Cayle’s Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

The Conjuring was a great throwback to old-school horror films such as The Exorcist. While its sequel isn’t as fresh as its predecessor, it was still a solid film. Its spin-off, Annabelle, was a movie that nobody asked for. However, Creation manages to be better than its predecessor.

The best thing about Annabelle: Creation is its direction. I must admit that I haven’t watched David F. Sandberg’s previous film Lights Out. However, Sandberg managed to create an unnerving atmosphere throughout the duration of the movie. Thanks to this movie, Sandberg has the potential to be a great horror director. In addition to the visual direction of this movie, Creation has a solid cast that includes the likes of Ouija: Origin of Evil’s Lulu Wilson.

While the film does have a creepy atmosphere, some of the scenes are ruined by jump scares. I don’t know if was Sandberg’s choice or this was due to the interference from the studio. Whatever it is, it managed to downgrade the movie. My other problem with Creation is its idiot plot. Some of the characters in this movie appear to exist solely to push the plot along. They might as well paint a target onto themselves.

While Creation is an improvement over its predecessor, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Conjuring movies. It is an entertaining movie that had the potential to be a much better movie if it weren’t for the plot conveniences.

SCORE:6/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: Detroit

The film follows the events surrounding the infamous Algiers Motel incident that occurred during the 1967 Detroit Riots.  Detroit might be Kathryn Bigelow’s best film as a director to date. She manages to capture the intensity of the Algiers Motel incident. Throughout the duration of the movie, the audience doesn’t know if the main characters would survive the night. Stylistically, I would compare this movie to last year’s Don’t Breathe (a film that, coincidentally, also takes place in inner-city Detroit). I will explain more of this later in my review.

Another great aspect about this movie is its cast. Aside from John Boyega and Anthony Mackie, the cast consists of actors who aren’t big name celebrities. This manages to work in the movie’s favor as it focuses on the characters and not on the actors. Will Poulter is the standout performance of this movie. It must have been difficult to play a person who abuses his authority.

My main criticism of the movie is its focus. I felt that the film’s epilogue was too long. The film’s third act dragged on for quite a bit and could have been trimmed by at least ten minutes. I may be nitpicking here, but I felt that the movie should have been called Algiers instead of Detroit. Yes, the real-life Algiers Motel incident took place within the Detroit riots of 1967, but this movie focused mainly on the incident itself.

I don’t know if the following opinion is considered “controversial” or not, but here it goes: Detroit might be the best horror movie of the year. Instead of some masked serial killer or some demonic entity being the focus of the film, the film deals with a real-life horror story. When Oscar season comes around, however, this movie would most likely garner nominations thanks to the involvement of Kathryn Bigelow. As mentioned by James Rolfe in his Monster Madness review of Exorcist II: The Heretic: “With horror movies, [Oscar nominations] doesn’t happen often. Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker. Put some zombies or vampires in those movies and see how many awards they get.”

Overall, this is an intense movie about a real-life incident that went down during the 1967 Detroit riots. While the movie has its flaws, it manages to capture the life-and-death situation of the Algiers Motel incident. It is a film that will cause a dialogue with its audience.

SCORE: 9/10

Chris’ Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

Chris’ Movie Review

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Annabelle: Creation

Rating: 5/10

Recommendation: Redbox It

Annabelle: Creation stars Stephanie Sigman (Sister Charlotte), Talitha Bateman (Janice), Lulu Wilson (Linda), Philippa Coulthard (Nancy), Anthony LaPagila (Samuel Mullins), and Miranda Otto (Esther Mullins).

Plot Summary

Two parents, lose their daughter in a car accident. In the middle of their grieving, they invite an entity to live in their house who they think is their daughter. Soon, the entity grows out of control and they lock it up in a room.

12 years later, the couple lets some orphanage kids live with them and one of the kids discovers the doll. Now the entity is loose again and the family needs to find a way to stop it.

Review

Annabelle: Creation is a movie that’s apart of an interesting franchise. The Conjuring 1 and 2 are both successes and they both provide great scares and characters. Annabelle, on the other hand, is living off of the Conjuring franchise and maybe it’s time for it to die off.

For starters, the child acting is really solid. Talitha and Lulu really steal the show from everyone as they have a special bond throughout the film. Talitha has, possibly, the most difficult role due to her character overcoming polio. Her left leg is virtually inoperable throughout the course of the movie. Lulu, on the other hand, has a great range of emotion. From fear, to happiness, to concern, she definitley emtoes well. These two, much like Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower), have promising futures ahead of them. But you didn’t come here for to read all about acting. You want to know how well this film scares you and, well, it’s hit and miss.

A great horror movie needs three things. Great acting, good scares, and likable characters. The plot can be mediocre but you need to make sure that the audience is more focused on the other three aspects as mentioned. Now, did this film deliver on the scares? Yes and no.

I’ve brought this up before but I’m sort of a scaredy-cat with horror movies. I’ll watch them but I’ll shield my eyes from time to time. With that being said, Annabelle: Creation didn’t really get me to shy away from the big screen and that’s not a good thing.

A good scare needs to be something that sticks with you for days, months, even years. The first Conjuring has stuck with me since the day it was released. There are moments that still haunt my mind from time to time and give me chills when looking back on those certain scenes. Annabelle: Creation doesn’t really have any of those moments, which is a shame because there are great set ups everywhere.

The location of where everything takes place is out in the country, in a big old farm house. There’s a creepy shed, a well, basement, and so on. Everything but trees really. The film utilizes these places but not very well. A lot of the time you spend in Annabelle’s room and it’s not a very creepy setting. Especially when there are so many other places that could be used to really drive that scare into you.

The Conjuring, first one, uses the whole house and then some. It takes advantage of the trees, basement, long hallways, and so on. The movie uses almost every inch of the house but Annabelle: Creation mainly sticks to two places. Which, is fine, but you’re not using your imagination at that point. And even if this is based on a true story, you can change things to make it benefit you and the audience. You don’t have to play it by the book.

Now, with all that being said, there are some good scares throughout this film. There is some good tension. There are moments where I looked away because of the creepy imagery and sounds but those moments are way too far and in-between. And by the time you get to the third act, you’re just sort of waiting for the scares to be over. You’re not looking forward seeing what comes next. You just sort of want the movie to end.

Lastly, the characters of this film might be the reason I didn’t care as much as well. To be fair, none of them are bad. Linda and Janice are very compelling. They have a bond that you root for and you’re very interested in seeing how things turn out for them. But everyone else…they’re average. They’re not like in the first Conjuring, where you really liked who was screen and you wanted everyone to be safe. The characters in Annabelle are more or less just there and you don’t necessarily care if they die or not. Which is a shame because if they were just as compelling as The Conjuring then Annabelle: Creation would probably be just as good. Unfortunately, this is a major element missing from the film and there’s not much to root for while viewing it.

I could also go over some of the stupid things the girls do or how the demon doesn’t really make any sense but I’ll leave that alone for now.

Overall

Annabelle: Creation is a wanna be Conjuring. They are milking this franchise as much as they can and they need to stop. Yes there are good moments but there isn’t a whole lot to really bring people back for multiple viewings like the Conjuring films do.

The scares are very hit and miss. The characters aren’t the most likable. And the setup is under utilized. But the acting is good. Some of the horror elements are executed well. And the location is awesome to look at.

While this isn’t the worst scary film, it’s just not one that you should run out and see. If anything, go watch the Conjuring movies instead. Because, trust me, they will leave you with chills running down you spine for years to come.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Cayle’s Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

This movie has been getting a lot of buzz in the past few weeks due to its marketing campaign billing it as the next John Wick. Will Atomic Blonde live up to the hype?

Atomic Blonde follows MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she retrieves a list of active agents before the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The best thing about Atomic Blonde is its art direction. The movie manages to capture the neon feel of the eighties thanks to its visual direction and soundtrack. There are some great action scenes that are scattered throughout the movie’s runtime, including one that takes place during the film’s third act. This is no surprise since David Leitch also directed the first John Wick movie.

What keeps “Atomic Blonde” from being a good movie is the fact that it’s a generic Cold War spy thriller. The story felt rather routine and predictable. There were a few twists in the movie, but they felt unearned thanks to their gratuitousness. While Charlize Theron does a fine job portraying Lorraine Broughton, it was hard to be emotionally invested in her character due to a lack of development. I felt that the best performance in this movie belongs to James McAvoy.

Overall, Atomic Blonde is another case of style over substance.

SCORE: 5/10

Chris’ Movie Review: The Dark Tower

Chris’ Movie Review

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The Dark Tower

Rating: 5/10 (Average)

Recommendation: Skip It

The trailers made this film look campy and it didn’t disappoint in that department. At least it exceeded my expectations…. Even if they were extremely low.

The Dark Tower stars Idris Elba (Gunslinger/Roland), Matthew McConaughey (Man In Black), and Tom Taylor (Jake).

Plot Summary

Jake keeps having dreams about another world. Everyone thinks he’s just crazy but he stays being persistent.

One day, a couple of beings (from his dreams), show up to take Jake away. He escapes and comes a across a portal to another world. He jumps in and immediately seeks out a man named Roland for help and it’s up to the two of them to take down the Man In Black.

Review

The Dark Tower is almost everything that it advertises as. The trailers came off as cheesy and the movie didn’t do much to jump over that barrier. And, as this year’s summer blockbusters go, this film sort of wet the bed.

For starters, the acting is solid. I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot this year but the acting has been pretty good all around. Idris Elba is great. Matthew relishes in his role as a villain. And Tom Taylor, he was the best part.

Tom Taylor is someone that I’ve never heard of but if he keeps going down the right path, he could become a very recognizable name soon. He plays a ton of emotions throughout this film and he does all of them justice. Especially in the first ten minutes, where he and movie are the strongest.

The first ten minutes are the best portion of this movie by far. The setup for Jake really takes its time developing his home life, how he acts, and how he’s perceived by others. You really get to know Jake through this intro and you get a good grasp about the world he’s about to enter into. But after these initial ten minutes, the movie sort of forgets to develop anything else.

When the film gets away from New York, it just sort of comes to a halt. Yes, things do happen but nothing is really explained. The movie more or less becomes a journey with random stopping points. “Here’s place that resembles an abandoned amusement park. Here are some creatures that attack. Here is a village that has people” and so on. Roland and Jake just visit places to visit them. There’s no reason other than “There’s this one thing here” and that’s it.

Continuing with the previous paragraph, the chemistry between Jake and Roland is lackluster to say the least. You can tell the actors are trying to make something happen but the connection just isn’t there. Never once does it feel like Roland and Jake are truly close. Sure, they know each other but they don’t really know each other. The film doesn’t take time to really let these characters build their friendship on screen. We, the audience, are just supposed to assume they get along off screen. Nothing more, nothing less.

The second act, and most of the third, is flat. Once Jake enters the world, nothing really happens. Yes, they’re on a journey, but nothing significant occurs. The movie just sort of flat lines. There’s a cool little scene here and there but those aren’t enough to keep you interested throughout the runtime of this film. But if there’s one thing this movie did right, it was the last ten minutes.

Maybe this was from pure boredom but the last ten minutes are just campy fun. Action finally happens and you get to see some really cool gun tricks and shots. Yes, the CGI is sub par but that doesn’t matter. At least something is occurring on screen. You can’t be too picky when the rest of movie failed to keep your attention.

Overall

The Dark Tower is a movie that just fails to entertain. Every so often there’s a good scene but it’s quickly overshadowed by another being extremely tedious.

The acting is solid. The first/last ten minutes are the best. And some of the action scenes are pretty cool. But the film drags in the second and third act. The plot seems to missing a ton of stuff. And the character chemistry is severely lacking.

Maybe this movie is worth a rental but with this year’s summer extravaganza with films, this movie just doesn’t have enough to warrant that kind of rating from me.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Chris’ Movie Review: Detroit

Chris’ Movie Review

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Detroit

Rating: 9/10 (Great)

Recommendation: Pay The 8

Oh my God summer of 2017. You can stop having so many good movies! Okay, don’t do that but this summer has been fucking awesome. Sure there have been some stinkers but those don’t seem to really exist. Thank you film Gods for this year!

Detroit stars John Boyega (Dismukes), Anthony Mackie (Greene), Will Poulter (Krauss), Algee Smith (Larry), and Jacob Latimore (Fred).

Plot Summary

Detroit, 1967. Riots have broken out and the town is in utter chaos. In the midst of all of the burning buildings and looting, stands two boys, Larry and Fred. Larry wants to be a singer and Fred is going on for the ride.
Larry and Fred stay in a hotel one night and get caught up in a misunderstanding that leads to the police raiding the place.

Now the two boys, and the other people involved are, are caught in the middle of police brutality and scrutiny.

Review

Detroit is a movie that should shock us all, even if we knew what happened. There is a powerful message being sent and it’s not hidden. Racism and corruption stares you right in the face and you have to deal with it or leave.

For starters, the acting is superb. Whenever I watch a movie that depicts racism, I always feel weary for the white actors. They have the toughest task of being racist and making that feel sincere. It’s always cringe worthy to hear the white actors say the “N” word or beat a colored person because the script says too.

I personally want to point out that this is no means of praise to racism but more of a “I can’t even fathom saying those things or doing those things during filming.” And I give these actors all of the respect that they deserve taking on this challenge. I don’t think that’s ever really been mentioned before but I feel it needs to be said.

To continue onwards, the black actors are just as tremendous. A lot of the talent on screen is young and sort of unknown. Other than John Boyega (Force Awakens), I didn’t recognize any of them. But with that being said, Algee Mackie and Jacob Latimore really help solidify the situation at hand by bringing us along for the ride and making us feel the intensity of the situation. These two should be on the “Lookout list” when it comes to future movies.

The first act of this film is the strongest part. That’s usually never the case for a movie but the first 30 minutes really suck you in to it’s environment that is known as Detroit. The rioting, the looting, and the tension between the blacks and the police are done terrifically. It’s sort of a shame that the plot takes a different path after awhile.

As mentioned, you follow Larry and Fred throughout the film. But in the first act, you don’t really get introduced to them till the end of it leading into the second. And this is where the movie sort of comes to a halt.
This needs to be stated but the second and third act are still really good. They’re both executed very well and there is nothing wrong with them. The issue is that the story we get is sort of lackluster.

Okay, this is really tough to talk about because this is all based on a true story. And this story is very important because of the outcome and what it means to the general public. But this is my personal issue. My problem is the movie is called Detroit. While there have been other movies with city names that may have diverged from the town as a whole, there was a lot going for this movie in the first act.

Detroit is one of those cities that’s fascinating. It went from a booming industry to a waste land in what seemed like it was over night. So a story that deals with the tension between the cops and city as whole is a perfect idea for a film. Except, we don’t get that. We get a side plot.

Again, this is really my personal issue. The story that we get is very good and it has great drama but it’s not what I wanted after seeing the first act. You might say “Who cares what you want?!” And you have all the right to say that. But these are my reviews and I’m going to be honest to you about what I saw on screen.

Now, before I get hated on, the second and third act are appalling. Spoiler alert but the cops get away with murder. The more sickening part is that they tried to cover it up. Hell, they didn’t even need to shoot the victims or treat them like they did. They used their power and abused it.

Here’s my bottom line, racism is bullshit. To actually hate another race makes no sense. If you want to make a joke here and there, fine. Do what you need. But to actually despise another race just because they exist is pointless. Maybe we don’t agree with each other’s methods on going about things but we should get together and talk things out instead of just acting on impulse. Because that’s what we’re missing the most, communication.

Overall

Detroit is a movie that gets us talking. It hits you hard with facts and it makes reevaluate yourself.

The hand held cam can be a bit disorienting. The second act slows down a bit. And where the plot went, is my personal issue. But the first act is tremendous. The acting is superb. And the story told is necessary and it’s told brilliantly.

At my showing, there was maybe 10 people. It was an afternoon time slot but I’m hoping that everyone gets out there and sees this movie once. It’s worth the viewing to get your mind thinking.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Chris’ Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

Chris’ Movie Review

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Atomic Blonde

Rating: 4/10 (Sub Par)

Recommendation: Skip It

So every part of Texas that I went to, was inconvenient for trucks. I couldn’t get to the theater at any point. So I apologize for that. Now, on the other hand, I wish I could have just sat this movie out.

Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron (Lorraine), James McAvoy (David), Eddie Marsan (Spyglass), Sofia Boutella (Delphine), and Toby Jones (Gray).

Plot Summary

Lorraine is sent to Berlin, in 1989, to retrieve a list. On it has a bunch of a spies that will expose them and possibly increase the length of the cold war.

She’s in a race to grab the list before the Soviets get it.

Review

Atomic Blonde is a movie that should’ve been sponsored by cigarette companies because there’s smoking…every where. Which, isn’t a bad thing, but when the smoking is more intriguing than your plot, you definitely have a problem.

For starters, this film is all about style. Almost every scene is directed to ooze atmosphere. From the camera angles, to the lighting, to the actors smoking, the movie comes off as an art house project more than your typical summer blockbuster. Which, style has its place. You can make a film that sucks you into it’s environment but you still need a decent plot/characters to keep you interested.

The plot is confusing, or at least it’s really difficult to follow. There are a bunch of spies who want this “List.” Some are trustworthy. Some are liars. And some are just flat out unknown. Now this premise works as a “Spy Thriller” but when the plot muddles around with a bunch of various, useless information, you tend to start to turn your brain off and once you do that, you miss “Key” elements. Or so they make you think that you do.

I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure if any of what’s said/shown really matters. The ending twist comes out of nowhere and it just doesn’t seem to add up. It’s possible that I missed something but the twist seems to be thrown in to catch the audience off guard and to make them think they missed something along the way. It more or less feels like a gimmick than anything.

The acting is dull. Charlize and James put effort into their performances but it’s just comes off like stale bread. Charlize doesn’t provide much other than whispering every other line and James, he’s not on screen enough to really do anything with his character. But credit does need to go to Charlize for the action scenes.

Even though the action makes up very little of the movie, what we do get is pretty solid. Charlize does all of the stunts, unless my eyes decieved me, and she pulls them off nicely. So she gets a lot of props for going out and perfecting these parts of the film but it’s sad that the film doesn’t do her the justice that she deserves and it comes off as more of a waste than anything.

Overall

Atomic Blonde is a movie that tried to mimic the James Bond formula but it didn’t fully grasp what Bond was all about. Bond films are generally a blast from the word “Go.” But Atomic Blonde goes with the slow roller approach and it didn’t pay off.

The style is beautiful. The action scenes are nicely done. And Charlize put in a lot of time to make the stunts work. But the acting is dull. The plot is hard to follow. And the ending just seems to be there for no reason other than to make you think it’s a good film.

It’s a shame that this movie didn’t pull through. The previews made it look pretty solid but, unfortunately, the trailers outshined the actual film once again.

As usual, thanks for reading!