it built upon the lore and mythology of the universe. Of course in the first movie, we get to see The Continental hotel and it makes its return in Chapter 2 as well, and in a much larger capacity. The whole premise of the assassin and hitman in the John Wick universe is explored in this film and it was extremely interesting to see.

Now let’s talk about John Wick himself, Keanu Reeves. Keanu has never been the greatest actor in the world, nor do I think he is a particularly good one either, but man is he perfect for this role. Everything about his performance as John Wick is amazing, from his facial expressions to horrible and bland line delivery. In any other movie it would be horrible, but in this setting, it works perfectly. Alongside Keanu, we see very small roles by Ian McShane (Winston), Riccardo Scamarcio (Santino D’Antonio), Common (Cassian), and Laurence Fishburne (Bowery King). The only other roles in this movie that interested me was that of Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne. McShane plays Winston, the manager at The Continental and his role in the film is not critical for this movie per say, but the future of the franchise overall. Then we have Laurence Fishburne, giving us that awesome Matrix reunion, who plays an old friend of John Wick’s, Bowery King. His character also adds a lot to the lore of the universe and hopefully can deliver something down the road in future installments.

John Wick, of course, was the main player here, but his opposition was played by Riccardo Scamarcio, who’s villain role did not really impress me at all. His motivations were present and it was clear where he stood, he was just boring and flat to me, but in this particular movie, it didn’t ruin the overall experience for me. Adding to that was the very small role of Ruby Rose (Ares) who, again, was just there to cause some problems but did not impress me at all. Common also played a hitman with some issues with John Wick, but again with him and the other villain characters, they could have been played by anyone else and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Other than that the story on its own is not the most tailored, but fun enough to keep you locked in and engaged every step of the way.

If you like action, epic shootouts, stunning hand to hand combat, or Keanu Reeves, then this is the perfect movie for you to check out. Not only does this movie add to the first story of John Wick, but leaves room for much more to come in the future. This was a great movie and becomes part of what might be one of the greatest action franchises ever.

Rating: 8.5/10

My Oscar Predications!

Finally, the Oscar nominees have been announced! This begins the road and the speculation to the Academy Awards and who might take home the coveted statues come that night. So I will run through the nominees for most of the categories, excluding the ones where I can’t really say much as I have not seen the films, and give you my take on who I want to win, who I think will win, and a possible dark horse choice.

Adapted Screenplay

  1. Arrival
  2. Fences
  3. Hidden Figures
  4. Lion
  5. Moonlight
  • Who I want to win – Moonlight
  • Who I think will win – Moonlight
  • Dark Horse – Arrival

Original Screenplay:

  1. Hell or High Water
  2. La La Land
  3. The Lobster
  4. Manchester by the Sea
  5. 20th Century Women
  • Who I want to win – La La Land
  • Who I think will win – La La Land
  • Dark Horse – The Lobster

Visusal Effects:

  1. Deepwater Horizon
  2. Doctor Strange
  3. The Jungle Book
  4. Kubo and the Two Strings
  5. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story
  • Who I want to win – Rouge One
  • Who I think will win – The Jungle Book
  • Dark Horse – Doctor Strange

Original Song:

  1. Audition (The Fools Who Dream) – La La Land
  2. Can’t Stop the Feeling – Trolls
  3. City of Stars – La La Land
  4. The Empty Chair – Jim: The James Foley Story
  5. How Far I’ll Go – Moana
  • Who I want to win – Audition
  • Who I think will win – City of Stars
  • Dark Horse – How Far I’ll Go

Original Score:

  1. Jackie – Mica Levi
  2. La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
  3. Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
  4. Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
  5. Passengers – Thomas Newman
  • Who I want to win – La La Land
  • Who I think will win – La La Land
  • Dark Horse – Jackie

Cinematography:

  1. Arrival – Bradford Young
  2. La La Land -Linus Sandgren
  3. Lion – Greig Fraser
  4. Moonlight – James Laxton
  5. Silence – Rodrigo Prieto
  • Who I want to win – La La Land
  • Who I think will win – La La Land
  • Dark Horse – Arrival

Animated Feature Film:

  1. Kubo and the Two Strings
  2. Moana
  3. My Life As A Zucchini
  4. The Red Turtle
  5. Zootopia
  • Who I want to win – Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Who I think will win – Zootopia
  • Dark Horse – Moana

Actor in a Supporting Role:

  1. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
  2. Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
  3. Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
  4. Dev Patel – Lion
  5. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
  • Who I want to win – Mahershala Ali
  • Who I think will win – Michael Shannon
  • Dark Horse – Jeff Bridges

Actress in a Supporting Role:

  1. Viola Davis – Fences
  2. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  3. Nicole Kidman – Lion
  4. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
  5. Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
  • Who I want to win – Viola Davis
  • Who I think will win – Viola Davis
  • Dark Horse – Naomie Harris or Michelle Williams

Directing:

  1. Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  2. Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson
  3. La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  4. Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  5. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
  • Who I want to win – Damien Chazelle
  • Who I think will win – Damien Chazelle
  • Dark Horse – Barry Jenkins

Actor in a Leading Role:

  1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  2. Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
  3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  4. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  5. Denzel Washington – Fences
  • Who I want to win – Andrew Garfield
  • Who I think will win – Casey Affleck
  • Dark Horse – Denzel Washington

Actress in a Leading Role

  1. Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  2. Ruth Negga – Loving
  3. Natalie Portman – Jackie
  4. Emma Stone – La La Land
  5. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Who I want to win – Emma Stone
  • Who I think will win – Isabelle Huppert
  • Dark Horse – Natalie Portman

Best Picture:

  1. Arrival
  2. Fences
  3. Hacksaw Ridge
  4. Hell or High Water
  5. Hidden Figures
  6. La La Land
  7. Lion
  8. Manchester by the Sea
  9. Moonlight
  • Who I want to win – La La land
  • Who I think will win – La La Land
  • Dark Horse – Moonlight

 

 

 

Split Review

Trying to overcome years of horrific backlash and ridicule and criticism of his films, M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, Split, attempts to reverse his curse. Split tells the story of a man named Kevin (James McAvoy) who has multiple personalities, 23 to be precise, and his abduction of 3 teenage girls. M. Night began his filmmaking career with incredible success, but soon after his downfall beckoned, and in turn became somewhat of a joke to movie fans. After having watched Split, I can say that he has made an enjoyable movie and better yet, a good one.

When the first bit of information came out about this movie, it was soon after the initial resurgence of M. Night with his horror movie, The Visit. After I saw the first trailer for Split, I can’t lie I was very much interested in the story that was being presented. I know just how good Shyamalan can be when he makes a good thriller, and that is what I hoped he would do with Split. Thankfully, he delivered, and really surprised me with what he made. This movie was definitely not one of my most anticipated of the year, but after having heard the initial reactions to the movie, I was extremely intrigued to see what I thought of it.

M. Night directed this movie really, really well. The man is very talented, and he proves he can compose shots well, and tell a good story. Not only did he direct the film, he also wrote the screenplay, which was pretty solid. It definitely was a lot deeper than what was presented in the trailers, and of course, there was the typical Shyamalan twist (which I will not give away) and it all worked really well. Nothing felt too overly convenient or out of place, which is one of the biggest criticisms of Shyamalan’s other movies. Everything about the screenplay flowed well and at a good pace which kept me invested in the overall movie. The use of score, or no score what so ever helped give a lot more meaning to what was being presented on the screen. This is the Shamaylan that we all knew from The Sixth Sense and Signs not from Avatar or After Earth.

Aside from M. Night’s directing and writing, the one thing I feel truly made Split it was is the absolutely spectacular performances by James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. Starting with Taylor-Joy, this girl is a total revelation. At only 20 years of age, she has already proved what a talented actress she is and the energy she brings to the screen. Her breakout role was the acclaimed horror movie, The Witch, that was released last year. So far in her very young career, I am getting shades of Jennifer Lawernce who also sprang into the spotlight in her early 20’s. This girl is going to get places and will get cast in a lot of major roles down the road. I mean she already won the Gotham Independent Film Award for breakthrough actor, so soon enough we might see her at the Oscar’s. Alongside Anya Taylor-Joy was the true heart of this movie, James McAvoy. Through McAvoy, this movie becomes something else, something that really gets’s you invested in the story. I was totally invested in his character and how he functioned given his multiple personalities. This is honestly one of the better performances in his career, and he has had a very solid one as of now. The way he was able to transform into these completely different characters all together was extremely impressive and blew me away. Sadly, it being so early in the year, I think his performance in Split probably will not get him any Oscar consideration in the year to come, but he might be deserving.

Some thing’s I was not a huge fan of was the interaction between the other girls and Taylor-Joy’s character. I saw the need for them but at the same time felt they could have been done without. Also, the character of Dr. Karen Flethcer (Betty Buckley) had some interesting confrontations with McAvoy’s character but again felt those scenes were totally washed away by everything else in the movie.

Of course being an M. Night movie there has to be a twist. He has become synonymous with twist reveals and blowing the minds of his audiences. Well, Split is no exception, I will not give away the reveal since this contains no spoilers, but keep an eye out for the incredible reveal that M. Night includes that really ties this movie together as much more than what originally expected.

As a whole, Split was a very enjoyable and well-told thriller, combined with some incredible on-screen performances by the actors involved. This film really brings back some credit to M. Night Shyamalan’s career and is up there as one of his best films. It is a story that is extremely psychologically driven, but at the same time has some familiar tones and beats to it, which make it very satisfying when it ends.

Rating – 7.5/10