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Widows (Movie Review)

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After her husband dies in a robbery gone wrong, a woman (Viola Davis) must pay her husbands debt with the help of other widows left behind in their husband’s job.

Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Liam Nesson. Directed by Steve McQueen

High Points

  • Viola Davis shows raw emotion. Really carries the movie on her own
  • Some good plot twist that keep the movie from being too predictable of a heist movie
  • Kaluuya plays a menacing and memorable villain
  • Great use of Flashbacks to set up story

Low Points

  • Debicki’s character had her chance to shine but hindered Rodriguez’s character development
  • The heist in the climax of the film was no where near exciting as the movie tried to build up to.
  • Colin Farrell  character felt unneeded at times. There was No resolution to his decision making at the end of the movie

Steve McQueen who gave us “12 years a Slave” and “Hunger” brings us what he calls his “passion project” in Widows. This movie has a group of widows planning a robbery in order to pay the debts of their husbands.  Widows does a great job of using emotions to drive the story. Flashbacks are placed with perfect timing in order feel the character’s sadness and motivation. Viola Davis ability to be strong yet vulnerable really pulled you in and was the highlight of the movie. McQueen uses of color within scenes to highlight the contrast between characters in the film is great. As well as his always unique camera work display hidden messages. The screenplay had many perfectly timed plot twists which saved the movie from being a normal run of the mill heist movie. However, the movie has a very slow emotional build up which doesn’t pay off at the end as the climax of the film was not exciting or creative enough to absolutely blow the audience away. Even though this a great ensemble cast, there seems to be characters with unsolved issues and even irrelevant scenes throughout the movie. Kaluuya was a surprise standout among  the cast as he was convincing as a villain. His performance had you wanting more screen time from him and less from others.

Overall this movie has its flaws but definitely worth the watch. The story is better than the action and has some great performance from Kaluuya, Davis and Debicki. The movie probably isnt worth a trip to the theater but a must see nonetheless.

8.1/10

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Lion King (2019)

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Starring: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen,  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner & Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

Directed: Jon Favreau

 

Disney has finally dropped the remake of the classic movie ” The Lion King” originally made in 1994. This film is the ultimate cash grab being that the original Lion King is one of the most popular children’s movies of all time. The film is directed by Jon Favreau who previously directed The Jungle book remake in 2016. Jon Favreau did a great job leading a visually beautiful film. The dazzling  visual effects intensified every little detail from the rippling waters to the little hairs on the lion’s mane. The animation had me memorized the entire time as I was reminded how far advanced we are with CGI. However, that’s probably the only good thing I can say about the film. This movie was almost completely remade shot for shot with different voice actors. Because of that a lot of the film’s story points don’t have the same impact as it did in 1994. For instance, the musical numbers were very mundane. The super realistic visuals don’t help make the songs feel fresh or new when watching it. If you remember from the original movie the song, ” I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” had plenty of color and emotion while in the remake the song seemed like a placeholder in the story; even though some of the older members of the audience would feel some slight nostalgia seeing it on the big screen again. Also because of the realistic portrayal of the animals, the facial expressions didn’t provide enough emotions for the characters. For Example, when Mufusa died I could not feel or see the sadness from young Simba which made the scene seem less important then originally intended.

Transforming a classic children’s movie into a hyper-realistic film has plenty of box office potential, but I think the team underestimated how the quality of the story would be when switching the animation style. Disney missed an opportunity to actually retool the Lion King and make it more epic of a story by changing some plot points or even removing/adding some characters. Instead, we were tricked into paying some money to watch the same movie we watched as a kid but this time featuring Beyoncé. I’m not totally against remakes of past films, but I think remakes should be better versions instead of a copy and paste for a new generation.

Highlights

  • Visually Stunning Film! Oscar-worthy CGI !
  • Billy Echner as Timon and Seth Roganas Pumba were the only standout characters in the film

Lowlights

  • Muscial number were bland due to realism of the film (Beyonce can sang tho! Dont get it twisted)
  •  Remake is damn near the same film shot for shot
  • Nothing add to the film to make it have its own personailty
  • Character emotions are non-existent due to realistic portrayal of animals

Rating – 2/10

 

US (2019)

Director: Jordan Peele

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker

The anticipated follow up to “Get Out” finally hit the big screens this week. I was really excited to see what Jordan Peele had in store for his sophomore effort. “Get Out” was one of my favorite thrillers of all time. It was great mystery with good social commentary so I expected the same with this movie. “US” is definitely  a good thriller but with less obvious social commentary. “Us” is about a family on vacation who end up having to fight doppelgangers of themselves for survival. The movie is not scary in terms of jump scares that recent horror movies usually have but Peele makes certain scenes in the film very creepy and disturbing using dark imagery. The colors and textures  in the background of almost all of the scenes are purposeful to creating a mysterious tone in the film. Peele uses wide shots and contrasting colors that really make you appreciate the amount of detail he put in making this film.

Jordan Peele has spoken about how he wants to make movies that you need to watch to see more than once to see the big picture and that is definitely the case. Many of the scenes and moments in the film will seem strange/out of place to the normal viewer until the end when the big plot twist is revealed. After leaving the theater, I started to piece together all the things that didn’t make sense and even have debates with friends on some theories. And that was Peele’s motive with this movie. He wants to make films worth watching more than once that started a long term conversation.  Unlike “Get Out” , the social commentary theme isn’t about racism but I personally feel that it is about classism and how America treats the poor/disenfranchised citizens.

In terms of acting performances, Lupita absolutely killed it. She’s probably tied with Toni Collette (Heredity) in terms of best performance in a horror movie I’ve ever seen. Playing two different characters and having distantly different personalities must have been difficult but she did not miss a beat. Her emotions jumped off the  screen as a scream queen and her anger and disturbing presence was very visible as a her doppelganger villain. However, she was the only actor/actress who had an overwhelmly good performance.

Overall the movie as a whole was excellent. Jordan Peele did not miss a beat in his sophomore effort. There was some flaws in terms of untimely comedy and poor narrative choices but the movie was what I expected and I can not wait for the next horror movie from Jordan Peele.

Highlights

  • Lupita’s performance! I would be surprised if she isn’t getting trophies during award season
  • Every scene matters in this film! Very rare you see that in horror movies
  • Great setup for the plot twist. It makes the viewer almost have to watch it a 2nd time
  • The imagery in this film is A1. Plenty of duality and contrasting colors that matches the film’s theme

Lowlight

  • Hate to say it but the kids performances (besides the little girl who played little Lupita) weren’t the best lol
  • The comedic timing was off during this film unlike “Get out”. Possibly the acting was the blame

Rating – 8.7/10

A Star is Born (2018)

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Plot: A hard drinking ,veteran Musician falls in love with a Rising Star.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

Directed by Bradley Cooper

Since the Oscar Nominations for Best Picture were announced a couple days ago, I have decided to review all of films before the actual award show premieres. I usually always try to watch all the movies before the show anyways but this time I am going to share my thoughts with everyone. The first movie I watched was A Star is Born. This is film is about a musician who falls in love with a waitress and helps her become a famous pop star. This movie is also a remake of a  remake of a remake lol. However, due to how large scale movie productions are nowadays, this movie really separates itself from the others before it. This movie was in production for a while. I remember when I first heard about the movie a couple years ago, Beyonce was supposed to play the role of Ally. Lady Gaga assumed the role after some apparent mishaps but it was blessing in disguise because I can’t honestly see Beyonce doing as  great of a job as Lady Gaga did. Lady Gaga was tremendous in this movie. Her emotions were communicated very vividly and she easily was able to convey the ups and downs of the character throughout the film. Matter of fact, everyone in this film was acting they ass off. Bradley Cooper (who also directed and helped write the screenplay) did an amazing job with his character. Playing an mentally unstable alcoholic is starting to become a cliché in pop culture but Bradley was very sincere with his approach. I honestly connected this character in a lot of ways, which drew me so much more closer to this movie then I thought I would be. My Favorite performance of the year so far is Sam Elliott as Bobby Maine. It was one of those times were you expecting nothing out of someone and then BAM! This guy gives you some heat! The car scene towards the end of the movie with him and Bradley my eyes watery .

The soundtrack is great as predicted. Even though I’m not a fan of country and pop, it was still a great listen. I was surprised by Bradley’s vocal range and of course Lady Gaga was hitting them notes. I was also a big fan how the movie was edited. The quick cuts helped turn  what could’ve been a very long story into a movie that didn’t waste too much time. Now I think the only issue is probably a little bit of extra explaining of Jackson’s (Bradley Cooper) past. Not saying it wasn’t needed but it could’ve been presented in a simpler way. It Just added too much melodrama for me. Other than that, an overall great movie!

Highlights

  • Great Acting Performances All Around!
  • Decent soundtrack. Lady Gaga’s concert debut was amazing.
  • Using SNL and the Grammys in different scenes were fun to watch
  • Sam MF Elliott!!
  • Bradley Cooper put in a lot of cameos from Comedians.

Low points

  • Little too much unneeded backstory for Jackson

Rating – 9.2/10

 

BirdBox (2018)

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Director: Susanne Bier

Starring:Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes John Malkovich, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julien Edwards, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Jacki Weaver,Rosa Salazar, Colson Baker

Netflix is doing their thing these past couple of years with all the exclusive content they are dropping. The amount of good shows and movies that Netflix has kept them the kings of the streaming service. Netflix’s latest efforts are with the movie BirdBox, a suspenseful thriller staring Sandra Bullock. BirdBox shows  a post-apocalyptic  world where unknown creatures are making humans kill themselves by just the sight of them. The premise makes a unique handicap to characters in this “horror” film similar to how the movie A Quiet Place did. Having to be able to maneuver and survive without sight was interesting  to see on screen.  The director using character point of view from behind the blindfolds were impressive as well. The way the plot of the movie was presented wasn’t that strong. The pacing of the movie was too fast in my opinion. A slow build would’ve been better to build suspense but I guess the director was trying to get a lot of content in the films. The soundtrack wasn’t good enough to keep me on the edge of my seat either. Usually the soundtrack in thriller or horror movies can make or break the film but I think the ball was dropped on this one. Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes had standout performances. Both actors were really committed to their characters and had great chemistry with each other. The kids in the movie did well too. Everyone else had really uninspiring performances that didn’t really standout.

BirdBox is a fun watch. Even though it was pretty predictable, the creative premise made the film very interesting. If Netflix continues to make films like this, they will continue to dominate

Highlights

  • Sandra Bullock kills it as always
  • Trevante Rhodes did Great! Put him in more Movies!
  • Creative Premise for a thriller
  • Great use of camera work

Downsides

  • The plot didn’t have enough mystery. The story was verbalized to much through the characters
  • Terrible Soundtrack
  • Predictable ending
  • John Malkovich is annoying. But he is annoying in every movie

6.8/10

SpiderMan: In To The Spiderverse

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Director:Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali
Brian Tyree Henry

Spiderman is my favorite superhero so I could be a little bit biased. Spiderman was the reason I even read comic books as a kid. So when I first read the Miles Morales version of the Spiderman comics,  I was in awe seeing a hero with the same skin color and age as me. You can imagine  how amazed I was watching this movie. No joke, probably the one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. It is literally like watching a moving comic book. The colors popped out on screen so well, there are times where you are just paying attention to all the colors move instead of the story. The concern for me was that we are getting another Spiderman origin story. Mind you, Miles Morales’ origin story is different but very similar to Peter Parker’s origin story and I’m sure movie goers are very tired of seeing that origin story over and over again. However, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (best known for the 21 Jump Street), did a great job crafting the story to where it was fresh and original. The writers used the “Multi-verse” to really expand the story and possibly  create a new cinematic universe (Which is what everyone wants of course). The different versions of Spiderman created unique ways to make sure the movie doesn’t fall flat. The different personalities clashed together well to ultimately build Miles Morales to be the best Spiderman he can be. The movie has very few flaws. I think the Villains could have had a bit of a deeper background story (specifically the Prowler because he is much more important in the comic books) even though its honestly not needed at all. Personally, I love to feel sympathy for my movie villains but I understand it isn’t always the case. Overall, the movie is incredible and probably the best animated movie of 2018!

Highlights

  • Amazing Visuals!!
  •  Great lesson on learning how to be the best you
  • Seeing all the different Spiderman from different universes
  • Homages to the Sam Rami Directed Spiderman movies
  • Great Soundtrack
  • Great Voice Acting

Downsides

  • Kinda wished Prowler was the main Villain and not Kingpin

9.5/10

Creed II (Review)

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Director: Stevn Caple, J.R.

Starring: Micheal B.Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu

Man……. Creed 2 was intense. The movie was better then I originally thought going in to it. After seeing the first trailer a couple months ago, I didn’t think twice about the movie. Especially knowing before hand that Ryan Coogler wasn’t directing it. The movie was pretty good and surprisingly emotional. The script, which was handled by Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone himself (who has writing writing credits on almost every Rocky Movie), did borrow ALOT of the same elements from Rocky IV; but just like the first Creed movie, it does just enough to standalone. The new director for the film, Steven Caple J.R.,did an pretty ok job of bringing forth the characters from the last film and not stray away too much from the last film. Steven did a great job of managing the two worlds of the sons of Drago & Creed using colors and music to depict the hardship of one boxer and the success of the other. The film (similar to all Rocky films) did a great job of building up to the last fight. The climax of the film has edge of your seat action that is the ultimate experience in a theater (Which is the only reason we pay for this shit). Being that it is a sequel, it has A LOT of predictable moments. Similar to how Star Wars: The Force awakens and even the first Creed was, it borrows the same formula from its predecessor and only tweaks it a little bit. However, Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone bring so much heart to the film that you will ignore for a little while before waking up and realizing you are basically watching Rocky 10. Its almost like Sylvester Stallone was trying to write himself an Oscar again or something LOL…. Unfortunately because of Sly Stone’s writing, there is a lot of “shakespearean” speeches that get old throughout the film.In other words, alot of “Don’t do what I did!”  ass speeches(Which is common in every Rocky movie). Also the movie has Drago ( Dolph Londgren) and his son having the hardships that stemmed from the end Rocky IV that is attempted  to be made to be a big deal but unfortunately didn’t pan out well enough for the audience to care (Just Beat his ass fam).

Overall, just like Donny, it hits and misses. Great movie to see in theaters but the story isn’t as captivating as the first.  Still better than I thought though. If Ryan Coogler directs the 3rd one we might have something here. Plus after this film,I can finally say Micheal B. Jordan a great actor. I was hesitant to say it before.

Highlights

  • Great Performances from Micheal B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone
  • Boxing sequences were exciting and authentic. It made me wanna hit a MF!
  • The length of the movie was perfect!  Probably only Yawned like twice

Downsides

  • Hella predictable.
  • Tessa Thompson lip singing
  • Rocky has like 4 monologues lmao
  • The attempt to have the audience have emotions towards the Dragos’ didn’t work. Not enough time to a develop a connection. Or maybe  just poorly executed.

Rating : 7.5/10