FlixChatter Review: Rampage (2018)

I donʼt get Hollywood obsession with turning video games into films. Most of them were met with little box office and/or critical success, yet each year we seem to get one or two films based on video games. Last monthʼs reboot of Tomb Raider barely made a dent at the box office, now we get another film based on a video game that I doubt the target audience would remember or know much about it. But this one stars the always charismatic Dwayne Johnson and it just might turn out to be a big box office success than previous video game-based films.

After an experiment in space gone wrong and the space station was destroyed, debris containing mysterious chemicals fell to different parts of the United States. One landed near a San Diego zoo where Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) is running the show and his albino ape named George was exposed to the chemical. George is a friendly ape but after the exposure, he became more aggressive and growing bigger and bigger each day. Then a doctor named Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) showed up at the zoo and told Okoye she knows whatʼs wrong with George and can help cure him. Meanwhile in downtown Chicago office, leaders of the company that owns the destroyed space station, Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) are planning to recover those chemicals.

They dispatched some military men lead by Burke (Joe Manganiello) to recover their product. Unfortunately for Burke and his men, when they arrived at the location, they found a giant wolf that was exposed to the chemical and had to fight for their lives. Back at the zoo, George became even more aggressive and starts attacking people but a group of mysterious agents was able to sedate him. The agentsʼ leader named Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) decided to arrest Okoye and Caldwell, he believes theyʼre responsible for Georgeʼs erratic behavior. Of course they couldn’t contain George and heʼs able to escape and itʼs up to Okoye and Caldwell to save everyone from the monsters, including a giant crocodile.

Four screenwriters were credited for the screenplay, so that means several drafts of the script were written before it got approved. Now I donʼt envy them on how to come up with engaging story based on a video game about giant animals smashing things. I guess what they came up with worked well as a big budget action/adventure, although I thought some parts of the story was too serious for its own good. Director Brad Peyton did a good job of not making this into some kind of serious picture, he knows heʼs making a movie about giant animals smashing things and he didn’t hold back on the mayhem. I do wish heʼd came up with something more inventive for the big climatic action sequences in downtown Chicago. The action scenes reminded me of Man of Steel where Superman and General Zod were fighting one another and just got too repetitive and boring. Otherwise, he put together a decent action picture that would satisfy the intended audiences.

For the human characters, well, unfortunately most of them were pretty one dimensional. Dwayne Johnson always seems to know heʼs in a silly movie and heʼs having a good time playing another larger than life action hero. Naomie Harris is your typical sidekick/love interest character but thankfully they didn’t turn her into a damsel in distress and needs a rescue. Both Akerman and Lacy are your typical villains, theyʼre greedy and will do anything to save their own butts once they realized their products are responsible for the mayhem. As for Jeffrey Dean Morganʼs mysterious agent character, Iʼm not sure why they even included him in the story, Morgan looked like heʼs having a good time playing the role but heʼs kind of just a wasted character. Now maybe he might be a major player for the sequel, assuming this one makes enough money and turn into a franchise for the studio.

Rampage is nothing more than a silly action picture, it reminded me of last yearʼs Kong: Skull Island, if youʼre going into it expecting to see some kind of great cinema than youʼll be disappointed. Itʼs full of plot holes and one dimensional characters, the people who makes Honest Trailers should have a lot of fun when they release the trailer for this movie. If youʼre in the mood to see some crazy action scenes and a fan of Dwayne Johnson, then you might enjoy this.

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So have you seen Rampage? Well, what did you think?

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FlixChatter Review – Truth or Dare (2018)

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Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Runtime: 1h 40min

When I first saw the preview for Truth or Dare, I thought it looked pretty stupid, but I did my best to keep an open mind going into the screening. I’ve been surprised before by horror movies that ended up being better than I expected, like Ouija: Origin of Evil and Annabelle: Creation. Plus, it’s from Blumhouse Productions, a company that specializes in horror movies, including the Oscar-winning Get Out. Maybe there was hope for this cheesy-looking teen horror film. Spoiler: there was not.

In Truth or Dare, a group of college students (Lucy Hale as Olivia, Tyler Posey as Lucas, Violett Beane as Markie, Sophia Ali as Penelope, Nolan Gerard Funk as Tyson, Hayden Szeto as Brad, and Sam Lerner as Ronnie) go to Mexico for spring break, where they join a stranger from a bar, Carter (Landon Liboiron) to an abandoned church, where they play the movie’s titular game. What seems like an innocent activity is something much more sinister that follows them home and forces them to continue playing, answering heartbreaking truths and performing life-threatening dares. If they refuse to play, they die.

The idea of a horror movie centered around truth or dare isn’t awful. If they had kept most of the action in one location-namely, the abandoned church- it could have felt more claustrophobic and tense, and it would have given them more time to develop the characters and make the stakes feel higher. However, this movie feels more like a lazy CW or MTV teen melodrama with demonic possession sprinkled in. The characters range from painfully bland to irredeemably unlikeable. If they were just going to make another horror movie where a bunch of teens are killed off (and there have been so many over the past few decades), they should have done something new with it-like maybe don’t kill off the few queer or POC characters in the film, or develop the characters better so there’s some emotional impact when they die.

I could almost forgive the boring “teens die one by one” storyline if the movie was at least consistently scary, but it really isn’t. The majority of the film is taken up by cheap jump scares. To be fair, there are a few genuinely suspenseful moments; there’s one longer scene that is really well done where an extremely drunk Penelope (Sophia Ali) is dared to walk around the edge of a roof until she finishes drinking the bottle of vodka in her hand, and there’s some buildup to an actually good jump scare involving Brad (Hayden Szeto) and a corpse in a hospital. However, scenes like this are few and far between, and they’re mostly buried in bad dialogue and cheap jump scares.

The worst part, though, was the face. Oh, God, the face. Whenever anyone is possessed by the demon forcing the students to play the game, that person’s face is contorted into this wide, warped smile that I assume is supposed to be creepy and unsettling, but it’s just hilarious. All I could think was that it looks like the troll face meme.

IT’S SO STUPID. One of the characters mentions the face looks like a bad SnapChat filter. ACKNOWLEDGING IT DOESN’T EXCUSE IT FROM BEING BAD, YOU GUYS. Come on, Blumhouse! I know you can do better! I’ve seen movies you’ve produced with truly chilling special effects! This just looks like when we all discovered you could add goofy filters to your Mac Book webcam ten years ago.
f you’re very easily scared and are bored, maybe catch this once it’s on Netflix, but don’t waste your time or money on seeing it in theaters.

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Have you seen ‘Truth or Dare’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Ready Player One (2018)

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Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Zak Penn & Ernest Cline
Runtime: 2hrs 20min

Before seeing Ready Player One, I had to remind myself to judge it as a stand-alone movie rather than a book adaptation. I’ve read the book several times and thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part, and I didn’t want to ruin the experience for myself by nitpicking every little difference between the book and movie. This was a good mindset going in, because it isn’t a very faithful adaptation, but it’s a decent movie on its own.

Tye Sheridan w/ Olivia Cooke, Philip Zhao and Win Morisaki

Ready Player One takes place in the year 2045, when the world has become an economic and environmental wasteland. To escape their dreary reality, people spend their time in an incredible virtual world called The OASIS. When its creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, he challenges its users to find three keys to unlock an Easter Egg that will bestow his fortune to the winner. OASIS users Wade, AKA Parzival (Tye Sheridan), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki) work together to find the Egg before the evil corporation IOI, led by Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), gets there first.

My biggest issue with this film is its heavy reliance on narration, especially at the beginning. I understand that it’s difficult to fit a lot of pertinent information from a novel into a film adaptation, but the rule “show, don’t tell” is important to remember, and this movie had plenty of opportunity to do so. It opens showing people in their homes in The Stacks (mobile homes literally stacked like high rises), escaping their dreary surroundings by wearing high-tech VR goggles and accessories, then shows the detailed, fantastical, hyperrealistic virtual world of the OASIS- all of which is then explained with nearly ten minutes of narration. It’s completely unnecessary. The movie has plenty to work with visually to establish the background information, and what they can’t do visually they could set up through dialogue (which, to be fair, they do sometimes); it would have felt more natural and less lazy.

Despite this, Ready Player One is still an enjoyable movie. The CGI is impressive, and there are a lot of great 80’s and 90’s visual references, some subtle and some obvious, that will appeal to nostalgia geeks. The action is beautifully animated and really sucks you in. The soundtrack is a nice blend of 80’s rock music and original orchestration that is all the sweeping schmaltz one would expect in an 80’s adventure movie from Spielberg.

The acting is excellent as well. Despite the character of Parzival/Wade being about as bland as an un-toasted slice of white bread lightly seasoned with tap water, Tye Sheridan does well with what he’s given. I was thrilled to see Olivia Cooke as Art3mis/Samantha, especially after seeing her in another film, Thoroughbreds, earlier this year. She gives a fun, genuinely passionate performance. I don’t think she and Tye have great romantic chemistry, but that might just be a writing issue, as it isn’t very well-developed. Both TJ Miller as I-R0k and Lena Waithe as Aech have several great comedic moments. Mark Rylance is delightful as the awkward but sweet Halliday. Ben Mendelsohn is satisfyingly sleazy as Sorrento, although he’s not a particularly intimidating villain; again, though, that might be a writing issue, as Mendelsohn usually pulls off villainous roles well.

If you’re hoping for a good film adaptation of the book, Ready Player One will probably disappoint you. But if you go into it expecting a fun, well-animated adventure flick, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. Despite its problems, this movie is still entertaining.

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Have you seen ‘Ready Player One’? Well, what did you think? 

Easter special double reviews: RISEN & The Case for Christ – rental picks for Holy Week (or any week)

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Risen since I saw it a little over a month ago. Then I saw The Case for Christ a couple of days ago and thought they’d make a perfect Easter double reviews since they involve the quest of two men (centuries apart) attempting to disprove Christ’s resurrection and divinity.

The greatest story ever told has certainly been been told countless times in Hollywood, yet somehow Risen managed to bring something unique to the table. Told from the perspective of a skeptic, a Roman Centurion no less, tasked to find the missing body of Jesus Christ in the weeks following His crucifixion. Joseph Fiennes portrayed Clavius, the stoic Roman soldier with soulful gaze and rather reserved demeanor. He’s not all brute force like what we often see in films depicting such characters, more of a thinking man who’s ambitious yet world weary.

The film primarily focuses on Clavius’ investigation of the case, which includes interrogating some of Jesus’ followers and the Roman guards tasked to watch. It doesn’t take long for him to realize there’s more to this mystery of a missing dead body and he’s more affected by it than he cares to admit. The transformation of his character from an ambitious Roman (was there any other kind?) to one who’s thirsty for the truth is palpable. “Your ambition is noticed,” his boss Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) noted, and he later repeated that same sentiment to his aide (Tom Felton). Firth was kinda chewing the scenery as Pilate, but in a good way as I like his acting style, while I’m glad Felton didn’t portray another run-of-the-mill villain.

Fiennes is a fine actor and his sensitive, nuanced portrayal of Clavius is intriguing to watch. ‘I cannot reconcile all this with the world I know,’ he remarked at a pivotal moment in the film. It’s one of many memorable moments here that felt earnest, as nobody liked being preached to at the movies. Another great casting here is Cliff Curtis as Christ. Not only did the Maori actor looks ethnically accurate for the role, he also portrayed the Messiah with gravitas and playful sweetness in equal measure. If I have one quibble for this film, I think the acting of some of the disciples, most notably Bartholomew, is a bit over the top.

Overall though, Risen is a pretty riveting film from director Kevin Reynolds (Tristan + Isolde, The Count of Monte Cristo). No hammy acting or dogmatic bluntness, thanks to Fiennes’ layered performance as a conflicted man. The film was also beautifully shot in Malta, with gorgeous cinematography, score and set pieces.

Unlike The Passion of the Christ, the film isn’t nearly as graphic or intense in its violence depiction, certainly not as gruesome as most PG-13 films or anything on TV these days. I have to say that I find many faith-based films to be corny with subpar acting. So it’s refreshing to find this is not one of them and the high production values helps, too. Definitely one I highly recommend for believers and non-believers alike.

SPOILER ALERT: I also love the way they did the ending. Did Clavius converted to Christianity? Or did the investigation led him to a crossroad where he simply couldn’t turn back to his old Roman ways? Whether or not he becomes a believer in the end, the fact of the matter is, we knew he’s a changed man.


When I first came across this film on Netflix, I’m curious how Lee Strobel’s book, with all the fact-checking details, would translate well to screen. Thankfully, it works thanks to the strong acting and intriguing journalistic style.

The film opens with the protagonist Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel), receiving a promotion as legal editor at the ChicagoTribune. It’s a picture of a perfect life, great job and a perfect family… beautiful (and pregnant) wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) and a young daughter Alison (Haley Rosenwasser). But soon an incident happened that shook Leslie greatly, and without spoiling too much, it led to her converting to Christianity. It’s not a spoiler as it essentially what drove the story… her conversion became the driving force for Lee to try to disprove that her belief is all a bunch of nonsense.

This film could’ve been another a Law & Order type of episode, but Jon Gunn‘s direction based on Brian Bird‘s script avoided such pitfalls. Yes it had a slow start and some slow moments, but for the most part, Lee’s quest was intriguing as it was a personal one. Despite all the interrogations, charts & graphs in Lee’s war room, the film never forget the real heart of the film, which is the relationship between Lee & Leslie which hangs in the balance. I also like that there’s an intersecting criminal case Lee worked on at the same time to keep the narrative from being too static.

I’ve never seen Vogel in anything before, but he’s pretty compelling as Lee.  He’s effortlessly likable despite his cocky, brash attitude and there’s an earnest quality about him. I was really impressed by Christensen as the patient wife who’s also got her own mind. Her conversion felt convincing to me, despite the rather cloying dialog with spiritual mentor Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell). There’s also an interesting cameo from Faye Dunaway as a renowned psychologist. She uttered one of the most memorable lines in the film when questioned whether 500+ eyewitness could have shared the same delusion claiming to have seen the risen Christ.

Now, as I was done watching this, I sensed that believers would complain that it only vaguely skims the surface of Strobel’s richly-detailed book, and non-believers would think it’s too preachy. As for me, I think the film offers just enough of the ‘meat’ of the argument about Christ’ existence and divinity, that people who are curious about it might be inclined to do more extensive research on their own. I appreciate that the film didn’t paint skeptics as evil or that paint atheism as the source of bad behaviors,

Given that Strobel himself served as executive producer, I suppose there’s no mystery as to how the film would end. It is called the Case for Christ after all, not against Him. Yet for someone who loves journalism films like All The Presidents’ Men, Spotlight, The Insider, etc., that investigative aspect certainly appeals to me. No, this film didn’t quite rise to the level of those films, but still one that’s well worth your time.


Have you seen RISEN of THE CASE FOR CHRIST? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

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Review by: Vitali Gueron

Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to the 2013 science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture). Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and stars British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Attack the Block) as Jake Pentecost, and American actor Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert. Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost—son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba‘s character in the first film) is brought back to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being arrested for stealing and selling old jaeger (robot) parts on the black market. He then is made an instructor and starts training jaeger program recruits with his estranged former co-pilot, Lambert (Eastwood).

The film also brings back Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), who helped save the world in the first movie, and is now working for the Shao Corporation, a company whose mission is to mass produce remote controlled jaegers developed by Dr. Geiszler and Liwen Shao (Jing Tian — a Chinese actress best known for The Great Wall & Kong: Skull Island). Dr. Geiszler is developing a program that combines jeager technology with cloned Kaiju (a Japanese word for giant monsters) cells.

The rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury attacks a PPDC conference and Pentecost and Lambert must use their own jaeger to fight back (the gigantic robot is controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link). Upon destroying the reactor of a defunct jaeger production facility in Russia which Obsidian Fury is using as a base of operations, Pentecost and Lambert are shocked to learn that Obsidian Fury was controlled by a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

While Obsidian Fury is eventually defeated by Pentecost and Lambert, Dr. Geiszler releases an army of Shao Corporation’s drones who incapacitate almost all of the PPDC’s jaegers and inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC’s human staff, including most of the jaeger pilots. The drones begin to open new breaches all over the world and are successful in bringing over three powerful Kaiju. Pentecost and Lambert have no choice but to assemble a team of the jaeger program recruits. These young recruits had only simulated battles and not yet fully grasped the task of the mental link joining in order to pilot the jaeger. The team uses the PPDC confronts the Kaiju with their four remaining jaegers in Tokyo and eventually up the side of Mount Fuji. The team is eventually able to defeat the giant Kaiju and arrest Dr. Geiszler so he can no longer pose a threat.

I believe this movie is set up to initiate third-and-final movie, where humans will be the ones attacking the Precursors (the alien race who created the Kaiju) in their own world. Unfortunately, this film does little to nothing to generate new ideas that haven’t been seen before, whether in the first Pacific Rim or in other films with similar premises, such as Transformers.

While it’s easy to say that this is just another Transformers remake, the biggest thing Pacific Rim Uprising has it going for it is John Boyega as the lead. Boyega is even credited as a producer on the film and he continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, whether on the Star Wars movies—using his pretty convincing American accent, or in this movie—where he uses his natural British accent. Boyega also sports a fantastic mustache which makes him cool, yet believable “bad-ass” Kaiju slayer. Aside from Boyega’s charisma, there aren’t very many other moments here that make the movie anything to get excited about. If you previously loved seeing robots battling gigantic monsters and wreaking havoc upon the world, then you won’t be disappointed this time around.

For the majority of its audiences, Pacific Rim Uprising will seem like another bad idea by a giant Hollywood studio to reuse a story line that has become all too familiar. If their writers and casting departments can somehow add more interesting humans (such as Boyega) and subtract the meaningless robot/monster battles, then there might be hope for the third-and-final movie. Otherwise, it will just be an endless comparison between Pacific Rim and Transformers – a battle of which franchise is worst.


Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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A Wrinkle in Time is a visually stunning film with a solid backbone and an incredible lead actress (Storm Reid). Due to a few unfortunate choices, it is a disappointing movie that I will nonetheless recommend to everyone.
Because A Wrinkle in Time is one of the first pieces of science fiction that I ever read, my expectations were high. I got teary watching the trailer because seeing a formative story told such amazing women was an exciting prospect.

It is hard to live up to a piece of art so steeped in nostalgia. Time and time again I was disappointed by elements of the story that were abridged or cut out entirely. Of course, the skeleton remained. A Wrinkle in Time is a fun science fiction romp through surprising landscapes that help a young person grow into herself. And I know that it is unfair to expect every page to make the final cut, but there were so many heavy handed moments where the the writers (Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell) forced plot points into the mouths of characters because they must not have felt like they had the time or space to share that information with the audience.

Visually A Wrinkle in Time rivaled my childhood imagination. Costume design, CGI, and careful attention to cinematographic detail paints a moving picture that it is hard to peel your eyes away from. The costumes and makeup that Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) cycle through are stunning – even Mrs. Whatstit’s first outfit, which is supposedly made of bedsheets, is beautiful.

My one beef with the visual element of the movie is the giant, flying, lettuce shaped thing that Mrs. Whatsit transformed into. It is mind bogglingly bad in both execution and premise. Especially when you know that Mrs. Whatsit was supposed to be a centaur. Let me repeat that. Witherspoon was supposed to be a centaur and they made her an oversized piece of lettuce. I understand modesty concerns for a kid’s movie, but a bra flew across the screen when she transformed, so good luck convincing me that they couldn’t have put a bra on their centaur and called it a day.

Despite a cast that looks good on paper, I was mostly disappointed. At the top of my list of disappointments was Zach Galifianakis, who actually put on one of my favorite performances as the Happy Medium. In an otherwise incredibly diverse, female-focused cast, it was a disappointing surprise to see Galifianakis playing a role that was written as female originally.

On top of that, the school teachers were some of the worst featured actors I have ever seen, Mindy Kaling barely had any material to work with, Witherspoon turned a character I remember imagining as a likable but very oblivious person into a pretty rude character, and Deric McCabe was the most sympathetic of train wrecks.

No one wants to shit on a kid’s performance, but McCabe (playing Charles Wallace) left a lot to be desired. Charles Wallace is unique: a highly intelligent, empathetic kindergartner with a major shift in character toward the end of the movie. McCabe’s performance is passable early on, but at he seems visibly uncomfortable on screen. It is so disappointing that he, a nine year old, did not get better coaching for scenes that clearly stretched his acting ability.

Storm Reid redeemed everything else, though. She gave an incredibly riveting performance as Meg. I cannot wait to see what she does in the future: she clearly has the skills to have a long career if she wants it. In spite of its flaws A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story about loving yourself even if you don’t feel lovable. Meg is relatable: a teenager who hasn’t quite figured out how to love herself and has absorbed the meanness of her peers. The diverse cast and inspiring take away, described by is well worth supporting and the gorgeous set and costume design are well worth the price of a movie ticket.


hollyHolly P. is a twenty-something millennial who enjoys shouting at people on the internet, riding her bicycle, and overbooking her schedule. She prefers storytelling that has a point and comedy that isn’t mean. Her favorite movies are Aladdin, the Watchmen (even though the book was way better), and Hot Fuzz.  She’s seen every Lord of the Rings movie at least a dozen times. You can follow her @tertiaryhep on twitter or @hollyhollyoxenfreee on Instagram. She’s also on Tinder, but if you find her there she’ll probably ghost on you because wtf is dating in the 21st century.


Have you seen ‘A Wrinkle In Time’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Thoroughbreds (2018)

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Directed By: Cory Finley
Written By: Cory Finley
Runtime: 1h 32min

In Thoroughbreds, high school friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) rekindle their friendship after going through their own personal crises. As their friendship grows, the girls hatch a plan against Lily’s unpleasant stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks), enlisting the help of drug dealer and local deadbeat Tim (Anton Yelchin).

I had high hopes for this film going in after seeing the cast list, and I was not disappointed. I was already impressed with Anya Taylor-Joy‘s performances in 2015’s The Witch and last year’s Split, and seeing her in this cemented her as one of my new favorite actresses. She goes from being relatively sweet and naive to ruthless and unhinged seamlessly throughout the movie, so gradually that it doesn’t seem forced or over-the-top. Olivia Cooke is excellent as well, making the cold and emotionless Amanda funny and surprisingly sympathetic. Lastly, Thoroughbreds is a reminder of the talent and charisma we lost in the late Anton Yelchin; he makes a character who is completely infuriating and sleazy hilarious while maintaining a sinister undertone.

Despite the strong acting, Thoroughbreds is not a particularly memorable movie. I’ve seen a few ads and reviews hailing it as the new Heathers, but besides the fact that both films are dark comedies with teenage girls as the leads, the two aren’t that similar. While the writing isn’t bad, and the cast delivers the deadpan, rapid-fire dialogue deftly without making it sound like a Gilmore Girls script, it’s not as enduringly quotable as the 1988 film it’s being compared to. It’s still a suspenseful story, and it could be an interesting exploration into mental illness, given a little more time and focus, but it’s just not strong enough to be iconic.

While Thoroughbreds isn’t a film you need to see in theaters, it’s a good showcase of some serious young talent. It’s only an hour and a half long, so if you’re bored, scrolling through Netflix and want to see some impressive performances, give it a watch.

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Have you seen ‘Thoroughbreds’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: Death Wish (2018)

I hate using the word “guilty pleasure” when talking about films that I enjoy but I think the old Charles Bronson‘s Death Wish films are definitely my guilty pleasures. Of course, with Hollywood pretty much refusing to make any films that resemble any kind of originality, a remake of the 1974 film was inevitable. The remake was originally going to star and be directed by Sly Stallone, but he left for creative differences. Then Joe Carnahan took over the project but left because he didn’t agree with the studio’s choice of casting Bruce Willis as the lead. The project somehow landed in the hands of, of all people, Eli Roth, whose previous films were all torture porn.

Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is living the good life, he’s got a great job, a big house that he shares with his beautiful wife Lucy (Elizabeth Shue) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). One night while he’s away at work, thieves broke into his house, murdered his wife and left his daughter in a coma. Kersey’s world has now been turned upside down and when the authority couldn’t find his wife’s killers, he decided to turn into a vigilante. I think most movie goers are familiar with either the original film or this kind of story, it’s been told several times before and unfortunately there’s nothing new here in the remake.

Joe Carnahan gets the full credit for the screenplay but apparently Roth and another writer rewrote much of what Carnahan wrote but the screen writers guild gave all the credits to Carnahan. He probably wish his name doesn’t appear in the credits because the story is quite generic. I’ve never read the novel that it’s based on so I don’t know how close it is to the source material.

I’m not a fan of Roth’s work, I don’t find his kind of horror films entertaining. I was skeptical about him doing an action picture and fortunately he did an okay job. He didn’t try to make it into a dark and serious action picture. But he never elevated the material to anything special either, the only thing he added was the extra gore during the action scenes. Also, I don’t think he really knows what kind of picture he wanted to make. Does he support vigilantism or is he against it? A lot of scenes sort of contradict each other.

The performances by the actors were fine, I think Willis tried to add some depth to his character but it didn’t really work. He’s kind of flat on many scenes. His character started out as someone who tried to avoid conflicts but he became John McClane once he lost his family. The only shining performance was Vincent D’Onofrio who played the brother of Kersey and the voice of reason in the story. All of the supporting actors were pretty generic.

At a time where gun control talks are dividing people in this country, this film doesn’t really need to be made. To be fair though, the film was finished way before the mass shootings that happened within the last few months here in the States. For the people don’t like gun violence, you best to stay away from this film. But anyone who like trashy B-action films, then you might enjoy it.

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So have you seen Death Wish? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: The 15:17 To Paris (2018)

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Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Dorothy Blyskal
Running Time: 1h 34min

Review by: Vitali Gueron

Clint Eastwood‘s latest movie The 15:17 to Paris takes us back to August 21, 2015, what was a warm late afternoon/evening ride aboard a high speed train to Paris, France. Three young American friends decided to meet each other in Europe and visit some of the marvelous cities in Italy, Holland and France. While on the train to Paris, they encountered a real life emergency situation when a gun-carrying terrorist starts walking the aisles of the train with the intent to indiscriminately start shooting the unsuspecting train passengers, in an attempt to create a mass casualty event.

One of the three Americans, U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone, who plays himself in the film, jumps to his feet and springs into action in an attempt to subdue the terrorist. His friends Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler (who also play themselves here) are there to assist Spencer before other passengers jump to aide the three Americans. I think the real life heroes were great at portraying their real life story and hope they have successful careers, in acting or otherwise. It was a unique thing for them to play themselves in the movie and I think it added to the experience.

For their efforts to subdue the terrorist and save the lives of the passengers on board the train, Spencer, Alek and Anthony were recognized as heroes of the French Republic for their gallantry and bravery. They were awarded the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his act of courage, by French president Francois Holland and the award ceremony is the final scene in the movie.

About two thirds of the movie focuses on Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler growing up in in the same town, attending the same school and how they’re often sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary action. They are shown to bond over their interest in guns, and make plans to serve in the military when they grow up. Later, they are shown to work part-time at a local smoothie shop, playing video games and making plans to lose weight. Unfortunately these scenes are not very interesting and I believe that director Clint Eastwood does a disservice to his viewers by showing them to us, as they are mostly-irrelevant portion of the American heroes’ lives.

By the time the events of what is now known as the ‘2015 Thalys train attack’ roll around, the viewers have been subjected to around an hour’s worth of pointless and dare-I-say-boring parts of the three protagonists’ lives. For me, this was precious waste of time that could have been used to shed light on what was happening on a larger scale in the world, and how this one event played into an overall image of bravery, resilience and heart. For this reason, I cannot recommend this movie and think its a big stumble for the usually reliable director.


Have you seen ‘The 15:17 To Paris’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – ANNIHILATION (2018)

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Directed By: Alex Garland
Written By: Alex Garland
Runtime: 1h 55min

Annihilation, based on the book trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, follows biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) join a group made up of an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist to investigate mysterious environment after her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) returns from an unexplained year-long disappearance. Lena, along with Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny), and Josie (Tessa Thompson) soon learn that the laws of nature don’t apply in this strange and dangerous location.

This movie made me want to read the books immediately, because the screenplay is so well-written, and I can only imagine how fantastic the source material must be. It’s such an imaginative and suspenseful story. It’s tense and unpredictable without feeling messy. I especially like that it’s a female-led sci-fi movie, which is rare. It’s not the focus; it’s commented on once toward the beginning of the film, but otherwise the characters are interesting and well-developed without being defined by their gender. The fact that they’re portrayed by phenomenal actors makes it even better. The group has amazing chemistry, and they all give strong performances, although Gina Rodriguez as Anya is definitely the stand-out; she goes from likable to terrifying to heartbreaking seamlessly.

This film is visually stunning as well. The CGI is incredibly detailed, but not overused to the point of being over-the-top. The designs are beautiful, unsettling, and in some cases, horrifying. Even the more mundane scenes are beautifully shot; there’s a moment with a close-up of Lena holding Kain’s hand, filmed through a glass of water distorting the image, that is so subtle but so effective.

That said, it’s not a perfect film. There’s a subplot about Lena cheating on Kane with her colleague, Daniel (David Gyasi) that doesn’t really have any effect on the overall plot and doesn’t fit the movie’s tone. Maybe it’s more important in the books, but it doesn’t feel necessary in the movie, and the time wasted on it could have been better used developing the alien nature the group is exploring.

I was also a little distracted by how many times different characters exclaimed over how impossible everything in this alien area is. I understand expressing surprise and initial disbelief, but they are so adamant about things being impossible that it’s kind of ridiculous. I wanted to yell “You just saw a mutant crocodile attack your friend in a fairy garden swamp, all surrounded by a shiny bubble of science fiction! Maybe accept that everything you’ve learned until this point doesn’t apply anymore!” Maybe I’m being nitpicky, though.

Overall, though, Annihilation is excellent. It’s beautiful, it’s frightening, it’s brilliantly acted, and if the two-hour movie is that good, I can only imagine how amazing the story is when it’s fleshed out over three books. Definitely check this out.

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Have you seen ‘Annihilation’? Well, what did you think?