‘Detroit’ Film Review

Grade: A

If there is a lesson we should all take from ‘Detroit’, (A.K.A. Kathryn Bigelow’s newest attempt at an Oscar.) it would be the phrase “History repeats itself.” You see it in the news more than ever – reports of rioting, racial tension, and police brutality – whether it be as a trending topic on Facebook, on the newspapers delivered from city to city, or your television. This type of negativity is really hard to escape, but these are not new problems, they have become social issues for decades; causing the connection between racism and police matters to become debatable among those who hear the news. It happened in the 60’s, and it is still causing discussion now; which is why Bigelow decided to bring this true event to light. 

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‘The Dark Tower’ Film Review

Grade: F

It looks like ‘Pet Sematary’ is not the only terrible Stephen King film adaptation I have seen yet. Yes, Mary Lambert’s 1989 horror – Ahem! – classic was a nonsensical and grotesque piece of camp, but there was something entertaining in its cheesy demeanor. In Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation of ‘The Dark Tower’; King’s 8-part series of books, however, the entertainment factor goes down to zero. This movie had potential to be a great epic, instead, it fell flat from the word “Go!”. I had more fun trying to spot the many Easter Eggs hidden throughout than I did sitting through this badly acted lackluster. Excuse that understatement! “Bad” is no way to describe the experience of watching this film; let’s go with “Boring”. Not since ‘Twilight’ have I seen actors feel like they wanted to collect their paychecks and wanted to go home from another day of work, hence a few alright performances from Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, who at least try; being huge names and all.

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‘Atomic Blonde’ Film Review

Grade: B-

With ‘John Wick’, and now ‘Atomic Blonde’, director David Leitch (who was a stuntman for actor Brad Pitt) has proven himself to be skilled at directing action. Don’t believe me? Look at the way the action sequences in this action-thriller are choreographed. Charlize Theron manages to give and take every blow to and from her adversaries with a Bing! Bang! Boom! Making you feel every hit; injecting you with an adrenaline rush fit for an action movie. In one scene, that takes place in an apartment in West Berlin, MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is escorting a man named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan) to safety, when she is confronted by KGB agents, who come one by one as if they are re-spawning video game characters. She starts offing them in a long drawn-out sequence not set to music (almost all action sequences are stylishly set to 80’s New Wave, such as ‘Father Figure’ by the late George Michael, or ’99 Luftballons’ by Nena), albeit not as intense as the church shooting in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, there is still a quiet intensity while watching people get stabbed, bloodied, punched, even kicked down the stairs; making it one of the greatest, and well-filmed action sequences.

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‘The Emoji Movie’ Film Review

Grade: D-

I can’t really say that Sony Pictures Animation’s ‘The Emoji Movie’ is the worst thing I’ve seen all year; Its characters are as vibrant and colorful as the world they inhabit. This doesn’t excuse the fact that this cheap attempt at comedy is one of the most cringe-worthy, and annoying animated films I have come across. Yes, this is a children’s movie. No, that doesn’t mean I have to go easy on it. When you have a movie where two “Meh” emojis (Voiced by Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge) say how they’re feeling in a tiresome manner, or the villain becoming an extremely happy emoji who gushes her words as if she is talking to a baby emoji (Maya Rudolph, you are much better than this!), of course I am going to be annoyed at the least! I expected ‘The Emoji Movie’ to have some potential in its gags, however, the only funniest jokes seem to come from Poop (Voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart, no joke.) and a hand emoji named Hi-5 (Voiced by James Corden).

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‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Since late 2009, when James Cameron’s spectacular ‘Avatar’ came out and became the highest grossing film at the time (until J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ broke that domestic box-office record a few years back), 3D was mainly used as a marketing gimmick in order to bring in the big bucks. Not to say that CG is a bad thing; I don’t mind looking at colorful characters or immersing myself in a world of beauty. I am starting to catch on to the techniques filmmakers are using. CG is looking more noticeable; making it really hard for me to “feel the moment” so to speak. There are times when the CG in Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ looks noticeable, but if one were to sit back and relax, you could immerse yourself in a world of beauty and realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

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‘Dunkirk’ Film Review

Grade: C+

It is never a wise idea to trust marketing. In fact, the only purpose it serves is to bring people in to see your movie. I was sucked into Christopher Nolan’s newest “blockbuster” ‘Dunkirk’, which showcased the historical Battle of Dunkirk, which occurred from May 26 to June 4 1940; I had never really learned much about the event in school, let alone have researched it years before Nolan decided to turn this into an early Oscar contender (Indeed, it might happen), but much like his previous film ‘Interstellar’, its first trailer intrigued me. Seeing a group of young men duck for cover from an oncoming plane set to bomb the beaches of Dunkirk gave me an excitement for Nolan’s next blockbuster. Upon further seeing this retelling of an event which happened so long ago, I felt tiresome, while at the same time admiring the work put into this.

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‘The Big Sick’ Film Review

Grade: C+

‘The Big Sick’ – written by (and based on) the husband-and-wife team of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – is not your usual romantic comedy, let alone a pretty special one. Sure, it’s sweet, emotional, very funny, and sentimental; its problem comes from the fact that the first 15-20 minutes of this semi-biopic feel like a condensed version of the romantic comedies that have come before it. Add in a sort-of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ story-line, social commentary on race and our health system, and the likes of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano trying to get back to the acting game, and you have ‘The Big Sick’!

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‘Baby Driver’ Film Review

Grade: A

 

From the word “GO!”, Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ is a vehicle that never runs out of gas (or tunes) for the trip. Each and every moment is non-stop action and master film-making that Wright uses to full potential. With every drive young Baby (Ansel Elgort) makes, the action is exciting, as well as dangerous. At every turn, danger never quits and he has to be in the middle of it. Why does Baby drive? What is he doing there? And most importantly, “What is the thing with the music in his ears?”, most characters who question him and his ability to be a getaway driver, ask Doc (Kevin Spacey), the crime boss who sets up all the robberies Baby has to be a part of. The story behind Baby’s condition, location, and job, is quite tragic. When he was a little kid, Baby’s parents died in a car crash leaving him with tinnitus, or “a hum in the drum” as Doc calls it; (Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler! It was in the trailer!) the only way Baby can drown out the ringing in his ear is to have music playing in his ear at almost all times. Not only does this make him the best getaway driver in the business, it also serves as the film’s main soundtrack.

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‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Film Review

Grade: B+

The “Homecoming” in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is not just a reference to the long anticipated Homecoming dance which takes place near the major climax between our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and the Vulture (A Spidey villain that has never got his due until this film), it is also Marvel Studios’ way of welcoming back one of their own heroes after years of Sony taking over the rights to the famous Web-Slinger, starting with Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy with Tobey Maguire in the red suit, up to Marc Webb’s seemingly gritty, yet poorly received, ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ with Andrew Garfield (of ‘The Social Network’, and ‘Hacksaw Ridge’). It truly has been a long time coming for Spidey to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU, for short). Fans have been wondering where the wall crawler has been, or where he was going to show up. Yet, in 2016, prayers were answered and fans rejoiced when footage first surfaced of Spider-Man in the trailer for ‘Captain America: Civil War’. However, there was something different about the “new” Spider-Man. This Spidey had a new look about him; it wasn’t the spider-covered suit from the Raimi trilogy, or the spandex suit in the ‘Amazing’ movies, this suit had a more simple look and feel to it. The question being: Who wore the suit? Why it would be none other than Tom Holland, an up and coming actor who is quickly becoming a household name and a new Marvel hero that is sure to do what ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s Peter Quill/Star-Lord did for Chris Pratt.

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‘Sergeant York’ Classic Film Review

Grade: A-

 

The year was 1941, and two films came out that year that changed film forever; ‘Citizen Kane’, and ‘Sergeant York’. Both films are considered to be not only “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films” by the American Film Institute (AFI, for short), but were also Oscar nominees running in nearly every one of the same category (Except ‘Supporting Actor and Actress’, which the latter was nominated for). Sadly, both films lost the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar to a lesser-known film called ‘How Green Was My Valley’. (I am still interested in viewing the film for that reason alone.) Despite both films being important to the film industry, only one received more box-office attention than the other. That film was ‘Sergeant York’. While ‘Citizen Kane’ went on to be shown in film schools (and high school classes) in later years as a tool for how to make a great film, ‘Sergeant York’ became the BIGGER deal. Not only was it a major Oscar nominee (winning only two for Gary Cooper’s performance as the real-life Alvin C. York, but for William Holmes’ editing as well.), it also became the highest-grossing film of that year. (Which, if adjusted for inflation, is still one of the highest grossing movies of all time) 

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