Isle of Dogs: Fluid and Stable

This may have been one of the most advertised films I’ve seen that’s not a sequel, reboot, or part of a cinematic universe in quite a long time. I think I’ve been seeing commercials for Isle of Dogs in theaters as far back as December, if not before that (I definitely know I saw it before watching Three Billboards Outisde Ebbing, Missouri (2017)). This probably shouldn’t be surprising, considering Wes Anderson is widely considered to be the modern-day example of an auteur filmmaker. To be completely honest, this is the first work by Anderson that I’ve ever seen – though The Grand Budapest Motel (2014) and Moonrise Kingdom (2014) have been on my list because of recommendations; I’ve just never gotten around to them. Based on what I’ve seen from Isle of Dogs, there is no doubt that Anderson is good at what he does – I’m just not sure that what he does is quite my taste. I have seen a few reviews, however, that say this is not the strongest work that Anderson has ever presented, so perhaps I’m working with a poor example.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Avengers: Infinity War – It’s All Led to This

In 2008, when Robert Downey Jr.’s character Tony Stark announced to the world “I am Iron Man,” he (and we as an audience) had no idea what was going to unfold. Now, ten years later, we’ve seen eighteen movies and multitudes of characters grow and develop, defeat enemies and fight amongst each other. It’s all led to this moment – the moment where the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Kings of Asgard and Wakanda come together to protect the world from the biggest threat its ever faced (as well as finally seeing all six Infinity Stones used, for good or ill). With such a large film, there were a lot of expectations that were years in the making, added to by previous team-up films and sequels that attempted to add in and build up more characters (sometimes successfully, sometimes not). You won’t be disappointed by the scale – this is a battle that takes place on entire worlds, rather than just a few blocks in New York. Heroes have pulled together because the villain really is as dangerous and terrifying as he appears to be. And, despite how much material there is to get through and how much we have to settle without, the film never feels like it’s too much. Sure, you’ll be brain-fried at the end of it, but just because that’s how the story is meant to be. As Doctor Strange says: “We’re in the end game.”

Continue reading

I Dare You – To See a Better Movie

After their success with Get Out (2017), I get the sense that Blumhouse wants to try and create more horror films that mean something, rather than just being scary for the sake of it. Truth or Dare is the first movie they’ve attached their name to (I think technically it’s supposed to be called Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, but that’s long and ridiculous and I’m not going to), as well as tried to throw in an aspect of “coming clean” as you play a kid’s sleepover game. There’s also a certain sense of having their cake and eating it too – sure, they’re trying to go deeper, but they’re also marketing a movie released on Friday the 13th (like its predecessor Happy Death Day (2017)), casting familiar “teen” faces like Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey, and hitting the technical generation hard by making sure their characters are big fans of creating YouTube and Snapchat videos. Because they hit the middle ground, however, the result is a bit of a mess – not really scary, not really deep, and not really worth the one hundred minutes you spend in the theater.

Continue reading

A Quiet Place: Your Stomach Will Not Unclench

As a former Hawkeye, I’m always up to see a film that is written by University of Iowa graduates. In this case, I’m happy to report that my fellow graduates have delivered a fine piece of work, as well as proved that horror films don’t need to be over the top and extravagant to terrify. All you need is a simple premise, a great cast, and the ability to capture an audience’s mind with the idea of horror they could easily face themselves. True, the way that the horror scares you is not one you’re unused to – it’s a lot of jump scares, and even the cheapest horror movie can harness those if they know when to add in a loud noise. But in a movie with very little, if any, noise at all, all scares can be jump scares, and triggering them will not relieve your tension in any way (rather than most jump scare-filled films where you almost feel ashamed of yourself for jumping, even when you know it’s coming).

Continue reading

I Love You, Pop Culture. Sincerely, Ready Player One.

In all honesty, I was concerned that I would not be a big enough geek to enjoy Ready Player One as it was intended to be enjoyed. My experience with video games was limited to Mario Kart, Kingdom Hearts, and Silent Hill; though I love some eighties films, there are several others that I have yet to get around to watching. So, how can a ‘noob’ (a term used in the film, by the way) enjoy this movie? Well, simply put, because it’s fun. Ready Player One is a movie for gamers, but you can also watch it just for the fun of watching a game unfold. It’s like watching someone play through a game on YouTube – the eyes of the person in charge frame how fun the story can be. It’s all a bit long, that’s true, and sometimes being fun is not enough to stop it from resorting to some textbook Young Adult novel templates, but if you need a good laugh, this is a pretty good bet to give it. And, on a separate note, I’m going to have to ask the world to stop casting T.J. Miller. He just pulls us out of the movie and he’s really not that funny. His character in Ready Player One could have been fun, but as it was, I was doing my best not to roll my eyes every time he opened his mouth.

Continue reading

Game Night, Fun Night

There’s not a lot that we ask of our comedy films these days – as an audience, we want to have fun, and we want to be entertained. Most comedy can do that in short bursts, but one of the things comedy has been lacking (as of late) is one of the most important components of really enjoying the movie – restraint. Most movies are willing to try anything and everything to make their audience let loose at least a giggle, no matter how gross, raunchy, or controversial. Sometimes a lack of restraint can work – sometimes everything is funny because of how it is delivered, no matter how tasteless the actual joke is. In the case of Game Night, however, restraint is why the comedy works. The cast works together wonderfully and the jokes hit the way they should, not because they are wild and shoot for whatever they think will be funny, but because they are planned, coordinated, and know exactly when to stop themselves, keeping jokes both funny and tasteful. Game Night is a good night, a fun night, and definitely one that could inspire some game nights of your own.

Continue reading

A Wrinkle in Time’s Confusing Beauty

As it turns out, A Wrinkle in Time was destined to be a Disney film long before Disney bought the rights – producer Catherine Hand, when she was ten years old, began a letter to Walt Disney and asked him to turn the book she loved into a movie. She believed Mr. Disney was the only person who could do the book justice. Fifty-four years later, she actively worked on the film that is now working its way through theaters. Way back in third grade, my class was one of the ones who didn’t end up reading the novel A Wrinkle in Time (by Madeleine L’Engle), even though it seemed like every other class in the world cracked the novel open at some point. With movies based on books that make their way into theaters (which has, sadly, become commonplace), I always have a bit of a conundrum – do I read the book before I see the movie? I try to judge the movie for itself, and not for the expectations the book has placed on me, but am I missing out on something important? For A Wrinkle in Time, I’m starting to think that reading the book may have been important – it’s wonderfully created with stunning visuals, but the story? I can’t tell if the movie did it justice or not.

Continue reading