It’s easy enough to write off Mercury Rising as nothing beyond a generic action thriller from the 90’s. But it only goes to show another reason as to why Mercury Rising is absolutely terrible, because of its approach to rather sensitive subject matter. Maybe it isn’t so much for an outsider but my personal experiences having grown up with autism have only made me all the more critical of how films depict people on the spectrum. Given how perceptions of people like myself who struggle within their daily lives as a result of their mental health have been shaped thanks to media, it was certainly never easy and films like Mercury Rising aren’t helpful to our cause. These aren’t films that know down to the bone how we can be like, it just feels more like a deliberate sidelining for the sake of schlock.
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I’m at the point where horror movies that market themselves as being based on true events don’t phase me anymore because they’ve already killed my willingness to stay on board with what goes on if they’re going for a basic haunted house route. Exceptions and outliers to the rule have come along the way (I still enjoy the Conjuring films a fair amount, even if they aren’t particularly the most original) but Winchester was a story that had fascinated me for a while. Given as the Winchester House has already established a reputation as one of the most haunted mansions still around today, I was made even more skeptical of what the Spierig brothers would have made from the titular setting – and all my suspicions were proven right; it was the same generic haunted house story as any other.
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Roland Emmerich collaborator Dean Devlin, who had garnered fame from writing Independence Day and the 1998 Godzilla film makes his own directorial debut with Geostorm. Although Devlin was responsible for writing some of the more tolerable entries in Roland Emmerich’s filmography there isn’t really so much being said there and without Emmerich, what exactly is to be expected with half the effort of what gave us Independence Day? Perhaps something more stupid, one that would at least feed off from whatever visuals it can throw at you as a means of hiding an incredibly corny human story – typical of modern disaster films. If San Andreas showed us that this formula wasn’t limited to Roland Emmerich, I can’t imagine thinking Dean Devlin would have done anything outside of such.
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In truth my hopes were never high for another live-action Death Note adaptation because I’ve never been a fan of neither the anime series or the original Japanese features. The fact Netflix was releasing a live-action film in English after how this year’s Ghost in the Shell had turned out to be sounded far less appealing to me given as Netflix’s original feature films have rarely ever been great ones at that, and I grew even more cautious upon the notion that Adam Wingard was set to direct after how bad his Blair Witch sequel had turned out to be. But I’m not against the idea of retelling another story into a different language for a different audience, so looking at Death Note on its own terms had only put a sliver of curiosity into my own mind and my worst fears have only been proven true. As an adaptation of the anime, it does its job horribly, and on its own terms it’s just painful to watch.
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Adapting Stephen King to film is a complicated case, knowing that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining had taken liberties with its source material to the scorn of King himself. With that having been said, it still remains the best of the many adaptations that King’s work has spawned, but perhaps the case with “Stephen King done right” as proven by the Shining miniseries would only have proven itself disastrous, so fan reactions to The Dark Tower could set expectations in place for they didn’t get what they would have wanted as a means of introducing a story they love to newcomers. Coming in with a newcomer’s perspective for I’ve only read the first book in the series and wasn’t a fan, I already feel the anger that such an audience would have felt to see something they loved bastardized the way Nikolaj Arcel did so here.
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There was a time I remember when Ridley Scott had managed to create one of the most unsettling and thus one of the greatest horror films ever made by playing upon the fear of the unknown with the original Alien film. I’m not even sure if his son, Luke Scott, had gotten a grasp on what it was that made Alien a genre defining work just as it did, because there’s a lot here that almost rings from the beats that made Alien as effective as it was; only numbed down as a result of its attempts to reach out at pseudo-philosophy almost as if it were aping on Alex Garland’s Ex Machina from a year prior. It’s almost like a diet mix of both Alien and Ex Machina in the very worst sense possible, because there’s no thrill to be found within the action they present nor is there anything insightful to come about: Morgan is just a film that lies dead in the water all around.
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If the title’s caption, “The Last Knight,” doesn’t keep to its promise by having Michael Bay direct another movie for this franchise, I’ll probably just give up on humanity altogether. I feel that I do need to clarify I actually don’t hate Michael Bay wholly, but even with that having been said I can’t find myself defending the sorts of films he makes when it’s evident I don’t enjoy the time I’m having when I watch them. With every new Transformers film he’s made, it only turns me away all the more from the sorts of films he continues making with the fact the first film was actually one of the first films in which I recall having slept in the theater. The most that I can say for Transformers: The Last Knight is that after egregious experiences with Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction, this was a better film than the preceding three, but one must take a statement like such as they will.
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James Ponsoldt’s directorial credit should already have been enough for me to think that there was something decent inside of The Circle, but what also caught me was the fact it came from a novel by, and was co-written by Dave Eggers. This name already caught me eye more than anything else about The Circle because Eggers also was a co-writer of Spike Jonze’s underrated but wonderful Where the Wild Things Are. Now that The Circle has come out I’m just wondering how everything had gone so terribly wrong for both Ponsoldt and Eggers because both filmmakers have created fairly thoughtful material prior to this and now comes the worst Black Mirror episode disguised as a feature film. Then again, at least Black Mirror even at their very worst had something to say and yet this one doesn’t even know in the slightest what it wishes to do and at its worst, has to preach everything in your face to the point it becomes so irritating.
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At the risk of starting up controversy it was something that I still feel is worth noting anyways because in spite of being an LGBT Canadian, I don’t care for the films of Xavier Dolan outside of Mommy. While I have nothing but great admiration for the efforts that are put into the work given Dolan’s young age I still face great trouble even trying to connect with many of his own stylistic choices and said feelings have held me back from watching It’s Only the End of the World. Dolan carries a very aggressive nature when it comes to talking about how some of his own films feel, but nowhere has it ever been nearly as aggravating as it was in here. It highlights the worst sort of melodrama, and even as someone who is not a particularly huge fan, it was the least I would ever expect of Dolan.
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A friend of mine was told he would like this film based on his own fondness for the films of Andrea Arnold and Harmony Korine which set myself up to become interested on the spot. The moment he came out saying he wasn’t a fan, however, only made me all the more skeptical about why the recommendation was made. It was not long enough I decided to watch the film where I had failed to see a connection between the recommendations but also one where I was so repulsed by what I was witnessing. That’s only, however, a small testament in describing how truly terrible White Girl is, for it was all around an unpleasant experience.
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