It’s Horror and Fun

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

Stephen King is a master of horror, but many of his literary classics have a hard time transferring from the page to the screen. King is usually more critical of adaptions than a general audience, like with Kubrick’s interpretation of The Shining (1980), which King described as “a fancy car without an engine”. After seeing It twice before the big release, King went on the record to say that he was not prepared for how good It was going to be, and his genuinely pleasant surprise is about how you should feel when you walk out of the theater. It is not exactly what you would expect from a horror film about a creepy clown demon, but that’s a good thing, especially for horror fans – every other horror film these days has been so exhaustedly similar (excluding Get Out (2017), obviously) that something you weren’t expecting turns out to be exactly what you need. It is not perfect, of course, not by a long shot, but whether you’re hoping to be scared or seeking a good time out at the theater, It does not fail you.

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The Golden Circle is Fun, and That’s Okay

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

Back in 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived in theaters and shocked everyone with its daring sense of fun and satire, delighting with wonderfully shot fight scenes and a clever take on the spy film genre. After such a wonderful reception, it came as no surprise to anyone that Matthew Vaughn decided to follow it up with a sequel: Kingsman: The Golden Circle. With the same director and multiple fan-favorite characters returning, the question on every fan’s mind was “will the sequel live up to the original?” It was a tall order to fill and though everyone hoped for the best, most people (including me) went to the theater expecting the worst. After all, so many sequels fall short of their originals, especially when the originals are fantastic, so what were the odds that The Golden Circle would break that trend? What happened in those theaters was surprising; The Golden Circle was not as clever as The Secret Service, though they tried. Their fight scenes were not as inventive, though they tried. They ran into some speed bumps with their characters, though they did their best to make sure they were of the same high caliber as the original characters were. But despite the slight problems, Kingsman: The Golden Circle was still fun, just as if not more-so than the original film. It didn’t matter that the satire wasn’t as well written or that the story had a few more holes – for almost two and a half hours (which it definitely didn’t feel like), you could sit through the antics of the British spies and their American counterparts and laugh, enjoying the crazy schemes of the spy film world. Was The Golden Circle perfect? Certainly not. But it was fun, and sometimes just being fun is just fine.

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Wind River Frames Ugly Topic with Beauty

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

After proving himself as a writer the Oscar-nominated films Sicario (2015) and Hell or High Water (2016), Taylor Sheridan decided to round out his unofficial American Frontier trilogy by taking the helm of director himself. The previous two films have highlighted stories of injustice and an almost resignation to the reality of the American West, and the new addition Wind River follows this same pattern, along with the beautiful camerawork that frames this darkness in America in such an aesthetically pleasing way that the dark side of it all is even more shocking. Sheridan has also decided to move from the desert and sunsets of Texas and New Mexico to embrace the cold and white in the north with Wind River, which is based on the real Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. You can easily see Sheridan’s writing background as the film moves along, since it is the most “tell-don’t-show” story of the three, relying on the use of establishing shots to get his audience into the mindset of the land he wants them to inhabit for the next hour and forty-seven minutes, but when he does decide to show the story, he shows it in a way that cannot be ignored.

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Coming Up in October (2017)

It’s finally cooling down, the trees are starting to turn, and everywhere you look there is pumpkin-flavored everything springing up on shelves. The change in weather also means that we’re heading into award season, and the movies that will be contenders for the next Oscars are starting to hit the big screens. Take a look at what’s coming up, and keep your eyes open for your new favorite.

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Girls Trip : The Fun Night Out

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

I originally did not want to see this film. Not that I had anything personal against it the way I do with some other films, mind you, but this type of raunchy comedy just usually isn’t my thing and I either get uncomfortable (and feel like a prude because everyone else finds it funny) or I get bored. When my mother suggested we go see it, after it had already been in theaters for quite some time, I agreed because I knew she would probably enjoy it and there are not a ton of movies we agree to see together. This is a familiar tale for me, because it was almost the exact same reaction I had more than a year ago when she wanted to see Bad Moms (2016). And the end result is the same now as it was then – there are some over the top moments and parts that are more face-palm funny than laugh-out-loud funny, but it is just genuinely funny, and the end becomes more heartfelt than you had any right to expect from a fun summer flick. There’s a reason that it was in theaters long enough for me to see it, more than a month later (and what’s still got it in some theaters now). It is fun for just about anyone, even if not all the jokes land the way they could, and the ending is more touching than you would expect a fun summer comedy to be. Most of all, you will definitely have #friendshipgoals.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard : An Enjoyable Cliché

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

There are some movies where the story is so simple, so cliché, that the only way you could justify seeing them (or making them) is that you have assembled the perfect cast to make it fresh and fun without needing new material. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is one of these movies – you can see the ending coming a mile off, you know the twists before they happen (and honestly it’s a little surprising that the characters can’t see right through them either), and while it is fun to watch, there is only one real reason that the movie works, and that is the cast. The studio picked the perfect time to put the film out and had the perfect people all lined up to make even the most obvious jokes seem funny again. So, while perhaps not totally worth the $10 theater fee you might pay, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is excellent for a fun night in (or out) and you can be sure that the talent of the film will keep you entertained, even if you know exactly what’s coming.

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Amelia 2.0 Needed a 1.0 Readthrough

*Warning: Potential Spoilers*

Taking a story from the stage to the screen can sometimes be a great improvement, especially in a science-fiction story, when so much of the tale relies on visuals that just can’t be presented the same way onstage as they can when CGI is available. The story of Amelia Summerland from the Cedar Rapids play, “The Summerland Project”, could have been exactly that when reimagined into the film Amelia 2.0. In many ways, the film brought a greater depth to the story that is difficult to imagine being performed onstage to the same level of intensity. An interesting story idea is not, however, the only requirement for a good movie, and in order for Amelia 2.0 to really have taken hold of our hearts and imaginations, it needed a lot more work on the other story elements. Though the concept was a good one, less than stellar camera placement and coloring, as well as questionable shots that could only be described as the Sims games sending their love to Cedar Rapids and large bounces in the storyline, all add up to create a confusing mess that has a good story buried so far beneath all the problems that it will be difficult to fully appreciate them. Maybe Amelia 2.0 needs another upgrade to be completely accessible to its audience.

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