“Searching” Movie Review | A desktop narrative done right

Synopsis:

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.

Analysis:

After seeing “Unfriended: The Dark Web”, I was worried about my enjoyability of this film- and seeing that SONY was involved in this didn’t help calm down my fears, but after seeing this movie I gotta say… this is a pretty solid film.

A question I asked myself during this film is this: did this film have to use this format? Could this story be told in the conventional method? And the answer is… sure it could’ve been done in the normal style of film making, but I don’t think it would’ve had the same impact it had with the style the filmmakers chose.

The reason why this style works is because this is a detective/ mystery film that unravels information in the moment, in motion. And getting the info this way felt very realistic to me. As the story continues and as you get more information, you’re gripping the edge of your seat because you’re genuinely concerned for the well being of the characters, because the biggest triumph of this film is getting you emotionally invested in the characters. These characters feel like real human beings, and they have clear goals and motivations. The scariest thing about this film is making you realize that you may think you know someone, but the cold hard truth is you only know a small portion of who that person really is… and that’s something that sticks with you even after the film concludes.

There are a couple of red herrings in this film that add to the drama. When you unravel what happened, everything starts to make sense, and the ending is emotionally satisfying. Basically, the payoff is great to this film, unlike “Dark Web” where the only payoff we get after being with these ‘characters’ is the main character getting run over by a car (sorry spoiler, but only if that’s the ending you get- which unfortunately I got.) So going forward, whenever I see another film in this style, I’m gonna compare it to this film.

Grade:

This film could’ve easily been terrible, but because it was in competent hands and John Cho carries the film excellently, this film rises above the initial fears I had and delivers an excellent film. I can’t really think of any problems I had with the film without it seeming like I’m just nitpicking, so I’m actually gonna give this film (for the first time ever) a 10/10 or the grade of an A.

“Slenderman” Movie Review

Plot:

Small-town best friends Hallie, Chloe, Wren and Katie go online to try and conjure up the Slender Man — a tall, thin, horrifying figure whose face has no discernible features. Two weeks later, Katie mysteriously disappears during a class trip to a historic graveyard. Determined to find her, the girls soon suspect that the legend of the Slender Man may be all too real.

Review:

I’m going to be honest, I had very low hopes for this film- but I can’t lie, the beginning of this film was set up pretty well- after that, that’s when we start getting into the problems of this movie.

Oh, and I will be doing a bit of a spoiler talk after I give my grade, because the ending is so incredibly stupid, I HAVE to spoil it. So there’s your warning before you start yelling at me.

So, let’s start with the good stuff: the atmosphere is pretty good. They did a good job of making the woods creepy, and the sound design was good. There’s certain shots where if you pay attention, you can see things move in the background…. and that’s about it.

None of the characters are really likable, on top of that, some of them make dumb choices. For example, when summoning Slenderman, you’re supposed to keep your eyes closed and not look at him, but what does one of the girls do? She looks at him, because why wouldn’t she?! When one of the friends of the main character tries to explain to her that Slenderman is real, and can prove it- the main chick blows her off because she has a date with some dude…. Your friend is clearly under duress, but you’re more concerned about some boy you like? You’re an awful friend.

Speaking of Slenderman, the design of the character is awful… first they tried scenes with CGI, then they tried practical, and just went back to CGI, and none of it worked.

But the main issue of this film is it becomes a generic horror film that abandons the atmosphere it created to instead rely on visuals that we’ve seen a thousand times from much better horror movies- like “The Ring” for example.

Another thing I could tell is this film was cut a bunch of times because this movie felt very incomplete to me. There’s definitely scenes missing, especially from the first trailer- which showed a girl stabbing her eye out, and a girl ripping her tongue out. And there’s apparently a subplot involving the main character being in Track that’s never really fleshed out other than mentioning trophies, or the girl being interested in Track than helping her friend.

Grade:

The real shame is that this film could’ve very well had potential, but classic SONY- that potential gets thrown into the trash can, because risky films apparently don’t equal money.

I had just recently read an article about how this film was gonna be darker, but SONY stopped that after the film’s release got backlash from the father of a child who stabbed her classmate 19 times in 2014 after trying to summon Slenderman (https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/01/03/slender-man-movie-reactions/1002527001/) so this was pretty much DOA.

So with that being said, I’m giving Slenderman a 6/10 or a D. It was generic and boring- and I was alone in the theater, it’s a miracle I didn’t end up falling asleep.

**SPOILER ALERT**

So, here’s the way the movie ended, for those of you who want to know:

After the main character realizes that sacrificing what they love isn’t enough to stop Slenderman, she goes into the woods and tells Slenderman to take her. Slendy turns into a spider-like creature and she starts running away, only to be sucked into a horrible looking CGI Slenderman tree (I’m not even kidding) this is followed up by a voice over of the main character’s sister telling the audience that there’s always a pattern, and that “he drives people to do crazy things, ya know?”

There, that’s an hour and a half of time I saved you- you’re welcome!

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Plot:

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Review:

It’s rare for me to watch a movie where I’m so engrossed by what I’m watching, that I’m actually gripping my seat out of nervousness… and that’s honestly the biggest compliment I can give this film.

This is the sixth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, and this is probably one of the darkest films in the series, there’s a lot of twist and turns, and you have no idea who to trust in this film.

The characters in this movie are more human than they’ve ever been in the previous two films in my opinion because there’s consequences for every action, and a situation that you’re normally prepared for gets more complicated whenever a small detail is overlooked, or not thought of ahead of time.

Speaking of characters, I really liked Henry Cavill’s character, August Walker- because he’s the polar opposite of Tom Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt. Ethan Hunt prefers to be more covert, and stealthy- and if August isn’t punching something, he’s not interested in it. He’s aggressive, dangerous, and once he’s made his mind up on something, he doesn’t let anything deviate him from his goal.

The reason why I gripped my seat so much in this film was because most of the action was done practically by the actors, especially Tom Cruise- who has made this gimmick of his an attraction to see the films… so when you see someone jumping off roofs, planes, and motorcycles, it’s very nerve-racking to watch knowing that it’s the actors, and not stunt people doing this.

The only problem I had with this movie was I wasn’t feeling the villain in this film… to be honest though, I don’t think any of the other villains can be as good as Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Mission Impossible 3.

Grade:

I had a lot of fun in this film, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the MI films (except Mission Impossible 2, we don’t talk about that film) then I think you’ll enjoy it too!

I’m giving “Mission Impossible: Fallout” a 8.5/10 or a B+

“Ant Man & The Wasp” Movie REVIEW

Plot:

Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.

Review:

Coming off the cusp of Infinity War, I knew this film was gonna be more light-hearted, especially with how Infinity War ended… I think everyone needed a laugh.

Paul Rudd once again does an amazing job as Scott Lang, AKA Ant Man, and it helps that he has the demeanor of a good buddy of yours who occasionally screws something up.

Hope AKA The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) is once again another badass female character in a Marvel movie, but what makes her character special is the fact that she’s in tune with the technology in the movie better than Scott, and shows him his true potential, if he wasn’t always messing up.

There’s two villains in this movie: Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) Sonny was just a typical thug villain, and Ghost was the villain I enjoyed the most. She’s a sympathetic villain that isn’t exactly doing the right thing, but you understand where she’s coming from once you learn her backstory- plus it doesn’t hurt that the actress playing the character is insanely attractive to me.

One of the highlights of this film to me is the interaction between Hank Pym (Micheal Douglas) and Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) because those are two character that absolutely hate each other, and seeing the roast-fest was highly entertaining to me.

Now comes one of the negatives in this film that I didn’t address, Michael Peña, I have no gripe against him personally- but his character in this film annoyed the hell outta me. I know he’s supposed to be the comic relief, but cracking bad puns and hollering at the top of his lungs isn’t funny to me- if you can tolerate his character, then you’re a stronger person than me.

Another issue I had with the film is the fact that if there’s so shrinking of growing in this film- then there’s nothing really going on with the film.

Now, listen to me because I’m trying to help you here…. there’s two post-credit sequences in this film. The FIRST one is the one you’ve been waiting for that helps connect to Infinity War. The SECOND post-credit sequence is something that’s shown in the trailer, and offers nothing to the film. The reason I’m telling you this is because I know your time is precious, and I don’t want you wasting your time on something meaningless.

Grade:

Ant Man isn’t really a superhero that I’m a big fan of but I found myself enjoying it for the film it’s supposed to be, so I’m going to give this film a 7/10 or a C.

“The First Purge” MOVIE REVIEW

Plot:

To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the others, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

Review:

As a fan of how The Purge trilogy progressed from a standard Break-in thriller to a horrific, anarchy filled action series- I was intrigued by the thought of a prequel exploring how exactly The Purge got created.

After seeing the original Purge movie with Ethan Hawke, I joked about how I could see something like The Purge happening in the next 10 years, but after seeing this movie- and seeing how the economic, political, and social unrest that’s portrayed in this film is mirrored by our own- I could see The Purge happening in the next 3 years…. and that’s the most horrifying thing about this film.

I thought my dude, Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) set-up the tone perfectly in the beginning of the film when he was being interviewed on whether or not he would participate in the experiment, and seeing how psychotic he was let me know I was in for a wild ride. He honestly stole the show for me the more I saw him in action.

Much like the first film, this movie starts as a thriller with political elements sprinkled in… Actually, sprinkled in might be a bit of an understatement because this might be the most politically driven film of the franchise- some of it is done subtly, others are blatant. Most of those blatant political themes have to do with President Trump- honestly I’m surprised I haven’t seen him tweet something about this movie yet… but even if he did, I guarantee this movie would use his tweet as promotion, which is somewhat ironic, but at this point, nothing really surprises me anymore.

I will say, there are two negatives to this film- The Architect (Marisa Tomei) created The Purge experiment as a social experiment for citizens to release their anger and frustrations- but when the Government sends out trained mercenaries to dispatch lower class citizens, she’s horrified… that bugged me because honestly, how else did you think your research was gonna be used? Another thing that bugged me was the ending was so flat, and I know it’s because they’re releasing a TV Show, but I just want some finality in my movie.

Once the action ramps up, that’s when I found myself really enjoying the film. I thought that Demetri (Y’lan Noel) was a total badass, and I really liked the costume designs in this film… one of them that really caught my attention was a dude dressed as Black Skull with the full leather jacket, Nazi garb leading a bunch of dudes wearing blackface masks. I chuckled a bit to myself when I saw this because of the sick, twisted, demented logic of it.

Grade:

I found myself enjoying this film more than I thought I would, but The Architect complaining about how her study was being used, and that flat ending really bothered me.

I’m giving The First Purge a 7.5/10 or a C+

The Incredibles 2 UPDATED Movie Review

I try not to make this sort of thing as a habit because I try to review movies as accurately as I possibly can, no matter what outside factors I’m faced with, however- I was so distracted by two teenagers talking next to me, ruining my experience, that I felt like that aspect didn’t allow me to judge the movie fairly.

Today I went and saw the movie again and had a MUCH better experience… So instead of going through the usual motions of describing the plot and all that, I’m going to provide a deeper analysis on what I picked up the second viewing of seeing this motion picture.

For starters, I immediately noticed that the animation quality is immensely improved from the first film… the colors are richer and more dynamic. The action in this movie is amazing, especially the scene with Elastigirl chasing a runaway train on a motorcycle. And I also love the fact that there’s a subtle time period this film takes place in, which looks like the 1960’s to me.

I’m still not a fan of Screenslaver after seeing this again, and wish The Underminer had a bigger role since I really wanted to see more of him. Speaking of villains, I’m calling this right now: if they make The Incredibles 3, I believe a grown up Jack Jack is gonna be the Villain because if his lack of control over his powers, and his potential as a threat to society could push him to the path of evil.

The movie goes through the basic superhero beats, but it keeps up the energy and charm that makes it stand out from other super hero films- and I like the fact that there’s a huge message in this film: that parenting is just as heroic as going around town in a costume, saving the day.

Taking in account all the things I noticed this time around, and the fact I had a more pleasant experience this time, I’m bumping up my rating of this film to a 8.5/10 or a B+

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom REVIEW

Plot:

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

Review:

Before I start, I want to admit something: I haven’t seen all the Jurassic Park movies, I’ve only seen the OG Jurassic Park and the third movie…. Now, going into this movie- if you just wanna see a bunch of Dinosaurs, you’re going to enjoy this movie quite a lot. If you came to see the story- you might as well stay home, because this movie gets dumb REAL quick!

For starters, this movie focuses on a group of people who wanna save the Dinosaurs, a group of animals that have been extinct already- so all you’re really saving are a bunch of Dino clones. Another issue this movie has is a bunch of dumb, incompetent villains… one that willing goes into a cage holding a genetically engineered, dangerous dinosaur. I’ve never seen a movie start off so well, only to trip over itself so quickly until I watched this movie.

There’s a few bright spots in this film: the two scenes that I enjoyed were the group escaping an island with an active volcano exploding… and the scene with the Indoraptor stalking Chris Pratt and a few other characters. The second scene was done better because the director of this movie is known for directing the horror movie “The Orphanage” so when the horror element kicks in… it’s done extremely well! An honorable mention is a scene where a villain points out the fact that the fault isn’t his own, but the heroes in their own way contribute to it… this movie has such a black and white viewpoint so it was cool that for a moment, there was a shade of gray.

I had a few nitpicks and I was willing to let them slide…. then came the ending- Jesus Christ, that ending!

I don’t care how much science fiction you put in this movie, you simply don’t get away with an ending like that! It was dumb, and completely absurd on so many levels, and if they make a sequel, the next movie is gonna have to address repercussions that this movie raises. While we’re on this absurd path, let’s just make a bunch of friggin dragons- because at least that makes sense after what I just saw!

Grade:

It’s just amazing to me how the longer these movies go, the dumber they become… I had some enjoyment here and there, but to me the ending is paramount… and this ending ruined everything good about the movie for me.

So with that, I’m giving Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a D+

“The Incredibles 2” Movie Review

Plot:

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

Review:

It’s been 14 years since the last “Incredibles” movie came out, a fact they addressed in the video package at the beginning of the film, so it’s safe to say that expectations were pretty high for this film, especially with how nearly perfect the first film was.

So, I’m just gonna get straight to the point with this, and I’m gonna address this right here and right now… This movie is not as good as the first Incredibles movie, but I had a feeling that was gonna be the case since the first movie was lightning in a bottle.

However, this is still a good movie in my opinion. The film takes place right after the end of the first movie, so Superheroes are still banned from society, which makes it extremely difficult since this movie centers on a whole family of superheroes, especially and infant that has no control of his powers.

The unique approach this movie took with Helen AKA Elastagirl going out on missions to help a spokesman get Superheroes unbanned while Bob AKA Mr. Incredible stays at home to help with the kids was a welcomed change to me. One of my favorite aspects of that whole subplot was Violet’s story on her struggling with a guy she likes while also having the responsibilities as a superhero, and of course she’s a teenager so she doesn’t really handle these situations the best way possible.

Now let me talk about the weakest part of this movie… The villain, Screenslaver. I’m sorry but there’s no way they were gonna beat Syndrome from the first one because he wasn’t just a villain, he was also a statement on how toxic a fan can get. And they tried to put some message with Screenslaver, but this message felt weaker to me.

Another observation I made (which was neither good or bad) was the fact that these other superheroes that appear in the film looks like a bunch of Fortnight reject skins, and I thought that was hilarious.

Grade:

This is still a good movie to me, but the villain sucked, there wasn’t as many laughs, and two teenagers just kept talking next to me. (That’s not the fault of the movie, I just wanted to mention it because I’m still heated about it.)

Incredibles 2 gets a 7.5/10 or a C+

“Hereditary” Movie Review | Genuinely Scary or Overhyped?

Plot: When Ellen passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited.

Review:

As a huge fan of horror movies, this was one of the films I was looking forward to this year- but based off all the horror films that have let me down this year (Winchester, Insidious 4, Truth or Dare) I was a bit skeptical of all the praise the film had gotten at the film festival it premiered at… Because to be honest, all the drunk hipsters tend to overhype movies they see at the festivals. One example of a film I actually liked from one of the festivals was the last film I reviewed, which was “Upgrade.”

Now let me just get this out of the way before I continue… “Hereditary” is NOT the scariest film ever made, it’s creepy and there’s some effective moments, but this film suffers in my opinion because of all the hype that those drunk hipsters provided for it. I honestly thought the trailers were much scarier than the film itself.

I could be wrong in my opinion, after all- fear is subjective… different things scare different people, and this film explores a pretty dark topic, which is family drama- the fear of inheriting traits from your family that you despise, and insanity in general. This film explores how the simplest mistakes can have dire consequences, and I thought that Toni Collette did an amazing job portraying all these moods as the mother who has recently lost her own mother and has to try to keep her family together.

Some of the creepiest shots and scenes in this film involves the miniature houses that Toni Collette’s character works on in the film, and there’s scenes with a wide shot where you may or may not see something peering from the shadows… those are the scenes that truly got the hairs on my neck standing up. But my problem with the film is that it starts to lead you in one direction, but towards the third act- goes into a completely different direction. To put it better, I felt that the ending to this movie was very contradictory to the story the film was telling.

Grade:

“Hereditary” may not be the scariest film ever made, but it’s a lot better than most of the horror films I’ve seen this year… it’s creepy and effective with what it tries to achieve- but like I said in my review, it suffers from the festival hype.

I’m going to give Hereditary a 7.5/10 or a C+

“Upgrade” Movie Review | The Sleeper Hit of 2018

Plot:

In the distant future, a brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed and his beloved wife dead. Not content with how his life has been changed, a billionaire inventor offers Grey a solution- an artificial intelligence implant called STEM that enhances his body. Now with his life upgraded, Grey uses his newfound superhuman skills to hunt down the men who ruined his life and seek the vengeance he feels he deserves.

Review:

If this is the future that’s in store for us, then it’s a truly horrifying future to live in. There are people in this film that have mechanical implants that are crudely done, such as guns being implanted into people’s arms.

As a film with a small or limited budget- I was very impressed with what was done, mostly due to Leigh Whannell’s directing. In case y’all don’t know who Leigh Whannell is, he’s one of the creative producers of the first SAW film- a film he also starred in, and he directed Insidious Chapter 3. The camera angles and tricks used in this film were both very impressive and effective to tell the dark gritty mood of this film, but also to ramp up the action in this film.

If y’all saw the trailer to this movie, you might’ve mistaken the actor in this film as Tom Hardy because how similar both men look, sorry to disappoint you, Logan-Marshall Green isn’t Tom Hardy, but he might as well be with his amazing acting chops in this film. He was able to balance horror, comedy, drama, and the robotic movements the AI implanted into his body had him doing. All these different things were done seamlessly and without that, I’m not sure the movie would have succeeded as well.

Another thing about this movie I enjoyed were the dark tones of the film, and the action. There’s gore in this film, but it’s not over-used and whenever it is used… it’s used effectively to let the audience know that things have gotten serious.

One of the things that I didn’t like about this film is how some of the characters aren’t completely fleshed out… you have some villains that are just bad guys with mechanical enhancements. You have a female detective that you don’t know much about. And the billionaire inventor is a weird, quirky, anti-social Leonardo DiCaprio clone that was made in a lab somewhere.

However, the ending to this film was so dark, so clever, that it somehow evened everything out for me… the more I think about it, I feel like this would be great for something like “Black Mirror”, a Netflix show that is the Sci-Fi, modern day Twilight Zone.

As a jaded Movie Critic, it’s hard for me to find a movie that feels different, and breathes fresh air into my lungs as I’m surrounded by giant Blockbusters that all feel so manufactured and by-the-numbers. It’s nice to finally have something fresh and different in the theater, and I feel like this movie is gonna take a lot of people by surprise.

Grade:

I said a lot of good things about this film, but it’s not a perfect film, the problems are still there- but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable… I came to see the action and it delivered that and more. I’m giving “Upgrade” a 8.5/10 or a B+

This is the Sleeper Hit of not only the Summer, but I’d also say it’s the Sleeper Hit of 2018. I defiantly recommend giving this film a watch!