I Am Mother (2019)

Directed by Grant Sputore

Written by Micheal Lloyd Green, Grant Sputore

Starring Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank

Rated: TV-14

Run-time: 1h53m

Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-fi 

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

I watched the trailer for this film almost as soon as it came out, as I do with most films. The title and thumbnail did little to reveal the true nature of the film and I wasn’t particularly interested in it until I actually watched the whole video. The trailer does a good job of showing the viewer that this film definitely has a mysterious aspect to it. The only issue I might add is that it also manages to present the film as a classic AI-takes-over sort of film. The concept itself is not cliche, but at this point its becoming so due to the over-saturation of stories regarding the technopocalypse. As a result I’ve watched many movies that fall under this sub-genre but this film is a particularly interesting presentation of these concepts. 

This film shows expository information in a very interesting way that at face value it seems more simple and unimportant than most of it really as the true plot begins to unfold. Things such as time is measured in days, rather than years, this proves to be a key in what is intended the big reveal. This decision is ingenious because when you see that it’s been 13,867 days since the infamous “extinction event” you are not immediately aware of exactly how long that is because we’re used to being presented this information in the more understandable year-based timeframe.   

There are a lot of admirable aspects of this film. The acting is good, the visual storytelling is very good and the use of practical effects is present (which itself is amazing). Times like this I find myself a little disappointed that Netflix originals generally don’t include behind-the-scenes featurettes because God! I would love to see how they implemented the practical effects in the production to achieve such smooth yet still robotic movements. (From what I currently understand the character of “Mother” was an actor in a suit, but I’d still like to know the process of learning how to move in the suit and imitate mechanical movements in such a believable manner.) 

I also very much enjoyed the story this film is trying to tell. There is a level of moral greyness and ambiguity at times that makes the actions of the characters more unnerving. In the end, some details are left open, but not to the detriment of the film. In the end you leave with more questions that you started with, but in a good way. 

The only reason my ultimate score is 90% is because there are some questions that needed to be answered for certain parts of the story to make sense. Whether these parts are ultimately important to the final outcome is up for debate, but I feel the need for some sort of explanation.

This movie is available with your Netflix subscription!

I Am Not an Easy Man (Je ne suis pas un homme facile) (2018)

Directed by Eleonore Pourriat

Written by Ariane Fert, Eleonore Pourriat

Starring: Vincent Elbaz, Marie-Sophie Ferdane, Pierre Benezit

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 38m

Genre: French, Comedy

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

I Am Not an Easy Man is a humor film with an obvious feminist agenda that manages to be more hilarious than preachy. Though at times the way this aspects of the story is presented is ridiculous, it manages to paint an interesting alternate universe where society is matriarchal. As a women, this sounds like a blessed idea, but the film does a good job of showing the importance for equality, that even in a truly matriarchal world has its own flaws. The characters are well written and the presentation of this world is done well, with both obvious and subtle differences. It does a very good job of raising topics of discussion; including topics of toxic masculinity to the effect of a gender dominated society. 

The only true downside I could find in the film is some of the cultural differences in the matriarchal society that were hard to believe and therefore brought me out of my suspension of belief. The film features a number of scenes with shirtless women, a parallel to how our society has no problem with partial nudity of men but think differently when it comes to women. This simple fact doesn’t bother me, but when a short scene included a shirtless women going on a jog my immediate thoughts were “God that must hurt!” Because, even in a society where it is totally okay for a women to be out shirtless its hard for me to believe someone would be content running while shirtless. For those who don’t have breasts, let me tell you, it is not comfortable to run without some sort of support. Scenes with similar minor grievances are littered throughout the film and while they do not detract from the basic storyline I am going to consider them a negative of this film because they still managed to pull me out of this world. Even in a good film, little things like this can affect the experience greatly. 

In the end I gave the film a higher rating that its rotten tomatoes score, a solid 90%. It a good film to watch and a great discussion starter. I would recommend this film to anyone with interests in women’s studies and even anthropology for that matter! This film can be found on Netflix!

Hush (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Written by Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegal

Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegal, Michael Trucco

Rating: R

Run-Time: 1h22m

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Metacritic Score: 67%

This film has been in my suggestions on Netflix pretty much since it became available on there, and for whatever reason I never got around to watching it. It follows a storyline quite common in thrillers and, as a result, my first impression of it wasn’t the best. It’s a storyline that I actually enjoy, but as of late have been enjoying less because these films tend to be predictable. The characters aren’t always the smartest and the villain is sometimes so smart they barely come off as actual humans. 

To first address the predictability of this film, I must say that while it was at times quite predictable it was predictable in a good way. Now how can a film be predictable in a good way? For me it has to heavily to with the fact that, in the case of this film, the fact that I was able to predict the next moves of the characters didn’t detract from the event actually happening. Rather it added to the suspense of when will it happen. 

A surprising positive for the film was the production. I found that the film was shot well, and very easy to understand visually. The use of sound added to the general ambience of the story, making it more immersive and, for lack of a better word, stressful. 

The acting was better than I expected, especially from the antagonist played by John Gallagher Jr.. The few scenes in the beginning in which he is wearing a mask are a particularly good example of his acting ability, considering that even though most of his face was obscured by the mask it was still evident to the audience what was going on inside his head. They say true acting is having the ability to not only act the story out on the grand scale, but to be able to act with one’s eyes. This film is a good example of this. 

Ultimately I enjoyed the film. It actually had me at the edge of my seat, cursing under my breath in shock and practically bouncing in my seat in anticipation. Nowadays it’s hard to find a thriller that can evoke such a response, at least for me. Because of this I have no choice but to give this film the resoundingly high score of 90%. And I highly recommend you watch it if you are a fan of horror thrillers. This film is available on Netflix!

The Perfect Date (2019)

Directed by Chris Nelson

Starring: Noah Centineo, Laura Marano, Camila Mendes

Rating: TV-14

Run-Time: 1h 30m

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Need a last-minute knight in shining armor? A plus-one Prince Charming? To make his dream come true, he’ll be anyone– except himself. (Netflix)

This is fun film. I really do enjoy it at it’s face value. It’s definately a good movie to watch when you don’t want to think to hard, which though some people consider this a bad thing I think it’s a good thing because that’s the whole purpose of movies in the first place. Isn’t it?

My main issues with the movie has to do with the tertiary characters. There were definately moments where you could tell that the actor was reciting lines, or maybe even reading lines shown to them from off screen. Some background actors blessed with lines obviously didn’t know what they were doing becuase you could tell they were trying to act a certain way. Technically-wise this was the films only true downfall. It’s cinematography was okay and got the point across. You honestly can’t expect anything groundbreaking from a teen rom-com.

My second main issue was the predictability of the story. Of course, the main love interest would be your not-so-average girl who rather go to a cafe-bookstore than a shool dance (which, same to be honest). Of course, the main guy would fall into insta-love with a random girl he doesn’t know. And, of course, the rando-rich-girl will be stuck up and break up with him for some petty bullshit. 

In the end I have to give the film a mediocre 70% rating. I enjoyed it and it’s definitely a fun Friday night movie to watch or put on in the background as you eat, but it’s not going to become a classic. 

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Directed by Rob Letterman

Starring: Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton

Rating: PG

Genre: Action, Comedy

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%

The story begins when ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City – a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world – they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe. (Rotten Tomatoes)

So, after my review for Avengers: Endgame, I’ve decided to work smarter not harder (or in my case be lazy) and start inserting the film’s trailer and Rotten Tomatoes description in lieu of writing my own description.  If you would prefer me to go back to writing the description myself, feel free to leave a comment and I will take it into consideration. But for now, this is what you’re going to get.

Now, I am a Pokemon baby. I grew up during the height of Pokemon popularity, and therefore I have an unwavering appreciation and affection for the fictional creatures. And because I am definitely not the only one, I can’t realistically review this as a “children’s movie.” Because most of the children in the theatre were probably dragged there by their parents, who are my age. This is an adult movie, made for those who were around when Ash first started training to be a Pokemon trainer. You can not argue with me, because we all know I’m right.

Subjectively, I utterly enjoyed this movie. With every live-action Pokemon came the overwhelming jealousy of living in a Pokemon-less world where my dog is the closest thing I’ll ever get to a Eevee. The still alive child in me was excited at the sight of classics, such as the titular Pikachu, Charizard, Bulbasaur, and the all-powerful Mewtwo. Little nods to the OG fans, like the Jigglypuff in the diner made me smile ear-to-ear; and the all-too-familiar “pika-pika” melted my fragile heart. If you are like me, born of the Pokemon generation, stop reading this review and just go see the damn movie. You won’t regret it.

Like most people, I was taken aback by Pikachu talking with the overly-familiar vernacular of Deadpool, but once I was actually in the theatre I understood the pure genius behind it. After all, this isn’t a kid’s movie, its an adult movie (I will fight you if you still disagree). And for those who are likely going to force their children into the theatre with them, no worries. Pikachu just sounds like Deadpool with none of the colourful language. Additionally, the film does a good job of world-building without boring us Poke-gen kids out of our minds with stuff we already know.

The more objective film-reviewer in me still can’t really criticize this film because, in general, films marketed toward children are hard to criticise heavily. Most of the negative aspects of the film can be brought down to the fact that it’s meant for “children” and therefore the same level of writing is not needed when it comes to plot and characters. Because, to be entirely honest, I can’t remember the name of the protagonist without looking it up. And this may be because I was too preoccupied looking at all the Pokemon, but still. The plot is nothing to write home about, with a pretty cliche storyline and a twist that can be seen from a mile away; and none of the actors is going to win an Oscar for this film. The main redeemable quality is the CGI, which is well done throughout the film. Though the designers took some creative liberties to make the Pokemon come to life in this live-action world, they are still recognizable as exactly what they are. Textures, such as fur and skin, are rendered beautifully, and the film’s lighting allows the CGI to really shine. It’s a respectable adaption of a beloved franchise, that makes up for what it lacks in writing with its sheer entertainment value.

I whole-heartedly recommend this film for everyone, not just the Poke-gen kids like myself. If you are interested in seeing this film, as of publication of this review it is in theatres.

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Spoiler-Free

The following review is spoiler-free due to the wishes of and respect for the Russo brothers, cast and crew, and the future audience of this film. A version of this review that includes details regarding plot will be available upon release of the film for home viewing..

Directed By Anthony & Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-fi, & Adventure

Rotten Tomatoes: 96% (as of 04/26/2019)

11 years this film has been in the making. Goddamn. To preface this even more than I already have, let me tell you this review will likely be followed by a personal essay. This was a very emotional event for me, so much so I had to take a walk after watching the film. I ate at a nearby café in the hopes it would console, me. As I write this I imagine I’ll need to take a nap as soon as I finish this.

I’m not entirely sure how to summarize this film in words, let alone summarize it without effectively spoiling it. As a result, I am sort of copping out, and attaching the trailer:

If you are not aware of this long-coming cinematic event I’m not sure where you have been. Even if you are not necessarily a fan of the MCU, you are aware of Endgame. Literally, all you have to do is go on twitter to find this film trending practically every day since its trailer’s release.

Regardless of the fact that I am a life-long fan of comic books and subsequently a big fan of the MCU in its majority, I am still very much capable of seeing faults in this epic. Nevertheless, in this review, I have little negative input to provide because I would be spoiling the storyline as a result. I am therefore essentially left with only positives, which… isn’t a bad thing, I guess. Of course, my final rating does include my current as-objective-as-possible views of the film in its entirety.

The use of CGI in this film is abundant and it is some the best utilization of the technique in an action film I’ve seen in a really long time. Very little about it is revolutionary, and the techniques used in visual storytelling in this film (and many a Marvel films for that matter) are not particularly mind-blowing, but this film is less about the art of cinematic storytelling and more about the power of pop culture. This power is not to be underestimated, as I feel some sadly do because it is diverse and multi-faceted. Not many series can successfully become so integrated into so many facets of life, whether it be books, toys, attire, and so on. Not many series can do so so effectively.

Gosh, this whole review is a struggle. Can I just say watch the dang movie, invest, if you can, and see it in theatres? I really don’t think I can hold in the spoilers and talk about the film at the same time. Am I copping out? Yes. Should you see the movie, also yes. My rating 94%.

I’m going to take a nap now.

Await Further Instruction (2018)

Director: Johnny Kerorkian

Starring: Sam Gittens, Grant Masters, Neerja Niak

Rating: NR

Genre: Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

While I watched this movie on a Friday, I wasn’t quite confident enough to write a review for it until the following Monday. Not because I found this film so intellectual or amazing in some other way that I needed time to understand it; but because I needed time to figure out what exactly the film was trying to. It is evident from the beginning the intentions of the film, but it simply falls short of actually doing achieving what it wants to.

When the ominous message “stay indoors and await further instructions” appears in the television of an already torn family, tensions rise as no one can agree on what to do next. As the promised instructions start to appear, the (already horrible) family dynamic is thrown out the window as what little bit of familial trust that may have existed is quickly dissolved. As characters trust each other less and less it becomes evident to the protagonist that an there is something potentially otherworldly going on.

Now, first of all, it was so refreshing to see practical effects! Though at times this seems to be occasionally augmented with some minor bits of CGI, the fact that the film uses this now archaic technique is quite a breath of fresh air. For many horror film purists, practical effects might as well be the modern day holy grail with the power to save otherwise dull movies. Which, when it comes to horror films, this film did, in fact, feel quite dull. Aiming for more nuanced psychological horror the film definitely fell short, succumbing to its overdone themes and failing to present a truly unique story.

With themes of corruption and cult-like devotion, the feel doesn’t do a very good job at presenting these in what should have a character-driven plot. From the very beginning, the characters were unpleasant and in their own ways corrupt. Noone truly changed, for better or for worse, everyone was just insufferable (with the exclusion of maybe the protagonist’s girlfriend).

For this film to have worked it would have likely needed to present a family dynamic much more healthy than the one in the film. Allowing for otherwise good characters to surrender to their inner demons and not-so-perfect beliefs. Even though the antagonist in the film is an omnipotent alien, it may have been in the interest of the filmmakers to research the dynamics of real-life cults, where the corruption of vulnerable individuals is common.

Honestly, I can’t think of very many people I would recommend this film to. Though on paper the concept seems interesting it simply isn’t well executed. I had to take a break while watching the film simply because I was bored out of my mind. In the end, I have to give the film a final rating of 25%.

If, for whatever reason, you’d like to check out this film feel free to do so through Amazon, or, more conveniently, Netflix, where it is currently available.