Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Last Jedi Is The Best Since Empire Strikes Back

The most anticipated film of 2017 has finally arrived after much speculation and build up hype, (No I'm not talking about Justice League)admist a year full of ups and downs quality wise. While there's been a few blockbusters this year that met and surpassed expectations both in critical and financial terms such as Beauty And The Beast, Wonder Woman, Spiderman Homecoming, Stephen Kings IT, Thor Ragnarock, and Coco. While those films went into surprising audiences with their quality and overall performances, none had the anticipation and the hype that came with The Last Jedi, the eighth installment in the popular Star Wars franchise now owned by Disney, and the second installment in the newer trilogy of film's that began with JJ Abrams 2015 smash hit The Force Awakens. Exactly two years later, the story for the new era of film's continue with Rian Johnson now taking the directors chair from Abrams as well as writing duties. The storyline picks up directly after the ending of the first movie with Rey now seeking the help of a reluctant Luke Skywalker to show her the ways of the force by helping to develop her newly discovered abilities while the Resistance led by General Leia Organa prepares to do battle with the First Order. The trailers and marketing prior to the film's release promised a much darker and more intense story that would answer questions regarding Reys background, the conflict between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren, and where did Snoke come from. Having seen the new Star Wars film, one can say that the film not only further explores its characters and questions behind their backgrounds and story, but the movie as a whole proves to live up to the expectation of being the best Star Wars film made since The Empire Strikes Back.



      The Last Jedi not only meets the quality of its predecessor head on, but largely improves upon the new story set up by Abrams with The Force Awakens. With The Last Jedi, everything is bigger in terms of the scope of the story to the characters being more fleshed out and developed, making the audience genuinely care about them even more than they did before. The Last Jedi is first and foremost Rey and Kylo Rens story as the film picks up from where these two last left each other after their big lightsaber fight at the climax of the first movie. Although the story includes Luke Skywalker, Finn, Leia, and Poes characters journey, the heart of the film is Rey and Kylo struggling to grasp their powers as well as figure out their place in the scope of things. Daisy Ridley delivers a strong performance as Rey with her scenes with Luke played masterfully by Mark Hamill being among some of the finest moments in the film. Hamill gives a genuinely gripping performance as an older Luke Skywalker, whose experienced loss by witnessing Ben aka Kylo turn to the dark side, leading to his refusal to train Rey at first but finally agrees to. Hamills performance is among the strongest in the film and one that warrants a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as the audience loves every minute that he's on the screen then anticipates his return. With his return, Mark Hamill takes the opportunity of a lifetime and gives his all with the part. Adam Driver does a strong job playing Ren, effectively portraying the conflict his character feels in regards to being drawn back to the light while becoming the Sith Lord he desires to become like his grandfather Darth Vader. Ren is more effective of an antagonist in this movie and has nice moments where he battles the light and darkness, but it can also be said that as hard as Drivers character tries, he doesn't measure up to the awesomeness of Vader being the villain in the original trilogy (His internal struggle though is fast more convincing than anything Hayden Christensen gave us in the Prequel trilogy). Perhaps his character isn't meant to be as frightening and more of a personal struggle as he's caught in the fight between good and evil internally. One does wish however that he kept his mask on longer as it made his character more intriguing and menacing in The Force Awakens. John Boyega returns as Finn, delivering another charismatic performance as well as developing a unique type of relationship with Rose played by Kelly Marie Tran. Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern shine in small supporting roles, making welcoming additions to the cast with Del Toro playing a smuggler named DJ and Dern playing Vice Admiral Holdo. Oscar Isaac shines once again as Poe with a bigger role this time while still bringing the charm and humor his character possessed in the previous film. Carrie Fisher shines as General Leia Organa, delivering her final film performance while making it an emotional experience for the fans (The scene where she reunites with Luke is a powerful one that's both heartwarming and touching). In terms of acting and directing, everyone brings their A game to the film with Mark Hamill giving the best performance, and Rian Johnson directing the movie with a similar kind of energy that JJ Abrams had with directing The Force Awakens, giving the film twists and turns throughout its story.


         As far as the film's technical achievements go, The Last Jedi is a stunning film to behold visually, which has become the standard for Star Wars films to showcase terrific special effects. The new weapons used in the film are effective thanks to the visual outlook of them as well as the film's top notch Cinematography to mix with the art-set decoration. One advantage that the newer Star Wars films have over the prequels, is the fact that they look like true continuations of the world established in the original trilogy. The Last Jedi not only feels right at home in that regard, but is breathtaking to see on the big screen, particularly its space battles. Both Abrams and Johnson direct their films from the perspective of being fans themselves and asking the question of what they would like to see on the screen while making the characters appear to be larger than life. Like The Force Awakens, audiences become fully invested in the story of The Last Jedi and find themselves fully caring about the characters while dreading that the audience has to wait two years to see the next film that continues from where The Last Jedi ends in epic fashion.


       The Last Jedi continues to prove that Disney is extremely skillful at crafting the newer stories while providing a great deal of fan service. The Last Jedi is both a technological breakthrough as well as an extremely worthy entry in the new saga of film's. Watching The Last Jedi, one can tell that great care was taken in regards to making the film both exciting and powerful for fans. Was the movie perfect? No, there's still questions left to be answered by future installments and some of the revelations fell a tad short of their true potential (Rey's parents revelation, unanswered questions regarding Snokes past, newer and minor characters being introduced but not fully fleshed out such as Laura Dern and Benecio Del Toro characters (Missed a really good opportunity to bring back Billy Dee Williams in this sequel), Captain Phasma having a cool sequence with Finn but still largely underdeveloped as a character), questionable writing such as Leia's big Mary Poppins moment that makes sense when the audience thinks about it but is executed sloppily, and Luke's first dialogue exchange with Rey is a slight missed opportunity. Despite the films minor faults, it soars above every Star Wars prequel, The Force Awakens which was awesome, and even Return Of The Jedi. What will probably end up being the most divisive installment in the series outside of the prequels takes the most risks with its characters and deserves huge credit for pulling off its risks and further advancing the story. With the way Disney has set up the newer film's, the Star Wars universe will continue on past the Skywalker family arc as both Rey and Ren are strong enough characters to carry the storyline as the old one fades. Whereas The Force Awakens played it extremely safe by delivering a scenario very similar to A New Hope, The Last Jedi takes the characters and the story into newer territory while sharing only limited parallels to The Empire Strikes back such as Luke training Rey (The reverse of Yoda training Luke), and Return Of The Jedi (With Snoke trying to lure Rey and Ren to the dark side in Emperor Palpatine fashion). The Last Jedi dares to take new risks for the franchise while honoring the past. With those risks, not every Star Wars fan will necessarily agree with the approach Rian Johnson took to the story but in the end, The Last Jedi largely satisfies as being a worthy successor to The Force Awakens that'll someday go down as being one of the best installments in the series. The Last Jedi is not only one of the best movies of the year but a terrific space adventure as well as being one of the most satisfying Star Wars films ever made (in my humble opinion, it's the best one since The Empire Strikes Back). The Last Jedi dazzles audiences from start to finish while opening up the universe to a new generation of fans. The Last Jedi serves as being a bridge between the past and more exciting things yet to come with Episode 9. Here's hoping that JJ Abrams can continue to build off what Rian Johnson established and bring this newer trilogy to a strong and powerful conclusion. The Last Jedi is a must see.

                                                                            Final Verdict: SEE IT
             

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Justice League Succeeds Only Because Of The League

2017 has brought forth numerous comic book movies, that have been nothing short of impressive in terms of how each film lived up to their expectations as well as entertaining the audience on an epic scale. Logan not only proved to be a triumphant finish for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but is going into award season with strong buzz, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 outdid the first movie commercially despite not being as strong of a film quality wise, Spiderman Homecoming was a very strong reboot of the iconic Marvel character as it ended up being the best Spiderman film since the 2002 Sam Raimi directed film, and Thor Ragnarock defied all expectations not just by becoming a box office juggernaut, but the best installment of the Thor series easily. While 20th Century Fox and Marvel had a fantastic year both critically and financially, the DC universe had much to prove given the hugely disappointing receptions that Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad received despite being box office smashes. With Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins and actress Gal Gadot gave many fans hope that the universe was making a turnaround for the better with the films high quality and Oscar talk much like Logan. Wonder Woman is not only one of the best comic book movies of the year, but one of the best origin stories ever made in the same vein as Superman: The Movie and Batman Begins. With Justice League, a lot was riding on it to continue the upward trend of the franchise started by Wonder Woman and set a new course for the DC universe by introducing their first Avengers type film. Now that Justice League has arrived, fans are of a mixed bag about the movie as the film experienced a troubled production, the likes of which hasn't been seen before since Superman ll in which two directors gave their DNA to the films story with Zack Snyder beginning as the films director and Josh Whedon refilming much of the movie, and completing the final product despite Snyder's name still being attached to it. Now having seen Justice League, one can finally say that Whedon's efforts have not been in vain as the movie benefits greatly from the introduction of the newer characters and the chemistry the whole team possesses. It's just too bad the rest of the film isn't up to par with the strength the Justice League team holds.


      To put is bluntly, Justice League is an okay to decent movie that should've been a great one, but the lack of a strong script and two directors different visions meshing together hold it back from being as grand of a film as it should've been. The movie is much lighter in tone than Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, which helps tremendously, providing more humor and character moments as Whedon's trademark for the Avengers films in terms of having rich character development rubs off here, its just too bad the films plot and antagonist weren't strong enough to follow suit with the strong character development. The story for Justice League picks up directly after the events of Batman V Superman with Bruce Wayne now being fueled by his restored faith in humanity, teaming up with his newfound ally, Diana Prince to put together the Justice League to face a newfound enemy. Justice League for better or worse is bound to the storyline previously established by Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman. Despite the obvious curse the movie possesses in regards to having to follow BVS storyline, it works very hard to right the problems of the DC universe thus far such as making Henry Cavill's Superman a friendlier one in the same vein as Christopher Reeves Superman. The film is less dark and moody like the previous DC entries, injecting more humor and hopefulness to it, and ultimately showing that there is hope for the DC universe with the Justice League team finally coming together, showing audiences that there is a future for this team if the universe continues to right the wrongs of the past.

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      What makes Justice League work is the convincing and spot on performances that the main cast delivers with Ben Affleck once again proving that he is the ideal choice for the role of Bruce Wayne while making a terrific Batman. Gal Gadot shines through once again as Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman not only stealing the show with the scenes that she's in, but becoming more and more immersed in the part. Her intimate scenes with Bruce Wayne are some of the best moments of the movie, while making fans heart soar with their hidden romance. Ezra Miller delivers a funny and terrific performance as The Flash although fans of the hit show may feel a bit conflicted in embracing a new version of the iconic character. Jason Momoa is terrific as Aquaman adding to the wit and humor that The Flash brings to the story, and Ray Fisher delivers a strong, likable performance as Cyborg. Other supporting cast shines through in their limited roles such as Jeremy Irons proving once again to be the ideal Alfred from the animated television show, that not only looks after Bruce Wayne but helps him in his quest to fight crime, Amy Adams as Lois Lane trying to cope with the loss of Superman but also helps to make him remember what he fights for, Diana Lane doing a solid job as Martha Kent with her brief moments shining through, and J.K Simmons delivering a brief yet effective cameo as Commissionar Gordon (One looks forward to him getting a larger role in the solo Batman trilogy coming directed by Matt Reeves). Two key performances that are worth bringing up are Henry Cavill making his return as Superman, proving to be less of the dark and moody type of Superman but more of the fun-spirited traditional one audiences know. Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf does a fine job as the films antagonist despite the villain lacking true development and feeling like a watered down version of Tom Hiddleston's Loki from The Avengers. One wishes that a better choice of villain was picked for this role as the stakes never truly felt high for the Justice League team.

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      On a technical note, the films visual style is eye-catching and impressive with the Cinematography being strong even if the movie goes the excessive route with the CGI, particularly during the chaotic action sequences. The films pacing moves briskly making the movie feel rushed in terms of how fast the team assembles and Steppenwolf's character being poorly developed. One can't help but sense that there is much that was cut from the film that appears in the trailers, implying that a directors cut of this film is desperately needed. Perhaps two versions of the movie should be put on Blu Ray with one being Zack Snyders full directors cut with everything he completed before Josh Whedon took over under unfortunate circumstances, and Whedon's version which removes much of Snyder's dark tone and replaces it with a more humorous approach. The troubled production of Justice League, is a unique one as two directors have meshed their visions together in order to try and make it as appealing to fans as possible. A film that closely resembles the pattern and ultimate outcome of Justice League is Superman ll with Richard Donner starting the production of that film and later being replaced by Richard Lester to add more fun and camp to replace Donners more serious tone. The end result being audiences greatly enjoyed Lesters version, but Donners version later released on DVD in 2006 is generally considered to be the superior version while replacing key moments in Lesters version with Donners original footage. While having two directors give their vision to one story can be an extremely daunting and risky gamble with the film either succeeding or failing because of the different recipes used for telling the story, Justice League largely benefits from Whedon's approach of rich character moments and moments of wit and humor that add to the enjoyment of the story. Whereas the film soars in the chemistry department between the ensemble cast, it falls apart once the movie reverts back to the general storyline which feels rushed and not fleshed out well.

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  1.       Its not that Justice League is a failure of a film by any stretch of imagination, as an ensemble crossover film it succeeds solely on the strength of the team and Whedon saving it from being a complete disaster as Snyder's version of the film was reportedly deemed unwatchable. Whedon's involvement with directing the film did more to help the movie than harm it in the end as his additions to the story made the characters more fleshed out and enjoyable with the ounces of humor added, even if it feels a bit forced at times. While fans of Snyder will be unquestionably frustrated with what will seem to them as being a cop out of the dark tone introduced previously with Whedons much lighter tone, but given the current state of the DC universe outside of Wonder Woman, it appears that Whedon's direction is the right one to go for the future of the universe. Despite Justice Leagues faults, the movie is ultimately a fun ride and should be experienced in theaters by audiences and comic book fans. It's most certainly not a perfect film but it's entertaining and seeing the actual team formulate is worth the price of admission alone. A suggestion going forward for Warner Brothers is to continue the lighter trend of telling these stories and replacing Zack Snyder with other filmmakers, that can bring out the soul of the main characters the way Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot did together as a team for Wonder Woman. What hurts Justice League in the end is the lack of strong character development as the subplots involving The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman feel rushed but there's much to behold when they all come together and intereact. Henry Cavill's Superman making a complete 180 from where he originally started out as in Man Of Steel is both fitting and gives hope that the DC universe can start a new path that's more promising and can win back everyone who was let down by Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad. It's a new dawn for the DC universe, but much more work is needed for the next outing involving the Justice League characters such as having a stronger villain, and a more fleshed out storyline. In the meantime, a Blu Ray extended edition release of both directors versions of the film are suggested so the audiences can decide for themselves who did the better job. If one is hesitant on seeing Justice League in theaters, they should take the advice and go watch it but mainly for the strength of the characters who appropriately carry and ultimately save the movie. Justice League is reasonable entertainment, its just not as great and epic as it could've been. The film represents a brand new dawn for the DC universe even if it has moments where its still bumpy. Even Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor feels like he's taken a turn for the better with his more traditional look and style of playing Lex Luthor that comic book fans are familiar with.


                                                                                                              Final Verdict: See IT

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Atomic Blonde Is One Of 2017s Most Explosive Films

With Atomic Blonde, John Wick has finally found his action movie rival, a blonde Spy.

2017 has been a strong and powerful year for women in regards to be immortalized on film. With Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman becoming the biggest movie of the summer and surpassing expectations both financially and critically, audiences receive another dose of a lead female character kicking ass, except this time it's not a comic book origin story but more within the realm of being a John Wick and James Bond type of female action heroine. While there have been strong female action heroine characters done before such as Sarah Connor from the Terminator series or Ellen Ripley from Aliens, it's rare to find female action heroine character driven films that have been done that actually turn out to be genuinely good. Atomic Blonde was not the box office smash Wonder Woman was this past year, but it left a notable impression with critics and audiences. Atomic Blonde is the female equivalent to John Wick and Daniel Craig's James Bond, being every bit as exciting, action-packed, stylish, and hip with a strong cast, appealing soundtrack, and a female character that's both sexy and engaging to watch. Atomic Blonde is further proof that Charlize Theron is one of Hollywood's greatest action movie heroines.


      Charlize Theron has proven herself to be quite an actress with her Oscar winning turn as the female serial killer in Patty Jenkins directed Monster, and delivering a strong female action heroine presence in the box office flop and critical dud Aeon Flux based on the popular MTV liquid television series. While that film didn't capture the randomness or high level energy of the TV show, Theron proved that she has what it takes to be a female action star. Her performance in Mad Max:Fury Road further cemented the belief that she is Hollywood's go to actress for making female action films such as Atomic Blonde, with her performance in Fate Of The Furious as the films antagonist also proving she has it. Atomic Blonde is done in the same style as Keanu Reeves John Wick films with high-octane action with insane choreography and brilliant Cinematography. Theron's character feels as if she's a cross between John Wick, Daniel Craig's Bourne, and a touch of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. Atomic Blondes plot centers around an undercover MI6 agent being sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The storyline for the film is not creative in the sense that it borrows heavily from familiar plots within the Spy genre, however it is Theron's appealing and striking character that makes the film exciting to watch for audiences. It is the stylish action sequences and Theron's magnetic presence that make the film what it is, while making up for the rather generic plot. 

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      As a female centric Spy thriller, Atomic Blonde isn't perfect but makes the most of it's plot with it's appealing star, fast-pacing, and strong performances from it's supporting cast which also includes X-Men's James McAvoy whose excellent as usual, John Goodman, and Sofia Boutella. The films Cinematography is also among the films high points with the films coloring, particularly the club scenes and the blue lighting used in the earliest scenes with Theron's character rising out of the tub, is perfect as it sets the appropriate mood and tone for the story. The films soundtrack is terrific and also adds to the high energy of the film, making it fit right in line with the 1980's setting of the film taking place within the Cold War. As far as the films action goes, it's much stronger than the plot that holds the whole film together, putting it on par with the action seen in both John Wick movies. The big staircase fight sequence between Theron's character and a set of baddies is the most impressive hand to hand combat sequence in the entire film as it runs long but never becomes boring as the audience can't take their eyes off what's being shown. As far as technical aspects, the film is impeccable and looks great as an action movie and Spy thriller. The style of the film is appealing with the absurdity of the action and plot making it quite numerous at times. The main issue with the film's plot is how hard it tries to be clever and twisty, it's noble that the filmmakers try to make the story more original despite the fact that the stories cliche's and turns have all been done before in other Spy films.

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        To put it bluntly, Atomic Blonde is nothing special outside of being a standard Spy genre buildup with its plot, but it's main female character elevates it to being something the audience can find excitement in watching. Theron is simply awesome here and does a great job making the audience believe that she's a Spy while finding her desirable both as an action star and in regards to her sex appeal. Theron's acting and the film's impressive action and fight sequences make Atomic Blonde a worthy installment in the Spy genre while opening more doors for female actresses to take on the popular genre with different roles. Atomic Blonde is an action film first and foremost, and no one should go into watching it for anything else, but to watch a badass female protagonist played by the highly talented Charlize Theron delivering crushing bones and faces in fights that require long takes but are stunning to watch. With Atomic Blonde, Theron is proof that a female can step into the shoes of a James Bond type character and create a worthy rival, that's equally cold-as-ice while being an figure of lustfulness to love interests who come around them. Atomic Blonde is one of the better action and Spy flicks of 2017 as it rides off the performance of its main female star who proves that she's more than capable of having an action movie franchise other own in the same vein as James Bond and John Wick. For Charlize Theron's masterful performance alone, Atomic Blonde is a must see.

                                                                                                 Final Verdict: Buy IT

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Is Reasonable Fun But Never Tops What Came Before

The 2017 movie season has brought forth sequels that either lived up to the first films and far exceeded expectations such as John Wick ll, Guardians Of The Galaxy ll, Annabelle: Creation, Logan, War For The Planet Of The Apes, and Blade Runner 2049 in terms of being up to par quality wise, with the year also bringing forth sequels that largely disappointed audiences such as Transformers: The Last Knight, 50 Shades Darker, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Alien Covenant. With the fall season of 2017 turning into winter, several sequels are lined up to be promising in terms of delivering on their expectations such as Thor: Ragnarok, and The Last Jedi. In between the high profile sequels, are the smaller ones that didn't necessarily flop with audiences, but left them a bit disappointed in feeling that specific sequel could've been done better despite it being entertaining. For Blade Runner 2049, that film far exceeded anyone's expectations of it being good despite it's three hour running time harming it's box office chances. In the case of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the Matthew Vaughn directed sequel to the 2015 surprise hit is every bit as over the top and flat out ridiculous as the original in terms of being the satire of the James Bond series, but somewhere along the line it fails to live up to the awesomeness of the first Kingsman film.

  

      The first Kingsman, which was also directed by X-Men: First Class filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, was not only funny and over-the-top, but action-packed and had a genuine sense of thrill the current James Bond set of films has been missing as they've taken a darker and more serious tone in a similar style to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy. The first Kingsman worked so well in terms of satisfying audiences, because it was self-aware of the type of film it wanted to be and never tried to be anything more than what it was. The first film was over-the top in regards to it's action, it's story, and it's level of comedy, but at the heart of all that, it possessed a creative spark that meshed it all together so beautifully while showing audiences that Spy films can very much be fun again. Kingsman was stylish, subversive, but above all else, it was fun most importantly. Three years after the release of the first Kingsman, Matthew Vaughn attempts to outdo the first Kingsman by giving audiences more of what they loved about the first film, even going to the extreme with the stylish and fun aspect of the story. There's no question that The Golden Circle feels like a true continuation of the first movie as it maintains the consistency of that films story, its that the sequel insists on throwing so much absurdity at the audience in hopes that they will be impressed enough to say that more means better when it actually says it's less effective this time. The fun aspect of the story is there along with the actors all delivering solid performances which also shows they're having much fun with the films concept. The problem with The Golden Circle is not that it doesn't have the talent behind it to make it an awesome sequel. its that it doesn't feel as fresh nor have the creative spark of the first film.


       The plot for Kingsman: The Golden Circle centers around the Kingsman headquarters being destroyed with the world becoming hostage. The group soon uncovers an allied spy organization in the U.S with the two elite secret organizations must join together to fight a common enemy. On paper, the sequel to Kingsman sounds much more epic than the first movie and involved plot wise, but somehow the overall execution comes up short of he first film's quality. Perhaps the lack of freshness can be attributed to the sequel being less strong despite the performances from the main cast being among the film's strong points. Taron Egerton does a fine job continuing the role of Eggsy from where audiences left him in the forest movie. In this one he feels very much like he molded into the Spy Colin Forth tailored him to be in the previous film. For anyone who watched the trailers going into this movie, its no secretive plot twist that Firths character is alive in the sequel after surviving the church scene from the first movie, but the film loses its biggest surprise twist in a questionable and ultimately poor marketing strategy. Mark Strong delivers a strong performance reprising the same role from the first film along with Hanna Alstrom as Princess Tilde, Sophie Cookson as Roxy, and Julianne Moore as the film's main antagonist Poppy. Although his character isn't present in the sequel due to his characters fate in the first one, audiences do feel Samuel L. Jackson's absence in this movie despite Moore proving to be a worthy successor at being the main antagonist of the story. The film's newer additions to the cast such as Halle Berry Ginger, Channing Tatum as Tequilla, Jeff Bridges as Champ, and Elton John as Elton John all prove to be fun additions to an already effective and appealing cast.

       It's not a question that the films cast had something to do with the movies shortcomings as they all did great, it's the film itself that is somewhat of a mess as it runs longer than it needs to be at 142 minutes of running time. On top of the film's overlong length, the film feels like it overdoses in terms of being sillier than the first movie, particularly with character names such as Tequilla and Ginger, and a ridiculous bar fight that starts off awkward and cringe inducing yet ends on an satisfactory note. The film itself never ceases to be amusing, but it delivers more nonsense than what is required of it, and Matthew Vaughn's directorial touch isn't as sharp and impressive, making the audience wonder if he had his heart in this film like he did with the first movie. The Golden Circle combines all the ingredients that made the first movie surprise hit with audiences such as the comedy, the action, the slick style that comes with the story, and the James Bond type plot in hopes of putting it's on spin on the Spy genre much like the first film did, but instead feels like a mush up of the first that lacks the spark that made it special as well as being a great deal of fun to watch. The problems with The Golden Circle is how much it feels as if the producers desperately wanted to Americanize the franchise instead of letting it be its own thing. One of the best things about the first Kingsman is how confident it was in telling it's story with the style it presented itself as being. Vaughn took what was basically a generic Spy genre and added a high dose of energy to it with pure laughter and a slick apprentice type story with a young lead character the audience can get behind as he molds into being a professional Spy. With the first Kingsman, Vaughn gave the audience characters they grew to care about and love with the sequel maintaining that development despite the story being messy. The audience cared about Eggsy being mentored by Firth's character Harry Hat, and felt Eggsy's pain when he thought his mentor was killed in the first film. Their relationship played out almost like a Spy version of Obi Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. One of Vaughn's greatest strengths as a filmmaker, is being able to juggle and flesh out his ensemble cast of actors/actresses, giving each of them their moments to shine. The ensemble cast isn't the problem with the film, its the overlong running time and messy scriptwriting that holds it back from being as good as it could've been.


         As far as sequels made in 2017 go, Kingsman: The Golden Circle doesn't exceed the first film both critically and financially, nor does it end up as a failure like some of the ones mentioned, it falls somewhere in the middle of being entertaining despite being a disappointing sequel to the first film. The sequel offers much of what the first film such a hit with audiences, even if it feels a bit excessive at times. As a sequel to the first Kingsman, The Golden Circle is passable and fun to watch, but the spark that made the first film such a hit is missing here. The Golden Circle is worth watching for it's high-octane action, as well as its surplus of starpower and impressive cinematography. Despite the sequel being reasonably decent, one wishes that Matthew Vaughn worked harder on the script, not went so excessive with the films over-the-top silly tone which exceeds the first movies absurdity, and that the marketing team didn't spoil the films surprise twist with Colin Firth's character being revealed to be alive in the trailers. What could've been a genuinely surprising twist became the victim of poor marketing. Overall, The Golden Circle is not the great sequel the first Kingsman could've gotten, but it's also not the disaster many critics made it out to be, it's just decent.

                                                                                                               Final Verdict: Stream IT


Friday, October 27, 2017

Annabelle: Creation Is One Of 2017's Most Interesting Creations

For Cinema moviegoers, generally the month of August for the summer box office is typically a dry month with the summer winding down as school vacations come to an end and students returning to complete another year. Studios typically use the months of August and September as dumping grounds for films, that studios don't have the most confidence in, and can potentially survive without zero competition from other big blockbusters. Despite a few exceptions in the month of August such as Guardians Of The Galaxy and Suicide Squad, August is a relatively slow month for movies to perform at the box office. In the case of this past August, Annabelle: Creation utilized it's slow box office month to it's full advantage, and managed to be quite successful in the long run without running into direct competition with another fall horror flick turned box office giant such as Stephen King's IT. While the first Annabelle film wasn't particularly memorable (It was satisfactory at best, but not good enough to warrant the kind of box office anticipation and hype the prequel had going in), Annabelle: Creation somehow manages to be a stronger horror film than that movie. garnering bigger box office and reviews, that soundly call it an improvement over it's mediocre predecessor. Having seen Annabelle: Creation now that it's officially landed on DVD this week, one can most definitely say that Creation is hands down the better movie as well as being more satisfying.

Image result for annabelle creation movie poster  

      Annabelle: Creation continues to prove that the box office for 2017 is being driven not by the big budget sequels to popular franchises, but a growing trend among films with smaller budgets making a surprise splash with audiences. Annabelle: Creation continues that trend as the films reception is warmer than the first film, which led to it performing much better than the first film. The prequel feels larger in scope, as well as being more confident in it's storytelling. The film never truly manages to be scary, but is creepy enough to draw audiences into it's story with it fast-forwarding a full 12 years after the tragic death of a dollmaker and his wife's daughter, with them welcoming a nun and  a group of several young girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon making them the direct target of the dollmaker's possessed creation called Annabelle. Right off the bat, the second Annabelle film is stronger than the first film largely due to its story. The first movies storyline was basic with Annabelle focusing on a couple experiencing terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. The first Annabelle's storyline is basic with the concept of a possessed doll being the most intriguing aspect of the story despite being done before with Chucky. The first film didn't really have many jump scares but it was watchable due to the concept and the creepy atmosphere it created.

Image result for annabelle creation movie pics

      With Annabelle: Creation, it felt as if the filmmakers behind the prequel were taking notes on what worked with the first movie and what needed improvement. The story feels more fleshed out with the prequel, the production values more grand, and the atmosphere feeling more chilling with the actors delivering strong performances. The movie's pacing is very strong with the scares being well-spread out allowing the suspense and tension to slowly build for the audience. The film works best as a combination of a haunted house story mixed with a freakish doll, that looks and acts just downright creepy. For those who enjoyed the Conjuring films, this movie is another strong entry in the popular franchise as the film works best as a prequel to those films. For those who weren't particularly fond of the first Annabelle and are on the fence about watching the prequel, its most certainly worth watching as the whole film feels much stronger than the first and there's a much stronger confidence behind this story being told. The film tries less to scare its audience in comparison to the first movie, and relies more on mood to set everything up so when the scares do come, they are more effective with the audience desiring what happens next. What's most surprising about Annabelle: Creation, is how much stronger of a film it comes across in comparison to it's predecessor. The film works so well in telling its own story, that the audience doesn't necessarily need to watch the first film in order to get the concept at play here, although it would help with little bits of information given between the two films. It's almost as if the filmmakers are well-aware that the first film wasn't that great, and used this prequel as an opportunity to rectify that movies flaws. The key to this films success is how well it builds up the tension with its story as the mood and setting are perfect with the performances being brilliant. The young actresses are completely convincing here, particularly Samara Lee with Anthony LaPaglia giving a strong performance as the dollmaker/priest, Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte, and Miranda Otto doing a terrific job with her small yet effective role as the dollmaker's wife Esther. The strong performances as well as the strong scriptwiriting, beautiful tension set-up, and David. F. Sandberg's impressive directing make this prequel what it is: One of the stronger horror sequels in recent memory as well as being one of the few that not only lives up to the first movie but surpasses it in quality.

Image result for annabelle creation movie pics

      Annabelle: Creation is easily one of the best horror movies of 2017 as it manages to stake its own claim as being a worthy horror story without relying on the first movie to make it appealing to audiences. As far as finding issues with the movie, its hard to find any faults the movie has other than slow-pacing at times, and it not actually being scary, but comes off as being more of a personal feeling rather than a shot taken at the film itself. Creation does everything possible to make for a creepy experience with its audience, and here it does a very fine job at doing so. This is a well done horror flick, that's engaging from start to finish and very fun to watch with the Annabelle doll being creepy everytime it pops up on the big screen to scare audiences. The film deserves props for its brilliant build-up of tension and suspense as Sandberg appears to understand the creepy nature of its story much better than John R. Leonetti did with the first film. Creation is one of the rare prequels, that's smart and knows exactly what it wants to do in regards to terrifying it's audience. The DVD release of the film being around Halloween could not come at a more perfect time, as it gives audiences a unique opportunity to align it's story with the rest of the Conjuring franchise for Halloween. The film takes the demonic spirit concept that's obviously been done before and gives it a nice added touch. There is nothing in Creation that's truly original, but it utilizes all the familiar formulas and creates its own terrifying story, that also manages to be an awesome prequel to a first film that really doesn't deserve this kind of follow-up. Here's hoping that David. F. Sandberg returns to direct the next installment, as he truly seems to get the terror aspect of the story that revolves around a creepy doll. If you haven't seen Annabelle: Creation yet, its time to put one's shield down and let it creep you out for 109 minutes, while also showing how building up suspense and tension is properly done with solid storytelling.

                                                                                                                              Final Verdict: Buy It

Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics
Image result for annabelle creation movie pics