Tag: Fantasy

The Dark Tower

Outside of the realm of superheros and already established franchises, The Dark Tower film was probably one of the most hyped and anticipated films to come out for some time.

I first heard about the book series in high school, but it existed long before I was at that level. I never touched it because hey, Steven King does scary things, and I didn’t do scary things. But in recent years I thought about adding it to my list of books to hit in the next few years, as I do love long franchises, especially if they are done, not leaving the reader wondering if the final books will ever happen.

The Dark Tower had years of development hell if I recall, for maybe a decade. Different directors, scripts, actors, whatever. But having it come out finally with two top notch actors at the lead sounded great!

It just started to sound a lot worse when people learned that it was meant as a follow up of the successful franchise, and not the successful franchise itself.

Guns
Initial thoughts? This needs way more guns!

In this section I’d love to tell you about, the film and everything it is about. But it is really hard for me to to describe a plot when the plot itself feels so incomprehensible for most of the film.

I know it starts with a boy, Jake (Tom Taylor), who is young and having weird recurring dreams that make him piss his pants. Not literally. All the people around him say that it is trauma from the death of his dad a year or so ago, but they are consistent, similar, and freaking him out.

They have some dude wearing black (Matthew McConaughey) really wanting to destroy some tower somewhere, and a Gunslinger guy (Idris Elba) not wanting him to do that thing.

And in the simplest way, that is the plot. But it involves a parallel universe or shadow realm, magic stuff, disaster stuff and monster things. And some how the kid is key to it all, because YOLO.

Also starring Ben Gavin, Claudia Kim, and Jackie Earle Haley. Other people too, but I think they’d rather I didn’t lump them in this review as well.

Black
Final thoughts: This still didn’t live up to my gun potential.

What a fucking mess. Or a goddamn mess. I am not sure what kind of mess this film ended up being.

If I had read seven or whatever books in this series before watching this movie, would it have been better? I don’t even know. I can’t actually imagine a big budgeted film coming out that requires that much investment in books to understand it. The movie definitely attempted to explain some things. Why else have some kid thrown into the story if not an exposition device for the viewers?

But I still have no earthly idea what I watched. Once it started doing its silly other world stuff, the film just jumped off the rails and my mind was gone. Extremely poor plot and writing aside, it also was very unattractive to look at. The CGI was awful. The movie was loud and tried to fill itself with cool sequences instead of just good movie.

I mean. I am trying really hard to remember cool or especially bad moments in the film. Something that stands out. But when your movie is 100% trash, well, then it just looks like trash.

0 out of 4.

The Shape of Water

People don’t like Guillermo del Toro like I like Guillermo del Toro. Wanna know how I know? Because I gave Crimson Peak 3 stars. Great film, you should check it out. Decently creepy, and very beautiful.

Unfortunately, we are never going to get the Hellboy 3 he invisioned (now that the reboot is coming), but it seems to me like The Shape of Water is him telling an offshoot Hellboy story without needing Hellboy. Or at least, a prequel about Abe before he joined the B.P.R.D.

And I am a bit annoyed that this review is coming to you so late in the year, well after the wide releases, because I wanted to be in the forefront, waving my del Toro flag around, hoping that my eyes bleed from beautiful awkwardness.

Egg
There it is, love at first sight.

Way back a long time ago, long long ago. Let’s say the 1960’s. Yeah, that sounds good. Somewhere in Baltimore, close to DC, lived a mute girl by the name of, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins). She led a simple life, generally alone in her world. She would wake up late at night, bathe, masturbate, eat, and head to work because she worked as an overnight cleaning lady.

She had a friend, Zelda (Octavia Spencer.) who worked with her and did all the talking for the duo. She also had a neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), an eccentric artist who a lot of strong opinions on everything. But she has no one to love, to really be intimate with, outside of the occasional Giles snuggles.

Well, at work one night, a strange shipment comes in, and their head of security (David Hewlett) says it is their most important thing ever! It comes with its own team of scientists, led by Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) and some sort of federal agent, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). And sure enough yeah, it is some sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon! Or at least an Amphibian Man
(Doug Jones) from the Amazon Rain forest and rivers where he was worshiped as a god.

Oh fun! A creature that people are afraid of, who is being abused, who also has communication problems and is alone. Well, Elisa seems to have a connection to him. She feels his pain and wants to put him at ease. And when his life is on the line and other countries want him dead as well, she is going to have to put a lot more of herself out there than ever before.

Also starring Morgan Kelly as a below adequate pie flinger.

Shannon
Michael Shannon desires only above average pie flingers.

At this day and age, it is very hard to give us a sort of “star crossed lovers” story and have it believable. We get it. People can be with anyone at this point. Romance against all odds.

So what about a woman and an amphibian man. Not a man who turned into a fish creature, but you know, some entity that evolved on its own, completely separate from humans, despite being humanoid. See, this is the new stuff that storytellers need to be tackling, the things that the Republicans have been warning us against.

Hawkins gives an astounding performance as our mute lead, and I am surprised there currently is not a giant campaign against her taking actual mute actresses work, or whatever. She does an amazing job, doing so much with those eyes and her smile. Shannon and Stuhlbarg are a bit cartoon-y, but that is okay given what they end up doing. Shannon’s villainness started off slow but really escalated near the end during the climax. I was very scared in the scene with Spencer.

Jenkins continues his eccentric small characters that he has been doing recently, and Spencer is unfortunately playing a role she keeps getting put into. She needs a better agent to showcase her range instead of the same thing over and over.

The film is stunning to look at, the Amphibian Man is detailed in every facet (and orifice). Doug Jones is finally being acknowledged for his astounding work in the creature field. There are so many positive things to say, but really, just see it for yourself for a different experience.

By and by, this is probably the finest piece of interspecies erotic ever written.

4 out of 4.

Bright

Bright was meant to be this big Netflix release at the end of the year, one of their first Blockbuster films. So of course they brought in Will Smith for this adventure.

And hell, they made it R, so we can get the killing, the swearing, and the boobs. Just going to go all out. They even did pre-screenings of the film for press! The night before it was on Netflix, sure, but they were trying.

And then everyone hated it. I heard a lot of things, like how it was meant to be the worst film of the year, terrible, whatever. So something I meant to ignore I was now contractually obligated to write about. Statistically, everyone who sees this review would have seen it by the time I publish this, which in my head is currently “whenever.”

Duo
“Say whenever again, I dare you.” – Samuel wilL. Smith.

In the year, I dunno, probably this one, in a city much like LA, we have one notable difference. Fantasy races also exist in our world, or at least just a few. We got elves, we got orcs, we got fairies, and as far as I can tell that is it. Sorry people who love dwarves. Two thousand years ago there was some Dark One that came and tried to destroy the world, the Orcs were on his side, the “good guys” won and the orcs were hated ever since, despite being citizens of the world as well. So they get shit upon by everyone.

Oh and magic! And specifically, magic wands which are super rare. The only people who can use the wands are called Brights, who are usually elves. Humans have been Brights in the past but it is like, 1 in a million chance of being a Bright. Oh, and the only way to know if you are a Bright is to try and use a wand, if you aren’t a Bright, you will explode. good times.

Now that world building is done, we have a cop duo, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the only orc cop for diversity reasons. Also no one wants to work with Ward cause he is a dick, or moral, or something. Ward hates it, Jakoby just wants to be a good guy, and Ward recently got shot on a call as his partner was getting food, so he is angry a lot.

After thirty minutes of exposition and shit talking to the Orc, we eventually have the duo discover an actual wand, and an elf who is talking gibberish and warnings. Before they can turn everything over, they find out that a lot of people want the wand for their own power hungry ways, including other cops ready to sweep this incident under the rug.

So our duo has to run around town at night, protecting an elf and the wand, from groups who want it, or else maybe the world will end. Who knows!

Also starring Alex Meraz, (Noomi Rapace), Edgar Ramirez, Happy Anderson, Lucy Fry, Margaret Cho, and Veronica Ngo.

Trio
Elves are rich and elves are hipster druggies.

Was Bright the worst movie of the year? Hell no. In fact, not even the worst movie I have seen on Netflix as an “original film” this year. It doesn’t mean it is good, it is still bad, but it wasn’t dog shit terrible.

However, the intro is going to turn so many people off. It is going for a parallel of their world and our world’s view on races, but they put it to 11. The first 30 minutes or whatever is just people railing into the orc cop, from all sides, constantly. If you want abuse, you will get it, and by then people will have made up their minds. They get over it eventually, but it puts a bad taste into everyone’s mouth. It is far too heavy handed.

After that, it is only an okay story. Nothing too original, the fantasy elements are only somewhat there, and really, the ending is obvious. The acting is mediocre and the effects are also mediocre. So a mostly blah movie with a bad intro is of course, a bad grade.

The bottom line? Netflix wanted to turn this movie in to a franchise of films or a TV show (along the lines of the Marvel series) or something. And you know what? It probably still will. The world building is there already, they have a lot of room for other fantasy growth, and most importantly, they have a shit ton of people talking about this film.

I don’t know how Netflix in particular makes money from their movies/shows, given everything comes with the submission fee. But almost everyone I know has talked about watching this movie since it came out, due to the hype and the bad talk. So this movie probably put up amazing numbers besides the PR buzz. Expect more Bright in the future, whether you want it or not.

1 out of 4.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

¨It only took twenty years, but we finally have a Jumanji sequel…” said no one ever about this movie, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

Especially since everyone of course remembers that Zathura: A Space Adventure totally exists!

But also because when this movie was announced, a lot of people got pretty angry. Saying things like it would tarnish Robin Williams´ legacy, that it was changing too many things, that it didn´t feel like Jumanji, and everything else. People seem to think that movie studios were sitting on this idea for years, just waiting for Williams to fall over so they could move on. Williams did not own the rights to Jumanji.

When I saw the trailer initially I was actually a little bit excited. Getting sucked into a video game is not a new prompt. It has been done many times as one-off TV show episodes, entire shows have been based on them, and movies as well, but it feels like when it happens it is usually shit. And since I like a lot of these actors, I had a bit more hope for this one.

Group
A diverse cast of characters in a jungle, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!

Don’t worry purists, this film takes place in the same universe as the first Jumanji film! As it starts in the mid 90’s, boardgame found on a beach. However, board games are lame, so the kid doesn’ play it and goes back to his video games. So what’s an evil sentient-esque game supposed to do but morph into a playing system? That is how they will get the kids hooked.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have four kids, very distinct histories and likes, who end up getting detention at the same time. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is our nerd/video game lover, we have The Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) who is good at sports, Bethany (Madison Iseman) a popular cute girl addicted to her phone, and Martha (Morgan Turner) who also is nerdy but more reclusive. They have a task of removing staplers from hundreds of magazines in a basement, hooray child labor! They of course instead find this old video game, all agree to play, because fuck work, and lo and behold, they get sucked into a video game!

Now, they are all the avatars they chose as their characters. Spencer is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), good at everything, while The Fridge is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), the backpack guy sidekick, Martha is now Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) a fighter good at fighting, and Bethany has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), an overweight cartologist.

They must work together to balance their strengths and weaknesses in their new bodies to save the jungles of Jumanji, and also, get themselves back home.

Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Marc Evan Jackson, and Colin Hanks.

Shock
The Rock showing emotion, WHAT YEAR IS IT?

As previously mentioned, most “jump into video game movies” are poorly made. Just look at the third Spy Kids movie. The problem with all of these films or tv shows is they just never seem to “get” video games. They make them awkward puzzle based challenges, but mostly a lot of…non gaming things. The closest we have to a movie understanding video games has been Edge of Tomorrow.

If there is anything you can say about Jumanji 2, it is that it at least understands video games. Our characters have multiple lives, sharing lives, strengths and weaknesses, there are obvious levels, there are boundaries, there are goals, NPCs, weird interactions. It feels like people interacting with a video game world for the most part, that is wonderful.

It is wonderful, until they contradict themselves. For example, one of my biggest issues with this movie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses, and his strengths include Fighting, Strength, Endurance, Speed, and being Fearless. Yeah, he has a bunch. And all the characters in avatar form obviously have strengths or weaknesses that are not normal. But hey, Ruby can actually fight despite being weak in real life. And Smolder can run fast, jump high, and all that.

Except for apparently his Fearless trait. Because a recurring plot point is watching Johnson scream at the slightest and smallest of animals, running in terror, over and over again. It causes one of his deaths. It is such a ridiculous oversight, it really bugs me because everything else was on point and this one felt glaring.

Overall, the movie is just okay still. The video game aspects are fine, the plot is really week. It doesn’t have an overall sense of awe or wonder like its predecessors. Everything is of course just extremely CGI’d and action scenes, with too many of the scenes focusing on human bad guys instead of swell animal problems. We don’t even get natural disasters, despite the several plant or weather based issues that Jumanji gave us.

A fine film, it just still could have been a lot better.

2 out of 4.

Thor: Ragnarok

Okay, Thor: The Dark World was sort of bad. I was caught up in Marvel hype at the time, but I still stand by my original Thor rating.

I love the god of Thunder, and I want Chris Hemsworth to be in many more movies, so I just ooze out happiness towards him, hoping everything is great and falling in love. Except for Blackhat. And The Huntsman: Winter’s War. And Ghostbusters. Okay, so lately Thor is all he has going for him outside of Rush (is it the four letter word theme?!).

But that is not why I am excited about Thor: Ragnarok. I am floor to the wall excited thanks to Taika Waititi.

Who? The indie film New Zealand director who gave us What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (one of my top films last year). This man is so good at his craft, bringing natural humor and an adventure out of little. The fact that he was given a Marvel film to helm, to put his own spin on things, blows my minds, and honestly, I just could not fucking wait.

lightning
Basically, Thor is now full on Rayden.

Ragnarok takes place sometimes after the events of other movies. Thor (Hemsworth) is roaming the stars, leaving Midgard (Earth) behind for a bit in their squabbles, as he makes sure life around the Realms is swell. He is having nightmares about Asgard falling in flames, and he would rather not have that happen to his home.

After dealing with threats, he returns to Asgard and finds it complacent in the suffering of the realm. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is missing. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is clearly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise, not actually dead like everyone assumed. But that is only the beginning of the issues.

It turns out that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has been imprisoned by Odin for some time. She is set to return, to return Asgard to a machine of death and destruction to conquer the cosmos. The Asgard of the past was a scary place, everyone would prefer peace time now, but it is hard for that to occur when she shows up on their doorstep, stronger than the other Asgardians and willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Thor and Odin are expelled from their realm, with mixed results. Odin would like to survive and run, while Thor would prefer to get out of his new reality, defeat his sister and finally claim the throne he has denied in the past. I mean, he has to, or else everyone will die or something.

We get a few new characters into the story, including the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban).

Also featuring the Warriors Three (sort of) (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano), the voice of Clancy Brown, Rachel House, Taika Waititi (he is in his own movie, yes), Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a few cameos to keep on your toes.

War
This is probably what I would wear if I got into LARPing.

Thor is such an odd character to make films about. The goal is to make sure the films have their own unique feel to them and are not a generic action superhero film. This means that Thor gets to go to other planets and realms, but not like the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his is more solo based and war based. GotG is more bad dudes all around.

Years ago this was being noted of being a sort of Road Trip Marvel film, which is not a very apt description. We get to see different areas, different people, at various amounts, while Thor deals with his friends and family tearing itself apart. Unfortunately like a lot of those films, some areas spend too much time, seemingly drag on, when the viewer might just wish it to move its ass along eventually. Namely, the trash planet with the gladiators. Sure, some cool stuff happens there. Some sweet characters. But damn it, get going, get out, let´s get this plot going!

And there is a lot of cool stuff in this film! Thor at the end of the movie is a complete badass, finally rocking out in such an epic way that it feels like a Thor makeover, and I don´t just mean his hair. Hulk is given a decent amount of screen time and gets to show off. Loki is around, which is okay. Hela likes to throw spikes or whatever, and I guess she is strong doing that. Heimdall finally has a purpose in these movies, but still not a lot of purpose. And cameos!

Then there are questions like: Where is Lady Sif? She is a major part of the Thor crew, but she is basically replaced with Valkyrie and we are supposed to be cool with it? (She could not make the filming time, and they just ignored her existence. The Warriors Three at least had parts though).

The questions brought up at the end of The Dark World with Odin/Loki were really quickly dealt with as well. TDW had a very ominous ending and I have been waiting many years for this to come about and it was a disappointment.

Again, the film has tons of fun moments. It does a lot of things right, and it is quite hilarious and badass at various points. It is just a bit too long, rushes through the better things, drags at others, and ignores characters without a good reason.

3 out of 4.

mother!

What a month for horror. And to think it is September, not October.

It came out a two weekends ago and is smashing September box office records, which just means that people love being scared by clowns or feel nostalgia from the previous TV adaption.

But then we get mother! just a week later. Which advertising for has been all over the place. One thing for certain, we know it is a Darren Aronofsky film, so we can expecting something fucked up and hard to explain.

Or not?! mother! is getting a wide release and has a huge star attached, maybe this will just be a run of the film horror movie. Schyeah, and maybe David Lynch will make a straightforward film as well.

Wall
And maybe this wall is just a wall and not a metaphor about bees or some shit?

This film is about a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and a man (Javier Bardem), living in a house in a field on their own. She is slowly rebuilding it after a fire some time in the past, and he is a poet who hasn’t written in awhile. They are both always working and their love is straining, but they are alone and they are alive.

And then a man (Ed Harris) appears at their door. He is old, sickly, and he thought their house was a bed and breakfast. The poet is a generous person and lets him spend the night, despite being a stranger. And the man is sickly and coughs throughout the night, but in the morning he is fine. And also in the morning, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at the door. Huh, he didn’t mention anything like that, and now there is two of them. The poet is still generous, and fuck it, who cares what his wife thinks? They can stay too, because they like his work and he likes their approval. But house guests who make themselves at home can be quite annoying.

Especially when their sons (Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson) come over as well, arguing about estate and will disputes, and one son kills the other in their house. Holy shit, these are terrible guests.

Things get worse from there as more and more strangers enter their home, making our “mother” feel more distant from her husband, but that is all just the vaguest details I could get out about this film. Because in reality, it is a lot stranger, darker, and twisted than anyone should expect.

Oh, and of course, Kristen Wiig. Can’t forget about her.

Mob
“And no one is fucking using coasters!”

I wish I could have just sat in the theater after mother! and just reflected on the experience that unfolded in front of my eyes. But it was late and I had to rush home to pass out, needing sleep before work.

Days later when finally writing this review, it is still fresh on my mind. Partially because of the graphic nature and story in a story that it told. And partially because I knew that this film would have a hell of a shit storm from the regular movie going community. This is not the sort of film that should have gotten a wide release and marketed as some sort of home invasion horror. It is an art house film and it is being exposed to people who are going to expect something completely different and be upset about being bamboozled.

Like it or hate it, those are the only two options people will have from this movie. Anyone who said they thought it was okay is probably just lying. Despite its polarizing attributes (Which again, are going to amplify to the negative), people WILL be talking about it and remember it for a long time. That is not always a good thing, because being infamous for being really bad or gross doesn’t make a great film.

But in all honesty, this is a pretty great film. It did incredible things inside of a one location suit. It should make the viewer feel claustrophobic and a whole lot of other emotions. It should leave the viewer thinking and change their perspective on a few things. Or it will just be considered some strange torture snuff shit and have people walk out of it, especially when it ramps up even further near the end.

Good on Jennifer Lawrence for doing a project like this. She breathed hard and panted her face off in this film to make us uncomfortable, and it really worked.

3 out of 4.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Fucking finally. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It has final in the name, so there will be no more without a reboot, those are the rules. Ignore whatever happened between Saw: The Final Chapter and Jigsaw, those guys are liars, they totally won’t be liars here.

If you read my long milestone review on Resident Evil franchise, there is a common problem with the films. Each film would end with a cliff hanger and a goal! Okay, fine. But the next film will either ignore the cliff hanger and have it resolve off screen and ignore the “goal” set by the previous film. It was especially egregious in films 4 and 5, where they decided to go a completely different route, creating their own excuses that were shit for changing the plot. It was fucking stupid. Although sure, the second film continued after the first where you would expect it to, so that is the only one that really felt connected.

Anyways, if that happens again, I might flip my shit. Also another reminder, one stuntman died during filming of a scene, and a stuntwoman had a shit ton of injuries, 2 week coma, and had her arm amputated off. Holy fuck, that is bad. That is not a good start to a movie, especially a movie no one asked for.

Dangle
But that’s okay, because at least Milla was able to dangle on her own.

At the end of the last film, Alice (Milla Jovovich) and crew had to head to Washington, DC, ready to take on giant waves of zombies at the White House. Wesker (Shawn Roberts) sent them there and was a good guy now, after being a bad guy.

Well this film begins with a backstory, which is different than backstory from previous films, and then jumps over the other films to bring us to now. Which is actually in DC! But some time has passed. Alice is now alone again, for reasons. Also apparently Wesker turned on her and the crew and is a bad guy, again. Seriously, all off screen pre-movie, they were like, lets make him bad again and do none of this DC plot, and let’s put it in a new direction, again. Fuckers.

So after some fighting with a goddamn zombie dragon creature, Alice gets contacted by the Red Queen (Ever Anderson, real life daughter of Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson) and gets an earfull. Apparently the Umbrella Corporation developed an antidote before this whole outbreak thing occurred. They wanted the world to fall to ruin, yes like a Biblical flood, then they would release the antidote into the air, killing anything with the T-Virus inside of them

The Red Queen wants Alice to get to the cure before the last human settlements are wiped out. She has about two days. And of course, the cure is at the bottom of The Hive facility underneath the now wiped out Raccoon City, where there are going to be some zombies, and fucked up shit inside. Hooray!

Also featuring Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, William Levy, and Rola.

Chase
At some point in the franchise, the zombies just become Alice’s biggest fans and always follow her around town.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a bad movie on almost every front.

First of all, it continues a story only in name, because it literally once again, tells a different story than the previous film implied. Characters have different motivations suddenly. Characters who were at the end of the last film are now gone and not mentioned. The entire backstory is changed at the beginning, just so they can do different things with this film. Yet at the same time, this is just another film where the goal is to go into an underground bunker, do a thing, then escape the bunker. A nice giant open world long fight, implied by the end of the last movie, would have been great.

There is technically action in this film, but good luck figuring it out. Even scenes of very little important are cut so rapidly I found myself barely watching the movie. It was hurting my head and eyes. It is one of those ways to cover up good action scenes by having quick cuts and to hide stunt actors. No good amount of choreography, just cut cut cut with flashing lights and confusion.

Acting is weak. The plot is extremely weak, with twists you can definitely see coming. There is nothing profound about this film, even with Biblical elements. You will just find yourself waiting for it to be over.

HOWEVER. Guess what! It is never over. It. Is. Never. Over. This movie ends on a cliffhanger. The story isn’t over. This is probably not going to be a final chapter. Meaningful conclusions are bullshit. Sure, the story seems like they finally finished the Umbrella Arc. But you know as well as I do that if there is another movie within a decade that there will be Clones or something of the important people, another hidden sect, and a story that just won’t die.

Like zombies.

0 out of 4.

A Ghost Story

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

2017 has been a great year for alternative thrillers and horrors. From Split, to Get Out, to It Comes At Night, to even Colossal on some levels, a lot of fucked up shit is happening this year in movies, and we get to watch it on our screens.

So why not turn things even further on their head with A Ghost Story?

The idea behind this movie I have to imagine was taken as a bet. And it seems funny that it is by David Lowery who just gave us Pete’s Dragon. I wonder how many parallels can be made between the two?

Haunts
Omg turn around such spooks watch out!

The story is about a man (Casey Affleck) and a woman (Rooney Mara), madly in love with each other. The man is a musician, the woman really enjoys books and writing notes. They fight some times, sure, but they at least communicate well.

And then the man dies. In a car accident, right outside of their home. Fuck.

The woman identifies the body at the morgue and leaves, unsure of what she is going to do with her life. And then? And then? And then?! The man rises up from his table, still covered in the sheets from the morgue. He walks down the halls and no one notices him. He feels a calling, back to his home.

And in that home is where he stands and waits. He glimpses into the woman’s life that he used to be married to. He sees her in her great levels of grief, he sees her begin to move on with her life. He even sees the worse thing of all – he sees her find another person to love.

Also featuring Liz Franke as a real estate agent and Will Oldham as the Prognosticator.

Building
Something haunts these hallowed empty halls. Something that smells sheety.

Of course of course, how could a film that looks so much like a joke be anything more than a joke? How can a joke supersede its own existence into something greater than the movie average that exists? How can I cry to a man dressed in a ghost sheet costume?

Well, I did. At least five times. An emotionally gripping movie where sure, a lot of it was my own imagination getting away from me imagining how similar circumstances would affect my own life. But that’s what movies should do, draw upon your own life experiences and make you feel shit.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The movie. First thing someone should notice is the aspect ratio. It is 1.33:1, which is basically a box with rounded edges, to make the whole thing seem like an old styled family film. It is not just the introduction, or the ghost scenes, it is the whole film. And the film uses very minimal camera movement. Long scenes where it just sits as the characters move around, or scenes where it basically floats around the house/room/office like a ghost itself.

In ghost form, Affleck doesn’t say anything (if it even is Affleck under those sheets). But he says so much in those darkened sheet eyes. Fuck this is hard to describe.

A Ghost Story is possibly one of the realest feeling films this year. Mara herself just captivates the idea of grief incarnate. Watching her just exist in the home alone brings so much pain to the viewers. You just want to jump through the screen and hold her, letting her know everything is not okay but she is okay and she will be fine. Just get out of the house, make some friends.

In this film you get to watch Mara eat pie. Like a real human being. One long shot of her just going into some pie, with a break away shot, then more goddamn pie. It is the most human thing you will see in cinemas this year.

A Ghost Story is an experience unlike many others. It takes us across time to question what is the purpose of life and how hard it is to move on – both for those who survive and for those who do not.

4 out of 4.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

I hate Luc Bessson. I probably have said that at least a thousand times in my life at to this point. I have also already said that he hasn’t made anything good since The Fifth Element, which was of course 20 years ago, and relevant to the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Because I went into Valerian and I expected to hate it. I expected it to be somehow a Eurotrash movie, but in Space. I didn’t have any fond reasons to love the leads at all, and was just ready to be scathing. But then I didn’t hate it. I didn’t dislike it either. At the lowest I knew it would be an average rating, but not sure if it could land higher.

I did know that I had to go and rewatch The Fifth Element before I wrote this review. Because in all honesty, I hadn’t seen it since it came out when I was a kid, and I remembered nothing except for the intro scenes. And after going back and watching it, I sort of shrugged me shoulders and sighed, remembering it to be better than that.

Two takeaways from this intro: I guess I only really really like Leon, The Professional from Besson, and I don’t hate Valerian.

Boob Armor
But I did hate how stupid looking they decided to make her armor.

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are team of space soldier ranger things. They work for some intergalactic agency and have to do missions. In space! Pretty standard police stuff. We get to see them doing some space mission after Valerian wakes up from a space dream where a planet of blue things get wrecked super hard.

From this mission, Valerian and Laureline, gain a sweet pearl of extreme energetic power, and a cool little lizard who makes copies of anything it eats. I think you all can put two and two together to see why this is an intense combination. And this is the cause of all of their problems. Because when they return back to Alpha (aka the City of a Thousand Planets. A floating, giant space station that has inhabitants from all over to create one massive entity in unity), shit starts hitting the fan. A wiped out race of aliens appear and steal the lizard, but they use non lethal means. The main captain is taken and people who have no idea what is going on are in charge.

But don’t worry. We have Valerian and Laureline, who will take turns saving each other, to get to the bottom of this mess.

Also featuring Alain Chabat, Clive Owen, Elizabeth Debicki, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, and Sam Spruell.

Aliens
Stare deeply into the eyes of the Blue Dhalsim.

I have put off writing this review for over a week. I have reviews that come out next week that I have already written before this one, it is just so hard.

The thoughts I had when I left the theater: Well, I don’t hate it. But do I love it? Is it average?

It is so damn hard to tell. There is quite a lot for someone to like in this film, and almost an equal number to dislike. So…Here…we…go!

Dislikes:

  • DeHaan is not a bad actor, but he is not great in this film. Far too much of his dialogue is spent trying to badly woo Delevingne and it just drags on. His voice is way too gruff for his boyish face, like he is trying to play Batman. He worked for A Cure For Wellness, but it is hard to like him here.
  • Delevingne, for the most part, is a bad actress. She isn’t great here either, but they don’t give her a lot to work with. Her character is weakly written, despite being an integral part of the team. Her name should be part of the movie, not just focused on the boy hero. But also, it is like her role is one entire eye roll.
  • Goodman was wasted in this film, his voice was great for the character, but they implied he would have a bigger impact on the movie and then he…never came back.
  • The Alpha station got really annoying. All of these special biomes and places to live, so of course we have a couple parts of the plot where our characters can rush through EVERY SINGLE ONE MENTIONED. Doing the “look at all the stuff in here!” and making sure it all matters instead of just keeping it small scale and letting stuff happen in the future. I had a similar issue with Zootopia, all these biomes, MAKE SURE WE HIT THEM ALL.
  • Related to points 1 and 2, Delevingne and DeHaan had terrible chemistry.

Likes:

  • What a goddamn introduction to he film. A nice, beach and ocean planet. A tribe of native aliens. In my screener there was a mess up with the intro, where we couldn’t see their dialogue and subtitles, and guess what, IT WASN’T NECESSARY. A story was told, it was awe inspiring, it was great, quality, film.
  • The CGI for the most part was always on par as well. A ton of visual effects and they helped the universe, they didn’t hurt it. A lot of unique elements too, maybe from the comic, maybe not, but it was pleasing to look at.
  • The plot wasn’t terrible. It had quite a few good elements and a lot of random twists in the middle. No one would guess where this film is going, even if you could guess where it ends.
  • This hurts to say this, which makes it more true. Rihanna was in this film, and her character was fun. It was fun and Rihanna was completely fine in it. She didn’t take away from the movie, although how she exited the movie seemed unnecessary.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this movie. What I am left with is realizing this is a step in the right direction for Besson. Another of these films with a more focused story and planet or planets could be amazing. And I wouldn’t even care if he replaced the leads, I swear. It is not terrible, despite pretty bad elements. It is just totally okay.

2 out of 4.

The Shack

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Another film to come out in March that I missed, due to the extreme circumstances of birthday nonsense that incorporates that month of my life, when I first saw the trailer for The Shack, I didn’t realize it was a religious film.

Yes, even though there was an original song by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, I didn’t realize it was a religious film. Even though it came out right around Easter, I didn’t realize it was a religious film. Even though it was about death and overcoming grief, I didn’t realize it was a religious film.

I just thought it was a fantasy film. But when I had to see the trailer a second time my wife was there and told me. Whoops. Well, religious films are still fantasy films, so it is relevant enough for me to finally watch it.

Group
Worst superhero team ever?

Willie (Tim McGraw) gets to serve as our narrator and local church pastor for this film, so I know you are stoked.

This film is instead about Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), a successful family man at some job, with his wife Nan (Radha Mitchell), and three kids Kate (Megan Charpentier), Josh (Gage Munroe), and Missy (Amélie Eve). Mack had a rough life growing up, when he was a kid (Carson Reaume), he lived with his alcoholic father (Derek Hamilton) and mother. The dad got angry a whole lot, beat up the mom, and beat up Mack. When Mack tried to tell the church, he just got beat up more. Sucks a whole lot.

Either way now he is a happy dad. They still go to church, but he isn’t fully into Jesus like his wife. On a camping trip where Nan cannot make it, he is enjoying life with his three kids. When his two oldest get into an accident on the lake, Mack rushes into the water to save them, hooray big hero! But now his daughter, Missy, is missing.

He was barely in the water, it was only a few minutes, yet she is gone and he and the other campers cannot find her anywhere. The police believe it to be a serial killer (!) in the area, who has been taking girls. Days later, they find her clothes and blood in a shack, no real resolution. Holy crap!

Now, months later, it is winter, and of course Mack is still upset. His whole family is, but Mack is more upset at the big guy upstairs. He ends up getting a note to go back to the Shack, and against the wishes of his pastor, he heads up alone, thinking it is the serial killer and he wants revenge.

Instead, he finds a magical cabin, with representatives from heaven who want him to heal. Featuring Octavia Spencer as God, Avraham Aviv Alush as Jesus, and Sumire Matsubara as the Holy Spirit. Also Alice Braga as some sort of judger and Graham Greene also as God.

Cook
They heal his soul the southern way, with biscuits.

A lot of the problems/issues that the movie have, problems with story structure and more, can unfortunately be written away by spiritual magic. Dream sequences and all of that jazz. Because while watching it, the viewer should be saying “Hey, how can he spend multiple days up here with no one knowing where he is?…Oh. Because it was maybe all in his head real time wise and he never made it to the Shack? Gotcha.”

And that takes away from so much. If they dealt with the real consequences of him disappearing it would have added some more real drama to the film. But it gets swept under the rug, we get an hour plus of movie and “growth” from Mack that happens in the span of apparently getting into a car accident and waking up in a hospital. How convenient.

The main message of the film is to live a better life, you need to forgive and forget the bad things and focus on the good. But they chose a really messed up person to preach this too. Yes, they are saying to forgive and forget the dad who beat them. They are saying to forgive and forget a serial killer for abducting, killing, and who knows what else his tiny girl.

I’m sorry, but no. There are bad things in the world, and this film says it is okay, because there are still good things in your life and Heaven awaits. That is a bad message to pass on.

Also, Spencer gets to play neighborly helper woman again, but also as God. She just can’t get a typecasted break. At least the Jesus character looks more Jesus-y than normal.

0 out of 4.