Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Movie Review

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Plot Synopsis:

Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and crosses paths with his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality (IMDb).

Critique:

 I’ve got a weird relationship with Sony Pictures Animation… They’ve made great movies, like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, and they’ve also been responsible for the atrocity known as “The Emoji Movie”- so I’m sure you understand why I went into this movie being extremely cautious.

The first thing I’ll say about this movie is I really dug the visual style they went for as far as the look of the movie goes. It has a real comic book look to it that I really appreciated, however- that same style also made it difficult to see what’s going on in about the first ten minutes of the film. There were certain shots where it looked like it was supposed to be in 3-D, but it wasn’t finalized- however after that, the film looked fine to me.

Going back to style and look of the film, I appreciated the fact that there were comic book elements added, such as mental dialogue being shown in a boxed format, and some of the actions are written out like a real comic book- and I really appreciated that added touch. Speaking of which, there’s comic book-like origin stories for some of the other Spider-Men characters like Spider-Gwen, Penni Parker, Spider-Ham, and Spider-Man Noir (who’s voiced by Nicholas Cage).

There’s some Spider-Man references meticulously placed into this film in the form of quick visuals that if you’re keen to it, you’ll pick it up, if not the film will just move along.

Spider-Man is normally a funny character, and that’s certainly no exception with this film… this movie is laced with humor that works most of the time for me, and it reminds me of the comedy style in “The Lego Movie”, which is ironic considering that Phil Lord, who directs this film, also directed “The Lego Movie”.

The last thing I’ll say about this movie is while it’s super funny, there’s also some touching and serious moments in this film. When someone bites it, the impact is felt significantly- and it helps raise the stakes in the movie, you know besides making sure that the universe doesn’t end because of the space time continuum collapsing. The stakes are felt, and as an audience, we feel that.

Grade:

The movie visually appealing for the most part, and it tells a great story while also balancing superhero action. It’s got plenty of humor and heart, and while I still can’t forgive Sony Pictures Animation for “The Emoji Movie” I will applaud their efforts in this film and give “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” a 9/10 or an A.

 

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” Review

Plot Synopsis:

In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush. Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet–the Netizens–to help navigate their way. Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces–so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had (Rotten Tomatoes).

Review:

When I saw the trailer to “Wreck It Ralph” in 2012, it looked cute but I wasn’t quite sure how I was gonna feel about watching an animated movie full of video game references, but when I finally saw the movie on DVD- I was thoroughly shocked on how deep of a movie it was and I loved it. And with the sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” I felt the same way!

The animation in this film is top notch and beautiful! There’s a lot of care and thought that went into this movie and you can really feel that! When Ralph and Vanellope get into the Internet, the world that’s created is truly breathtaking and it’s a visual sweet tooth’s dream! There’s a lot of visual gags and references that not only internet savvy people will get, but I believe a lot of people will see something they’ll understand!

The thing I really like about the plot in this film is there’s a clear understanding of the goal in the film. Sure, they may deviate from the main plot and they’ll explore various parts of the Internet, but it’s all for the big goal of buying a new steering wheel for Vanellope’s game. Another thing I like is there’s a clear understanding of the motivation for the characters: Wreck It Ralph wants to keep things the way it is, and Vanellope wants something new in her life- and these two different motivations cause conflict.

When I said the creators of the film put some thought and care into this, it wasn’t just the animation… it’s also for the culture of the Internet. There’s a scene where Ralph looks at comments from the knockoff YouTube site, and the way they handled trolls was a thousand times better than the lazy attempt “The Emoji Movie” did. The message behind the scene was that sure, the Internet can bring the worst out of people, but it’s not all bad.

The last thing I’ll say about this is I felt so many emotions in this film. I felt joy, happiness, laughter, and there were even scenes that made me shed a tear. The thing I love about this movie, and the previous movie, is the deeper messages hidden within. In “Wreck It Ralph” it was understanding who you really are, and accepting it. And in this one, it’s about the importance of friendship, and letting them do what makes them happy- even if it means you have to let them go for a bit.

Grade:

I was rocking with a solid 9/10 or a 9.5/10 as the credit were rolling, but then something happened after the credits (that I obviously can’t talk about) and it bumped it up to a solid 10/10 A+ Grade.

This movie has a lot of heart, it’s gorgeous, it’s a lot of fun, and it has a positive and vital lesson that I feel like kids and people need to see!

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Review

Plot Synopsis:

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world (Google).

Critique:

This is the second installment of the Harry Potter spin-off series, Fantastic Beasts… or as I like to call it, the Harry Potter Pokémon series- and I gotta say, it’s not as bad as some of the critics are saying it is.

Some of the things I really like about the film is that David Yates does a good job directing this film. There’s some beautiful shots, and the visual effects look amazing in this movie.

Another thing I liked is that some of the creatures in this film are more interesting to me than some of the creatures in the first film. For instance, a creature I really liked was the Zouwu, which is this Chinese creature that’s a mix of a lion and a dragon.

Out of all his recent performances, this is Johnny Depp’s best as Grindelwald- he’s a charismatic villain with a silver tongue, and unless you’ve seen some of his heinous actions in the beginning of the film, you could fall under his spell.

Dan Fogler reprises his role as Jacob Kowalski, and I was annoyed that they brought him back at first, but I actually liked him a lot more in this movie. In the first Fantastic Beasts film he was the comedy relief, and in this film he’s often times the voice of reason. There’s even a scene I like where he’s giving Newt advice on how to talk to a girl he likes, and their dialogue together is hilarious!

The last thing I’ll say is there’s a major plot twist in the end that I did not see coming, and I’m interested to see how that plays into the next three films.

Now it’s time to get into the negatives: the story in this film feels all over the place to me, and it feels scatter brained, like there’s no consistency between ideas. Another issue I have is this film has way too many expositional scenes, or scenes involving flashbacks. There’s one scene where we’re given about five minutes of exposition, only for a character to say “actually this is how it happened” and we get ten minutes of flashbacks.

Grade:

I’m hoping that this film is just a bump in the road, and that the next three films sort the story out, because this series doesn’t have any source material like the original series had.

If you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, you’re going to like this a lot. If you’re just a casual viewer, this probably won’t be your cup of tea.

I’m giving “Fantastic Beasts 2” a 7/10 or a C.

Overlord (2018 Film) Review

Plot:

With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion’s success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen. From producer J.J. Abrams, Overlord is a thrilling, pulse-pounding action adventure with a twist. (Rotten Tomatoes)

Critique:

I’m going to be honest, when I saw the trailer to “Overlord” I thought they were making a live action version of the anime series… after that clearly didn’t become the case, I was skeptical about it because the zombie genre is one of my least favorite horror genres because of its over-saturation. I was also worried when I saw J.J. Abram’s name attached to it, because I thought they were gonna connect it to the convoluted Cloverfield series. And I’m here to tell you, this movie is actually pretty bad ass!

The movie hooks you right from the jump with this amazing plane sequence that’s chaotic, grisly, and violent… and it sets up the tone of the movie perfectly! The beginning of the film is all about getting you attached to these characters, that way when some of them meet their demise, it hits you hard. The thing I really like about this movie is that it presents real people- no one seems like a character to me. They all have their own personality that helps develop them as the movie continues. And the two characters I was attached to the most were Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell).

This film to me is 80% a World War II Film, and 20% is actually the zombie film. These zombies aren’t the slow walkers from “Night of the Living Dead” or “The Walking Dead” these are super soldiers that are fast, strong, and extremely dangerous. The zombies amplified the story without getting in the way, and I really appreciated that. The actor that played the villain, Pilou Asbæk, played a smarmy, vicious Nazi Captain, and he perfectly caused tension in the film.

Grade:

Thankfully there was no Cloverfield connection, and this film balanced action and horror in a way that didn’t seem over-bearing. I’m going to give Overlord a 9/10 or an A.

It’s a fun popcorn film that embraces its B Movie status, and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it wants to be. So many movies try to be Shakespeare when they’re not, and I respect this movie for just going in, doing its job, and getting out.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” Theatrical Release Review

Plot:

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, decides to spread Christmas joy to the world. But his well-meaning mission unwittingly puts Santa Clause in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for all good little boys and girls everywhere! Who will save Christmas? (Ben Fancher IMDB)

Critique:

I remember the first time I saw “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was the summer of 2014 (ironic, I know) and I remember absolutely adoring it ever since. Now there’s been, naturally, a debate whether this is a Halloween or a Christmas movie… my input is that it can be both. My tradition has been to watch this film every Christmas because I’ve never been able to watch this on Halloween, until this year.

Well, I guess October 26 is close enough to Halloween. Originally I wasn’t going to do this review because I felt like there wasn’t going to be much input I could provide on here that I couldn’t already tell you from the 5 other viewings I’ve had of this film, but alas, by popular demand I’m doing this review to also add my theater experience to this review.

The stop-motion style of this movie is top notch, and it’s incredible that it still holds up even after its 1993 release. The thing I noticed about it on the big screen, rather than the small screen that I’m used to, is you can see more details on the characters, including rips and tears in the clothes.

The score in this movie is so good, that I actually own it on iTunes, but the sound quality is much better in the theater, the bass is boosted, and you can hear every individual instrument all around you. The musical parts seem natural, and it helps the exposition of the film as it goes along. “This is Halloween” Kidnap the Sandy Claws” “Oogie Boogie’s Song” and “Finale/ Reprise” are still my favorite songs off the score, and it was neat to be able to hear them and gage some of the audience reactions to see which songs they liked.

Grade:

This is probably the most predictable review I’ve done, but since y’all wanted it y’all got it.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is in my top 3 all-time favorite Tim Burton films along with “Edward Scissorhands” and “Beetlejuice” so this is already going to get a good grade.

I haven’t been able to see this in 3D yet, so until then it’s a 9/10 or an A.

Halloween (2018) Review

Plot Synopsis:

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him. (Google)

Critique:

Out of all the iconic slasher characters, Michael Myers has always scared me the most because of several factors of the character: the blank expressionless mask followed by the heavy breathing, how much of a giant he is, and the fact that you have no idea if he’s entirely human. Michael seems to have no real motive, and he’ll sit right up from a gunshot like The Undertaker and Kane- and the mysterious, unknown nature of the character has always frightened me. In this film, Michael Myers retains some of those same traits, but the film humanizes him a bit- he can still be wounded, but he’s like an uncaged animal- and if you wound him and corner him enough, he becomes even more dangerous than he already was. I also have to mention that the design of his mask in this film is incredible, it’s been aged and worn out to give it a gritty, grizzled look that works for this iteration of the character. Another cool thing is you never get a clear look at Myers’ face, you’ll get a profile, a close up of the side of his face, and shots of his glassy, dead looking eyes, and it leaves it to your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, and the way her character is portrayed is a breath of fresh air. Obviously she would be traumatized because of the near-fatal encounter she had with Michael in 1978, but that event has traumatized her so much that she’s become a walking embodiment of PTSD, and this trauma doesn’t just affect her- it affects her relationship with her family. Michael has gotten to Laurie in such a psychological way, that Laurie is alienated by her family due to her paranoia.

Another thing I like about this movie is John Carpenter’s score. It still retains the classic vibe of the 1978 film, but it’s been revamped in a modern way using electronic synths and violins, and an interesting thing to note is Carpenter’s son helped write the soundtrack with him.

Something I have to mention is the fact that there are some false jump scares, which is a modern horror trope that gets on my nerves, but there’s enough real genuine horror moments that outweigh those few moments I was annoyed at. Another thing that normally bugs me is when characters conveniently lose IQ points whenever they’re chased by the antagonist, but I won’t really hold that against the film because it honestly feels like it’s embracing that trope of the slasher franchise.

One thing I will hold against this film, however, is that flat ending this film delivers. Look, I know that the original film didn’t necessarily have the most concrete ending either, and this is obviously a tribute to that film, but the reason why this one is inexcusable to me is the fact that they zoom in on a character holding a knife… and that’s where they cut to credits. That frustrated me, because what am I supposed to take away from an ending like that?

I appreciate that this film wipes away the other movies in the franchise, and it makes Michael scary again, but that flat ending bugged the hell out of me, and you lose points for that.

Grade:

Halloween (2018) is definitely going to make fans of the Halloween franchise happy, and there’s no doubt it’ll do well in the box office, but the biggest critique of mine is that ending.

So, I have no choice but to give this film a 8.5/10 or a B+

To get the full experience: watch the original film and listen to the song “Stabbing in the Dark” by Ice Nine Kills, and you’ll be all set to see this movie!

“The Haunting of Hill House” REVIEW| A Netflix Original Horror Series

Plot Synopsis:

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. (Netflix)

Critique:

Normally on my blog I’ll do reviews for theatrical releases, however in rare cases I’ll review Straight To DVD Titles (case in point, see my review of “Batman Ninja”) and with something like Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House” I feel so profoundly to talk about this series, because this HAS to be talked about!

As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of horror- I practically grew up on horror because my grandmother would let me watch old black and white horror films whenever I visited her. And for a while now, I haven’t really seen anything that had caused me the same terror as those movies did where I had to leave the lights on before I’d go to bed…. that is, until this series.

So, what makes this series so scary? For me, what makes this show incredibly terrifying, and downright horrifying is the blend of the supernatural along with the very real issues this family is plagued with both while living in the house, and even after leaving it. The house, we later find out, is very much a character itself and the impact it has on the family inhabiting it is very sinister. Some members of the Crane family do very dangerous stuff to themselves as a way to cope with what happened in the house, other members exploit it as a way to make a career. So yes, the ghosts, ghouls, and malevolent spirits are terrifying- but the scariest thing is the fact that this haunted house has tore apart this family in a truly tragic way.

The one thing this show definitely nails is the atmosphere, it makes you feel like you’re actually a resident in this haunted house. Another neat touch is if you pay close enough attention, you’ll see some specters lurking in the darkest corners of the house. Another thing that really helps build the atmosphere is the score in the series, it definitely sets the mood. Something else that this series does is produce horrifying images that will forever be burned into your brain, so if the atmosphere and mood doesn’t affect you, the disturbing visuals definitely will!

Another thing I like is, just like in the movie “Oculus”, this show jumps from the past to the present, back and forth in time almost seamlessly. Some people may have a problem with this, but for me it’s a great way to connect certain events together… one significant event being the reveal of The Bent Neck Lady’s identity, which got the biggest reaction from me.

Now while there are a few false jump scares (sorry, I gotta mention it) there’s still plenty of very real moments of terror to keep you gripped to your seat.

Grade:

This is honestly one of the most terrifying shows I’ve seen in a while, and it’s definitely more effective than something like “The Nun” that I’ve seen this year- so I have no choice but to give “The Haunting in Hill House” a 10/10 or an A+. If you’re a fan of horror, you NEED to watch this series!

“Venom” Movie Review

Plot Synopsis:

Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating. (Google)

Critique:

Venom is an interesting character because of his relationship with Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man- and it’s a shame because this movie didn’t seem to care about that fact.

I’m gonna start off with the positives… don’t worry, it won’t take me long. The movie is shot well, Tom Hardy seemed passionate about this character, and the relationship between Eddie and the Symbiote is interesting.

Now let me talk about the problems this movie has:

First off- SONY, you have a Spider-Man problem, you need counseling. SONY seems so dead-set on making movies that are Spider-Man related, and it’s painfully transparent that they fail every time they have something Spidey related. I also find it hilarious that they put ‘In association with Marvel’ in the opening credits twice, you think you’re being clever- but I see through it.

The tone of the movie is all over the place: it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a horror, a comedy, or a superhero film and because of this, the movie seems unbalanced and unfocused.

Some of the dialogue in this film goes from either being decent, to being goofy, to just being plain awful. When I found out the screenwriter also wrote the “50 Shades of Grey” series, I wasn’t shocked, because those films are infamous for having bad dialogue.

The CGI in this film is pretty spotty in some scenes, especially in the huge fight scene between Venom and Riot, that scene in particular I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on because of the CGI mess and the poor editing- speaking of which…

The editing is all over the place in this film, you can definitely tell this thing has been through the cutting room a bunch of times.

The final problem I have with this film is something during the mid-credit scene…

Woody Harrelson plays a pretty important Venom character, but they put a wig on this man, and it looks awful- it honestly looks like they put a red chia pet on his head, and I busted out laughing when I saw that.

Consensus:

“Venom” suffers from being a mediocre superhero film that has tonal issues, poor dialogue, and that PG-13 rating killed this film. Venom is a violent character, and the R rating would’ve helped establish it as a dark, gritty film.

Honestly, this film seems like the knock-off movie to “Upgrade” which came out earlier this year, and was a way better film for having a smaller budget. Venom describes his movie perfectly: an armless, legless, faceless thing rolling down the street- like a turd in the wind.

“Venom” get a 6/10 or a D.

“Hell Fest” Movie Review

Synopsis:

“On Halloween night, three young women and their respective boyfriends head to Hell Fest — a ghoulish traveling carnival that features a labyrinth of rides, games and mazes. They soon face a bloody night of terror when a masked serial killer turns the horror theme park into his own personal playground” (Google).

Review:

When I saw the trailer to this movie on FaceBook, I was intrigued because I thought the concept of a serial killer hunting down teenagers, or in this case-college students, was a cool idea. But this film isn’t just a cool concept- it honestly feels like an homage, or even a love letter to the 1990’s era of slasher films like “Scream”. I like the fact that the beginning of the film felt like a party when the group is having fun at this horror themed festival, but as soon as they realize the very real danger they’re in… the movie becomes suspenseful, and somewhat uncomfortable.

I also like the fact that the serial killer, who isn’t given a name, feels like Micheal Myers in the way that he’s treated like a force of nature instead of a human being. The mask the killer uses is cool and it also serves a purpose of letting him blend in. Another cool fact I like about the killer is that they give you subtle hints at what his motivation could possibly be, and even at the end- the movie makes you come up with you’re own interpretation.

I thought the group of college kids played their roles well, there weren’t any nonsensical cliques amongst the group like the slutty chick or the dumb jock… they felt like real college kids. I felt each person amongst the group had a chance to shine.

Grade:

“Hell Fest” doesn’t really do anything new with the slasher genre, but it uses the DNA of the genre extremely well, and if you’re a fan of horror- I’d suggest giving it a watch. It feels like a good companion piece to films like “Halloween” “Scream” and “Friday the 13” so with all that being said, I’m going to give “Hell Fest” a 9/10 or an A.

Like I said, it doesn’t do anything new with the genre, but it’s a lot of fun and it feels like going into a horror amusement without having to physically be there.

“The Nun” Movie Review

Synopsis:

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. (Google)

Analysis:

When I first heard that they were making a movie about the Marilyn Manson Nun from “The Conjuring 2” I will admit, I scoffed at the idea, and for about 30 minutes of this film- I was about to eat my words.

This film started off dark, grisly, and a bit frightening. The tone started off great early in the film and it seemed like this movie was going into a RPG direction which was something I thought was cool. The director, Corin Hardy (known for directing the Irish/ Scottish creature feature film “The Hallow”) did a good job with setting up the dark mood of the film, especially with the gothic looking Church abbey that most of the film is set in. But right as I was about to apologize, the film started to explore the abbey and said “Well, looks like our job here is done.” To which I replied with “Wait, what? Oh no. Oh no! OH GOD THIS FILM IS FALLING APART!”

My real problems with this film is: for starters, this film seems like a step down for the director, the scares are too telegraphed to be truly frightening, and the only character I can connect with is the character Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) because he seemed to be the smartest character in comparison. Another thing that disappointed me was the fact that I felt like Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, best known for the television series “American Horror Story”) felt wasted to me. And the last thing that bothered me was the fact that The Nun, the thing that’s selling the movie, doesn’t show up until the third act of the film- so for the rest of the movie, we deal with ghosts, and henchmen of The Nun… So, I honestly feel bad if that’s your only reason to watch the film because that Nun is the most Prima Donna demon I’ve ever seen in a film.

So, this further proves my point that this movie was unnecessary to me, because we already got The Nun’s story in “The Conjuring 2”. The movie I honestly wanted was a movie for The Crooked Man, because in “The Conjuring 2” we only got a nursery rhyme and a cameo from him… so if we get one more movie in The Conjuring Universe, it better be for my boy, The Crooked Man!

Grade:

“The Nun” is a step above the first “Annabel” movie, but that’s a low bar to leap over… so this is one of the weaker films in The Conjuring Universe and since I don’t have to hold back, I’m giving this film a 4/10 or an F.

If you really want The Nun, be my guest- but I’d personally suggest just watching “The Conjuring 2”.