Cayle’s Movie Review: “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

In this latest installment of the Fantastic Beasts series of the Wizarding World franchise, the film follows Newt Scamander as he tries to locate the Obscurial Credence Barebone with the help of Albus Dumbledore. In the meantime, the titular Grindelwald has escaped custody and is now setting out to find support for his plans of world domination. The main question for this review is how does this movie stand up to its predecessor?

My main problem with this movie is with its writing. Just like the various miniseries adaptations of Stephen King, Rowling has proved that she is a better novelist than a screenwriter. I’m aware that J.K. Rowling has a lot of ideas for the Fantastic Beasts series (there are supposed to be five movies in the entire series), I felt that she had added too many conflicting ideas into this movie.

For example, there are too many plots and characters within the movie. Aside from the main conflict, there is a plot that revolves around Credence and Nagini (played by Ezra Miller and Claudia Kim respectively) and a subplot involving Jacob and Queenie (i.e., Newt’s American friends from the first Fantastic Beasts movie) amongst others. Newt Scamander, who is supposed to be the focus of the series, is pushed into the background as a result of these subplots. To add insult to injury, most of the plots are hard to follow and go nowhere. As a result of these plots, Crimes of Grindelwald is a very unfocused movie.

In addition to that, most of the movie’s dialogue was mainly exposition. I’m not even exaggerating; a significant chunk of the movie is dedicated to characters giving out info dumps. I hope that J.K. Rowling hires actual screenwriters for future installments of the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

Now for the controversial part: the twist. I’m not going to spoil this movie, but I felt that it was too forced (not to mention that it adds another plot hole to the movie’s ever-growing pile of plot holes).

However, there were some good things about this movie. For example, Johnny Depp as the titular character was easily the best part about Crimes of Grindelwald. Ever since the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie back in 2003, Depp has been playing the same character since then. In this movie, however, Depp plays a very charismatic antagonist. I felt that he was one of the few characters in the Fantastic Beasts series of the Wizarding World franchise to get any character development. I liked Jude Law’s performance of a much younger Dumbledore despite his character being shoehorned into the movie. He manages to capture the charm of the older version that we see in the Harry Potter movies. The supporting cast of the movie is also worth mentioning, especially Newt, Jacob, and Queenie (played by Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, and Alison Sudol respectively). I enjoyed them whenever they appear onscreen.

The sad part about this movie (and the franchise in general) is that it has the potential to be great. The best part about the first movie is its worldbuilding. However, there are too many cooks in the kitchen for this movie to work. The movie should stand on its own merits rather than setting up for future Fantastic Beasts movies. J.K. Rowling is too way in over her head in handling the screenplay of the movie. I hate to say it, but she is slowly turning into George Lucas.

SCORE: 5/10

Advertisements

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Halloween (2018)”

In this latest installment of the Halloween franchise, Michael Myers is scheduled to be transferred from a mental hospital to a maximum-security prison on Halloween night. While he was being transported to the facility in question, the prison bus crashes. Michael escapes and manages to wreak havoc on the town of Haddonfield on the fortieth anniversary of his original killing spree. Because of this, Laurie Strode must protect her daughter’s family while engaging in a manhunt for Michael.

The best part about this movie is Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of a much older Laurie Strode. Curtis became a part of horror movie history when she played the character in the original Halloween movie. She manages to channel other popular characters such as Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley in her portrayal of Strode as a survivalist who is overly prepared for Michael Myers’ return.

Another great thing about this movie is its direction. The first Halloween movie is considered by many to be one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. David Gordon Green manages to capture the creepy atmosphere of the original quite well. Even when Myers is not in the shot, the audience manages to notice his presence. He also manages to pay homage to the famous tracking shots devised by John Carpenter. In addition to that, there were numerous homages to the original movies (including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to Halloween III: Season of the Witch).

The main problem I had with this movie is with its continuity. This movie is currently being promoted as the true sequel to the original 1978 movie, and all the movies that followed it are not considered to be canon (not counting the Rob Zombie remakes of course). Say what you will about the questionable qualities of these movies, but I felt that the second movie released in 1981 was a proper conclusion to its predecessor (albeit in a messier manner).

I may be nitpicking here, but another problem I had with this movie is with its subplots that go nowhere.  I won’t go into detail, but they involve a couple of podcasters who are making an episode on the Michael Myers murders and the successor to Dr. Loomis (the actor who played the latter had passed away in 1995). I felt that these subplots had the potential to be great, but they go nowhere.

Overall, Halloween 2018 is arguably the best sequel in the franchise (even if it disregards the other sequels). David Gordon Green pays homage to the original 1978 movie while making it his own. He understands what made the first movie great in the first place. Sure, the movie has its flaws, but it was enjoyable nevertheless. I’m hoping that they don’t milk the Halloween franchise for what it’s worth like they did in the past.

SCORE: 8/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Venom”

After a botched feature film debut in the ill-fated Spider-Man 3, Sony tries to give the character of Venom another chance with, you guessed it, Venom. Does Sony have a hit with this movie or are they just delaying the inevitable acquisition of the Spider-Man film rights by Disney?

The best thing about this movie is, unsurprisingly, Venom. Although the titular character is supposed to be antagonistic, there is a reason that he is a favorite amongst Spider-Man fans. He is truly the highlight of the movie.  Another great thing about this movie (besides Venom of course) is Tom Hardy’s performance as Eddie Brock. I felt that he carried most of the movie thanks to his interactions with the titular symbiotic character (also played by Hardy).

On the other hand, Venom is a garbled mess. The main problem with this movie is its identity crisis. The movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a body horror film in the style of David Cronenberg or if it wants to be a more comedic superhero (or anti-villain in this case) movie in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarök. Venom felt like a pre-MCU Marvel movie from the early 2000s. Sure, the movie looked cool, but it was mostly style over substance. While I was doing some research for this review, I found out that approximately 40 minutes of the movie was cut out in order to secure a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Is Sony aware that R rated superhero movies could be financially viable thanks to movies such as Deadpool and Logan? I feel like the movie is being held back by insecure Sony executives.

Another problem I had with this movie (aside from its cast) is with its characters. Aside from Tom Hardy, I felt there was wasted potential with much of the cast. For example, Michelle Williams is a great actor in my opinion. However, I felt that her acting was severely under-utilized in this movie. Her character barely appears in this movie. In addition to that, I felt the relationship between her character and Eddie Brock was severely underdeveloped. Although the audience is supposed to root for their relationship, there was no chemistry between the two characters. While I thought that Riz Ahmed was fine as Carlton Drake/Riot, I felt that his character was just a generic villain. I felt that there was no motivation for the character.

Overall, Venom felt like an effort by Sony Pictures to retain the Spider-Man film rights for as long as possible. As of this review, the film rights for the Spider-Man franchise are currently in limbo. It’s just a matter of time before Disney acquires it. Otherwise, the movie has no identity.

SCORE: 4/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Searching”

Searching

Searching follows David Kim (John Cho) as he struggles to maintain a relationship with his 16-year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La) after his wife’s death. After Margot fails to come home from a study group, he initiates a search for his daughter’s whereabouts with the help of Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing).

What’s notable about this film is that it takes place from the perspective of multiple computer screens. Although Searching was produced by the same production company that made the Unfriended movies, I felt that the former had a better execution. This was evident in the first ten minutes of the movie as it shows the happy home life of the Kim family before the death of the mother.

Another great thing about this movie is its writing. The movie presents itself as a mystery from the point of view of Margot’s father as he tries to unravel the whereabouts of his daughter by tracing her Internet history right up to her disappearance. There are some interesting twists and turns throughout the duration of the movie.

While the Unfriended movies were cautionary tales disguised as horror movies, I felt that Searching is an interesting social commentary. During one scene of the movie, for example, a lot of Margot’s classmates were pretending to be her friend in order to get attention from the news outlets even though they barely talked to her in real life.  I haven’t seen a movie make that kind of statement since 2009’s World’s Greatest Dad (and Gone Girl to a certain extent).

As for the cast, John Cho pretty much carries this movie. While he is better known as Harold from the Harold and Kumar movies, I felt this movie showed his real talents as an actor. However, Debra Messing manages to have the best performance of the entire movie.

My main problem with this movie is its uneven pacing at certain points of the movie. I felt this element dragged the movie down. I may be nitpicking here, but I had a problem with its third act. I won’t spoil the movie, but it has to do with the whereabouts of Margot Kim. I know I am supposed to suspend to my disbelief while watching a fictional narrative. For a movie that is supposed to be grounded in reality, however, this was slightly disappointing.

Overall, Searching is a film that manages to live up to its concept. If only we could do the same to Hardcore Henry.

SCORE: 9/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: “BlacKkKlansman”

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman follows the true story of how a black officer from the Colorado Springs police department managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1970s.

The best thing about BlacKkKlansman is its comedy. The movie tackles its difficult subject with a sense of humor. This is evident in the dialogue between the characters of Ron Stallworth and Flip Zimmerman (played by Washington and Adam Driver respectively).

Another great thing about BlacKkKlansman is its cast. Both Washington and Driver are great in their respective roles. I found out after watching this movie that the former is the son of Denzel Washington. In retrospect, he does have his father’s charisma. Topher Grace was surprisingly great as David Duke. He manages to bring out a folksy demeanor to a despicable real-life character.

The thing about the movie’s director, Spike Lee, is that he is just as much a provocateur as he is a filmmaker. It is especially evident in both the beginning and the end of the movie. This may or may not sit well with the general movie-going audience.

Overall, BlacKkKlansman might be one of Spike Lee’s better movies in recent memory.

SCORE: 8/10

Going on a Short Hiatus

If you’re wondering why my last review (along with my mid-year top 10 list for that matter) was a written one, it’s because of my demanding schedule. Not only am I currently busy with school and work, I am also working on several movie projects. Because of this, I only have one free day out of the week.

Long story short, there won’t be any videos until October.  I hope you guys will understand. Peace!

P.S. There will be more details to come in the following weeks.

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Mission: Impossible-Fallout”

MI_–_Fallout

NOTE: I didn’t have enough time this week to make a video. Here’s a written review instead. Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible film franchise has been going on since 1996. Except for the second one, I am fan of all the movies in the series. Ever since 2011’s Ghost Protocol, the franchise has managed to raise the stakes in terms of action and story. However, the franchise may have reached its peak with Fallout. As for the story, I felt that the stakes were higher this time around thanks to director Christopher McQuarrie’s involvement with the movie. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns throughout the movie’s runtime.

In terms of its action direction, Fallout is the biggest movie in the franchise. While all the movies in the Mission: Impossible franchise has some memorable action scenes, I felt that this movie has the best out of all of them. The movie has some incredible stunt work with its chase scenes and fight choreography.

Another great thing about this movie is its cast. Each cast member has managed to bring out their characters’ personalities. Say what you will about Tom Cruise, he is a great actor. I’ll give him credit for doing all his stunt work. He was born to play Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames were also great as Hunt’s fellow IMF members. Henry Cavill was another standout performance of this movie. I felt that his character was a perfect foil to Ethan Hunt.

My only problem with this film is its believability. While I was impressed with its action scenes, there were certain moments during the movie’s runtime that I was thinking to myself, “nobody should survive this.” Ethan Hunt officially has the Power Star from the Super Mario Bros. games.

There are rumors that Fallout might be the last movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. If this is the case, this is a great way to end the franchise. As I have mentioned earlier in the review, this was the biggest movie in the series in terms of action and story. It does give closure to several elements that were featured in the previous movies. However, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that there will be another Mission: Impossible movie in the near future.

SCORE: 9/10