Underwater Review

Underwater nails tension and dread, giving us an entertaining Aliens-at the-bottom-of-the-sea movie to start the year.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Hello 2020 Movies! Underwater, you win the prize of being the first 2020 released movie I have seen to start this decade. Going into this movie I thought I would get a Alien style movie that trades space for being at the bottom of ocean. And look at that, Underwater is exactly that flavor of movie.

Now me, I like these type of movies tense space horror movies. The ones with a crew that is so screwed and one lead character that will not give up even if the end is staring them in their face with lots of teeth. So take that as you will. That said I really liked this movie. It kind of felt like Alien meets Deadspace (video game series, look it up!) in water. That’s a win in my book.

The general premise is that in the near-ish future, there is a company that drills at super deep levels into the seafloor, and at this one site miles and miles under super pressurized water, the massive building sized drill malfunctions and caused significant damage to the long tower like structure that the many workers of the drill operate in. To make matters worse the hull damage is giving way to the immense pressure of the ocean which means anyone that couldn’t take an escape pod to the surface is screwed. Oh and then there are these weird alien like sounds that can be heard out in the pitch black water. Suffice to say the crew of survivors that we follow have a good idea they are likely screwed. Yet, they have a plan. Using oceanfloor level surface tunnels and badass looking underwater space suits (they look a lot like StarCraft marines for the video game fans out there) they will travel to a decommissioned drill that may still have means of communication or escape to the surface.

What I liked about this movie was the tense cinematography, great visuals, fun sea space world, and Kristen Stewart doing what she does best, carrying the weight of simple premise movies with her on screen presence. The shooting style was great, sometimes capturing the mood of games (or 1917) with an almost over the shoulder view of being part of the crew. You feel claustrophobic, you feel disoriented, you feel the hopelessness of the nightmare the crew finds themselves in. It’s something that I can’t stress enough, is best seen on large screens with booming sound.

The world they created for this movie feels like it’s right at home with the aforementioned Aliens and Deadpsace’s. It’s grimy, the technology feels both old and new, and there is not a single place where you feel that the characters are safe. For just like in space, if you go outside of the station, you better have a suit on or you are gonna be jelly. They don’t shy away from just how dangerous it is on themselves without including monsters. Which when you get to the monster parts of the movie, wow are those things disturbing. It’s also with those creatures and how the crew finds ways to fight back that remind me a lot of Deadspace games, which don’t involve you being some marine with guns. In both instances these are drillers / mechanics, they have things meant to be used as tools, they just happen to be so dangerous they could be used as weapons. I loved that stuff.

So with all the said this isn’t some super deep awards bait script of a movie. It’s more leaning on the entertaining side. Which is why having an actress like Kristen Stewart helps. She’s a great lead, and gives the movie emotion. She also isn’t the dumbest pile of bricks, which a lot of these movies tend to do. When she puts herself in harms way it’s because of something that might actually help her or the others escape. That said this isn’t a character piece where by the end you have gained some great profound message. This movie is about the tension and spooks. It has a lot of that and does the job well.


2020 Movie Preview

2020 is upon us! Which means we have another year of amazing movies to look forward to! 2019 was a pretty impressive year so let’s see what 2020 has in store. Below are some of the movies I’m looking forward to this year.

A Quiet Place: Part II – March 20th

I loved 2018’s A Quiet Place. John Krasinski did a great job creating a tense horror movie that also happened to have a lot of heart with the Abbott family. The world he created was interesting, like a new take on zombies. From the looks of this first trailer it appears that Krasinki is looking at the same page book that the zombie genre has used when your characters have learned a true strategy against the nightmare, reveal that humans are just as bad as monsters. I’m in, but then they threw in the talented Cillian Murphy? Yeah I’m in double for this one.

The New Mutants – April 3rd

What a wild journey this movie has had. Originally it was supposed to come out in 2018, then it was delayed for “retooling”. Then Fox was sold to Disney, then it was delayed again, and now the word is the retooling (cough producer meddling cough) has been thrown out the window and we are set to see the original vision of this movie. That alone makes me interested to see what the fuss was about, but really I was excited for this movie since they announced it. A coming of age horror movie with mutants from the X-Men Universe? Yeah, that sounds crazy awesome.

No Time To Die – April 10th

First there was Casino Royale. Welcome back Bond. Then there was Quantum of Solace. You okay there Bond? Then Skyfall. Bravo James. And then there was Spectre. Uuuh what happened?

It’s been a mixed bag with the Daniel Craig Bond films, but even with the bad ones, it’s always a good time to see Daniel Craig in the role. i have higher hopes for this one, I enjoy the visual style of director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and the new cast members (Ana de Armas, Rami Malek) are both excellent actors that I can’t wait to see in the world of Jams Bond. This is Craig’s last go as 007 and another odd numbered entry so I’m hoping all of these ingredients gives us another great film before the end.

Black Widow – May 1st

And the Marvel Train keeps on moving! Black Widow is giving me serious Winter Soldier vibes, which I absolutely loved. It’s been a long while since Marvel has made a movie that I haven’t enjoyed and this entry does not look like it’s going to break that streak. I wasn’t sure how interesting a Black Widow movie could be when they first announced it, but if this trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to be another fun ride.

Wonder Woman 1984 – June 5th

Two female leading superhero movies within a month of each other? What kind of madness is this? The best kind if you ask me. Wonder Woman 1984 looks like an even more fun movie than the original. What I loved about the original, the chemistry between Diana and Steve, is back. Add in the fun 80’s vibes and it’s looking like this sequel might rise above the original. I’m crossing my fingers for a Captain America style growth to this franchise with this second entry. Here’s hoping.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – July 10th

I never did see that odd Ghostbusters reboot that came out a few years back. It didn’t feel like the old Ghostbusters in terms of mixing horror and comedy. Luckily this new entry, that’s a continuation of the classics looks to strike that balance that made the originals great. I’m also liking the Stranger Things / Goonies vibes with focusing on a younger cast of characters.

Tenet – July 17th

Nolan is one of my favorite directors. His movies are huge, pull off insane filmmaking feats, have great ensemble casts, and booming scores. Tenet looks insane. Like a time bending spy movie. Almost like taking bits of Inception and Interstellar into one movie. I’m also really excited to see more of John David Washington and the future Batman Robert Pattinson.

Last Night in Soho – September 25th

An Edgar Wright horror movie? The same guy who made Shuan of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Baby Driver? Yeah that alone is all I need to hear. His movies have a unique voice that I thoroughly enjoy. Also it happens to star two actresses that have been on a solid rise over the last couple of years between Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie. I can’t wait to check out what Wright has in store for us next.

Godzilla vs. Kong – November 20th

This is the title fight we have all been waiting for. Rocky vs. Creed? No way. This is the heavy heavy heavy heavy weight. The Godzilla and Kong movies have been a lot of fun, and I still can’t believe we are finally going to get to see these massive titans go head to head this year. I got my money on the ape, always bet on the underdog.

Dune – December 20th

I’ve never read the book Dune. I hear it’s pretty great for fans of sci-fi. Even so, this is my most anticipated movie of the year because of the man directing it. Denis Vileneuve. The guy is a movie making master as far as I’m concerned. His last three movies? Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner: 2049. Those are some top tier movies there. Then there is the cast of this monster of a movie: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Stellen Skarsgard, I could keep going and going with this one. It’s nuts. BUT WAIT, there’s more. Hans Zimmer is handling the score. Yeah just take all the money, I’m there opening night.

Best Of

Best Movies of the 2010’s

Happy New Year everyone! This new year as you have probably heard a million times already is a little more interesting in others in that it’s the start of a new decade! Which honestly when you think about it, it’s really not that big of a deal, but hey it’s an excuse to make a list and reflect on the same number we can count up to with our fingers. So yeah, of course I’m going to have my own top ten movies of the year. Now with this list I don’t really have an order. These movies are all really damn amazing in their own right that it is impossible for me to rank them. (Well that might be a lie for the two movies that I go back and forth as my favorite movie period, we’ll get to that don’t worry). Alright let’s get started!

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is the most movie movie I have ever watched. It doesn’t tell you a story, it takes you on a damn ride through one. It’s a stunt masterpiece, a work of art in every frame, and world building at its finest. Did I also mention that it has strong male AND female leads? Oh and a score that you could close your eyes and watch the whole movie in your head? I have never been more gratified watching a movie than this one. It’s a must watch last decade and should be from every decade forward.

Blade Runner: 2049

Blade Runner: 2049 is probably the most expensive “indie” movie ever made. Somehow, someway, the excellent director Denis Villenueve was given a massive budget to make a drama mystery sci-fi movie that was more concerned with it’s central characters identity than huge action set pieces. Make no mistake they are there, but what makes this movie sing is watching Ryan Gosling’s blade runner K try and solve a missing person’s case that shatters his world. It’s haunting and powerful with an ending that punches you in the gut. Oh and just like Mad Max, the movie is a moving painting with a score to match. Seriously, I think I need to get some canvas paintings from scenes in this movie.


There have been a lot of great superhero movies in the last decade, like really great ones, Logan is the best. Figures it would come from the studio that typically can’t figure them out to give us the best. Director James Mangold was given the opportunity to tell the most grounded and human story I have ever seen in a movie about people more than human. It’s less about saving the world, and more about saving your soul from depths of great great pain. This Western tinged movie contains the best performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart along with a stellar bout from up and comer Dafne Keen. It’s the best sendoff story I have seen for a character, and out of all superhero movies, likely one of the very few that will still feel just as powerful for years and years to come.


Drive is a dark dark movie mixed with the colors and sensibilities of an artsy film student. That combination typically doesn’t come out too well, but this getaway heist gone wrong tale of the nameless Driver just works. Make no mistake, it’s very arthouse like. Many scenes lack more than a couple lines of dialogue, the movie is lit with this 80’s neon flair and it has a soundtrack to match. The few driving scenes are a tense ride along, but it’s the absolute brutality that Ryan Gosling’s character unleashes upon his foes that this movie focuses on. It’s not a Fast & Furious movie, it’s quieter story about one man trying to do the right thing for those he cares about, no matter the costs.


If you thought Drive was a messed up movie, do I have a movie for you. Nightcrawler is disturbing. It highlights the type of terrible things many would do to advance their careers and status in life. It does so by showing the rise of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom from nobody to successful crime journalist. Gyllenhaal was robbed for not getting awards for this movie. His performance is chilling and frightening. Yet somehow his energy keeps you watching as the story spirals further and further down the going to hell toilet. It’s that performance that makes this one of my favorites of the last decade.


I had never seen a film by Bong Joon Ho. After seeing Parasite, I’m going to have to correct that mistake. This movie is a masterpiece unlike any other I have seen. The way it dances between black comedy satire, to a dark drama about class inequality is insane. It feels as natural as breathing when watching this movie and it’s damn perfect. It’s script is top notch, performances that keep you glued, and shot in such precise detail. Parasite goes past any language barrier and gives us a movie that leaves you stunned and a loss for words by the end.

A Quiet Place

I’m not going to lie, when I saw the first trailer for this movie, I thought the idea was super dumb. A movie where you can’t make sounds or you’ll get murdered by monsters. How can you possibly live in a world like that? Well A Quiet Place answered. Sure there are points where you could poke fun at the logic, but the movie makes its rules and creates a magical horror movie of tense moments and a real story of normal family issues. Kids acting out, parents doubting they can actually protect and teach their kids to survive in the world. It was excellent stuff and also gave me one of my favorite memories of ever watching a movie in theaters. It was actually quiet! People shushed and told others to shut up even if they were eating food like a loud animal. It was glorious.


1917 is a cinematography marvel. A continuous one shot from start to finish (with a little clever trickery to make it work). It’s amazing, and created an experience I haven’t had in a movie, I felt like I was with those soldiers. A shadow wishing I could give them the strength to keep moving. Couple that with the film having a powerful story that shows the horrors of the first world war and you have a movie I won’t forget.

War for the Planet of the Apes

The 2010’s Planet of the Apes trilogy is the best trilogy I have ever seen. Each movie builds on the last, and tells an extraordinary tale of Caesar’s infancy all the way to a messiah like leader for his people. I chose War specifically because this is where we finally get the full on human versus ape storyline, but because of the masterful performance from Andy Serkis we are clearly rooting for the apes to triumph. These movies are visual stunners that show just how amazing that motion capture technology has come. Yet it won’t be the visuals themselves that will make this movie and it’s two previous entries stand the test of time. It will be the stories of struggle between our dark and light sides in the face of adversity that Caesar’s journey so perfectly captures.

Knives Out

Knives Out is one of the most fun movies I have watched in a long long time. It has a stellar cast, with one of my favorite performances from Daniel Craig. Hell all of them gave great performances. The plot is witty, stratifying, and has plenty of twisty twists that make for a great two hours. The strength of the cast and the well crafted direction of Rian Johnson makes this a movie that even after you have seen it the first time, it’s still just as fun if not more the second, third, and twentieth time.

Wow! Those are some fine ass movies there. Seriously, if you haven’t seen these movies, and like a good one, give them a watch, you’ll get something out of them all I promise. That said, I did want to list some honorable mentions of movies that just missed top ten glory of the 2010’s.

The Cabin in the Woods
Ready or Not
Baby Driver
Wind River
The Martian
Avengers: Endgame
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Best Of

Best Movies of 2019

We made it everyone! 2019 is in the books at that means a time of movie reflection. What made this year more interesting for me is that this was the first year that I focused on seeing as many movies as I could. I kind of fell off at the end of this year (moving takes up a lot of time folks) but I made sure to make time for ones that really caught my eye. Anywhoooo, this year was pretty damn fantastic in terms of top notch movies that I left impressed with. In fact several will be in the running for my favorites of the decade. But let’s get to this year first. BEHOLD!

If you follow film circles you have at least heard someone say that you should go see Parasite. Yeah you should listen to them, and to me. Parasite is the best movie the year and one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It’s blending of genres and switch from dark comedy to a disturbing drama is top notch. The writing is masterclass, and it’s an experience that by the end will leave you with a lot of feelings to unpack. This isn’t a movie you see every day or even every decade. Go watch this as soon as you can.

Knives Out
Knives Out is a modern murder mystery whoduunit that packs a great cast, excellent humor, and beautiful cinematography to make one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Even after you have watched it the first time, know the twists and turns, it’s the performances that will keep you coming back over and over.

Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins gave us all one final present this year with 1917. The World War I drama takes us all on a tense, emotionally heavy journey through the trenches in a way that I haven’t seen committed to so beautifully on film. The entire movie is designed to appear as one continuous shot and it creates an experience unlike any movie I have seen before. That alone would have been enough to throw this on my list, but it’s also a great story performed by excellent actors that makes this one of the best.

Ready or Not
It’s taken 8 years, but not since The Cabin In The Woods have I seen a satirical horror movie that is both frightening and hilarious all wrapped into one. Like Knives Out this is a movie of a great performances playing a cast of one F-ed up family. It’s the lead Samara Weaving though that makes this movie such a fun ride. She’s funny, she’s badass, and by the end you’ll want her to kill every one of those psycho family members.

If there’s one comedy that I would recommend to see this year it’s Booksmart. Booksmart is one of those end of high school have to have one big night before college stories. You have seen them plenty of times, but this one is by far the best. It’s humor is smarter, the situations are funny yet realistic, and the messages feel more in tune with today’s sensibilities. The cast, crew, writers, and director Olivia Wilde knocked this one out of the park.

Us is another original horror concept from Jordan Peele and it’s amazing. He carefully blends horror, with science fiction, and splashes of comedy to give us an experience that you haven’t seen before. It’s also a blast to watch as every actor plays two roles of the same character. That alone is something that begs to be watched, but the fact that the performances are wrapped around such an entertaining story only adds to the reason that this is one of the best movies of the year.

Avengers: Endgame
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is like the most expensive long running TV show that only plays in theaters, and Endgame was the season finale. It’s insane what they were able to pull off. It’s both an entertaining movie by itself but for those who have seen all the movies, it’s a masterpiece like no other. The callbacks, the remixes, the joy, the sadness, this movie tackles so many emotions and it ends in such a satisfying way. I don’t think we are ever going to see something like this again, and Mavel Studios deserves all the praise and heaps of cash for giving us this 11 year journey.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino movies have always been hit and miss with me. When they are good, they are damn good, when they are bad, I can’t even finish them. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is one of the good ones, one of his best actually. It may run a little long, but it has the genius pairing of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. They both bring their A game to this one and are up there as my favorite performances from both actors. And then there is that one thing that Tarantino is really good at with climaxes that insanely fun to watch. This one has one of those.

The Joker is a heavy messed up movie. It’s not a movie that everyone can handle but for those who can it’s a very deep character study of a disturbed man that is looking to be the hero of his story even if it is only in his head. It’s the haunting performance from Joaquin Phoenix that makes this a movie that any movie fan should check out, just be prepared for a story that won’t make you feel too jazzed by the end.

Zombieland: Double Tap
There are some movies that you know aren’t for everyone and you can’t justify that it’s something everyone will find value in, but I really loved this movie. I was a fan of the first, and this one is somehow a funnier movie. Yeah it has some callback jokes, which only land some of the times. But the new characters they add in steal the show. The cast looks like they are having a blast, and it’s just fun to see a sequel to a movie from last decade that’s actually good. This is one of those movies that I’ll be watching again and again in the October season and that means it deserves this slot on my list.


1917 Review

1917’s continuous one shot shooting style is a film-making marvel in one of the year’s best films.

Score: 5 / 5

1917 is one of the best movies I have seen. I honestly am struggling with where to begin with this one. It’s a beautiful film that well after I left the theater the emotions that it made me experience stuck with me. There are very few movies if at all that made me feel like I went on this journey with the characters on the screen, and this one I felt like I was there with them. A voyeur observer that desperately wanted to lend a hand, a shoulder, and a voice to keep going.

1917 is a war drama set during World War I. It follows two British soldiers tasked with delivering a message to the front lines to call off an attack. If they fail well over a thousand men will walk right into a trap. The problem is they must cut through enemy lines to get there and they are running out of time. Throughout the film we see the war to end all wars in painful detail, yet we also see in our two leads the different views of the war. One fighting for glory, and the other who is lost in the horrors of war itself.

I need to start somewhere with this movie so I’ll start with what has been pushed in behind the scenes marketing. This movie is shot as if it’s one continuous shot. As in, the movie doesn’t cut to different perspectives. It’s as if you are standing right there behind the soldiers, and if you want to see their faces, either the camera must move around them or the solider must turn around. There have been other movies or shows that have done scenes or moments like this, but this is the whole movie, and they don’t skip on insane action set pieces to do it. Explosions, plane crashes. It’s a technical marvel and absolute insanity that Director Sam Mendes, Cinematographer Roger Deakins, and the rest of the cast and crew were able to pull it all off.

This style of visual storytelling is much more common in video games such as Call of Duty or the masterpiece of God of War (Gaming fan? Seriously play God of War). This isn’t a negative in any stretch either this is just something that is much easier to accomplish in a game versus of a movie, and the benefits you get are immense. You don’t just feel like you are watching events playing out, you feel like you are there. I felt like I too was on this terrifying journey to save lives of so many soldiers. It’s something that is all the more amazing because you can see it on a massive theater size screen. This movie needs to be seen in a theater, so please don’t wait. When it hits your local theater make the time and get out there.

What makes this visual adventure work though is the two soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake, and Lance Corporal Schofield. Game of Thrones fans might recognize Blake who is played by Dean-Charles Chapman (King Tommen no more), while Schofield is played by George MacKay. These two take us on an emotional journey that is astonishing since they are essentially always on the move, trying to reach their destination. They give you so much in their conversations or reactions to the situations they walk into that you feel for them. You want them to make it, and you understand their emotions. You’ll be scared for them, you’ll cry with them, and you’ll feel the immense weight of what they have gone through by the end. Along the way they meet up with many excellent established actors in cameo roles, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, and Richard Madden (another Game of Thrones alum). Everyone does a great job and really brings you into every scene.

The final piece to this movie is a beautiful yet haunting score by Thomas Newman. It sets the tone of every beat. Giving us a moment to appreciate a view, sit with a difficult scene, or feel the sands of time slipping away before it’s too late. This too feels a bit like some of the great video game scores of the last decade that elevates the journey you are going on (again God of War is a great example).

I’ve seen great war movies before, but this made me feel like I was part of it in a way that I have never experienced before in a movie. The shooting style, direction, actors, score, and a crew of wizards created something truly special. It’s a beautiful yet sorrowful piece of art that perfectly captures the stories you have read about the Great War, and is easily one of the best movies of the year.


Knives Out Review

Knives Out is a brilliantly fun whodunnit that’ll keep you entertained from the opening shot all the way to end.

Score: 5 / 5

From the minute that I read the announcement of writer/director Rian Johnson’s next film I was sold. A whoduunit murder mystery by Johnson? Count me in, then the cast was announced and I wasn’t just sold, I wished I could teleport in time and watch it right then. Sadly, time travel or speeding up time was out of my budget so instead I went about waiting. Well Knives Out is finally here and it’s one of the best movies of the year, easily.

Knives Out follow’s Daniel Craig’s private investigator Benoit Blanc as he investigates the apparent suicide of famous mystery novel writer Harlan Thrombey played by Christopher Plummer. The problem is he’s dealing with a family that is just as eccentric as the Bluth family from Arrested Development. The Thrombey’s are all pretty awful upper class human beings played by an amazing group of actors; Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Chris Evans. Remember when I said that casting announcement got me so excited? Yeah, you get it now. Throughout the investigation Blanc also employs the help of the home nurse / family friend Marta Cabrera played by Ana de Armas. If you haven’t heard of Armas before, this movie will make you pay attention now. And this is saying something considering the caliber of excellent actors all having a blast together.

The cast and it’s chemistry is top notch but it’s also how the story is told. Each family member giving their own narrative of the events, while Blanc and the viewers must piece together what really happened. There are twists and turns and at a specific point the story shifts in a way that makes you think this isn’t a whodunnit anymore it’s just a pure on thriller. I could say so much more about the story but I don’t want to spoil a single moment.

Amplifying the cast is a beautiful combination of set / costume design and the score. The Thrombey estate oozes with character that you’d expect out of a mystery story, and each character’s attire amplifies their very unique personalities. And then there is a score that meshes perfectly with the murder mystery genre to really ham up the fun of the plot.

What else is there to say? This movie knocked it out of the park and then into a different stadium a hundred miles away. I loved Knives Out, from top to bottom it’s one of the best movies of 2019 and a film I’m going to go back to for years and years to come.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review

The Rise of Skywalker is an entertaining end to the franchise that maybe tries to do too much for one movie to handle.

Spoiler Free Review

Score: 4 / 5

And so we have arrived. The end of the Skywalker Saga, a series that has spanned generations has received its conclusion with final installment. This is a movie that not only has given itself the task of concluding the new trilogy of movies starting with The Force Awakens, but also given a larger conclusion to the six movies that came before that. It’s a tall order and one made even more challenging with a runtime of 2 hours and 21 minutes. Does it stick the landing? Were J.J. Abrams and crew able to pull it off? Yeah, I’d say so. Mostly. 

Let’s get this out of the way right now, there was always going to be a little bit of an awkward dance around how to include the only living original trilogy character Leia due to the passing of actress Carrie Fisher. The options were limited, re-purpose old deleted footage from the previous two films, try to digitally recreate her likeness? It was never going to be easy, and what they landed with by using never seen old footage works, but you can tell they had to do some delicate editing to get there. Kudos to the team and what they were able to accomplish. 

Now with that out of the way, let’s get down to the meat of this. The Rise of Skywalker is super fast paced. A movie that rarely has time to hit the breaks. What this gives you is an entertaining action adventure that leans more on action than the joy of the adventure aspect.  That runtime I mentioned before? You can feel like someone was telling them to run through moments to meet that. Why? I’m not sure, it doesn’t necessarily make the movie bad, but it almost feels like this movie could have been two movies. Like it could have taken a third of it, remixed it into the previous film The Last Jedi and given the rest of Rise of Skywalker some room to breathe. The last thing I want to mention that is more on the critical side of things is by the end of the movie, there is one particular set of moments that felt super fan service-y and not really reflective of the characters themselves. 

To the good, there’s a bunch of it. This movie finally gives us a chance to see our trio of new heroes, Rey, Fin, and Poe interact as a group for a large amount of the runtime. It’s great, the chemistry between them is strong like Rey’s connection to the Force. Another fun standout in this movie is how much humor they fire out of C-3P0. Boy oh boy does Anthony Daniels get to steal this movie in the humor department. Along the way we see some fun new characters, (Babu Frik is another gem of a character), as well as the return of more original trilogy characters such as Lando and Emperor Palpatine. Lando’s role is small but fun to see, but it’s Palpatine’s inclusion in this story that will likely make or break Rise of Skywalker for a lot of fans. I won’t say much other than I personally enjoyed the heck out of seeing the puppet master back for one more go at trying to rule the galaxy. It’s also quite interesting how much his inclusion not only brings back elements of the original trilogy but also gives us some echoes of prequels in terms of mythology. 

I’ll save talking about story details in a spoiler review but as a whole I enjoyed where it went, there is one major twist that propels the movie forward that at the beginning I wasn’t satisfied with but as the movie continued I was accepting of it. Again that’s for another talk. This movie definitely felt like one that was out to honor what came before and give a conclusion to a story that has been playing out in front of us for 42 years. 

Beyond the story, the two other major elements of Star Wars were at full display here. The visuals were absolutely breathtaking, outdoing most of what this new trilogy has had to offer. The colors ranging from bright warm smoke bombs on a desert planet to a cold icy sky filled with endless Star Destroyers. It’s a treat, and something that should be seen on a big screen to fully appreciate. Then the secret weapon of this franchise, John Williams. The master composer left no stone unturned as he weaved themes from throughout the franchise and gave us the epic finale our ears have been waiting for. It’s glorious and deserves recognition for how much he packed into it. 

Is this movie a perfect masterpiece? Does it give you the depth you’d expect out of a long-form TV show or smaller scale movie? No, but that’s not what Star Wars ever was. This was a franchise built on entertainment based around the battles of good and evil. The Rise of Skywalker delivers entertainment in spades and in the same process brings to an end to a story that began a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. 


Jojo Rabbit Review

Jojo Rabbit is a joyous comedic journey with a heart that also happens to center around a Nazi youth with an imaginary Hitler friend. It sounds insane, but it’s the insane that you have to see.

Score: 4.5/5

Right from the start of Jojo Rabbit it is very apparent that although it is set in one of the darkest periods of human history this is a positive movie looking for the bright side in terrible times. It’s heartfelt, joyful, funny, and doesn’t dwell on the negative side of things for very long. It’s not that it is trying to hide from the bad aspects of the situation, it just bravely chooses to say “that happened, but you can still be happy.”

Jojo Rabbit follows Jojo (played by the talented Roman Griffin Davis), a young lonely German who wants acceptance and friends by believing in the Nazi propaganda. It’s when he finds out that his loving mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), is hiding a Jewish girl in their house that the boy’s world is turned upside down. Throughout the movie Jojo’s brainwashing is challenged by the good qualities his mother taught him and a budding love for a girl he was being taught to hate.

It’s crazy that a movie with an imaginary best friend Hitler played by the writer/director Taika Waititi works so well. It works because of the excellent lead performances from Davis, Johansson, and Thomasin McKenzie who plays the Jewish Elsa. Yet it also works because of the rest of a great ensemble with the likes of Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, and Rebel Wilson. And I cannot forget to mention Archie Yates who plays Jojo’s not imaginary best friend Yorki. That kid is perfect in this movie and every line that comes out of his mouth is pure gold.

That’s kind of the case for everyone though because the script is just as top-notch as the cast. The word play jokes are perfect, situational gags brilliant, and the heavier moments touching. This is one of the best feel good movies of the year because it finds ways to overcome a lot of terrible things in our real human history. Leave it to Taika Waititi to find a way to make a movie with Hitler and Nazis a funny and positive joy from start to finish.


Terminator: Dark Fate Review

Terminator: Dark Fate finally gives us a passable sequel to the classic Judgement Day.

Score: 3 / 5

There hasn’t been a good Terminator movie in 28 years. In the time since the Cameron classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day, we have had two sequels and now two retcons / reboots of sorts. Out of the four movies to come out, Dark Fate is probably the best of the bunch. That doesn’t mean it’s a great movie, but it sure feels like a step in a right direction of the franchise is ever going to continue.

First let’s get this out of the way, this movie is no Judgement Day, but what is tries to do is take echoes of Judgement Day to give viewers something to latch onto. It works. The best bits of this movie are Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back together for this sequel that ignores the last three misfires. Which by the way, with how loopy the time travel is of this franchise you could argue that every movie after two did happen but it a parallel reality. Having Linda Hamilton back though really does make this feel like a true sequel. It’s a shame that it doesn’t feel like true closure for Sarah Connor as that feels like the way this movie should have gone.

I digress, should is not what is, and what Dark Fate is, well it’s another in cookie cutter Terminator movie. It gives you what you’d expect from the last five Terminator movies (well maybe not Salvation that one was an odd failed experiment), a Terminator and a protector from the future come to do battle over an under-prepared human that will one day be of grave importance to the fate of humanity and machines. This is handled by the new cast of characters. Natalia Reyes is the Dani who is essentially the new Sarah/John of this movie. Mackenzie Davis is Grace, the new spin on the protector from the future. While Gabriel Luna, plays the new Terminator Rev-9 model. Each of the actors are fun to watch but this is where the biggest issue comes in for the movie.

On the action end Grace and the Rev-9 are fun to watch, but it does end up feeling too much CGI trailer action for action’s sake rather than going anywhere interesting. Yet this isn’t the problem. The problem is there is no depth to the new cast. Grace is given the best chance out of the three new characters and while it helped make her character more interesting, it made me wish that we would have been given more of her. It felt like ideas of why she went back to protect Grace where left on the cutting room floor.

Tucked into this been there done that Terminator movie is the continued threads of Sarah Connor. This is where this the movie felt at its strongest. What becomes of the Connor legacy in this sequel is interesting, and how it all plays into T-800 Arnold is what gives this movie anything meaty to chew into. It’s a shame that this movie didn’t focus solely on Sarah for the entire duration of the movie as it feels like this movie was trying to both keep the past alive while starting a new generation to lead on the franchise. By the end it’s clear that the creative team couldn’t quite cut the cord and instead we are left with a movie that leaves us no closure of the past, and a hollow future.

Terminator Dark Fate isn’t bad, but it’s not great. It’s right in the middle. It has some fun actors, while still giving us a hit of the what made the franchise great. It’s biggest fault isn’t that it is a cookie cutter Terminator movie, it’s that it had ideas that could have been something special if they were brave enough to follow through with them.


Parasite Review

All I can think about is how I need to see this again because it’s just that damn good of a movie.

Score: 5 / 5

As I left the theater after watching director Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite my mind was trying to come to terms with what I just watched. It’s a masterstroke of blended comedy, and drama that by the end I was feeling like my emotions were tugged into two opposing directions at once.

Parasite follows the unemployed Kim family as they embed themselves into the extremely rich Park family, and what starts off as seemingly innocent at the start spirals down and down the morality staircase till we reach a powder-keg crescendo that makes you sit and ask, what the hell just happened? Needless to say I don’t want to spoil the story as it’s such a fun watch going in with as little as possible.

What I can say is the situations in the story create this interesting balance, where it feels like this is 100% a satire but underneath there is real depth and seriousness to the situation. A darkness lurking just under the surface. To make this all work is a stellar cast, the entire Kim family are excellent, with Kang-ho Song, the father of the Kim’s having the most range. His character’s arc is something you can’t stop watching no matter the outcomes. To play off this humorous family on the Park side, Yeo-jeong Jo plays the rich housewife character to perfection. Her interactions with the entire Kim family create endless laughs as she is a catalyst for many humorous moments.

And I can’t talk about this movie without mentioning how gorgeous it looks. Cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong’s does an amazing job of framing scenes, and using interesting techniques to really give this movie a true cinema feel. It’s one of the best looking movies of the year and paired with a great score by Jaeil Jung you get a movie that keeps the audience on their toes at all times.

Going into Parasite all I knew were two things, it was a South Korean film, and it’s getting a crazy amount of praise. Leaving Parasite, the praise was right but all I can think about is how I need to see this again because it’s just that damn good of a movie. Parasite stands as one of the best films of 2019 and not to be missed.