Wrap Up : Stranger Things 2

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Success sometimes, isn’t the best thing for movies and TV shows. Especially when that success, comes out of nowhere, and becomes huge, massive success. Thats what happened to season one of Stranger Things. That success means a few different things. One, it makes the expectations of season two that much more inflated. Two, many times more success means more people who want to able to claim some of that success and quality which adds more cooks to the kitchen. Three, everyone expects any sequel to be bigger and better than before. And four, you usually don’t have as much time to create as you did before. Most if not all of these things I’m sure were a part of the creation of Stranger Things season two, that  being said though, this season of Stranger Things definitely comes out swinging a nail filled bat of quality.

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Everything about ST2 that needed to be bumped up, has been, and everywhere that should have been kept smaller and more tight knit, has also been. Thats the real success of season two. Things pick up right where they left off, even though this takes places about year after the events of season one, it honestly feels like we never left these characters. The entire gangs back, plus some new faces that are expertly woven into this sci-fi, adventure tapestry. The story picks up like I said one year after season one, and meets our party trying to live a normal life after the life changing events of a year before. And at first, all does seem well, and we don’t have to wait long before we get our first look at fan favorite 11, as many fans were worried we might have to wait a long time to see her return.

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Then things start to get, well, strange. New comers Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin, and Sadie Sink are all welcomed to the cast, and they all have sizable roles. Then just like season one, ST2 does an amazing job of setting up its narrative, and setting all of its characters on a collision course to its ultimate end. This all isn’t to say also that this season is safe, as it does make some bold decisions, and sticks to them for better or worse. One of the things that worked best about season one, was the team, and when the team was together on screen. ST2 takes a typical trope of team up movies, and breaks up the team for the majority of the narrative, only to bring them back for the finale. It actually takes many common tropes of the genre ( sci-fi, adventure, 80s, horror), and twists them around on themselves to allow for much more character development than would usually come from said tropes. Some of the best characters on the show are actually the ones that start out as much less likable, but that allows for them to have the most growth.

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ST2 also benefits from a clearly, and sizably increased budget, and it definitely shows on screen. From episode one straight on, we get to reap the fruits of that increased budget, and it just allows for the elevation of the material. I do have some minor gripes as with most things, but they really are mostly just personal issues, and they don’t at all pull down the material, or the show itself. After season one I had really high expectations for this season, and of the creators, the Duffer brothers, who write and direct most all of season one and two. I also was, and am continually impressed with the level acting from the entire cast here, especially the younger actors who prove again they are no one hit wonders. All in all, Stranger Things season 2 is a wonderful return to form for the Duffer brothers, the cast, the crew, and everyone involved. I think it reaches most of the heights of the season one, and it most definitely eclipses season one in terms of the spectacle here, and the quality of acting and directing doesn’t let off ever. It might not have made me cry like season one, but it had me on the edge of seat for sure, and its worth the watch and the binge (just clear 9 hours and get it out in a one).

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Review : Geostorm


“When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate starts to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide Geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.”

Just like that poster, this movie is full of lies. Gerard Butler is never staring down a tidal wave, his daughter his never in any danger, he, for most of this movie is in space. Geostorm is one of those movies, that makes some cheques that it cannot cash. This movie is another in a long line of disaster movies, only this one doesn’t have that much disaster in it really. Pretty much all of the disaster is seen in the trailer, just in shorter scenes, and since there is only one instance where they are any of the main characters in danger from any of it, you never really care. So what is this movie really? Well it’s half disaster movie, half mystery/drama. The cast here isn’t bad, and there are some stand outs, but much of there time is spent hamming it up and being way too dramatic, without the film backing up that drama. It is nice to see such a large and diverse cast, but they don’t have much to do, and they can even come off as kind of incompetent at times. The plot of this movie also comes off as kind of ridiculous, and nothing feels like it has any real weight or stakes to it. So what we end up left with here, are what feel like two different movies, each with their problems, and neither with much satisfaction to be had from them. All in all, Geostorm takes what should be a fun action adventure, disaster movie, and makes it a bigger disaster than anything we ever see in the movie. I mean when would a computer ever be like Geostorm in 1 hour 30 minutes,that’s just lazy.

Review Score : 4 out of 10

Trailer of the Week!

Trailer of the week is back, and back with a real interesting one.

Acrimony

The word acrimony means to have feeling of bitterness or ill will, and I think its safe to say we’re going to get A LOT of that in this movie. Written and directed by Tyler Perry, who clearly is trying to either reinvent himself, or at least show us more of that Gone Girl side of him, and staring Taraji P. Henson as our lead here. It seems to tell of a fairly simple story, involving trust, betrayal, and everything else we expect from a marriage struggling to hold itself together.

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Where this movie I think looks to stand out, is both in its portrayal of both sides, which should lean heavily on the acting talent here, and what the trailer teases as some kind of twist in the narrative here. A twist of course isn’t anything new to stories like this, but it will be interesting to see where Perry takes us, in contrast to his much more well known comedic writings.

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Seemingly leaning heavily on the performance of Henson here, and also looking to be a stand out showing for Perry as a director, Acrimony looks to be a real bold statement from Perry. I think we all know Henson can really bring it in a role like this, but what everyone is probably waiting to see, is can Perry’s writing and directing hold up the high level he seems to be aiming for here. Acrimony drops at the end of March 2018, will you be seeing it, or do you need more proof?

Review : The Snowman


“Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.”

The Snowman is a strange movie. It’s directed by Tomas Alfredson, and stars Michael Fassbender as an alcoholic detective, who gets drawn into a murderuous, conspiracy plot. This movie has a surprisingly big name cast, but other than Rebecca Ferguson, none of those actors have much of a role here really. It’s listed under 5 genres, and it really does run the gamut here from crime, to mystery, and even horror and thriller. The real problem with this movie however, is that instead of happening to be all those things, it tries to be at least a little of each across the movies 2 hour run time. And that leads to a few different issues. For one, this movie dangles a few too many threads for us to pull on, because it never gets the opportunity to address all, or wrap up all, so many of them just come of as conspiracy fodder, and wasted sub plots. At least one third of this movie, consists of an entire kind of high power prostitution ring sub plot, that both went no where, and save for one tiny connector, would have been totally irrelevant to the movie on a whole. And that trend carries over in the movies pace and tone. It’s constantly up and down, and constantly trying to be a horror one minute, a thriller the next, a crime drama the next, and it just doesn’t work. Even the main plot here, comes across as convoluted, and like it constantly was trying to throw the viewer, but doing so with little regard to make sure it still made sense in the end. I mean Fassbender and Ferguson are fine here, I didnt really expect anything either ground breaking or terrible from them, and their supporting cast is also fine in the limited role they do have. All in all, The Snowman feels like a lot of wasted potential, much of which I think came down to the directing, and the adaptation of this film from its novel inspiration.

Review Score : 5 out of 10

Review : Mother!


“A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”

So you might read that, and think you know what you’re getting yourself into, but boy would you be wrong. Mother is a metaphor, and I mean that in the most literal way possible, this movie is literally a metaphor, wrapped up in another metaphor, and a simile, and everything else literary and none literal. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as “Mother”, and Javier Bardem as her spouse, and in that, that’s as straight forward as this movie ever is or gets. Darren Aronofsky is known by now for his dream like storytelling and visuals, that he combines with very specific themes, that he almost always plays metaphorically, and leaves much to the audience to dissect and understand. This movie is no different, and is probably his most Aronofsky movie ever. To be fair, this movie isn’t for everyone, hell its probably not for most people, and it’s portrayal of certain ideas and concepts might really rub a lot of people the wrong way. This movie can come across as very voyeuristic, and almost pornographic in its presentation, and given the relationship between director and lead actress here, I think that makes sense. Mother requires a lot from Lawrence, and she gives it her all, and she is excellent in her role. A role however, that I think took a lot of trust and confidence in her director, and I think their personal relationship helped that. There is so much I can say about this movie, in breaking it down, dissecting and discussing it, but I’m never been one for spoilers, and I think a big part of this movie is seeing it, and being confronted by it, and then having to deal with that experience, and formulate an opinion from that. It also feels impossible to score this film, as for all of those that won’t appreciate what was attempted here, would probably laugh this movie off, so I feel like I have to score it based on those who are actually willing enough to try it. If all of this sounds a bit too out there for you, then maybe Mother isn’t for you, but if you like experimental, artistic, inventive, and out there stories and story telling, then give Mother a look.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Pendulum 


“When Luther, the CEO of a major software company, realizes he has a stalker intent on doing him harm, he calls in Ryan, an old friend and former soldier. Ryan, who is battling with post-traumatic stress disorder, tracks down the stalker and is forced to kill him, but in so doing, makes a shocking discovery.”

Pendulum is a Trinidad made film, staring Jovon Browne, Stephen Hadeed Jr., and Anokha Baptiste. It’s directed by Michael Rochford, and was fully filmed in Trinidad and Tobago. If I had to describe this movie in one word, to quote a friend of mine from his wedding speech, “Problems!”. Visually and stylistically, Pendulum swings back and forth from well done, good looking shots, to really uninspired, seemingly lazy film making. There are even times when I would notice some pretty visible clipping of footage, or some mistakes that should have been noticed like a scene where one character is holding an empty beer of one brand, and when someone walks across the frame, he then has a full beer of a different brand in his hand. That seeming lack of attention to details plagues this entire film. Hadeed Jr. and De Lancey are good when they’re given enough to work with, but Browne who plays the title role here really lacks the on screen charisma, to make you connect with his character. And as we’re on the topic of problems, there are many, but I’m going to talk in-depth about the worst one. Now I’ve had this issue with local films before, the sound, sound editing, sound mixing, and to a lesser extent the score, are serious issues here. The entire movie seemed to have had its dialogue ADRed, but it’s done so poorly that it constantly is out of time with characters lips, there is no spatial awareness to it, it’s all flat, it comes and goes at points, there are even time where people say things, and you hear nothing. The rest of the audio here is also like this. Sound effects come and go, they don’t match up with to what we see on screen, they’re too loud or too soft, or they just don’t match with at they’re attached to. At more than one point in this movie, the audio simply cuts out, and abruptly pops back up a few seconds later. I don’t have any issues with the score musically, it just seemed underwhelming, which could be due to it’s often understated levels. The title sequence at the start of this movie is good, but it’s preceded by a random sequence of credits that are subsequently rendered useless by the actual title credits. The fight scenes are sloppy, the effects are barebones, and when the cinematography goes off, it goes way off. The story only becomes coherent (but never believable) when characters literally spell out everything that actually happened, in a narrative that tries to be too ckever for its own good. All in all, what Pendulum feels like, is a student movie that was meant to be done by a certain time, wasn’t, but had to be handed in anyway. I never want to be so negative on films from my home, but I feel like I have to hold them to the same standard I hold all movies.

Review Score : 2 out of 10

Review : Blade Runner 2049


“A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.”

1982 gave us one the most influential science fiction movies of all time in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. 35 years later, we have the combined vision of Scott, but this time helmed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, with story by Hampton Fancher. It picks up 30 years after the events of the first movie, this time lead by Ryan Gosling as a LAPD Blade Runner charged with retiring older lost models of replicants. There is a lot more story here, but honestly, this movie is filled with so many unspoiled surprises, that I can’t really talk about much of it without giving a lot away. What I can say however, is that this movie is possibly the prettiest, most beautifully shot movie I maybe have ever seen, and that’s a real impressive feat given the general bleakness of this future landscape. That bleakness however, does allow the movie a kind of minimalist aesthetic that pairs brilliantly with the analog future design of everything here. It’s like they took what was done in the first movie, and instead of just going more into the future, they went into the future of what they had already created which allows 2049 to match perfectly with the original, but still feel new. That visual base is then stacked even higher by the acting here. Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and the rest of the cast here are all spectacular. No one does understated like Gosling, and he plays this complex role to a Tee. He also cuts a great silhouette, and fits perfectly into this world. Even the more cameo roles here are so organic that you just believe these characters have been living and breathing in this world for years. Blade Runner 2049 is one of those movies, that might not be fully appreciated till years from now, for its contribution to the genre and film making. As slow of a burn as it is, it’s combination of cinematography, score, and subtle acting means you’re never wanting for more over this 2 + hour journey. Any fan of the original should be more than happy with this long awaited second outing, and even those who have never seen the original, should find a lot to like here.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10