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Life (2017)

Life (2017) was directed by Daniel Espinosa. The film was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare.

Life is about six astronauts in a space station after a trip to Mars to collect samples to prove that there is biological life living on Mars. As they interact with the alien specimen things go terribly wrong.

The film does an excellent job at portraying feeling of the claustrophobia and tension the crew is experiencing while they are trying to battle this unknown alien that can survive anything. 

The death scenes are particularly good at taking your breath away, because the alien feeds off of the astronauts not only externally, but internally as well. But, the aliens killing spree is not the only thing that takes your breath away, but the feeling of being trapped in space, where there is no oxygen, is scary enough in itself. 

The film did not add any emotional backstory to the characters any more than it should have, which I definitely liked. The film makes you sympathize enough with the claustrophobic feelings and the sense of no escape.

The alien in this film, in my opinion, looks fantastic. Not overly done, fake-looking CGI. 

The ending, however, was extremely predictable. It does leave some things unsaid, and I am glad it did. Not knowing and using your imagination is almost better than getting all the answers.

That said, I hope they don’t make a sequel, the movie ended the way it should have.

I recommend this movie, if you haven’t already seen it.

Power Rangers (2017): The Whiny Generation

Power Rangers was directed by Dean Israelite. The screenplay was written by John Gatins. The cast includes: Dacre Montgomery as Jason aka Red Ranger; Naomi Scott as Kimberly aka Pink Ranger; RJ Cyler as Billy aka the Blue Ranger; Ludi Lin as Zack aka the Black Ranger and Becky G. as Trini aka the Yellow Ranger.

The Power Rangers are based off the 90s television show The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In this version, the cast of outsiders (in their own way) meet unexpectedly at a mining site outside of their town. After an explosion caused by Billy, because that’s his thing, they discover different color stones and discover that they now have superpowers and have been chosen to be the Power Rangers and save humanity.

I watched the Power Rangers as a kid growing up in the 90s. I was even the Pink Ranger for Halloween probably five years in a row. And I can tell you, I remembered nothing about the story, characters or premise. (Probably goes to show how old I am getting).

This film was definitely made for the millennial generation. The constant whining about everything was about all I could take. The bad boy who gives up his football scholarship because he’s lost (oh and he’s on house arrest that is mentioned once, and then he just galavants around like there’s no more house arrest), the girl who is a mean girl and passed out a nude photo of her friend (side note: I know cases where girls and boys who do this in middle school and/or high school that have gotten charged), the autistic kid who is just happy to have friends (he’s the best character and actor, by the way), the one boy who wants everyone to know he’s crazy and skips school but really is a sweet heart and loves his mom and the girl who moves around a lot and her parents just want her to be ‘normal’.
I know I said that I didn’t remember the old show, but I definitely don’t remember whining or pornography.

But this is what the market is right now: millennials and connecting with what they are ‘feeling’ and their constant whining. That’s all these characters did, whine. Whine about how they can’t morph or how they can’t stand each other or know each other. Stop, okay?

Like I stated above, Billy is the best character. He’s the only genuine character and actor. The actor definitely knew what kind of movie this was, and played it well. The rest of the cast, well, they had no likeable features whatsoever. Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa was another actor who knew what to do with a movie like this, and she did it well.

As the film progressed, the lines just kept getting cornier and cornier. My eyes got stuck in the back of my head with the eye rolls during the third act.

We see these characters in their armor for about a total of five seconds, then they all get into their zords, which are barely seen. The scene that they finally get their zords the original score is used *cue eye roll* it felt so misplaced. Then they all make megazord and the climatic fight scene lasts about a total of fifteen minutes.

The Krispy Kreme product placement was another terrible addition to this film. It may as well have been named Power Rangers: Hot Now.

This is what we get now, corny 90s tv shows turned into corny, whiney millennial films. 

I felt no nostalgia when watching this film, but then again I may be too old for this crap.

But, let me tell you how I really feel.

Edge of Seventeen or the Edge of Being Full of It

Edge of Seventeen was written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. The cast stars Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick and Woody Harrelson. 

The film revolves around Steinfelds character, Nadine. No really, the whole story in her eyes revolves around her. Nadine considers herself the black sheep of the family and even more so after her father passes away. Her brother is the typical popular athlete. Nadine has one friend Krista, but soon learns that her brother and Krista like each other and want to date, making Nadine spin into a whirlwind of bratty emotion. 

The entire film is about how everything terrible (or how she sees it) happens to her and never happens to anyone else and no one will ever understand her. A typical teenager who thinks the world revolves around them story. Everything that happens is the end of the world and nothing can be fixed.

There is one scene where is an unfortunate circumstance of teenage girls trying to get attention of boys by saying that they will do certain things just so the boy will notice them. That was a powerful scene and unfortunately does reflect on some people’s views of ‘liking’ someone and just to have them ‘like’ you back, you say things you normally wouldn’t say. 

Nadine wants everything just to happen to her. She does not see why she would have to change, that everyone else should bend and change to her personality. That shecan be awful but no one can be awful to her.

Woody Harrelson’s character in the film is the best. He does not put up with Nadine’s dramatic bullshit. And boy, do I mean dramatic. He points out her selfishness, her dramaticism and lack thereof genuine nice personality. 

The rest of the cast was fine, not a performance to ride home about. They did what the story called for. 

This film was the perfect representation of every self-obsessed, full of it teenager.

Baby Driver (2017) Trailer

The new Edgar Wright movie, Baby Driver, is right around the corner (well, about five months) and I couldn’t be more excited. After The Worlds End (2013), which wasn’t terrible, but the jokes didn’t quite land as well, this movie looks fantastic. Just the right amount of car chases, violence and an eclectic mix of music is just what the doctor ordered. 

Oh, and the cast? Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, make up quite the hilarious ensemble of which only Edgar Wright could bring together.

The movie premiered at SXSW, as well as the trailer. First reactions are making me more excited for the movie, and releasing it early?! You’re teasing me, Edgar!

I guess we will have to watch the trailer over and over again.

As for me, I will be watching some of my favorite Edgar Wright movies until this movie hits theaters in June.

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man was written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The film stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. It was nominated for 20 awards from different award festivals and won 6 awards including the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award.

The film is about a stranded man, Hank (Dano), on the verge of suicide who finds a dead body, Manny (Radcliffe), and with the help from Manny, Hank not only finds his way home, but a will to survive.

The film reminds me in short – of Cast Away but with a dead body. The film is very predictable with the ending and character arch. However, I did like the portrayal of loneliness, depression and self-worth.

The film portrays depression and logic two different ways – Hank and Manny (the dead body). The desert island is hopelessness (or, the outside world) – to give up. 

The island is a representation of the world in which Hank had run away from. He feels as though nothing is there and there is no reason to go on. 

…Until he meets Manny.

The dead body, Manny, is Hanks brain trying to sort out what life means from a person who has no idea what life is, very much like a child, or you know, a dead person. 

Hank is his depression convincing him that he is worthless and no one wants him. There’s nothing out there for him to live for.

Hank hallucinates into thinking that, Manny (dead body) speaks to him and has magical powers that can help him get home. Manny is like a child, repeating and asking things that he doesn’t quite understand. And some of those questions or statements remind Hank why he feels ashamed of things from his life – and why he shouldn’t let that bother him. And those things shouldn’t make him run away from life. Terrible things happen, that doesn’t mean you should run away.

Perfect example of Hank trying to survive is the picture of a girl on Hanks phone. Manny sees the picture and falls in love with the girl, urging Hank to take him to her. He loves her and wants to tell her how much he loves her. Hank knows that the picture is of a girl he, himself, pines for. However, he has never met her. But convinces himself to press forward and get home.

The picture isn’t just a picture – it’s a representation of life and things worth living for. 

The whole film isn’t as serious as this – it’s chock full of fart and masterbation jokes. Some, I have to say got extremely old after awhile.

Dano and Radcliffe have great chemistry. Radcliffe was just a dead body, but he brought inquisitive life to the character – childlike questions about life that nonormal person would say aloud (according to Dano’s character). 

Dano’s character can make you feel uncomfortable, sad and angry all at the same time. There are scenes were you really feel sorry for him and then there are others were you just want him to stop feeling sorry for himself. Which is exactly how he wants you to feel.

People who do not struggle with depression or anxiety or any type of mental illness do not understand what another person is going through. A person that has never been through it, may say “stop feeling sorry for yourself and live your life.” Well it’s not so easy to do that. Hank was so engrossed with loneliness and had no self worth he couldn’t look at it from any other way – until Manny. 

That is what I really appreciated about the movie, you are able to see both sides of the spectrum.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) was directed by Mel Gibson. The screenplay was penned by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey and Vince Vaughn.

The film is about the heroic true story of Army Medic Desmond Doss, who, because of religious beliefs, saves the lives of many men during battle without shooting a single weapon.

I know, I finally saw this movie. Took me long enough. It won two Academy Awards this year, Film Editing and Sound Mixing.

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss is spectacular. Not only does he absolutely nail the southern accent, his emotional presence is fierce and makes you empathize with his character, religious or not. The trauma he experiences even before he experiences battle is awful and he portrays all the scenes with wonderful tenacity.

Vince Vaughn, well, he feels like every character he has ever played, himself. Just not as funny.

What I liked the most about the film is Andrew Garfield. His performance was the best part of the whole film.

I do not necessarily think that this film was as good as other movies that came out in 2016 that weren’t nominated for Academy Awards, but it was a fine film. 

Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) is a documentary directed by Kent Jones. Jones wrote the documentary along with Serge Toubiana. Many famous directors are interviewed during the documentary including: Wes Anderson and David Fincher.

The documentary centers around the famous interview of famed horror/suspense director Alfred Hitchcock by French director Francois Truffaut. Who later published one of the most influential books on film ever published.

The documentary does a fantastic job at portraying how important and influential the book is to many directors. The documentary cuts from exclusive photographs taken during the Hitchcock and Truffaut interview along with audio recordings. As well as using visual pages of the book of the interview Truffaut published.

The documentary gives fantastic insight on how influential Hitchcock was to cinema not only with his ideas but with his creative direction and cinematography.

Arrival (2016)

Arrival (2016) was directed by Denis Villeneuve. Eric Heisserer penned the screenplay based on the story, “The Story of Your Life’, written by Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

The film is about a linguistic professor who is enlisted by the Army when unidentified spacecrafts make first contact with Earth. Louise (Adams) and Ian (Renner), a scientist work together to communicate with the aliens and figure out their purpose.

Adams performance is nothing short of spectacular. She is able to convey such complex emotions, as any human would, when seeing and experiencing something dramatic as communicating with another life form. Renner also does a wonderful job as her co worker and their chemistry is perfect. 

The films atmosphere does a fantastic job at increasing the paranoia of the situation not just within the confines of where the main characters are, but all over the world with news reports. The news reports that seem so scary because you actually imagining that happening in real life if a similar situation happened. Paranoia and mistrust are conveyed perfectly, and really bring a sense of urgency to the film.

What I liked most about the film is the little twist that I thought was done beautifully with cut scenes. 

If you have not already seen this, I highly recommend it.

Throwback TV Review: Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers (1975 and 1979) was a British television show written by then married John Cleese and Connie Booth. The show was about a hotel in England, the owners, its guests and the hilarious situations the owner (Cleese) would get himself into (mostly because he was a snob).

The show only had twelve episodes total, premiering in two six episode seasons. 

I honestly wish that they had made more episodes, because this is British humor at its best. The jokes are always a hit and who doesn’t love slap stick comedy with a tall, lanky and awkward man? Especially man that is exceptionally snobbish. 

Each character was terrific and all played off each other well. As smart as Connie Booth’s character was, she sure let Basil Fawlty (Cleese) wrap her into such hilarious and awkward situations.

Prunella Scales as Basil Fawlty’s wife is typical of not putting up with Fawlty’s crap. She always gives the guests at the hotel what they need, to Basil’s chagrin (he sees some of the guests as lower than others). 

Andrew Sachs as Manuel, is one of the funniest performances. He doesn’t understand nor speak English very well and that often gets him into trouble.

I highly recommend this show if you haven’t already seen it. 

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