Less offensive than Forrest Gump in terms of how it alters history for the sake of its own self-important sense of sentimentality, but at the hands of David Fincher – it was the most that one can hope for with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Granted, Forrest Gump will be among the first films that one will think of when one talks about David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because the similarities within the sort of narrative experimentation which they are working with are not limited from the fact that the two of them share Eric Roth as a screenwriter but also from what they make of their setting. And for as much as I love the work of David Fincher, this was always one of my biggest struggles in regards to his filmography for by my own personal experience, it took me three attempts to make it through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button without feeling a need to fall asleep, but even describing such a film as “bloated” doesn’t even begin to cover why it’s such a frustrating, even annoying experience.
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I was never a fan of Spider-Man growing up, the comics never grabbed me and I was never a fan of either film franchise whether it be Sam Raimi’s original trilogy (minus Spider-Man 2, which I do really like) and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man films. The idea of a Spider-Man film being made now as another entry for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sounded even less appealing to me, with the lack of a real impact of Tom Holland’s own presence in Captain America: Civil War (which was already difficult enough to sit through) and the especially dreadful marketing. Now that an entire movie was set to be centered around him during the prime of his own life at high school, within the homecoming period – maybe it would be about time something more would strike me that would have me attached to Spider-Man’s arc like Spider-Man 2but I’ve expected a tad too much afterwards was what I thought. It was purely Spider-Man the way I’ve always seen him, just angsty and uninteresting.
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I must admit I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this mainly because Help! has always been one of my least favourite Beatles albums. Even the involvement of the Beatles themselves as leading stars together with Richard Lester of the brilliant A Hard Day’s Night, my interest in Help! was never the highest because it was one of only a select few Beatles albums that I found unremarkable as a whole (except a few songs). Among many things that goes without saying in regards to Help! is that A Hard Day’s Night is a far better satire about the “regular lives” of The Beatles and it’s not only from having better music in general, but because it seemed like it offered a great commentary on the fandom that they have inspired at the time, and what it has done for people trying to find an identity for themselves. Help! seems to have taken a different route from that and the results never really are enough to provide much satisfaction.
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For as many films as the Alien franchise has managed to spawn, only Ridley Scott’s original film has maintained where it was at its very best. That’s not to say James Cameron’s Aliens isn’t fantastic in its own right, but it sets up what’s brought the franchise down as more films had come along: the whole universe ended up becoming far too big for its own good and thus it began to progress far too much like a video game. Now with Ridley Scott’s prequels coming along, we have Prometheus only being as broad as ever and adding to this problem even with my own enjoyment of it, so that’s where my skepticism for Alien: Covenant had rose higher. But I wasn’t merely disappointed with Alien: Covenant, I was so frustrated with what it wanted to be, even to that point it managed to leave a rather bitter taste in my own mouth by the time it was over, because of what it wanted to be all at once, and overall, how little I ended up caring for the final product.
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Warren Beatty’s first onscreen appearance in 15 years and his first directorial effort since Bulworth would be met with fairly lofty expectations but knowing how long he has been gone, there’s a question being raised by what effect has his own absence laid upon what more he could do. Did this story about Howard Hughes come so many years too late? What exactly was he aiming for with Rules Don’t Apply? Was it a romantic comedy, a satire about the Hollywood studio system like how Bulworth (I’m one of the few that considers this to be his best film as a director) was for the political climate at the time? I’m still unsure what it was that Warren Beatty even wanted to tell with Rules Don’t Apply and it’s disappointing when one comes to consider the wonderful talent he has put on display all his career.
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The idea of an American Ghost in the Shell adaptation was set to receive backlash from fans of the source material but I was cautiously optimistic as I was entering Rupert Sanders’s new take on Masamune Shirow’s manga on the count that I love Mamoru Oshii’s original film. Amidst all the backlash it received from fans before it came out was a particular firing towards the casting of Scarlett Johansson which has even led to accusations of whitewashing and with that having been said, I didn’t want to let it ruin the optimism I was carrying on the idea of a new Ghost in the Shell film now told for American audiences but for the new ground it carries I can only say it was one of the last of my issues if I had many to name on the spot. Unfortunately among many of those qualms I had with Ghost in the Shell, one of the most glaring ones was that it had to be incredibly monotone.
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Trying to come up with an original description to capture how much Life feels in terms of its lack of originality is already difficult because at the hands of other innovative science fiction films it feels absolutely worthless. Daniel Espinosa’s Life is another space-set horror film akin to Ridley Scott’s Alien but in the light of a new Alien film coming out later this year, what exactly are we to expect of a film supposedly taking its inspiration from those roots? Life feels like it’s eager to show how inspired by films of the sort but it has trouble even trying to stand out on its own. Inspired by Alien it may be, but that doesn’t change a distinctive feeling that it carries where it feels derivative, hindering it from leaving any sort of real impact afterwards. This isn’t the entertaining sort of Alien knockoff that anyone would have wanted to expect in this day and age, rather instead it’s just a boring experience if you already know its roots to the bone.
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As a result of Kong: Skull Island, I think the best way to express how I felt having come out was that I wanted to give Gareth Edwards’s take on Godzilla more credit. While I already did walk out of the theater watching Godzilla with a rather disappointed look on my face, it seemed that Edwards had a better understanding of how to raise the stakes inside of a monster movie compared to Jordan Vogt-Roberts, another independent filmmaker who came up on Legendary Pictures’s end to expand their MonsterVerse. The idea already should have sounded exciting but to my surprise (and eventual disappointment), the final results of Kong: Skull Island were merely disposable as opposed to fun.
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With every new character introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe I would only be willing to approach the concept with caution given my general feelings towards their output primarily because I feel it’s difficult enough trying to tell the stories apart from one another besides the fact that another iconic character is in the leading role. The case with Doctor Strange could easily have been something different now that we have Scott Derrickson behind the camera but once again the case becomes clear: a director’s talent being wasted behind a product that will garner attention from those who have followed along with the MCU over the years. I’ve found myself fatigued at their lack of willingness to stand apart from one another, but I still watch them anyway only to see if a different experiment comes into play and I’ve always walked out empty.
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My great admiration for Olivier Assayas’s films has only pushed me further to getting around to Boarding Gate in spite of its mixed reception after finding nothing but excellence in another fairly polarizing effort in his body of work, Demonlover. If a pairing of Asia Argento and Michael Madsen could not even manage to make what should sound thrilling any more than such, where did everything go wrong? Soon I remembered that there was a commentary behind Demonlover which at least granted even more intrigue for the material it was presenting but memories of Something in the Air came by, for this may be the worst Olivier Assayas film I’ve come around to.
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