Hate Crime (2019) | Movie Review |

Hate crimes have been on the rise in today’s world. Sexual orientation hate crimes are the third most frequent hate crime in the United States, according to the FBI.  Director Steven Esteb and writer Jonah Tapper’s latest drama looks at the effects that a hate crime has on the victim, the perpetrator and their families. Hate Crime takes place after a young gay man is murdered and the challenges two sets of parents face thanks to the consequences of repression and toxic masculinity. The film stars John Schneider, Laura Cayouette, Amy Redford, Jordan Salloum, and Kevin Bernhardt.

Serious Subject Matter

Hate Crime is a well intentioned film because it covers a serious subject matter that has been on the rise for three consecutive years. Whenever films offer social commentary by having  something to say about toxic masculinity, it’s interesting to interpret the director’s message. Hate Crime tackles sexual repression and how closeted homosexual men are dangerous because they cannot accept who they truly are.

Raymond Brown (Jordan Salloum), a closeted gay man,  is sentenced to execution after murdering his boyfriend Kevin (Chasen Joseph Schneider), and on the night of his execution he tries to make amends with Kevin’s family.

Jordan Salloum behind bars.png
Hate Crime/TriCoast Entertainment

In theory, the film has a great premise that should allow for moments of drama to clash with real world ideas as some sort of insight. There are moments where the film does this well, like when Tom Brown (Kevin Barnhardt), Raymond’s father, has to come to terms with himself after realizing he has raised a gay son and a murderer. Many parents have a hard time adjusting when finding out their child is homosexual and the film does a good job at capturing the strain this puts on the relationship between Raymond’s parents.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 5.56.54 PM.png
Hate Crime/TriCoast Entertainment/

Raymond’s mother, Ginny Brown (Amy Redford), is taking the situation hard, but she hasn’t had thoughts of suicide like her husband. Her mothering nature is present and the film does a good job at portraying that side of her. The Browns are distraught because of their son’s actions, but the victim’s family are having a harder time.

John Scneider:Laura Cayouette drive into prison.png
Hate Crime/TriCoast Entertainment/

John (John Schneider) and Marie Demarco (Laura Cayouette) are still grieving for the death of their son Kevin. Before Raymond is executed, he makes amends with John and tells him that he loved his son. This is what finally gives John some closure.

Beyond That

If you’re into slow movies then Hate Crime might be the right movie for you, but the snail’s pace of the film makes it hard to sit through. In the first 50 minutes of the film nothing happens. Hate Crime opens with Raymond killing Kevin; the next 50 minutes are characters  who are just talking without any memorable dialogue. On top of that the movie lacks personality and it feels stiff. John Schneider and Laura Cayouette had solid chemistry whenever they were on-screen together, but everyone else felt dead inside.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 5.59.10 PM.png
Hate Crime/TriCoast Entertainment

Visually, the shot compositions are as bland as the script. The cinematography feels almost amateurish. There was a punch thrown early on and the sound effect’s dubbing is off which couldn’t be more distracting to watch.

Final Thoughts

Hate Crime is a forgettable film. The film’s execution isn’t on par with the gravity of the issue the film tries to tackle. Nothing of note happens for most of the movie and some of the acting is melodramatic to the point where it felt like there was a lack of direction. John Schneider and Laura Cayouette were a great pairing and did their part to bring some legitimacy to the script.  Kevin Bernhardt and Amy Redford just didn’t do it for me. The pair lacked the chemistry of their counterparts, which made most of their scenes come off as trying too hard. Writing wise, the dialogue could’ve been stronger and the storytelling elements could’ve been sequenced differently to at least attempt to make the film feel fresh. Based on such a serious subject, Hate Crime untimely fails due to its botched execution.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Hate Crime was released onto digital platforms (Amazon, InDemand, DIRECTV, FlixFling, FANDANGO, Hoopla, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, AT&T, and Sling/Dish) on September 24, 2019. 

Like. Share. Discuss: @PeliculasCosas

 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | Movie Review |

Director Quentin Tarantino’s highly-anticipated 9th film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age. The writer-director’s 9th film is set in an alternate timeline and is his take on the events that would lead up to the Manson murders. On a 90 million dollar budget, Tarantino was able to ensemble a cast that includes Leonardo Dicaprio Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino and more. Spoilers after the trailer.

A Classy Reimagining

Back in 2017, the news first broke that Quentin Tarantino was going to write and direct a movie based on the Manson family murders and reader, I’m not going to lie this movie isn’t what I expected. Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood follows an aging television actor Rick Dalton (Brad Pitt) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as Dalton tries to make the transition from television to a successful film actor.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019)
IMDB/Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The relationship between Dalton and Booth is the most enjoyable part of the film. Rick Dalton is the former star of the hit show Bounty Law and now that his star is fading the only person who is there for him is Cliff Booth. Since Dalton isn’t acquiring roles like he used to, Booth isn’t getting much work as a stuntman in Hollywood and is regulated to doing odd jobs for Rick.

Dalton is typecast in Hollywood as the rugged badass, ironically, that is who Cliff Booth really is. In Hollywood circles, the powers that be do not want to work with Booth because they all believe he killed his wife after a domestic dispute. Thanks to his connections with Rick he gets added on to the stunt crew but that does not last long thanks to his altercation with legendary martial artist Bruce Lee (Mike Moh). Lee and Booth had a light sparring session to see who could knock the other one down to the ground 2 out of 3 falls style.

Brad Pitt and Mike Moh in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019)
IMDB/Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The inclusion of the scene will definitely split viewers because the way that Bruce Lee – the only character of color with a major role – is treated but it helps put Booth’s tough guy persona over for the viewer. Tarantino’s knack for writing keen dialogue also adds to the memorability of Booth and Lee’s confrontation.

Tarantino’s approach to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is a complete 180 from Bruce Lee. She’s not given much dialogue in the film as the film chooses to mostly focus on a day of her life where she goes to the movies to watch herself in The Wrecking Crew.

Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019)
IMDB/Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Instead of re-enacting the scenes with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, Tarantino decided to play the original footage with the real-life Sharon Tate on the big screen. On one hand this lets the audience remember her as a person instead of in the context of the tragic events that took her life. On the other hand, Margot does look like Sharon Tate but when you show footage of the real Sharon Tate it takes you out of the film.

Small Roles, Big Show

With such a large ensemble cast that’s filled with veteran actors and Oscar winners from start to finish, there were a few performances from actors who weren’t as experienced that maximized their screen time to create something memorable. Other real-life characters portrayed by accomplished actors include Red (Dakota Fanning) who has a sinister stare; George Spahn (Bruce Dern) is a blind cranky old man; and  Dalton’s agent Hollywood producer Marvin Scwhartz (Al Pacino).

Brad Pitt and Margaret Qualley in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019)
IMDB/Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) was a character who was created specifically for this film. She’s a member of the Manson Family and Qualley does a good job at portraying the characters mysteriousness. Having Pussycat hitch a ride with Tate was a nice red-herring by Tarantino. Qualley shares most of her screentime with Brad Pitt and she holds her own with the veteran actor as the pair flowed off each other very well.

Qualley wasn’t the only actress to have made the most out of her appearance in the film, 10 year-old child actor Julia Butters was spectacular as Trudi Fraser. Trudi is another original character for the film and she’s Rick Dalton’s co-star on the set of Lancer. She holds her own with DiCaprio and there is a tense scene between the two while filming Lancer.

Trudi.JPG
Sony/Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

If it wasn’t for the final confrontation during the film’s third act, Julia Butters would’ve had my top pick for breakout performance but I have to give that to Mikey Madison’s portrayal of Sadie. Madison has about 5 minutes of screentime and maybe 4 lines of dialogue that doesn’t include her screaming but she has one of my favorite scenes in the film. After their altercation with Rick Dalton, Katie (Madisen Beaty), Tex (Austin Butler) and Sadie decided to kill him instead of Sharon Tate. The way that Madison portrays Sadie as this delusional egocentric psychic is how I imagine the real life Susan “Sadie” Atkins was.

Final Thoughts

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is another welcoming addition to legendary director Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. As a director this film is Tarantino at his best. There are interesting and beautiful shot compositions throughout the film. However, as a writer there is a sense of wishing there was more things happening in the film. As a narrative thread, the relationship between Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth is what carries the movie through its 2 hour and 45 minute runtime. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have amazing performances that should get both of them some nominations come Oscar season. Nine films down and it will be interesting to see what Quentin has in store for Hollywood and the world whenever he releases film number 10.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was released in theaters July 26, 2019.

Like. Share. Discuss: @PeliculasCosas

Woodstock or Bust (2019) | Movie Review |

The counterculture movement of the 1960s was one of the most pivotal movements in United States history. During the summer of 1969, Woodstock — one of the largest music festivals in American history with more than 400,000 people in attendance — was born. The festival’s popularity has withstood the test of time, and there were failed attempts to recreate it 50 years later. In time for the festival’s 50th anniversary, co-writer Leslie Bloom’s directorial debut,  the award winning film Woodstock or Bust is available on select streaming services. Starring Willow Shields and Meg DeLacy, the 1960s period drama follows two teenage songwriters from the west coast as they venture out east to debut their original music at the Woodstock Music Festival.  Light spoilers after the trailer.

Leading Ladies

Best friends and singer songwriters Lorain (Willow Shields) and Meryl (Meg DeLacy) are two talented teenage Oregonians with ambitious dreams of making it big one day with their music. Most people who have set out to do something without support from their loved ones can understand the main characters’ motivations. Their family has doubts about them making it as musicians which causes the pair to not get full support from them. Just like the counterculture movement the film is set in, the pair rebel from their parental authority.

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 1.07.37 PM
Woodstock or Bust/TriCoast Entertainment

The pair took it upon themselves to leave the comfort of Oregon to head out east to the Woodstock festival in New York. The dynamic duo created a lot of memorable moments during their road trip that further developed their friendship. The film does a phenomenal job at balancing the differences between Meryl and Lorain and giving their characters some sort of depth. Of the pair, Meryl is the most-talented and popular yet reserved, whereas Lorain is the funny, outgoing and assertive one.

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 12.53.12 PM
Woodstock or Bust/TriCoast Entertainment

Woodstock or Bust serves as a vehicle for its leading ladies to showcase their talents. Meg DeLacy was perfectly cast as Meryl. The role allowed DeLacy, a rising singer-songwriter in her own right, to show off her vocal talents and angelic voice throughout the film.

DeLacy has a strong performance and knows how to balance out the nuances of her character, which makes the film fun to watch. However, the scenes that require her to sing to is where she shines the brightest and it helps the audience buy into the fact that Meryl is more talented of the two musicians. There are impressive musical numbers in the film that are worth checking out.

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 1.03.52 PM
Woodstock or Bust/TriCoast Entertainment

Conversely, Willow Shields illuminates off the screen as Lorain and makes the most out of her comedic timing. Shields has by far the best performance in the film and her character goes through a wide range of emotions. Whether she’s happy, angry, afraid, or sad, every single emotion comes off as authentic. There is one scene in particular where  she’s under distress and her performance is at its most powerful.

Groovy and Wild Travels

Being that the film is about the adventures Meryl and Lorain during their road trip across the country, the pair get into a lot of squabbles on their way to Woodstock. During the film’s first act, before their departure from Oregon, the film seems like it’s going in a generic formulaic direction. Surprisingly, once the pair are on the road things become a lot more interesting.

During the film’s second act is where social commentary of the 1960s and present day comes into fruition. As the pair travels east, there is a tonal shift that goes along with it. This is a good thing because the film goes from feeling formulaic to “Wow, did not see that coming,” which writers Judi Blaze and Leslie Bloom deserve credit for.

The hitchhikers and various people who Lorain and Meryl meet during their trip and the events that follow will leave you puzzled at their decision making. However, being that this is a period piece, it is easy to chalk up their decisions to the free-spirited movement of that time. If the film was set in the modern-day, their interaction with Nick (Teddy Van Ee) would be the most questionable, especially following the events that happened right before they met him.

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 1.08.36 PM
Woodstock or Bust/TriCoast Entertainment

Final Thoughts

Add Woodstock or Bust to the list of hilarious female lead duos directed by women in 2019.  Leslie Bloom’s directorial feature length debut is a fun and powerful ride like the ’65 Mustang the main character’s drive. Visually, the costumes and set pieces feel like they were transported straight from 50 years ago. The leading actresses brought out the best of each other in this periodic drama. Social commentary is what adds a lot of weight to the script and separates the film from being your typical drama. There are some questionable decisions that the main characters make, but for the most part everything is understandable or has a reason. We may not have an actual Woodstock Music Festival in 2019 but if you can bring Woodstock or Bust home to you today on your favorite streaming service.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Woodstock or Bust was released on DirecTV, inDemand, Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, FANDANGO, Hoopla, AT&T, FlixFling, Google Play, Sling/Dish on August 13, 2019.

Like. Share. Discuss: @PeliculasCosas

Captain Marvel (2019) |Movie Review|

International Women’s Day 2019 coincided with the release of Marvel Studios’ newest film, Captain Marvel.  The twenty-first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first one with a female led hero, introduces us to Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, the most powerful hero in the MCU, so far.  Directed by Anna Bolden and Ryan Fleck, the film stars Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson as the titular character in her MCU debut.  Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou reprise their roles as Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Ronan the Accuser, and Korath, respectively.

Lay It On Thick

Recently, nostalgia has, ironically, become the newest trend in comic book films. If you’re a millennial who loves nostalgia, then Captain Marvel is a wet dream. Set in 1995, the film is filled with 90s references from its scoring to all of the out of business brick and mortar stores that make a cameo. In the trailer, Captain Marvel crashes into a Blockbuster which is used to effectively set the time period of the film, and this is shortly followed by RadioShack returning from the dead. Somehow, Circuit City missed the cut when it came to retail resurrections. With RadioShack and Blockbuster the film finds a way to incorporate them into the story, so they don’t feel like they’re just thrown in, unlike the scene where Captain Marvel goes full Terminator 2.

Subtleness be damned. Reader, did I mention that this film was released on International Women’s Day? Did you know that Captain Marvel was a woman? This film ensures that you do not forget that a woman is kicking ass in this movie. ‘Just A Girl’ by No Doubt is playing during a major fight scene and it’s jarring because the song does not fit the mood of the scene. Since Captain Marvel is a film where our heroine cannot remember details of her past life, the movie uses this trope as a way to show that most of her memories are of her being put down for being a woman. Even in the Terminator 2 scene referenced above, the biker tells her that she needs to smile. This brings me to my biggest issue with Captain Marvel.

Write To Show, Not To Tell

Being that film is a visual medium, what your audience is seeing is just as or if not more important than what they’re hearing. The visual gags from Captain Marvel work well because they’re woven into the story of the film. The technology of the 1990s are not just sight gags, they’re used to show how inferior life on Earth is compared to the alien life on other planets. When the leader of the Skrulls, a shape-shifting alien race, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), arrives on Earth, he calls our life primitive. We’re using pagers, dial-up internet (shout out to AOL), AltaVista, Floppy Disk, CD-Roms and his enemy, Captain Marvel, is out here with a universal translator.

Between the screenplay and the story, this film is credited with having five writers and the inconsistency is all over the place. It seems that they all had different ideas about the characters when writing the film. Talos starts out as a serious threat to Vers (Carol Danvers) and her Kree, a race of noble warrior heroes, during the film’s opening scene but once he arrives on Earth that seriousness gets thrown out the window. Not sure if it was the G-force through Earth’s atmosphere, but Talos turns into a comedy character. Credit to Mendelsohn’s performance because he does get to show off his range as an actor. Talos, the other Skrulls, and Carol Danvers have been on Earth for approximately 22 hours and all of them are doing goofy earthling things that you would see in a 90s sitcom.

Danvers’ Fury

When it comes to the MCU, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is severely underrated for what he brings to these films. He brings that seamless chemistry that he has with the rest of the Avengers to his role in Captain Marvel. Whenever Jackson and Larson are paired together on-screen is when this film is at its best. The pair are charming, funny, and make it feel as if a real bond was created by the end of the film. We find out the reasons behind Fury’s motivations in the previous 20 films in the MCU. Things like how he lost his eye, the reasoning behind the name of the Avengers Initiative (was kind of forced), why he doesn’t trust bureaucracy, and background information were all answered in this film. The EFX department did an incredible job at deaging Jackson and he actually looks 25 years younger.

On the other hand,  lead actress Brie Larson, did not sell me on the movie from the trailers and by the end of the film I was still disappointed. When she was paired with Jackson she was funny and charming but whenever she was  solo, paired with Jude Law or other characters, Larson comes off uninspired. Part of this is her dialogue because she’s not given much to work with and part of it is her acting because she’s not bringing much to the table. She was questioned by the Supreme Intelligence (Anne Benning) during the film’s opening 15 minutes and  Larson just seemed dead inside when delivering her lines. It’ll be interesting to see how she interacts with the rest of the MCU when Endgame hits theaters in April.

Final Thoughts

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the opening credits in this film is perhaps my favorite of any movie in the MCU and the Stan Lee cameo is awesome as well. The special effects, especially for the aliens, in this film are among the best in sci-fi and shows how ahead of the curve that Marvel Studios are when it comes to their competition. The makeup of Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos and the other Skrulls is phenomenally done and doesn’t look like something off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Speaking of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there was a cringe line where Samuel L. Jackson referenced the title of the show.

Clocking in at 124 minutes, the film covers a lot of ground when introducing her to the MCU, but at the same time the movie feels like a filler film until End Game‘s release in April. As far as origin films go in the MCU, Captain Marvel pushes the needle in the wrong direction and tries to replicate the success of 2018’s sleeper hit but ends up being lackluster like MCU films from over a decade agoCaptain Marvel doesn’t have an angle that makes it an engaging movie and that’s what ends up making it forgettable. Outside of her being the first woman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s nothing about this film that stands out. Black Panther is afrofuturism; The Winter Soldier is a political-thriller; Guardians of the Galaxy is a space-exploration comedy; Dr. Strange is a science-fantasy; yet Captain Marvel’s theme is just, she’s a woman and that really sells the character short. Since she has amnesia the ingredients were there for this to be a mystery-comedy superhero film, but unfortunately the film doesn’t even take advantage of its strengths. There’s already been a strong female-led character that wears red, gold and blue and her film managed to make a statement while being entertaining. When Captain Marvel gets a sequel, I hope it lives up to her name and is a marvel to watch.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Captain Marvel was released in theaters March 8, 2019.

Greta (2019) |Movie Review|

So far, 2019 has not been a good year for Hungarian characters in film and director Neil Jordan’s Greta attempts to buck the trend. The psychological-thriller stars Chloe Grace  Moretz as Frances McCullen and Isabelle Huppert as the film’s titular character, Greta Hideg.

 

Plotful Problems

Normally, these types of psycho-thrillers heavily rely on the subjects being in a romantic relationship before things get crazy, so maybe co-writer and director Neil Jordan will bring something fresh to the film

Going into this one I wasn’t sure what to expect. Based on the trailers, the premise of an older lady obsessed with — a stranger as a surrogate daughter — sounded different from the usual roles in these types of films. Normally, these types of psycho-thrillers heavily rely on the subjects being in a romantic relationship before things get crazy, so maybe co-writer and director Neil Jordan will bring something fresh to the film. Reader, he did not. Throughout the film there are too many moments that have already been done before that it kills any suspense the film tries to build. The characters are shallow and do not act like any rational human beings.

The film is set up with Frances McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz) on a train ride home where she finds a purse left by a stranger. Frances returns the purse to its rightful owner, Greta (Isabelle Huppert), an older French lady who lives by herself, and the two quickly become friends. Frances’ mother passed away and Greta says that her daughter has left for France so she’s been lonely ever since. Frances is new to New York City and returns home to her apartment with her rich roommate and former high school classmate Erica Penn (Maika Monroe). The relationship between Frances and Erica is used in stressing the point that Frances is new to the city.  When Frances is returning home, the film sets up that Greta is a stalker. Greta is using social media to find out more information about Frances, she finds her Facebook and goes through her pictures, and this is where the movie starts transitioning to full Fatal Attraction.

The crazy things that Greta does to torment Frances in this film are LOLworthy because they’re portrayed in such an absurd way. Frances works as a waitress and Greta comes to her place of employment standing outside staring at her restaurant during her entire shift. When Frances tells the police they say they can’t do anything because Greta is on private property, which sure, we can let that slide even if it sounds ridiculous. Later that week, Greta returns as a patreon of the restaurant and Frances tells her manager that Greta has been stalking her, but her manager does not give a single f*ck. He tells Frances to “handle it” and not to make a scene. What? Yeah, and it gets worse. Greta pops up at the restaurant as a customer and she requests Frances as a waitress. Again, Frances’ terrible manager forces her to serve Greta instead of using a different waitress. Greta insults her, makes a huge scene (which is what the manager didn’t want), yells at Frances about needing Greta as a mother, and eventually ends up being strapped down to a stretcher out of the restaurant.

Somehow all of that takes place and Greta is free to roam the streets, lololololok? She ends up kidnapping Frances, and somehow she breaks into Frances’ apartment, poisons her coffee and takes her back to her house. All of this during a broad day in New York City. The only two people that end up looking for, the now missing, Frances is her father (Colm Feore) and her roommate Erica. Frances ended up being missing for a few weeks and there were only two people that contacted her over that time period, sure. This movie even has a whole scene where her father hires a detective to investigate and Greta ends up killing the detective, so many cliches. Frances even has her moment where she almost escapes but doesn’t because she’s movie-stupid and makes the dumbest decisions for someone who was kidnapped and nearly murdered. The big climax is when Erica returns a purse to Greta and saves Frances. It’s supposed to be that moment in the movie where you’re supposed to clap and feel good but it falls flat.

Filmmaking and Acting

Overall, the script of this movie is what hinders this movie but the acting is what helps balance it out. It’s a shame that the script was this bad because the direction and the acting are both well-polished. Isabelle Huppert was the perfect choice as the film’s titular character. She portrays Greta as someone who is unpredictable, evil and terrifying. Sure, there’s plenty of head scratching things that Greta does throughout the film, but Huppert’s portrayal is reminiscent of Heath Ledger as the Joker. She brings the right blend of comedy to this twisted, delusional and sinister character. Right behind her is Hit-Girl herself, Chloe Grace Moretz. Even though her character was portrayed as a naive dunce throughout the whole film, Moretz does her best with the material she’s given.

From a directing aspect, Neil Jordan shot a competent film. He didn’t rely on jump scares and used the characters to create the suspense in the film. There’s a scene where Greta stalks Erica and Jordan knew when to use close shots to keep things tight and not revealing Greta’s location too soon. There’s also a well-shot scene where Frances is poisoned and the film departs from its realistic aspect and goes down the effects route. Doing this gave the viewer the experience of being on a hallucinogen like Frances was. Also, when Frances escapes from Greta’s house, Frances locks Greta in a chest and wedges an Eiffel Tower in the latch of the chest so Greta is stuck there. This was a somewhat clever way to end the film because France was where Greta’s daughter vacated, it’s also a play on Frances name, and it symbolized Greta being the one stuck in France, so to speak.

Last Thoughts

The script for Greta was not worthy of a cinematic run and I think a film like this would’ve been better suited to a Netflix release. The acting by the two lead actresses brought life to a script that was filled with cliches and that deserves a salute. However, this movie has been done better over the last 20 years and Greta failed at bringing something new to the table.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Greta is in theaters March 1, 2019.

Oscars 2019: Ranking The Best Picture Nominees And Other Academy Awards Winning Predictions

Tonight on ABC, the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences presents the 91st Academy Awards, more commonly referred to as the Oscars. The award ceremony will honor the best films of 2018. Due to some controversies, this is the first ceremony to be conducted without a host since 1989.  There were a lot of movies that were slept on in 2018 that deserved a nomination. Like every year, there are a few head scratchers going into tonight’s awards. Here are some predictions and rankings from Películas & Cosas.

Ranking Nominees for Best Picture

Here’s your definitive power ranking for the Academy Awards Best Picture nominees. Personally, only one of the films made it on my list of Best of 2018 when I wrote my Year in Review. After creating this list, I realized that my 1, 2, 7 and 8 were a lock, yet my 3 and 4 could be interchangeable, same as my 5 and 6. The same rating scale applies from Best to Worst: Fresh Horchata, Fuego, Bueno, a si a si, Basura, All Mames Wey.

Now onto the power rankings.

8. Vice

Director: Adam McKay
Genre: Biographical Comedy-Drama
Trailer: Vice
Rating: así así

Full Review here. |Vice has a spectacular performance from its lead actor in Christian Bale, with that said, outside of his performance this film was pretty forgettable. Adam McKay knows how to create a well-shot film, but the writing in this one needed some touching up to make it more memorable. As far as movies that were based on a true story or biopics released in 2018, Vice is the caboose in a long line of films that were funnier, shot betterhad a better story and better executionVice is a film, like the voting machines in Florida from the controversial election that made Cheney the veep, that once you recount it, it results in a blurred finish and an underwhelming conclusion.

7. A Star Is Born

Director: Bradley Cooper
Genre: Musical Romantic-Drama
Trailer: A Star Is Born
Rating: así así

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is up for eight nominations at this year’s Academy Awards. A Star Is Born is the third remake of a 1937 film of the same name. This is also Lady Gaga’s feature film debut in a lead role and how she got nominated for Best Supporting Actress is beyond me. Cooper’s direction is fine for a debut and he’s multi-talented with his singing and acting. There are emotional scenes that are heartbreaking that some say are tearjerkers. Sam Elliott’s performance is probably the best of any supporting character in the film. I also understand why he is a nominee for Best Supporting Actor. But the problem with this movie is that it suffers from being too long. There are times where the stakes aren’t as high and nothing is happening when things aren’t emotional. Lady Gaga’s acting was horrendous when paired next to Cooper. Early on in the film it’s obvious she was the wrong person cast in this role and it doesn’t get much better as the film progresses. She shines in all of the scenes where she has to sing which makes sense because she’s a singer. Unfortunately, since this movie focuses more on romance and drama, those singing scenes are stretched out far and in between. This is the big difference between her and Cooper. Cooper is an actor who tries to sing and is passable at carrying a note, whereas Gaga is a singer trying to act, she’s off key, and falls flat. The song Shallows has a nomination which I would not be surprised if they won an Oscar for it.

6. The Favourite

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Genre: Historical Period Dark Comedy Drama
Trailer: The Favourite
Rating: Bueno

As someone that’s not really a huge fan of period pieces in film, I was optimistic about The Favourite because I enjoyed Yorgos Lanthimos previous film A Killing of a Sacred Deer. This movie wasn’t perfect but I did not walk out of the theater disappointed like the previous two entries on this list. The acting in this movie is phenomenal. The three leading ladies, Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, are nominated for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress and they’re all well-deserving of their nominations.  Yorgos Lanthimos has been nominated for Best Director. Critically, this film is one of the highest rated films on the list and I understand why, but for me, this film could’ve been a lot better. The direction, acting, production design and costume design were all phenomenal but this movie suffers from being too long and needing a tighter script. If Yargos decided to cut out about 30 minutes, then this would’ve been a much more enjoyable experience. The pacing is slow and it’s filled with a lot of free space and not much happening. The comedy aspect could’ve been expanded upon because there are scenes that are legitimately funny, but they are spread out between a bunch of posh people just talking about the life of someone being posh.  The character development is top notch and watching how Emma Stone’s character progressed throughout the film was a fantastic case study. Colman’s Queen Anne is well-developed too, but overall, The Favourite needed someone to come in and tighten up the script.

5. Roma Image result for roma 2018

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Genre: Semi-Autobiographical Drama
Trailer: Roma
Rating: Bueno

Full Review here.| Roma is the most beautifully shot film of 2018 and that’s the main reason why I have it ahead of The Favourite. However, like the sixth film in this ranking it also suffers from a pacing problem and is at times too slow, to the point it’s story becomes boring. Where Roma is most effective is in its direction by Alfonso Cuarón. Visually, the film is a true work of art. Every scene is shot gracefully. There’s long takes that makes you appreciate the background and engrosses you into the scene. The film’s black and white aspect gives off a feeling of watching someone’s memories from a distant past.  Dialogue wise, Cuarón’s writing isn’t on par with his cinematography. Outside of a couple of lines there isn’t much that really stuck with me once the film had ended.  If there were more emotional gut punches throughout the film then the element of drama would’ve justified it’s run time.

4. Green Book

Director: Peter Farrelly
Genre: Biographical Comedy-Drama
Trailer: Green Book
Rating: Bueno

Full Review here.| Green Book is “Oscar bait,” and a flawed film when it comes to discussing race in America. It’s definitely one of those movies that makes White People feel comfortable when it comes to America’s history with race. With that said, out of the  Best Picture nominees, it’s better than the previous entries on this list because it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The pacing is great, the acting, especially by Mahershala Ali, is awesome and there are some hearty laughs packed into this roadtrip racial drama-comedy.  The pairing of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen is perfect, and it’s up there with some of the best pairings of the year. I would like to see a future movie that is from the viewpoint of Ali’s character, since Doc Shirley’s family is upset with how he was depicted in the film.

3. Blackklansman

Director: Spike Lee
Genre: Biographical Crime Comedy-Drama
Trailer: BlacKKKlansman
Rating: Bueno

Spike Lee’s possible ad-campaign for the NYPD, Blackkklansman is a fine film. It has the same issues as the film above except instead of race, it tries to make the police the heroes, and possibly sacrifice the things that make it a “true story” to do so. As a film the editing is kind of sloppy which is why I’m surprised it has a Best Editing nomination. John David Washington has a stellar debut in the lead role in a feature film. He brings the charisma needed for a character that has to balance the duality of a black cop and undercover Klansman (kind of). Adam Driver portrays a great supporting character as well. The Best Director nomination is a head scratcher as well. There’s a car chase scene in this  film that feels straight out of a B-movie. There are also times, like Green Book, the film tries to be manipulative with your emotions. Overall, Blackkklansman is an enjoyable film but there’s nothing about it that REALLY stands out. Guess it’s because Spike Lee’s name is attached to it.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

Director: Bryan Singer
Genre: Biographical Drama
Trailer: Bohemian Rhapsody
Rating: Fuego

Full Review here.| This is the one that has #FilmTwitter BIG MAD. But I enjoyed this film a lot. If Bale doesn’t win Best Actor then Malek is a shoe-in because his performance as Freddie Mercury was captivating. He doesn’t disappoint when bringing the flamboyance of Freddie to the big screen. Mercury’s personality screams rock star in four octaves, and Malek brings the charisma of the late rock star during his performance. When Mercury goes solo, Malek’s performance brings out the sense of lostness that Freddie was going through. There are moments where aspects of the story are conveniently placed and come across as Hollywood cliches, specifically at the beginning of the film and in the lead up to the Live Aid performance during the last act, so finding out they weren’t historically accurate wasn’t too surprising. What Bohemian Rhapsody gets right is that it knows its subject, and it makes you care about the main characters, which makes for a more enjoyable theatrical experience

1. Black Panther

Black Panther film poster.jpg

Director: Ryan Coogler
Genre: Superhero
Trailer: Black Panther
Rating: Fuego

Wakanda Forever! No other film released in the year two thousand eighteen was as impactful as Black Panther was. Ryan Coogler directed  the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a predominantly black cast. There are tons of reasons outside of the actual film why this movie is marvelous which I will save for another post. The costumes and set designs in Black Panther are amongst the best of the year. Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Killmonger, and his last line of dialogue, will be etched in Americana history for years to come. Not to be outdone, Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o also brought their A game to the 18th film in the MCU.  Coogler pays homage to the Bay Area by using his hometown of Oakland to reimagine Killmonger by swapping out his traditional New York origins for California origin. The last fight scene is the main reason why this film isn’t ranked higher on this list. Not sure if they used most of their budget for the rest of the film and had to rush through the last fight scene because it looked like it was lifted out of a video game. Outside of that, Black Panther is a movie that’s worth seeing based off of its impact alone. This is my prediction for Best Picture winner.

Rest of the Award Winning Predictions and Nominees

Best Director
  • Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
  • Paweł Pawlikowski – Cold War
  • Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
  • Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
  • Adam McKay – Vice
Best Actor
  • Christian Bale – Vice as Dick Cheney
  • Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born as Jackson “Jack” Maine
  • Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate as Vincent van Gogh
  • Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody as Freddie Mercury
  • Viggo Mortensen – Green Book as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
  • Mahershala Ali – Green Book as Don Shirley
  • Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman as Philip “Flip” Zimmerman
  • Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born as Bobby Maine
  • Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? as Jack Hock
  • Sam Rockwell – Vice as George W. Bush
Best Supporting Actress
Best Original Screenplay
  • The Favourite – Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  • First Reformed – Written by Paul Schrader
  • Green Book – Written by Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly
  • Roma – Written by Alfonso Cuarón
  • Vice – Written by Adam McKay
Best Adapted Screenplay
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; based on the short stories All Gold Canyon by Jack London, The Gal Who Got Rattled by Stewart Edward White, and short stories by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • BlacKkKlansman – Screenplay by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee; based on the book by Ron Stallworth
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty; based on the book by Lee Israel
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; based on the book by James Baldwin
  • A Star Is Born – Screenplay by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters; based on the 1954 screenplay by Moss Hart and the 1976 screenplay by Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne & Frank Pierson; based on a story by Robert Carson & William A. Wellman
Best Animated Feature Film
Best Foreign Language Film
  • Capernaum (Lebanon) in Arabic – Directed by Nadine Labaki
  • Cold War (Poland) in Polish and French – Directed by Paweł Pawlikowski
  • Never Look Away (Germany) in German – Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Roma (Mexico) in Spanish and Mixtec – Directed by Alfonso Cuarón✔ (safe pick)
  • Shoplifters (Japan) in Japanese – Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Best Documentary – Feature
  • Free Solo – Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening – RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim
  • Minding the Gap – Bing Liu and Diane Quon
  • Of Fathers and Sons – Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert
  • RBG – Betsy West and Julie Cohen
Best Documentary – Short Subject
  • Black Sheep – Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn
  • End Game – Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
  • Lifeboat – Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser
  • A Night at the Garden – Marshall Curry
  • Period. End of Sentence. – Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton
Best Live Action Short Film
  • Detainment – Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon
  • Fauve – Jérémy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon
  • Marguerite – Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset
  • Mother – Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado
  • Skin – Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman
Best Animated Short Film
  • Animal Behaviour – Alison Snowden and David Fine
  • Bao – Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb
  • Late Afternoon – Louise Bagnall and Nuria González Blanco
  • One Small Step – Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas
  • Weekends – Trevor Jimenez
Best Original Score
  • Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson
  • BlacKkKlansman – Terence Blanchard
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
  • Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman
Best Original Song
  • “All the Stars” from Black Panther – Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyrics by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solána Rowe
  • “I’ll Fight” from RBG – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns – Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
  • “Shallow” from A Star Is Born – Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
  • “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Music and Lyrics by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
Best Sound Editing
  • Black Panther – Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone
  • First Man – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
  • A Quiet Place – Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • Roma – Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay
Best Sound Mixing
  • Black Panther – Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter J. Devlin
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali
  • First Man – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis
  • Roma – Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and José Antonio Garcia
  • A Star Is Born – Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder and Steve A. Morrow
Best Production Design
  • Black Panther – Production Design: Hannah Beachler; Set Decoration: Jay Hart
  • The Favourite – Production Design: Fiona Crombie; Set Decoration: Alice Felton
  • First Man – Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Production Design: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
  • Roma – Production Design: Eugenio Caballero; Set Decoration: Bárbara Enríquez
Best Cinematography
  • Cold War – Łukasz Żal
  • The Favourite – Robbie Ryan
  • Never Look Away – Caleb Deschanel
  • Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
  • A Star Is Born – Matthew Libatique
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Border – Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer
  • Mary Queen of Scots – Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks
  • Vice – Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney
Best Costume Design
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Mary Zophres
  • Black Panther – Ruth E. Carter
  • The Favourite – Sandy Powell
  • Mary Poppins Returns – Sandy Powell
  • Mary Queen of Scots – Alexandra Byrne
Best Film Editing
  • BlacKkKlansman – Barry Alexander Brown
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – John Ottman
  • The Favourite – Yorgos Mavropsaridis
  • Green Book – Patrick J. Don Vito
  • Vice – Hank Corwin
Best Visual Effects
  • Avengers: Infinity War – Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick
  • Christopher Robin – Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould
  • First Man – Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J. D. Schwalm
  • Ready Player One – Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story – Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy

Fin.

The Prodigy (2019) |Movie Review|

**Spoiler FREE Review**

What’s wrong with Miles? The latest release from Orion Pictures, The Prodigy, tries to answer that question. The supernatural horror-thriller is director Nicholas McCarthy’s third theatrical release, with his previous two outings also being horror films. The Prodigy follows Miles (Jackson Robert Scott), a disturbed young boy who has the intellect of a genius, and his family, as they investigate what’s causing his wicked behavior.

From a technical aspect there’s a lot to love about The Prodigy. The acting, direction and score is what makes this film better than what it should be. Jackson Robert Scott’s performance was just as good, if not better, than when he was yelling at Bill that “you’ll float too” in his last horror venture. Scott does a fantastic job of balancing the nuances of playing a character that has somewhat of a split personality in this possession film. There are scenes where he delivers the dialogue with enough confidence that it doesn’t make you second guess what you’re hearing. Jackson Scott Reed pulls off the right amount of creepiness needed that creates the perturb and eerie that a character like Miles needs to work in a film such as this one. Miles’ mother, Sarah, is portrayed by Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) and Schilling does an okay job herself with the material she is given. She plays a mother who truly cares about the well-being of her son and it often times feels authentic. Yet, there are a few scenes where Miles will say things to her and his father John (Peter Mooney), that make you wonder why the parents just give in to his demands so easily, instead of, ya know, parenting.

The direction of Nicholas McCarthy and the score provided by Joseph Bishara is what gives The Prodigy some sense of originality. There are a lot of these possession films that aren’t directed as well and McCarthy deserves recognition for that. He knows when to focus on a characters face to up the tension and suspense in a scene. And he doesn’t overly rely on jump scares. If you’ve followed this blog then you know jump scares when not used effectively can ruin the enjoyment of a film.  There was a jump scare that really stood out, and it got an audible noise out of me in the theater because it came out of nowhere. McCarthy stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in October that there was a scene that had to be re-edited due to the audience screaming so much. Bishara’s score adds to the film’s sinister aspect. Bishara has been a staple in composing sounds for horror films including Insidious and The Conjuring franchises. The Prodigy may have a budget of only 6 million dollars but he brought his A-game during the scoring process.

As much as I enjoyed the technical aspects of the film the biggest flaw and where The Prodigy falls flat is in its script. In that same Entertainment Weekly interview, McCarthy stated that when he read the script, this movie was something he had to make. The problem with the script is that the movie is far too predictable. There wasn’t much of a sense of surprise during the film because all the familiar horror tropes were heir apparent. While watching the movie if there’s something that you think is going to happen the movie never tries to swerve or be original and create something that hasn’t been seen in a dozen other horror films. Overall, I enjoyed it enough that when I walked out of the theater I wasn’t mad at what I witnessed. It was a competent movie that just needed to take more risk to be something that truly stood out. If you’re out with your friends and looking for a fun “scary” movie to watch this weekend then I would recommend giving this one a viewing.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

The Prodigy is in theaters February 8, 2018.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) |Trailer Thoughts|

Coming off the heels of the highly praised Into the Spider-Versespider-senses are tingling as the highly anticipated (teaser!) trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home has finally been released. The sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming sees our wall-crawling superhero leave the friendly neighborhoods of New York to take on foes during his vacation in Europe. Several major actors have returned to this Sony Pictures-Marvel Studios collaboration, including Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei and Jacob Batalon with the introduction of Jake Gyllenhall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

There’s a lot to like about this trailer. I’m glad that they didn’t reverse course on Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) knowing that her nephew is Spider-Man. After watching the end credit scene during Homecoming I didn’t think they would follow through with it. To open up the trailer with her knowing that he’s Spider-Man adds a whole new element to their relationship. The comedy aspect doesn’t feel forced and seems to naturally work here, unlike another 2019 MCU release, when Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) returns and there’s this awkward moment between him and Peter’s hot aunt. The results of Endgame seems to have an affect on the world at large because Tony Stark is nowhere to be seen. Since Peter’s surrogate uncle, Tony Stark, (probably) won’t be making an appearance we are treated to former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders). Peter just wants to go on vacation with his classmates and wants to leave that Spider-Man stuff in New York, BUT NAH BRUH crime doesn’t work that way, so Fury pretty much reminds Peter Parker that old saying, y’know the one, “with great power comes great responsibility,” without actually saying it. The only concern that I have is when Fury tranquilizes Ned (Jacob Batalon), it makes you wonder why doesn’t Peter’s spider-senses alert him that Fury is in the room?

Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) makes his feature film debut and appearance wise they get the look right. THEY EVEN GOT THE FISHBOWL HELMET! Gyllenhaal is a good actor and it’s going to be interesting to see what they do with the character. Fury recruits Mysterio to help Spider-Man take on the Elementals. Mysterio is usually a villain, so if I had to guess, he’s probably going to end up betraying Spider-Man at some point in the film. The Elementals are extraterrestrial humanoids who have power over natural elements, but the MCU may not stick to their comic book background. Since Spider-Man has villains such as Hydro-Man, Molten-Man and Sandman who do similar things then they’ll more than likely tie in as the Elementals.  Here are a few stills from the trailer of the Mysterio and the Elementals:

Some other observations, there’s a shot of Peter’s suitcase and the initials BFP are engraved in it, could that be a Benjamin Parker reference?
suitcase

Michelle “MJ” Jones (Zendaya) is back with her quips, which were hilarious in Homecoming. The score of this trailer is perfect and the Spider-Man theme fits perfectly. Spider-Man has a black stealth suit, which I’m assuming Fury gives to him since it does not look like Peter packed his suit, but we will see. It also looks like he’s wearing a black and red suit similar to a Miles Morales color scheme. Overall, this trailer looks like another hit for the Spectacular SONYman Spider-Man, and Independence Day 2019 cannot get here soon enough.

Fin.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is scheduled to be released July 5th, 2019.

 

 

 

Replicas (2018) |Movie Review|

Replicas is a fitting title for a film that pretends to be authentic. The science-fiction thriller stars Keanu Reeves as Will Foster, a research neuroscientist whose family is killed in a car accident, and he plays the role of God by cloning them to give them a second chance at life.  Spoilers after the trailer.

Replicas starts out true to its title, as a copy of most sci-fi movies that deal with the ethics of cloning and the greater good for society as a whole. Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) works as a neuroscience researcher at the Bionyne Corporation, a biomedical company, and he’s trying to develop a way to merge man and machine to expand the life of someone who is mortally wounded. The first attempt is subject 345,  and the “donor” is an injured military sergeant. Foster merges the donor’s conscience with an android to unify the mind of a man with the body of the machine. Once the donor gains consciousness there’s a body horror moment because he looks at his hands and freaks out they’re robotic, which leads him trying to harm himself before Foster pulls the plug to shut him down.

When Foster gets home he tells Mona Foster (Alice Eve), his wife, about the success he had with 345, and since she’s a nurse she disapproves. She thinks it’s unethical for Bionyne to save a person’s life, but shut them down as if they were only machines. Keanu delivers a line trying to compare his biomedical job to the first heart transplant patient living  for 18 days before dying because his body rejected the organ. Keanu Reeve says all this in an unconvincing way, and it’s hard to take him seriously as a neuroscientist. What’s worse than Keanu’s delivery is the performance by Alice Eve before she’s cloned. Her performance is flat, and by the way she’s portraying her character you would think the film had opened with her being a clone.

The Fosters have three children, and the children are just here to give the audience a way to sympathize with Keanu. He’s driving his wife and the kids on a rainy night, his wife warns him to slowdown (IN THE MOST EMOTIONLESS TONE), two seconds later he swerves, crashes on the roadside and is the sole survivor of the aftermath. Fittingly, he calls The Verizon Wireless Guy, his coworker Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to bring equipment such as cloning pods from Bionyne, so Keanu Reeves can save his family. Just like Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch doesn’t add much to his delivery either. He tells Keanu, “we can’t do this,” and he doesn’t even deliver that line seriously. The biggest dilemma is that there are only 3 pods so Will has to make the toughest decision as a parent, and figure out who to not make a replica of. Logically, you would think he would bring back his three kids, ya know, since they’re his kids, and let his wife parish. But for a movie that shouts so many scientific words there is no logic here. He writes each of their four names on pieces of paper, folds them up, puts them in a bowl and tells Mr. Number 2 in Customer Service by JD Power Ed to pick one. This was followed by a nice shot of Keanu crying at the table, distraught over his decision, the camera pans up his arm to his and finally focuses on the name of his baby daughter Zoe.

Thomas Middleditch and Keanu Reeves start figuring out ways to clone the rest of the family and begin the replicating process. Once they start cooking up Will Foster’s new family inside the Bionyne pods, Ed warns Will that he’s going to need a generator, if the pods lose power the cloning process won’t work, and his replicas will die (just like the real ones). We move forward in time and the garage is filled with car batteries that will suffice as a generator. Ed lets Will know that the process will take 17 days before the clones will be ready, too soon they may be deformed, and any longer they’ll age rapidly. While his family is being served up in their pods, Keanu goes around the home, removing any semblance of Zoe. He’s crying to convey the emotions that this is hard for him to erase his baby girl, even though he had the chance to save her life…

5 days into the cloning process this is where Replicas becomes unintentionally(?) goofy. The film tries to convey that people are worried because the rest of Will Foster’s family hasn’t been to school, work, answer calls, emails, chats or text. One of his kids’ teachers even visits their home to checkup on her favorite student, which leads to an awkward moment between her and Reeves. Will Foster decides to get all the mobile devices out of the rest of his family and pretend they’re alive. He calls his wife’s job and emails the school his kids attend in an attempt to cover his tracks. A police officer knocks on his door in an attempt to build suspense, framed as a wellness check, asking if Mr. Foster had his car battery because everyone else in the neighborhood had theirs stolen. He tells the officer that he did not, they laugh and say, “he must of been the lucky ONE (NEO IS THAT YOU?!?)!”

Will Foster does science things and says a bunch of scientific words to the point that you can tell Keanu isn’t even trying to be convincing anymore. On day seventeen, the replicas are ready to emerge from their pods. During the time they were in the pods Will Foster loaded all their memories like they were an Android smartphone downloading from Google Drive. He deleted all their memories of Zoe. He sedated his cloned family, and in 72 hours they wake up and he’s ecstatic because he gets to see their faces again. The day they wake up the colors in the film go from dark to bright, white, lots of light and heavenly. This color change matches the sense of bliss that Foster has.

Alice Eve’s zombie-like performance fits better when she awakens as the clone. When Keanu tells her she’s a clone her reaction might as well have been “oh.” because there’s no emotion or sense of caring there. There is a scene where the family is looking at trees, her son picks one out, and she disapproves because the tree is fake. When she and the rest of the family start vaguely remembering Zoe, there’s actually a real feeling of betrayal. Somehow there’s a tracking device in Fosters family (subjects 346, 347, 348), so BioNyne tracks them down and Jones (John Ortiz), the boss of Will Foster, wants all the replicas dead. This leads to a car chase and an obvious betrayal from Ed (Verizon Guy #2). Which is followed by the film’s predictable, yet messy finish as Keanu Reeves saves the day and outsmarts Jones and the goons at Bionyne.

This review serves as a recap because there’s a lot of issues in this film. Entertainment Studios picked a perfect time to release Replicas, because it’s your run-of-the-mill January release. Thomas Middleditch and Alice Eve had comical performances, and it didn’t help that the script was a mess. Keanu Reeves is phenomenal in action movies, but not even Neo could save this film. The movie tries to take itself too seriously, but the plot isn’t even engaging, and to call this a thriller is an insult to thrillers. There’s nothing exciting about the direction, and the plot has been done more effectively in other science-fiction films. There was a glimmer of hope that this would at least be enjoyable after seeing the trailer, but Replicas couldn’t even replicate any kind of enjoyable qualities like other films in January 2019.

Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[a si a si]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Escape Room (2019) |Movie Review|

Escape the room and survive is the synopsis for Sony’s newest psychological thriller, Escape Room. Directed by Adam Robitel, Escape Room, follows six strangers as they try to work their way through  multiple deadly escape rooms, and that requires them to work together as a team to survive. The PG-13 film was previously titled The Maze because each escape room worked as a maze to get through. Light spoilers after the trailer.

Before watching this movie I had no idea that escape rooms were an actual thing that people go to. For a PG-13 film, Escape Room makes the most out of the rooms to give the film a personality since they’re not able to be gory as movies like Saw. There are five different escape rooms and each one has its own original look.  The designs of the various escape rooms in the film were intricate, and you can tell the production crew took their time to create them. The best room in the entire film was the one that’s designed to be an upside down pool hall and bar. It’s one of the most creative set pieces in the film. There’s a lot of depth in this room, and the set designers paid a lot of detail to the small things like the posters on the wall. With only a 9 million dollar budget, the sets do not feel like they were rushed, which was a positive.

Escape Room Pool.PNG
The 8 Ball Pool Room in Escape Room.
The characters in the film are enjoyable, but there’s no one that really stood out for me. They were mostly just tropes, but in a movie like this, it worked because the rooms and traps were the stars of the film. Zoey (Taylor Russell) is the main character and she’s introverted and the most intelligent when it comes to the rest of the crew. Ben (Logan Miller) is the loser of the bunch. He works at a grocery store and doesn’t have anything in his life going for him. Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll) is a former military servicewoman and her character is to be the badass of the group. Mike (Tyler Labine) is the oldest member of the six strangers, and he’s been on hard times, yet he’s also used as comic relief for most of the film. Jason (Jay Ellis) is a jerk trope, he’s an overachiever who butts heads with the rest of the group because he’s full of himself. Danny (Nik Dodani) is a naive nerd, he’s been in escape rooms in the past, so he has experience, but none of his previous experiences were in escape rooms that tried to kill him. As usual in these types of films, there’s a convoluted reason why they were all brought together.There’s some humorous lines exchanged early on in the film during the first room. Jason and Danny had the best banter amongst each other. Even when the ways that some of the characters died were creative, I wish it would’ve given me more in that aspect.
The biggest issue is that the film could not escape its ending in time. Escape Room is only 109 minutes long, so the length of the movie wasn’t a problem, but where they decided to end it… let’s just say the last 10 minutes did not need to happen. There’s 3 times within the last 10 minutes this movie would’ve ended, and by the third time, it’s tiresome because the movie drops the ball. I assume someone at Sony felt like Escape Plan had to set-up a sequel, so we can explore a world where the movie is set in deeper depth. The first possible ending would’ve been lazy, but it would make sense based on the events of the rest of the film; after that the second ending had “WE MUST HAVE A SEQUEL,” written all over it, eye roll but sure, make your money; however, what they do for the third and final time, makes you leave the theater asking what kind of nonsense is this? Outside of that ending, and some LOL-funny script writing moments, this movie was cool for a January release. I would recommend this to anyone who did not like the grotesqueness of the Saw films or any pre-teens. There are movies like Cube that do the puzzle-maze-room setting more effectively. Fittingly, a film titled Escape Room didn’t know, before its eventual conclusion, that it had plenty of room to escape.
Fin.

RATING

[Fresh Horchata]

[Fuego]

[Bueno]

[así así]

[Basura]

[All Mames Wey]

Escape Room was released in theaters January 4, 2019.

 

Captain Marvel (2019) |Trailer Thoughts|

Update: Check out the full review here.

After much anticipation, the second official trailer for Captain Marvel was released last night. The film will be the twenty-first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first to be set in the 1990s. This will also be MCU’s first movie with a female lead as Brie Larson flies into action as the film’s titular heroine.

 

The film’s aesthetic looks in line with the comics. There are vibrant colors throughout the trailer, and the film doesn’t look like it’s CGI overkill. Carol Danvers’s origins seem to be inline with the comic as well, just based off the clips given. Samuel L. Jackson makes his return as Nick Fury, and I think we’re going to finally learn how he lost his eye, could it be by that cat at the end of the trailer? The only thing I have reservations about is Brie Larson’s performance. Just based on both of the released trailers, something sounds off, and she comes off as boring, but hopefully that won’t be the case. Overall, I’m looking forward to Marvel’s  next space adventure/ retro film and how it furthers the plot for Avengers 4.

Fin.

Captain Marvel is scheduled to be released in theater March 8, 2019

POKÉMON: Detective Pikachu |Trailer Thoughts|

Today the trailer for the upcoming movie POKÉMON: Detective Pikachu was released. The movie is based on the game of the same title and is the first film based on the pocket monster franchise to get a theatrical run since 2001’s animated Pokemon 3: The Movie. Starring Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Detective Pikachu, it is also the first live-action/CGI-hybrid film of the series.

 

Never thought I would see a live-action Pokemon movie, but here we are. I’m not sure how I feel about the trailer yet. Ryan Reynolds lends his voice as the yellow-electric mouse but I cannot not hear Deadpool. Visually, the opening shot looks like they put a lot of detail into the background. The Charmander that walks by 6 seconds into the trailer looks like it fits in the world that was built, so that is a good sign. Only a second later the Jigglypuff, Gangar, Psyduck looks like a parade float, mascot, and a muppet, respectively. With that being said, Psyduck looks the most natural in the movie. Furry Detective Pikachu is giving me Happytime Murders vibes because of his texture and his juxtaposition to a dark background with a real-life actor in the same scene. Reynolds and Smith’s interactions with each other seem authentic and natural enough to distract from how uncanny and bizarre the franchise’s mascot looks. The Bulbasaur, Charizard and Mr. Mime are shown by themselves looking normal, but at 2:16 when the Charizard is paired with the Pikachu, it looks goofy.  Overall, this trailer is like an alternating current because even with its positives and negatives (electricity joke!) it does a good enough job at selling me the intrigue of this film. The editors that put the trailer together deserve a pat on the back because audiences may be in for a surprise when they get peek-at-you next summer. Pokemon jokes gotta love them all.

Fin.

POKÉMON Detective Pikachu is currently scheduled to be released May 10, 2019.