Posts Tagged ‘2017’

Logan (2017): His Time Has Come

Posted: March 7, 2017 in Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
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Years after the near extinction of mutant kind, Logan has gone into seclusion except for a part-time job driving a limo service. He is approached by a woman but continually tries to avoid her. Eventually, she corners him and offers to pay him the money he has been searching for to take her and a young girl to Canada. While taking time to think about it, he returns to the woman to find that the motel room has been raided and the girl is nowhere to be found. Though he believes that he has dodged the job, he is followed back to his hideout and trouble join him.

The Beginning of the End: The story in this X-Men film took a dark turn from the start. With most of the mutants gone, it initially appeared that only Logan and Xavier remained. Both men were in dire straits and extremely poor condition. While Xavier seemed to be struggling with a combination of mental illness and his psychic abilities, Logan’s healing factor had significantly slowed and his motivation to live had all but died. The chaos that erupted from meeting Gabriela and Laura interrupted his self-destruction, but it also set him on a dangerous path against odds that no longer fell in his favor.

Loss of Innocence: This film was the first time that Marvel/Fox ventured into the rated-R realm with a well-established character. Deadpool started at rated-R and was billed to be a very different sort of superhero film. Wolverine, on the other hand,  has had some mixed adventures, including some bad one-liners and rocky storylines. This venture felt more like DC’s decision to go dark with the Dark Knight trilogy after having a very different experience compared with the 90s films. The combination of language, violence, gore, and heavy, emotional themes has helped Marvel turn a corner into an area not explored until now.

Days of Future Past: While this may have been the final film for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, the the success may also pull both actors back into the fold for future stories. Now that we have seen the end of the X-Men, there exists plenty of story to fill in the gaps of how the mutants disappeared and what events led to the deterioration of Professor X. If the story were to push toward the future, there is opportunity to build off the ending from Logan.

Final Verdict: While Wolverine has had multiple outings with different storylines, this was the best film in the series. The characters had depth. Dafne Keen was a complicated and compelling young actress. Hugh Jackman gave the best start to finish performance of his career and introduced a whole new version of superhero films.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

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Chris and Rose are a young couple heading to the countryside to spend a weekend with Rose’s parents. Along the way, their car is struck by a deer and creating an awkward encounter with the local police. After getting to the house, Rose’s father appears open and a little too comfortable with Chris’s race. Rose’s family clearly lives a life of leisure, but it strikes him that the groundskeeper and the housekeeper are both black. He also gets surprised by the planned garden party the day after their arrival and starts to notice something significantly wrong with his situation.

Definitely Not Post-Racial: Starting in the first scene at the apartment, there was a sense that the mixed race relationship was going to be a theme of the film. Though it was a brief setup, the scene with the officer dove just a bit deeper into the conversation. While Chris chose to not pick a fight and just follow orders, Rose took it upon herself to push the officer near a breaking point. They both got to walk away with a warning about fixing the headlight, but the result could have been different if he had spoken up. This theme continued when they got to the house with the appropriation of black culture and questioning of Chris’s natural qualities.

More of a Thriller than a Horror Film: While this can easily be classified as a horror movie, there was more mystery and suspense rather than gore and jump scares. The care staff had creepy elements to them and there were a few moments with strategic sound effects or eerie music, but I spent more time trying to figure out what the twist about the Armitage family actually was and why the flash from a camera would cause a person to break like Andrew King.

Surprising Acting and Storytelling: While there is a tendency for horror films to be either one-dimensional or focused specifically on the twist, this one dabbled in discussions of race and privilege while blending those themes into the more classic horror/thriller elements. The lighting kept things dark and ominous at times, but Chris broke most horror tropes reserved for black characters and found a way to see through the smoke and mirrors and fight back at the right moments.

Final Verdict: Get Out is one of the best horror films in years. It has a small bit of the comedy from other films like The Cabin in the Woods with some much more depth and intensity than the rest of the crowd. Plus, Rod the TSA stole every scene he was in.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5

I’ve been gone from the blog for a while but tonight is Oscar night and now time like the present to get back into the mix. I have a lot of individual movies to get reviews completed, but, for now, I will just start with the celebration of the best in movies over the past year.

This time around, the Oscars have a bit more diversity than usual. There are 4 films up for best picture that highlight stories about people of color. Similar numbers can be seen in the acting and directing categories. In particular, Moonlight highlights themes of race, sexuality, socio-economic challenges, and family makeup. Hidden Figures takes a lighter approach to focus on accomplishments previously undiscussed.

My one major cirticism, which will also be highlighted below, is that La La Land will likely walk away with at least a few awards, including some of the major categories. While it was an enjoyable film, there were some major flaws in the storytelling and acting that will get overlooked. Gosling and Stone watch their feet when they dance and their singing is good but not great.

On the snub side, there were not any major misses, with the exception of potentially Sully. Tom Hanks usually does not get overlooked, but the actor grouping was a bit crowded. Denzel Washington should have also gotten recognized for his direction of Fences. While I would have liked to see Deadpool at least grab a nomination, it was no surprise to see that the merc with the mouth got silenced.

Let’s get to the predictions (post any agreements or challenges in the comments section):

Best Picture

  • My Prediction: La La Land – As much as I want to recognize the excellence of other films, this feels like The Artist all over again, even though the quality is actually a little lacking. Still, this is Hollywood loving to praise itself.
  • My Spoiler: Moonlight – While I could also toss Fences into the mix for its classic, play-like presentation, Moonlight touches on so many different elements that its complexity is its true strength.
  • Winner: Moonlight

Actor in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Denzel Washington – While he would potentially have been able to sneak in with a directing win if nominated, his performance was compelling.
  • My Spoiler: Casey Affleck – I don’t believe in a win for Affleck, but he could try to steal one for his deeply internal, emotional portrayal of a man struggling with his past failures and current depression.
  • Winner: Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Mahershala Ali – He was truly mesmerizing as the drug-dealer with a heart. The way he approached his role, he has proven himself to be a rising star.
  • My Spoiler: n/a
  • Winner: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Actress in a Leading Role

  • My Prediction: Emma Stone – While there are other nominees that could easily prove themselves worthy, Stone’s role in La La Land is almost formulaic in its setup for grabbing the win. It has emotion and switches between lightheartedness and dreaming.
  • My Spoilers: All but Meryl Streep – While Streep is always a phenomenal actress, Negga is gripping, Portman is measured, and Huppert is balanced.
  • Winner: Emma Stone for La La Land

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • My Prediction: Viola Davis – This category is truly challenging because of how strong all of the actresses were. Davis partners well with Washington to round out the emotions of Fences.
  • My Spoiler: n/a – As strong as everyone was, Davis’s performance was a cut above.
  • Winner: Viola Davis for Fences

Animated Feature Film

  • My Prediction: Zootopia
  • My Spoiler: Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Winner: Zootopia

Cinematography

  • My Prediction: La La Land
  • My Spoiler: Lion
  • Winner: La La Land

Costume Design

  • My Prediction: La La Land 
  • My Spoiler: Jackie
  • Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Directing

  • My Prediction: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight may not win best picture, but this would be a chance to show support for the thought-provoking and creative film. This would also be the first win for a black director in Oscar history.
  • My Spoiler: Damien Chazelle – This would only happen if the committee believes in the La La Land sweep.
  • Winner: Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Documentary (Feature)

  • My Prediction: OJ: Made in America
  • My Spoiler: Life, Animated
  • Winner: OJ: Made in America

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • My Prediction: Joe’s Violin
  • My Spoiler: Extremis
  • Winner: The White Helmets

Film Editing

  • My Prediction: La La Land
  • My Spoiler: Moonlight
  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Foreign Language

  • My Prediction: The Salesman (Iran)
  • My Spoiler: Land of Mine (Denmark)
  • Winner: The Salesman (Iran)

Makeup

  • My Prediction: Star Trek Beyond
  • My Spoiler: Suicide Squad
  • Winner: Suicide Squad

Music (Original Score)

  • My Prediction: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land
  • My Spoiler: Nicholas Britell for Moonlight
  • Winner: Justin Hurwitz for La La Land

Music (Original Song)

  • My Prediction: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
  • My Spoiler: “City of Stars” from La La Land
  • Winner: “City of Stars” from La La Land

Production Design

  • My Prediction: La La Land
  • My Spoiler: Arrival
  • Winner: La La Land

Short Film (Animated)

  • My Prediction: Piper
  • My Spoiler: Borrowed Time
  • Winner: Piper

Short Film (Live Action)

  • My Prediction: Ennemis Interieurs
  • My Spoiler: Sing
  • Winner: Sing

Sound Editing

  • My Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge
  • My Spoiler: La La Land
  • Winner: Arrival

Sound Mixing

  • My Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge
  • My Spoiler: La La Land
  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Visual Effects

  • My Prediction: The Jungle Book
  • My Spoiler: Doctor Strange
  • Winner: The Jungle Book

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • My Prediction: Moonlight
  • My Spoiler: Fences
  • Winner: Moonlight

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • My Prediction: Manchester by the Sea
  • My Spoiler: La La Land
  • Winner: Manchester by the Sea
Percentage Correct: 14/24 = 58.3%
Percentage from 2016: 15/24 = 62.5%
Biggest Winner: La La Land (5) / Moonlight (3)
Other Winners…
Manchester by the Sea (2)
Hacksaw Ridge (2)

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fences
OJ: Made in America
Piper
Sing (Live Action)
Suicide Squad
The Jungle Book
The Salesman
The White Helmets
Zootopia