Posts Tagged ‘in theaters’

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Don’t Breathe is almost awesome. Almost. It doesn’t quite hit that perfect mark.

Despite its flaws, Don’t Breathe still reigns supreme over every other current box office offering. Don’t spend your money on anything else in theaters right now. Granted, September is such a shitty month for new releases, but this movie is a tense, somewhat mysterious nail-biter.

I don’t know if I would necessarily label Don’t Breathe as a horror movie, but it is an effective thriller with common horror elements. If you categorize it in the horror genre, then Don’t Breathe is one of the best horror movies over the past few years. This film is substantially better than the creative but uneven It Follows as well as the unimaginably boring and overhyped The Babadook. While Don’t Breathe serves up its fair share of chilling scenarios, this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It’s a difficult balancing act. At times, Don’t Breathe even borders on intensely creepy. However, there were also a few over-the-top goofy moments to instill fun. I wanted more of that batshit crazy feeling from someone like Sam Raimi—who was actually a producer on this movie.

Don’t Breathe is the rare type that manages to be simultaneously entertaining and frustrating.

the-blind-man

This movie opens with one of my biggest pet peeves: a flash-forward to later in the film.  This scene shows The Blind Man (played perfectly by Stephen Lang) dragging a blonde girl down the street. For anyone with a brain, too much information is revealed in that quick span. I found myself impatiently waiting for the movie to catch up to that moment, which only happens somewhere in the third act. You cheapen the journey when you advertise the destination at the very beginning.

Who do that?  It adds nothing and makes no narrative sense.

In the most basic terms, that weird storytelling crutch immediately lets the audience know The Blind Man isn’t really the sympathetic victim you might expect from someone who is the target of a robbery. Although people have relentlessly bitched about The Blind Man’s actions and motivations, I’m completely fine with moral ambiguity. I don’t need a good person to root for in a movie.

Just let me discover the characters as the events unfold.

money-rocky-and-alex

Rocky, Alex, and Money are the three teenagers who have turned to robbing homes to make enough money to hopefully leave Detroit. I can certainly understand why everyone would want to leave that shithole. Detroit actually serves as a phenomenal backdrop for a horror movie with numerous neighborhoods completely abandoned. Since Alex uses the keys from his dad’s security company, these ne’er-do-wells never use a gun because there are no people in the house when they execute the robbery. Alex is played admirably by Dylan Minnette—who always looks familiar, but you can never quite put your finger on where or why you remember him. Money is your standard, cookie-cutter thug and Daniel Zovatto plays him in  forgettable fashion. Cornrows always look ridiculous on white people. The best out of this funky bunch is Rocky—played by Jane Levy, who more people should know from the underrated and criminally short-lived network TV comedy Suburgatory.

The entire reason these teenagers target The Blind Man is because his daughter was run over by a wealthy woman. He was awarded a $300,000 settlement that’s likely still in his house. This is probably the point where you should start to feel bad for The Blind Man, but that sympathy already started eroding a bit after seeing him drag a blonde girl down the street in the opening. Naturally, everything is not quite as it seems once the teenagers break into the Blind Man’s house.

To this movie’s credit, the twists and turns keep the story moving while making the audience creep closer and closer to the edge of their seats. When The Blind Man’s sinister intentions are revealed, Don’t Breathe takes a real dark turn. Even though he’s an Army veteran who just lost his daughter, The Blind Man is a bad guy. Bad guys do bad things. No one should be surprised when that happens.

jane-levy

I’m carefully trying not to spoil Don’t Breathe, but I think the success of this movie is in the discussion afterwards. Horror movies don’t often generate conversations, but it’s hard not to talk about the third act of Don’t Breathe. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from the absolute inability of the writers (director Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues) to end the story. I counted six different conclusions included in the filming that they could have reasonably settled on to just finish the fucking movie.

Don’t Breathe mercifully ends with a disappointing standard horror cliché. In between the regrettably bad beginning and sloppy endings, there is an incredibly engaging and entertaining thriller. Although I set the bar high because it has a promising premise, this is easily a more memorable movie than the overwhelming majority of garbage shown in theaters this summer.

I cannot guarantee everyone will enjoy Don’t Breathe. But I can guarantee you won’t look at turkey or even be able to think of Thanksgiving the same ever again.

shock

4 out of 5 stars

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If someone drilled a hole in Charlie Kaufman’s skull and tried to extract a movie idea, then the result might be something similar to The Lobster. Unfortunately, this movie lacks Charlie Kaufman’s signature type of style and substance because it’s in the hands of an inferior talent. The ambition does not match the execution. I wanted to like The Lobster, but this is soulless quirk without any fun.

The Lobster is like a feature-length film version of Asperger’s syndrome.

Why was this movie made? Considering the central theme is about relationships and finding love, The Lobster fails to provide anything worthwhile on the subject. Society pressures people into relationships—that’s about it. This movie has a whole lot of nothing to offer the audience. I don’t like tearing down a movie, but I’ll be one of the lone voices deriding this fresh, steaming turd.

I’m shocked that there are people who enjoyed the experience of The Lobster.

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell does his best with the material, but the dialogue is entirely too stilted. It caused physical pain to listen to people speak. Kudos to anyone who forced themselves to suffer past the movie’s first act. If you are one of those people, I would love to learn why you tortured yourself.

Before we go any further, let’s just state the premise of the movie for anyone who is unaware.

This movie is set in a future where The City sends single people to The Hotel to find a romantic partner. If you’re not successful within your 45 days, then you get turned into the animal of your choice. David (played by Colin Farrell) would like to be a lobster if he doesn’t find love.

Somehow, The Lobster is a drab, absurdist drama that refuses to provide levity.

More Colin Farrell

I don’t know why you would drag down this preposterous premise by embedding it in a dystopian future. I think we can all realize the ridiculousness and appreciate the absurdity without having to ground it in a gritty, joyless environment. This movie would have been instantly improved by just making this a magical hotel with the same type of consequences looming for failure. Tweak the story by having Colin Farrell’s character unwittingly arrive at the hotel for an extended stay—only to learn he has to find love before he leaves or else he’s turned into the animal of his choice.

You could still touch on the same points while also adding humor to lift up the material.  There is an astonishing lack of laughs in The Lobster.  Instead, this is a tough slog to endure.  This movie figuratively beats a dead horse and it literally beats a dead dog.

Director and co-writer Yorgos Lanthimos handled this movie with zero subtlety.

Despite a 2-hour runtime, there’s a frustrating lack of substance in The Lobster.

I still commend Lanthimos for the audacity of the premise, but I cannot think of one person I could recommend this movie to and reasonably expect them to enjoy it. Personally, I find it much more interesting to think and talk about the idea of this movie than the actual movie.

Leave The Lobster to die its slow, dull death in the grave it dug for itself.

Grave

1.5 out of 5 stars

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I have zero connection to Disney movies.

Even as a child, I was already too grown-up for their fake worldview.

I am a better person for it. Disney is a disease that infects children with unrealistic expectations. Director Jon Favreau does an admirable job subverting the classic expectations of Disney movies as much as possible. But the cheese is overwhelmingly ham-handed and inescapable.

Of course, this is still a children’s movie—first and foremost. Like most kids movies, they sell audiences on the bullshit line that it’s for children but can also be enjoyed by adults. While Favreau performed substantially better than most would in his position, that balancing act is very visible.

Neel Sethi

Before we get into spoiler territory, let’s talk about what works. Above all, The Jungle Book is a success because Disney nailed their casting of Mowgli. Neel Sethi was phenomenal and picture-perfect for the role. Few child actors could pull of the physicality needed for Mowgli to move throughout the jungle in a realistic fashion while also believably interacting with CGI animals. Apparently, The Jim Henson Creature Shop was wisely brought in to fabricate puppets to serve as reference points for Neel Sethi. However, this movie probably doesn’t work remotely as well with any other child actor.

You have to love Mowgli because this is his journey and you are with him every step.

Baloo and Mowgli

Bill Murray is always a welcome presence, and he does a superb job bringing Baloo (the bear) to life. The character depiction perfectly matches Bill Murray’s voice and delivery. The third casting choice that Disney had to perfect was Shere Khan (the tiger) because he’s the villain that you must fear and despise. Idris Elba reveled in this opportunity and he chews ample scenery. As a result, Shere Khan is the correct mix of menace and power. I could do without every other casting decision.

I understand why they would want to cast Ben Kingsley as Bagheera (the panther)—especially considering the backstory of the book in the context of India. I mean, he’s fucking Gandhi. But it felt like a decision obligated more out of politics/commercial incentives instead of a character-based decision. Personally, it feels like Ben Kingsley mailed it in—either that or he’s not a good voice actor. Emotionally, Bagheera feels flat. While he may have intended for it to come across as regal, Ben Kingsley’s delivery feels like he’s bored and divorced from what is happening on the screen.

Bagheera

For a completely computer-generated movie (except for Neel Sethi), The Jungle Book breaks new ground and deserves praise for being a technological achievement. As usual, the 3D is completely unnecessary and I think it would drastically detract from the visuals. While there is a certain disconnect between the voice actors and CGI animals moving their mouths, I was able to forgive and forget that these were actors in a sound booth. You just have to go with it because you can only do so much to replicate how voices echo through the space and density of a computer-generated jungle.

Although it may look silly 5-10 years later, this is an important step in CGI development.

Now that I’ve praised this enough, let’s get down to talking some shit about a children’s movie.

Spoilers galore.

A surprising amount of death occurs in The Jungle Book.

However, no real violence is shown when a death happens, but the character completely disappears from the story without so much as a lingering shot. This occurs multiple times. Maybe I’m guilty of overanalyzing, but I believe you negate the impact of the death you’re showing by just breezing right past it. Mufasa’s death in The Lion King makes a monumental impression because they show the act and direct aftermath—Simba seeing the body of his dead father and mourning him.

Whereas in The Jungle Book, it’s impossible to tell whether or not some characters actually died—specifically Kaa and King Louie. Both of these characters feel shoehorned into the movie. I have no idea what their previous roles were in the animated movie or book, but the screen time for Kaa and King Louie appears to primarily serve as clumsy exposition to further plot points.

Kaa

Kaa is a massive python s-s-seductively voiced by Scarlett Johansson. She is in one scene where she basically tells Mowgli the story of the red flower (Shere Khan killing Mowgli’s father and getting burnt badly in the process) and then tries to devour Mowgli. Somehow, Baloo silently climbs up an extremely high tree and I guess he viciously kills Kaa to save Mowgli. Remember, Baloo is a lazy, obese bear—but evidently he can climb really high steathily undetected. Kaa never reappears in the story, but you also never see Baloo kill Kaa. It’s just a roar, heavy implication, and quick cut.

King Louie appears in a similar yet even more bungled sequence. King Louie is voiced by Christopher Walken, which is so weird that it works. While King Louie is an orangutan in every other incarnation, Jon Favreau turned the character into a Gigantopithecus. Essentially, he is King Kong as an orangutan with all of the quirky personality traits of Christopher Walken. King Louie wants to learn the secret to controlling the red flower from Mowgli so he can use it for his own sinister devices.

King Louie

Bagheera and Baloo track Mowgli down after he’s kidnapped by the monkeys and taken to King Louie. With their help, Mowgli escapes, but they all have to outrun and outwit King Louie. This leads to King Louie destroying his kingdom so he can try to grab Mowgli. As a result of his greed, the whole kingdom literally crumbles down on top of King Louie. These scenes make it seem like Kaa and King Louie only exist to talk about the red flower (fire), threaten to kill Mowgli, and then die.

It seems very odd as an adult, and I would imagine children must also be confused.

And apparently, all life is precious in the jungle except monkeys. Countless monkeys presumably get slaughtered—or else we’re supposed to pretend they’re made of rubber and have no bones so they can get clawed and trampled without any repercussions. Why did the monkeys get fucked over? As far as I can recall, the monkeys are also the only animals that aren’t given human voices.

That is some fucked-up shit to do to our closest DNA relatives, Fatreau.

Finally, Mowgli learns from King Louie (before he is crumbled to death) that Shere Khan killed Akela. That was also another glossed-over death because Khan attacks Akela and throws him off a cliff. It is incredibly quick, but at least that is a death that has an impact. While the wolves let Shere Khan reign supreme over their domain, Mowgli is immediately out for blood when he hears the news.

Shere Khan

Mowgli runs to the man village to steal fire and sprints through the jungle with a lit torch.

In his haste, embers from his torch fly off and ignite the jungle. This all leads to a very stilted final stand after Mowgli miraculously runs back home in a matter of minutes (the same ground that it took him days to flee). Inevitably, Mowgli kills Shere Khan with fire—using the blaze he created by burning the jungle. But it’s all cool because elephants are natural firefighters. Problem solved!

So the lesson here is don’t play with fire…unless you have an elephant around.

I don’t know why they intentionally made the hero (Mowgli) destroy part of the jungle—even if it was by mistake. Apparently, that fire didn’t kill any other animals or destroy their habitats. Remember, elephants are magical and can fix any situation by knocking down some trees.

Despite all its faults, The Jungle Book is a good movie.

But everyone should relax on the instant classic bullshit.

Red Flower

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Hardcore Henry is a stupid name for a movie. We can all agree on that.

A movie that solely features a first-person perspective seems like a stupid idea.

However, Hardcore Henry is not a stupid movie. Although this is absolutely not a highbrow movie, it is quite an achievement in filmmaking for crazy rooskie Ilya Naishuller. I hope that’s not taken as an insult in the Motherland because it’s meant as a term of endearment for this outrageous Russian who made this fucking movie his debut film. I have no idea where Naishuller goes from here.

Sadly, we may never even get an opportunity to see Naishuller’s future work if this flops.

Hardcore Henry deserves better. This movie would have benefitted tremendously with a late release at the very end of summer—hitting people at the tail-end of action movie season with something they have never witnessed. Or perhaps scheduling the movie for a February release (such as Deadpool) would have been a boon to the box office. Anything was a better idea than competing directly against tentpole movies. Keeping the original title of Hardcore should have also been an easy decision. Hardcore Henry’s marketing campaign did not do the movie justice. This is more than a “video game movie.”

For whatever reason, Hardcore Henry has not hit the mark with critics or the audience.

Yes, the first-person perspective is a gimmick. But it is very well-executed throughout the movie.

Action

No one has had the balls to pull off a full-length feature film shot with a GoPro. I have no idea how some of these sequences were pulled off, but the practical effects are seamlessly blended with CGI to make this relatively smooth camerawork. If you are at all predisposed to motion sickness, sit in the back row. As a child, I learned the hard way because the 5-year-old version of myself was dragged to Aladdin and forced to sit in the front row. Needless to say, that magic carpet ride was not so magical. I wanted to throw up and we had to leave the movie. Maybe it’s a coincidence that I hate all Disney movies. But as long as you know what to expect with Hardcore Henry, you should be fine for the hour and a half runtime. While it can get too shaky at moments, I never experienced motion sickness. Naishuller gives the audience just enough breaks at the right times to serve as respite from all the murdering.

Hardcore Henry has a frenetic pace and the kinetic action drives the movie.

With a slow build, there is a nice crescendo leading up to all the ensuing chaos.

Estelle

The beginning is a beautiful introduction to the premise and plot. As the audience, you see everything from the first-person perspective of Henry. Just as Henry does, you wake up to find yourself being attended to by a sexy doctor named Estelle (played by Haley Bennett). Not so sexy is that you’re missing an arm and a leg. But good news, the doctor is apparently your wife and she can hook you up with cybernetic limbs. Essentially, these limbs are indestructible plug-and-play parts.

The party is almost immediately broken up by a mysterious villain named Akan (played by Danila Kozlovsky) who has fine-tuned telekinetic powers and bad intentions. Akan and his never-ending army of soldiers seize Estelle and Henry’s mission is to get his wife back. If there’s a weak part of this movie, the character of Akan leaves a lot to be desired. A more iconic villain and matching performance would have really elevated Hardcore Henry. Instead, what we got was a weird albino Joker-lite.

Akan

The story isn’t remarkable, but it still manages to be an entertaining sci-fi movie set somewhere in a more technologically advanced world. If this was filmed in the typical straightforward fashion, I would still be interested in watching the story unfold. In a sense, Hardcore Henry self-imposes limitations on the story by forcing themselves to film everything in the first-person perspective.

It’s hard to fathom how this got made, but I am glad it did.

Sharlto Copley comes out of Hardcore Henry as the shining star (Jimmy). Copley is not the titular Henry, but he plays several different versions of the same character who helps Henry on his mission. Most of the comic relief in Hardcore Henry is a direct result of Copley’s completely over-the-top performance. Sharlto puts his range on display, and he already proved very capable of performing with just his voice in Chappie. By luck or design, Copley appears to enjoy being part of interesting movies.

Jimmy

Hardcore Henry is mostly a nonstop thriller. When Naishuller needs to give the audience a rest from close-ups of hyperviolence, he still manages to make the events interesting. Considering Hardcore Henry was primarily shot using GoPro mounted cameras, that feat is a worthwhile accomplishment. However, there are few occasions where Naishuller falls a little too much in love with the GoPro.

I whole-heartedly loved the first and third acts of this movie. But Hardcore Henry threatens to stall out in the second act because there’s too much repetition of similar sequences. Henry is in a bind against Akan’s soldiers and he has to fight his way out so he can find his wife. There reaches a point where they almost make you numb to the gory violence. I promise you that Ilya Naishuller will win your heart over with the finale if you stick it through. Near the end, they recognize the absurdity of the story and Naishuller just turns up the volume level to dangerous head-splitting territory.

While this movie absolutely isn’t for everyone, I would be surprised to hear people (who went into this movie expecting to experience mindless action) were not entertained. There are so many thrilling sequences that leave your jaw agape. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Violence

I guarantee you have never seen anything like this movie. Since we’re all drowning in a sea of mediocrity, you should do yourself a favor and bear witness to a cinematic achievement that cannot be replicated. I don’t think anyone will have the balls to try to pull this off again. Even if someone makes an attempt, Ilya Naishuller already set the bar extremly high with the execution of Hardcore Henry.

Eventually, I expect this movie to find a cult audience that will appreciate and celebrate its existence. Hardcore Henry deserves that adoration because it threatens to be different. If you noticed, I haven’t even mentioned who plays Henry. A series of stuntmen and cameramen served the role—including director Ilya Naishuller, which shows some real investment. The whole crew responsible for this movie probably won’t get the respect they deserve, but they can take solace in the creativity of their labor.  Their work will likely scare off anyone else from attempting a full first-person movie.

Despite the commercial disappointment, Hardcore Henry is actually an incredibly pleasant surprise.

A-OK

4 out of 5 stars

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Every year, you can count on a horror movie being released that’s sold as completely different than anything you’ve ever seen before. A veritable game-changer! In the last few years, The Babadook and It Follows have had that praised heaped on them. Those movies weren’t unique and neither is The Witch. If we’re looking for a common denominator, these are all well-made horror movies that have a little more thought than the standard slasher-style fare of gore porn that’s preferred these days.

When the quality of movies released in theaters is so shockingly poor early in the year, a cinematic movie like The Witch is the beneficiary of a lot of bored film critics. While there are some memorable moments, The Witch fails to distinguish itself as anything special. If you have a hatred for period pieces, then stay far away from this movie because the story is set in 1630’s New England. The language is very hard to understand, which would be easily fixed with some subtitles to help follow along. When a slow, plodding movie like this is so reliant on the story, the dialogue needs to be accessible.

Jesus Family Dinner

What also made it worse for me was the horrible audience in the theater. As the movie started, two fucking idiots bumble in trying to find their seats (I am spoiled and only go where they have assigned recliners) while audibly talking. Several people had to tell them to shut up. The opening of this movie is crucial to the story because The Witch is about a family who is banished from their Puritan community. Since those two fucksticks decided to arrive as the movie was starting, I’m not entirely clear why the family was banished. I assumed it was “sin…sin…something or other.” Investigating further after watching The Witch, they didn’t specifically describe why they were forced to leave—instead citing the father’s “prideful conceit” so I suppose it was a sin of sorts. I was incredibly confused.

But really, you don’t need to know why the family is exiled. I guess that’s why writer/director Robert Eggers intentionally made it vague. In a sense, it allows the audience to place their own assumptions as to what is going on with this family. The father, William, is played by Ralph Ineson, and his wife, Katherine, is played by Kate Dickie—who should be familiar to Game of Thrones fans as Aunt Lysa. Kate Dickie is playing a comparable character in The Witch as Katherine with an equal blend of crazy, creepy, and cruel. The supporting cast of children are suitable for their roles. Harvey Scrimshaw plays Caleb, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson play twins Mercy and Jonas, and an unidentified baby plays Samuel.

The true star and focus of this movie is Anya Taylor-Joy as the daughter, Thomasin.

Anya Taylor-Joy

The Witch revolves around this family with five children trying to survive in the wilderness while spooky shit goes on around them. In the 17th century, they must not have known yet that weirdness always happens in the woods. This movie builds tension at a glacial pace—keeping you waiting for more elements of the supernatural and/or black magic. You should focus on this movie as a family drama rather than a horror movie. If you expect blood and guts, you will be sorely disappointed.

The less you know about The Witch beforehand, the more you will probably like it. The twists and turns the movie takes into the bizarre seem like they would only satisfy the first time. Even that’s not a guarantee you’ll enjoy the direction this movie travels. It’s a slow psychological mystery.

Between the language barrier and odd unraveling of the story, I’m surprised many people like this movie. However, that might be the result of critics eager to praise a movie early in the year. Right now, it’s scoring only 52% with the audience on Rotten Tomatoes—as opposed to an 89% among critics. The Witch is not an entertaining movie by any means, but I can appreciate the effort and expertise put into making this film. I’m hoping for better subject-matter in Robert Eggers’ next endeavor.

It’s just unfortunate that The Witch is as dry and cold as a witch’s tit.

Black Philip

2.5 out of 5 stars

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Room is a heartbreaking story that is great despite being depressing from beginning to end.

As you can imagine, a movie titled Room is a restricted narrative. Nearly the whole first half of the movie takes place inside a single room with basically two characters. Brie Larson plays the main character, Ma—who was kidnapped when she was 17 years old and repeatedly raped by her captor. Her real name is Joy, which is not very fitting considering her awful situation. Joy gave birth to Jack—who turns 5 years old during the movie and he has never stepped outside. Jack doesn’t understand that there is a world beyond the walls. The outside world to him is outer space. Jack doesn’t know that other human beings are real. His exposure to the world is through the fake pictures on television. Jack only knows his mother and his mysterious kidnapper (given the devilish moniker Old Nick).

This movie works because of Brie Larson as Joy and Jacob Tremblay as Jack.

Brie Larson

Brie Larson is tasked with the heavy lifting and she rises to the occasion. I first fell in love with Brie Larson a few years ago after Short Term 12—a bonafide 5-star movie still streaming on Netflix. Brie Larson is absolutely sweet, charming, and endearing. People are expecting her to experience a similar career surge as Jennifer Lawrence if she wins the Oscar for Best Actress this year. She’s the prohibitive favorite and deserves the distinction. And she’s a much better actress than Jennifer Lawrence.

Personally, I think Jacob Tremblay was snubbed for Best Supporting Actor. Maybe his nomination would have interfered with the orchestrated plan to retroactively honor Sylvester Stallone for Rocky. This little kid was much better than Sly mumbling along as a brain-damaged boxer—quite a stretch for Stallone and convenient that his character had a built-in excuse for his inability to speak. Jacob Tremblay’s acting was shocking for someone so young. Of course you want to root for these two characters to escape. However, it’s also natural if you want to throw the kid across the fucking room at times.

Jacob Tremblay

One missed opportunity is the failure to define Old Nick. You don’t have any idea as to his motivation and the man has no discernible character traits. I’m not asking for much, but I would’ve been better served with Old Nick having some purpose beyond needing to fuck every night. As written, Old Nick is a standard, one-dimensional bad guy. It’s understandable if you might find it difficult to maintain your interest through such a bleak plight, but I was on the edge for the whole movie.

Room is emotionally captivating. This movie places the audience in these claustrophobic confines and you feel what the characters feel. The depression would be incapacitating and overwhelming. Brie Larson’s character is just trying to hold everything together for as long as she can. When shit breaks down, it’s incredibly tense because you can’t help but scream and squirm in your seat.

Very few quibbles could be had with the construction of Room. There are no windows in this room, unless you count an annoying skylight—which I do. The skylight gives them a glimpse of the outside world. It represents hope while simultaneously torturing them with what they can’t experience. In this situation, it’s hard to imagine having much hope. However, the skylight is a frustrating element that demanded addressing. This young woman and her 5-year-old son are being held captive in a shed with a door locked by a passcode. Padding on the ceiling muffles sound, but the characters still scream at the top of the lungs during their daily routine in an attempt to draw anyone’s attention.

Skylight

Why the fuck wouldn’t they try to shatter the skylight glass? You could yell for help or even try to crawl up to the roof of this small 10×10 shed. I’m fine with the route that Room took, but there needed to be an attempt or at the very least some throwaway mention that it’s shatterproof glass (unless I completed missed that). It’s a relatively minor nitpick in an otherwise phenomenal film.

Room separates itself from being standard kidnapper genre fodder by focusing on the aftermath. If you could somehow survive this situation, would you want to? What makes life worth living? I don’t know how you could cope with being raped every night for 7 years. This movie is based on a book of fiction, which I found somewhat surprising since it seems like an amalgamation of true events. You feel like you’ve heard a similar story. Lenny Abrahamson (who also directed sleeper hit/cult favorite Frank last year) deserves credit for keeping the pace brisk. Although this should have been reduced by about 15 minutes, the third act is full of emotional moments that make the room rather dusty.

Room deserves your adulation. This year’s Oscars is an extremely crowded group for Best Picture, but Room is in its rightful place among The Revenant and The Big Short (though Mad Max: Fury Road is unparalleled in its greatness). Brie Larson will likely be the major recipient of this movie’s well-deserved praise—especially after she wins Best Actress. But I’ll also watch the next movie with Lenny Abrahamson at the helm. Coming off the unique and largely unforgettable experience of Frank, I’m certain that Room is not just a one-and-done case of Stockholm Syndrome with Brie Larson.

Thank You

4.5 out of 5 stars

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Definitely mark The Revenant in the category of Good Movies I Never Want to See Again.

The Revenant is a beautiful movie. I can recognize and appreciate The Revenant as another technical achievement by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It is very well-directed, but the story itself is rather lackluster. This is an endurance test that exceeds 2 hours and 30 minutes.

It’s almost a shame that The Revenant is the performance that will finally get Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar for Best Actor. The outcome has been preordained, which seemed like the intention from the outset. DiCaprio is solid as Hugh Glass, but he’s constantly overshadowed at every turn by the phenomenal performance of fellow superstar actor Tom Hardy. While John Fitzgerald is a one-dimensional bad guy, Tom Hardy brings an undeniable spirit and charisma to this shitbag.

However, you can never forget that Hugh Glass is Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s hard to blame DiCaprio. Leo delivers everything written in the script, but the man doesn’t exactly melt away into a character. For a vast majority of the movie, DiCaprio does his classic What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Face where he juts his lower jaw and chin out while breathing heavily and slobbering all over himself.

Slobber

The only humor in The Revenant comes from the racism of Tom Hardy’s character and the unintentional comedy of Leonardo DiCaprio’s nonverbal acting. Without any real dark humor or additional entertainment value, The Revanant is (at times) an arduous slog. I could have really gone without the philosophical/existential flashbacks—especially those scenes filmed at the burnt church. It was all too reminiscent of Gladiator. After the opening hour, it’s an exceedingly dry revenge thriller short on thrills.

But holy shit, The Revenant is incredible for that first hour. Inarritu is a visionary director, which should be evident from the marvelous, hypnotic camera movement in the opening action sequence. It is violent in the most visceral fashion. You can feel the desperation of those trying to stay alive.

About 20 minutes into the movie, an amazing thing happens—one of the most astonishing scenes I’ve ever witnessed occurs. Leonardo DiCaprio gets raped by a bear…or so some idiots would lead you to believe. What you do get to experience is a realistic bear mauling. I don’t know how they managed to pull off such a stunt with a blend of practical effects and an impressive CGI grizzly bear.

Bear Attack

Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there. The next half hour of Hugh Glass’ struggle to survive that vicious bear attack is surprisingly engaging. I think a lot of actors would have been just as capable, but DiCaprio does a great job portraying that emotional journey. It just gets to be way too much after the initial hour since there’s still another hour and a half left of the same shit.

I understand The Revenant was designed as an epic, but I can’t help believing this would be much improved by shortening the second and third acts with a more direct cat-and-mouse routine between DiCaprio and Hardy. After the first hour, these characters don’t really share any screen time together until the very end. I don’t know how the last-minute reshoots impacted the final cut, but the second half of the movie feels like it could have been entirely different at one time in production.

Tom Hardy

I wish there was something more to hang onto than just solely beautiful visuals and those two great scenes in the beginning. Granted, those scenes were unparalleled in their greatness. But I wanted a tighter narrative and more room for these phenomenal actors to breathe.

While I can enjoy this movie and appreciate its place in the grand scheme, I cannot envision a scenario where I will ever watch The Revenant again. This movie might even win Best Picture. DiCaprio will probably win Best Actor and at least Tom Hardy is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. None of that changes the fact that this story is largely bleak and dreary—making it difficult to endure.

DiCraprio Jaw

Coming off of Birdman, my expectations for The Revenant were probably too high. Apparently, Inarritu was prepared to exceed expectations. His insane idea (at least initially) to set the bar high was to film this movie in the same single shot style. Inarritu had enough difficulty with an exploding budget and frozen conditions that made so many staff members quit. It would have been an unbelievable feat, but it would have merely been another layer to an already well-directed movie.

I admire the ambition. Unfortunately, the subject matter doesn’t quite match Inarritu’s ambition. Ultimately, The Revenant fails to be transcendent because of the storyline—not the execution. This movie is missing an element to the story that makes it re-watchable. Years from now, I doubt most will remember this for more than the movie that got Leonardo DiCaprio his Oscar. Hopefully the 22-year-old blonde model-sized hole in his heart will be filled with that goofy gold statue.
Oscar Handjob

3.5 out of 5 stars