THE SNOWMAN review

Boy, Young Magneto can’t escape masked adversaries can he?

Usually, I’m a pretty big fan of Michael Fassbender, but outside of his X-Men ventures, he doesn’t seem to find a good footing. I mean, seriously, has he done anything good outside of his superhero genre? Hmm, okay, I really liked THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016). And now that I’m thinking about it, wasn’t he nominated for his performance in STEVE JOBS (2015)? Oh alright, so it’s not so gloomy, but there’s so many bad or unsuccessful films under his belt. Well, here’s yet another venture of his and it’s not shaping up to be a good turn. And what the hell is Rebecca Ferguson doing in this picture? Damn it, she was supposed to have a spotless record! THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (2016) was supposed to be the worst that she had. Or… maybe LIFE (2017). At least, that’s how my delusions were supposed to work.

The story looks like it’s about a detective looking into a series of murders where the killer chops the heads off of his victims and places them on snowman bodies, hence his alias: the snowman killer. He also seems to spend his time mocking Fassbender’s character, claiming that he could have saved the victims, and gave him all the clues. Doesn’t look… awful, but we’ll see.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Michael Fassbender (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], HAYWIRE [2011], INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], and the upcoming X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX [2018]), Rebecca Ferguson (FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS [2016], MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION [2015], HERCULES [2014], and upcoming films THE GREATEST SHOWMAN [2017] and M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE [2018]), Charlotte Gainsbourgh (NORMAN [2017], INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE [2016], and NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 1 [2013]), and Jonas Karlsson (foreign projects). In support, we have J.K. Simmons (PATRIOTS DAY [2016], JUNO [2007], THE JACKAL [1997], and upcoming films JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017] and THE BATMAN, no release date announced), Val Kilmer (SONG TO SONG [2017], DEJA VU [2006], and THE SAINT [1997]), Toby Jones (ATOMIC BLONDE [2017], THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY [2016], THE HUNGER GAMES [2012], and the upcoming JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM [2018]), Chloë Sevigny (BEATRIZ AT DINNER [2017], LOVE & FRIENDSHIP [2016], and ZODIAC [2007]), and Jaime Clayton (THE NEON DEMON [2016], video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA [2017], and TV show SENSE8 [2015 – 2018]).

Now for the crew.

Overall, this movie is getting a critical thrashing, so I’m hoping for a spectacle.

This is my honest opinion of: THE SNOWMAN

(SUMMARY)

Officer Harry (Michael Fassbender) is a drunken and miserable cop, but a good man and good at his job. He is partnered up with the young and eager Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) on a case involving a missing mother, leading them to a killer that they call “The Snowman Killer,” and how this case spans longer than either of them realize.

(REVIEW)

And Fassbender’s crappy streak continues. This movie is so bad! But you know what? It’s the kind of bad that you’re not having a fun time with it, but it also doesn’t piss you off either. It’s just… a compelling bad.

First off, the movie is drenched in clichés. A cop who smokes and gets drunk while depressed and obsesses with finding the killer. He pops pills so he can sleep. He was in a failed relationship and forgets his commitments to his rebellious son-figure. He gives such little shit that his superiors keep covering for his bad habits, even though he’s the best on the force. Oh yeah, it’s that character, y’all. Never seen him in a movie before, have you?

But you wanna know the saddest part? If you’re wearing glasses, you might want to take them off. These clichés? They’re the least of this film’s problems. Oh yeah, if this movie’s problems ended with just Fassbender’s character, it might have been alright. But nope!

The first major problem is that this was meant to be a foreign film. This movie is based on a Nordic novel. Hence, the characters in that book probably have Nordic names. However, what I find incredibly bizarre, some of the actors are from Nordic countries, like Ferguson and Karlsson whom are both Swedish, all speak with British accents, and I’m pretty sure the setting of this movie is in Norway. It’s beyond puzzling why the movie didn’t simply take place in London, or some British city. And because of this disconnection, it’s a little distracting when you hear some of the other names in this movie. Like, Harry’s ex-girlfriend Rakel (Gainsbourgh) has a son named Oleg (Michael Yates). Look, I know this movie is supposed to take place in Norway, and Oleg is probably a common name over there, but because the actors mostly speak in British accents, I mostly think this movie takes place in an English-speaking country. So when I hear a teen kid is named “Oleg,” it sounds pretty silly. I can’t name one American or English-born child with the name Oleg. It’s too… European, you know what I mean? But it takes place in Norway, so I shouldn’t be too critical, but the movie has to literally remind me of its setting, which isn’t very often. In fact, I think the setting it only referenced twice in the entire film. If I don’t hear Norwegian accents, or not obvious English accents, I’m not going to remember that it takes place in Norway, or I have to take efforts in actively reminding myself that it does in fact take place in Norway, which sounds exhausting.

Also… Harry Hole? Is this name pronounced differently in Norway? Because in America… that’s an easy name to make fun of. I don’t need to know about Fassbender’s hairy hole! I know this is a considered a great character and part of a long running series of crime novels- in fact, this movie is based on the seventh installment – but that’s a really silly name. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal if the great character that was in the books had translated onto the big screen, but sadly, Harry is written horrendously bland. He has no real personality outside of the clichés that I mentioned earlier. I imagine any fan of the novels is royally pissed off with this flick.

Honestly, all of the problems with this movie can be summed up in the opening scene. You have this kid and his single mother living in a small house in the middle of a snowy nowhere and then a single cop shows up, causing a stir in the two of them. The cop starts quizzing the boy on certain things and every question he gets wrong, he slaps his mother. Then, the boy is sent away as the cop has sex with the mom. The boy peers into the room, the mom sees her son, and then threatens the cop that she’ll tell his wife that the boy is really his son. Then… the cop says, “Fine, then you won’t see me again.” The cop gets up and leaves in a huff with the boy begging him not to leave. You following this, reader? Because if not, you’re not the only one. As the cop drives away, even the mother starts begging him not to leave and they drive after him. She somehow ends up off the road and onto a frozen lake, which obviously ends up breaking. The boy is out of the car, of course, but the mom literally does nothing as she drowns herself. The scene ends and we cut right to Fassbender and his story. Yeah, nothing made even the slightest amount of sense, did it? And you know what’s amazing? I’m not exaggerating. The movie makes zero effort in explaining any of it’s baffling choices like this.

There’s also some incredibly awkward editing. The movie constantly cuts to these scenes that take place nine years prior to the current events. While in the end, you know what those scenes signify and their connection to the present events, it’s way too clunky in its transitions and timing that it just seems like a random deviations with no rhyme or reason. The script is beyond basic. I remember a quick scene with Harry and Oleg in a train and every single line was a cliché. “It’s not your fault.” “You deserved better.” “Listen to your mother.” You know, lines like that. And… as much as I really want to know what’s going on with Val Kilmer’s health, as he did not look healthy in this movie, so I’ll leave this subject alone to be looked up online later, but most of his dialog was dubbed, and horribly so. Like, even people who don’t know what dubbing is will notice an obvious lack of syncing between the lines being said and the movement of his lips.

***SPOILERS***


***


***

I’ve seen more than a few reviews stating that they figured out the ending pretty quickly, that the killer was Mathias. I can’t claim that. I didn’t see him coming. Having said that, that doesn’t mean I think this twist is good. The foundation of a good twist is that the story dropped subtle clues, easily missed, but were still right in front of the audience’s eyes the whole time. Unless I am insanely oblivious to the obvious, which is a possibility, the twist is just stupid. Mathias has been one of the few fairly likable characters in the film, being civil and polite with Harry, helping the guy with prescription drugs to help him sleep, covering for him when he forgets his camping trip with Oleg, he’s a really decent guy. But then when the twist is revealed, that’s when he starts acting like a creepy serial killer, and somehow, no one around him questions his sudden change in behavior. What a freakin’ load!

***


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***END SPOILERS***

There’s a ton of awkward things in this movie, but I wouldn’t know what to say about half of them. Is there anything good about the movie? Um… some of the cinematography is pretty. But then again, I recently saw WIND RIVER (2017), which had better cinematography, so… not all that impressed. I give credit that most of the actors aren’t… awful. Fassbender apparently started filming this movie two days after wrapping up from ASSASSIN’S CREED (2016), so he just looks tired and doesn’t give a shit. Ferguson is fine-ish. She doesn’t look bored, or anything. It’s too bad that she isn’t given a role that does her any favors. Beyond that, not really. Like I said, this movie wasn’t insulting, and I don’t hate it, but it’s a really bad film and I don’t recommend it in any way. Hard pass, folks. Let this snowman melt into nothingness.

My honest rating for THE SNOWMAN: 2/5

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ATOMIC BLONDE review

Aww yeah, son. It’s finally here. All that hype is about to be tested. I love a good action film, and I love a good spy film. Combine the two with a kick-ass female to helm the project, and you’ve got me saying, “Shut up, and take my money!”

The story looks like your typical betrayal-revenge thriller, but the action does look pretty awesome… eh, for the most part. I don’t know, some of the action looks a little too… choreographed. Like once someone throws a punch, it’s like there’s an obvious pause between moves so the actors and stuntmen can get into position for the next attack. The kitchen scene feels particularly heavy in this as well as that hyped up stairway scene, albeit on a smaller scale. But who knows, maybe the finished product is much more streamlined.

Let’s take a look at this on screen talent. Starring, we have the incredible Charlize Theron (THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS [2017], KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS [2016], and HANCOCK [2008]) and James McAvoy (SPLIT [2017], X-MEN: APOCALYPSE [2016], WANTED [2008], and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX [2018] and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split/Unbreakable crossover, GLASS [2019]). In support, we have John Goodman (VALERIAN [2017], PATRIOTS DAY [2016], RED STATE [2011], and the upcoming TV revival ROSANNE [2018]), Sofia Boutella (THE MUMMY [2017], STAR TREK BEYOND [2016], KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE [2015], and the upcoming TV film FAHRENHEIT 451, due out… who knows when), Toby Jones (MORGAN [2016], CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER [2011], THE MIST [2007], and upcoming horror film THE SNOWMAN [2017] and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM [2018]), Til Schweiger (INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], FAR CRY [2008], and LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE [2003]), and in a bit role, Daniel Bernhardt (LOGAN [2017], THE MATRIX RELOADED [2003], and TV show MORTAL KOMBAT: CONQUEST [1998]).

Now for the talent behind the scenes. Directing, we have David Leitch, a former stuntman who has been a part of countless action films. His career stretches from HITMAN: AGENT 47 (2015), all the way back to Marvel’s BLADE (1998). He’ll be directing the upcoming DEADPOOL 2 (2018). Penning the screenplay is Kurt Johnstad, known for 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014), ACT OF VALOR (2012), and 300 (2006). And… wait a tick, this movie is based on a graphic novel? Hmm… news to me. Apparently, it was a series titled “The Coldest City.” Anywho, the composer for the score is action film veteran Tyler Bates, known for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017), JOHN WICK (2014), SUPER (2010), and Marvel’s upcoming Netflix show THE PUNISHER [2017]. Last, but not least, the cinematographer is Jonathan Sela, known for TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (2017), LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009), THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008), and the upcoming DEADPOOL 2.

Overall, yeah, this could be pretty bad-ass, so I’m stoked for this.

This is my honest opinion of: ATOMIC BLONDE

(SUMMARY)

Set during the Cold War in 1989. Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is a British spy and being called in by her superiors for a mission debriefing, detailing her assignment of tracking down a missing list that contains the names of every operative working for British intelligence.

(REVIEW)

Apologies for the delay in this review’s release. I did actually see it last week, and I had to see this again. Not because it was that good, but because I had a miserable experience watching this the first time. So before I go into the review, I’m going to start with an enraged rant about being on your fucking cell phone in the movies. So if you want to skip that and go right to the review, CTRL-F and type “HPOR”. So here we go.

So I’m watching the movie and during an important exposition scene, this woman behind me starts talking on her phone. Allow me to really describe what I mean by this. Her phone is on SPEAKER, high volume so everyone can hear, and you’d swear to God that this bitch was in the middle of an important business meeting because she’s not even making an attempt to whisper. She’s talking like normal. My favorite part of the entire conversation she’s having with who the fuck cares, at one point, she apologizes. Not to the audience who is being horrendously inconvenienced, mind you, but to the person she’s talking to, as if all the people screaming at her to get off her phone are interrupting their important conversation. It took me a good five, maybe even ten minutes to finally get up and track down an employee at the AMC that I frequent and told them exactly where to find her. By the time I got back in the auditorium, everyone was in an uproar at this bitch, WHO IS STILL ON HER PHONE!!! You know what it finally took for her to hang up? Some dude got up from his seat and got right in her fucking face. Of fucking course, in that specific moment, that’s when the employee comes in, just narrowly missing out on the mayhem.

The experience, for all intents and purposes, was fine afterward, but the sheer amount of inconsideration from this incident is beyond baffling. Fine, a phone goes off, it happens. Like me, I don’t have many people who call me and talk to me, so there’s almost no reason to care about, “Alright, one last thing. Using your phone is distracting. Don’t ruin the movie!” Oversights happen and most people are generally understanding of that. But these people (she was with a companion) literally paid twenty-plus dollars just to watch half the flick and spend ten minutes of the remainder of their time there on a conference call. People, I don’t pay money to see these movies to hear your phone chats. I don’t pay money to see your cell phone screens light up. And to go so far as to talk, whispering or full blown outdoor voices? Are you fucking kidding me? How did FIREFLY’s Shepherd Book put it?

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And to everyone else who is as pissed off with this shit as I am… don’t be like me, waiting ten minutes for them to stop without telling the theater staff. I know, maybe you don’t like confrontation, or don’t like missing any part of the movie, but… if you don’t take some sort of action, they won’t stop talking. You’re going to miss out on the movie one way or another. Don’t miss out on more than you, or the rest of the audience that has a set of fucking manners, need to.

(HPOR) Now for the review.

I’ve probably said this before, but spy films can be a hit or miss for me if they’re not comedies. This is because the ones that you’re supposed to take seriously, James Bond, Jason Bourne, they have a tendency to have complicated plots that my brain isn’t calibrated to follow. I eventually tune out the politics, ramifications, and junk in lieu of waiting for the action scenes or attempting to connect with the character relationships, which is always the crux of why I end up liking them. A few one-liners never hurt either. So how does this movie rank among them? It’s good. Not great. I don’t argue the “Kick-ass action,” or “…totally badass,” comments. Hell, I don’t even argue the whole, “We now have our female 007!” comments either. But… yeah, I don’t love this movie.

The smaller issue that I have with this movie is just how drenched in neon colors this movie was. This is personal, obviously, but the very aesthetic of this film is a struggle. If it’s not bright neon colors, it’s pale white and blue. I know, I know, snow and shit, and I don’t know if I could properly explain why it bugs me. But couple that with the 80’s techno music, or whatever it was, it sort of made my eyelids heavy. It succeeds in making itself distinguished among other action-spy films, but it does it in a way that didn’t agree with me. It’s that same sensation that I get when I play a first-person shooter video game; I just get a headache after awhile, which ruins the experience some. Like I said, the majority of viewers likely weren’t bothered by this, but I was.

Another smaller complaint was the lesbian scene. Now before you feminists get your pitchforks and torches, hear me out. Setting my man-brain aside who absolutely adores two attractive women having sex, pure titillation is something I reserve for porn. That’s what it’s for. However, gratuitous sex and nudity in a movie is exploitative and, frankly, annoying. It’s there just for marketing and to get asses in seats. Now, if the story is about sex and relationships, trying to do it in an artistic way, that’s perfectly acceptable. In coming-of-age films, the exploration of sexual awakening, a character who doesn’t believe in monogamy learns to fall in love, that sort of thing, then of course, the sex and nudity is more warranted and understandable. But that’s for those movies. Action films don’t always put that kind of effort into the romantic relationships. The exceptions for me are the Bourne films and the occasional Bond film. I do not believe this film does the relationship between Lorraine and Delphine justice. While both Theron and Boutella are outstanding actresses to be sure, Lorraine and Delphine barely share any screen time together before they bang and I don’t believe the sex was truly organic to the story. It’s certainly a lighter exploitation, mostly because there are good scenes between them later, which I’ll get to, and it’s not over graphic with either the nudity or the physicality, but I feel like for the relationship to carry more weight, more time should have been dedicated to them. Unfortunately, that could have also derailed the film and not kept the story in focus if not done well, but it could have been done. The two ladies could have ran around Berlin solving pieces of the puzzle together, fighting together, it could have worked.

A bigger issue that I also had was, as predicted, some of the fight scenes felt a little too choreographed. Like I said above, the action looks like… punch! Pause. Punch again! Pause, wait for stunt actor to get into place. Punch! Okay, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out, but I feel like I could literally see the actors trying to get back to their marks and waiting for their cue. It more prominent in the kitchen during the apartment fight, and pretty brief in the balcony scene toward the climax, but it’s still there and pretty distracting. Again, this may be something most won’t notice, care about, or agree with me on, but it did feel a touch distracting to me.

The biggest issue I had with the film was how complicated the story was that I could barely follow it. Okay, so a list of all the MI6 agents is now in the hands of the bad guys. We learn that the latest agent killed was a lover or boyfriend of Lorraine’s. We also learn that there’s a traitor within MI6, code named Satchel, whom Lorraine is tasked with finding as well because it’s this person who’s leaked the list to their enemies. I know that these plot point intersect and how they’re related to each other, but… why was Lorraine in that apartment? She says she was looking for clues to Satchel’s identity, but… what was she looking for specifically? We’re not filled in on her plans or strategies, so it just looks like that scene was there to showcase another action sequence. I guess she finds that picture with Percival (James McAvoy) and her dead lover, revealing them to be friends. But that information is never brought up after he admits to it and doesn’t play a further role in anything, so what’s the point? Beyond that, characters seem to take themselves from one location to the other when it feels like it should be as simple as finding the missing Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), who committed the entire list of operatives to memory. It never truly feels like anyone is on point with their objectives. And if I can’t follow the actions and motivations of the characters… it can easily bore me. So yes, outside of the action scenes, the movie is pretty boring and not overly interesting. The pieces are there, but they don’t fit very well.

But before anyone starts thinking that I hate this film, I don’t. So let’s dive into the good aspects.

First and foremost, yes, the action is great. I’ve already mentioned how I felt the action was a little too choreographed, but I do give it some credit that the action is visceral. Dude gets hit in the face with a pot or a freezer door, it really looks like it hurts. Someone gets shot in the stomach, but still attempts to fight, it looks like a real struggle. People getting punched, or thrown around onto wooden furniture or getting whacked with lamps and shit, stabbed in the neck with a cork-screw, the action is undeniably intense and gritty. Especially with all the cuts, bruises, and blood, you feel just as exhausted as the actors do. Hell, especially in the balcony scene, I know if it were me, all battered and beat up, I’d just be like, “You know what, just go. I’m done. Have a good Wednesday.” It’s pretty awesome.

The actors also churn out solid performances and work incredibly well off of each other. Lorraine and Percival are pretty funny and I enjoy their banter. I also liked the connection that Lorraine and Delphine shared. Despite the unnecessary sex, there is a really good scene with the two of them in bed together and they’re talking, Delphine comments that her eyes change when she tells the truth and the dialog goes something like:

LORRAINE
Thanks for the warning. Now I know to not do it again.

DELPHINE
Why?

LORRAINE
Because someday it’s going to get me killed.

That’s a really poignant line. It shows that someone can spot a weakness that could potentially be exploited and she now has to compensate for it in order to cover her ass. But more than that, it’s a detail that was told to her by someone that has always tried to be on her side, and wouldn’t exploit her weaknesses. So of course, I love Boutella’s performance as this semi-innocent and inexperienced field agent who is clearly way over her head. But I really liked Delphine as a character and the impact she had on Lorraine.

There’s also a deep level of appreciation for the details. I mean, in that reveal scene with Theron, Lorraine coming out of that ice cold bath tub, every inch of her body covered in bruises and cuts. It really gives you that sense of how bad-ass she is and you feel every bit of that bruising as she does. Except everyone in the audience is a pussy because y’all be squirming in your seats and she’s just all, “Smokin’ my cig, poppin’ my pills, fuck this job, I’m a bad-ass, mother fuckers.” Pretty sure I’d be on the ground crying like my mother if a swarm of spiders were just crawling over her. And boomeranging back to the stairwell scene, I’m pretty sure Theron started that scene without a scratch, but then the bruises and cuts were all over her by the end of it. I’m curious, were those bruises… real? I mean, according to the trivia on IMDb, she cracked two teeth during filming. She really was getting slammed into walls… albeit padded ones, but how far off the mark can I possibly be? Maybe they’re digitally inserted? Either way, it’s fantastic and it’s made to look like it’s all done in one take. I can probably safely assume it wasn’t, but it’s not quite quite easy to spot where the cuts may be.

Fun fact: That tunnel when Lorraine is in the car and beats dudes with her shoe? That’s the same tunnel used in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) when Black Panther is chasing down Bucky Barnes. I part of me thought I’d recognized it, but I didn’t think much of it until I read that.

Overall, I can’t say that this is a bad movie. It’s very well done and well-executed, but I just don’t love it, or like it all that much. The visuals literally hurt my eyes and head, so it’s already hard to get enveloped by the film. Bits and pieces of the action don’t look right, and some of the character choices don’t always make sense to me, so I can’t climb on the band wagon that everyone has a ticket for. But there is a real passion behind the project that I can’t deny. To my understanding, this is a passion project of Theron’s and it really shows. It’s hard hitting, beautifully shot, fantastic acting, it’s no wonder why so many like it. I say if you like your action-spy flicks, or enjoy the cast, this is a good one to check out. It’s not a movie that I can personally see a third time, but I acknowledge it’s merits and I recommend it.

My honest rating for ATOMIC BLONDE: a strong 3/5

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MORGAN review

Anyone else getting a serious EX-MACHINA (2015) or SPLICE (2009) vibe from this movie? Young girl that was created, not born, escapes killing people, becoming smarter than their creators dreamed, yeah, it feels like a rip-off of SPLICE. Not that I took any particular issue with that, as the cast for this film is pretty awesome.

Let’s dive into that, shall we? Our title character is played by the unbelievably talented relative-newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy, whom y’all should recognize from this year’s critically acclaimed THE WITCH. Personally, I think she’s a great young actress and shows wonderful potential, so if nothing else, I’m excited to see what she brings to this role. Next we have the equally fabulous Kate Mara. I really like her as well, she’s got mad talent, and she’s shown it before in such films as THE MARTIAN (2015), but has had a string of not-so-great films like, CAPTIVE (2015), FANT4STIC (2015), and TRANSCENDENCE (2015), but even in these stinkers, she wasn’t bad. I enjoy her work and I’m still happy to see her on the big screen. And oh my god, Paul fucking Giamatti, this man is a cinematic asshole gem. Seriously, I’m more scared of him than I am of Sylvester Stallone with a machine gun, what with his amazingly depraved performance from LOVE & MERCY (2015) and SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007). He can do no wrong and I can’t wait see how much of the scenery is left when he chews the crap out of it. Others include Toby Jones (this year’s ANTHROPOID, the Hunger Games films, and the first two Captain America films), Jennifer Jason Leigh (THE HATEFUL EIGHT [2015], THE HUDSUCKER PROXY [1994], and TV show WEEDS), and many more.

Now for the crew. In the director’s chair is Luke Scott making his feature-length debut. Congrats, dude. Penning the script it newcomer Seth W. Owen, who wrote an unknown film called PEEPERS (2010). I’d say this marks his first big project.

Overall, the film has a mix of fresh and veteran talent in front of and behind the camera, so things should prove to be interesting. I’m going in with moderate expectations, hoping to be more entertained than anything else, but I am excited for the ensemble cast if nothing else. This is my honest opinion of: MORGAN.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), a proclaimed risk and assessment agent for a company that is specializing in nanotechnology enhancing humans. In one of the company’s more remote locations, they created their breakthrough project: a genetically altered girl named Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), whom the scientists treat like family. But there was an incident. Morgan had a violent episode resulting in her stabbing one of the scientists in the eye and the crew forced to keep Morgan locked in a room. While the crew is optimistic that their research is clear, the company needs to assess Morgan and what to do with her. It doesn’t take long for Morgan to realize this and a burning desire to escape exceeds her desires to cooperate anymore.

(REVIEW)

I won’t say that this was a good movie, but I won’t say that I hated it either. In fact, I don’t know if I like or dislike the movie.

So let’s get cracking and as usual, start with the on screen talent. I think Taylor-Joy is a great young actress, but I think her talent was somewhat squandered here. This role of a young girl, grown practically in a test tube, is learning how to be a person. When you see footage of the toddler version of her, as well as some of her as her current age, her facial features do change. You see smiling, you see laughter, so why is the rest of her performance so… robotic? I mean, I can tell this is Scott’s fault, as there are bouts of really nuanced scenes of her completely conflicted and unsure of what decisions to make, showing concern, but it bizzarely feels underplayed.

Mara’s alright, if not a touch… cliche. At first, I thought she was being played like Max Rockatansky, an observer, not the real character since everyone else around her is significantly more interesting. I was fine with it up until she was kissing a dude and given a mysterious ending, so now I’m just thinking it was somewhat lazy writing. Okay, lazy may not be the right word, but clearly there’s a hint for a sequel. Owen must have been banking on his story because if there’s no sequel that has the intention of developing Lee, then this was an elaborate first hand-shake and a little more thought probably could have been put into Lee’s character now in this film.

To his credit though, he does write very likable supporting characters. Yeah, they were the real heart and soul of the flick if you ask me, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the story intended. Rose Leslie, Jones, and Michelle Yeoh are probably the real standouts for me, but even the others have their nuances. Leslie’s character, Dr. Menser (Haha! Men-sir. What, was Woman-ma’am already taken?), is like Morgan’s sister, and those two probably had the best chemistry in the film. Leslie really delivers on a conflicted soul. She’s so close and protective and loving toward her. But at the same time, when she goes ape-shit, she knows how dangerous she is. But she’s a scientist, not a fighter. So her fear paralyzes her into inaction to either listen to reason or act against Morgan in any way. Yeoh is in the same vein, though not as prominent. Doctor Cheng is the mother figure to Morgan, clearly loves her like her own child, but knows that her job takes priority when things go wrong and the decision to kill Morgan is made. She’s kind of cold about it, but it’s a coping thing, and it’s hard to fault her. Perhaps the two best performances are from Jones and even Giamatti, of course. Yes, if you’ve seen the trailer, Giamatti as Dr. Shapiro really is that intimidating and slimy. This is probably the point where I might say that Taylor-Joy wasn’t acting, that Giamatti really was making her cry because… fuck, man, I was crying with her. I wouldn’t want Giamatti yelling at me! That shit’s scary! His role is brief, but he successfully high-jacks the film in a beautiful way. Finally, Jones. I suppose Dr. Ziegler is the father-figure to Morgan since both he and Dr. Cheng have the greatest investment in Morgan and really want to see her come into her own person, despite the setbacks. He clearly cares about Morgan and he just lights up whenever he’s talking about her or the research that brought her to be, and how angry and depressed he is when he knows that, in the eyes of the company, Morgan is irredeemable. It all feels pretty legit.

I already mentioned how Mara was one of the weaker elements of the movie, and this is only made worse at the end.

***SPOILERS***

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While the ending with Lee doing the same hand-gesture as Morgan, sort of implying that Lee was an earlier version of Morgan (possibly), the ending feels like a big ole excuse for violence and death. I mean, I won’t say it comes out of nowhere or anything, but it’s certainly not the direction I would have wanted to see the story go. What do I mean by this? Well, the story as a whole doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to begin with. It’s never really explained why Morgan goes haywire. I know it’s because she kills a deer out in the woods, which frightened Dr. Menser and everyone puts Morgan in her room, leading to her stabbing Dr. Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh – and seriously? “Grief?” These names are just so… stupid) in the eye. First of all, why does Morgan kill the deer in the first place? She just does it out of nowhere. She doesn’t even know why she did it. I might understand why she’s antsy being locked in her room, but again, because the killing of the deer made no sense, stabbing Dr. Grieff makes just about as much sense. Morgan keeps claiming that she loved Dr. Grieff, even though we never see a connection between the two, so it’s not particularly meaningful to the story. None of this is explained. It’s just, “she went crazy.” Well then why are we shown so much footage of her happiness? Shouldn’t we be hoping that she gets better and hope that she becomes her own person? That’s what the story was building up to, but nothing about her snapping makes a lick of sense.

The ending, which I’ve been building up to, again, feels like an excuse for violence. Morgan escapes and literally starts killing everyone. Except Lee, for some odd-fuck reason, even as she has a gun and Lee’s trapped like a rat (for about five minutes anyway). But she goes on a rampage and kills everyone. There’s a scene earlier with Dr. Menser telling Morgan about a beautiful lake and Morgan wants to see it, making her way there with Dr. Menser, and Lee hot on her tail. And… Lee kills her. It’s a straight-up action brawler here and Lee kills Morgan… and then kills Dr. Menser. Just… out of the blue. No reason whatsoever, or for the thinnest reasons imaginable. Then she kills Skip (Boyd Holbrook), a pointless, directionless romantic subplot, by the way, and… it’s such a dissatisfying ending unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time.

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***END SPOILERS***

Whatever sequel that was clearly planned for this film, I’m hoping it joins the ranks of sequels-never-made to such bombs like THE SUPER MARIO BROS (1993) and THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010). This senseless movie was made and it’s not good despite some solid acting from the supporting characters, which prevents it from being a total disaster. But Taylor-Joy and Mara are criminally underplayed and deserve such better roles, as they are both extraordinarily likable and talented actresses. But Taylor-Joy needs more exposure if she’s going to get more work, and they can’t all be hits, but this movie’s failure isn’t her fault and I hope that doesn’t hurt any future opportunities for her. And Mara, damn girl, you need a break. THE MARTIAN can’t be your best because it’s not your movie. But here’s to a everyone’s future endeavors and that this goes under the radar.

My honest rating for MORGAN: a weak 3/5

morgan-movie-2016-poster

Upcoming review:

  • THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3uULkvZh1w

ANTHROPOID review

Alright, so a little backstory on myself. You ready for this, it’s quite a shocker. *ehem* I’m not the most educated fellow. In high school, history was one of my weakest subjects, so there’s a ton of stuff that totally went over my head. So this historic moment, “Operation Anthropoid,” who it involved, what it was about, I hadn’t the foggiest idea. I had no idea that the genocide of all the Jews during World War II had a special name, “Final Solution.” I just assume genocide is genocide, it’s evil, it’s unnecessary, never crossed my mind that it had a specific name. I had no idea who was on the ladder of power in Nazi Germany. I knew Hitler was at the top, no duh, and if I took a minute to remember some history facts that an old buddy of mine loved to throw out, I’d have also remembered that Himmler was the next dude down, debatably worse than Hitler himself, and that’s as far as my knowledge went (sorry, high school, but… we were never meant to be). So whatever this movie was about, “the assassination of the third man down from Hitler,” didn’t know that was a thing.

But it is a thing, so let’s talk about my impressions of the cast. The two most recognized faces that I saw were Toby Jones and Cillian Murphy. I’ve been a relative fan of Jones since he first came into my movie-viewing life as far back as THE MIST (2007). Of course, younger tween audiences might recognize him from THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), and he was definitely a classy addition to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Cillian Murphy, also a superhero veteran, having appeared in all three Nolan-Batman films, INCEPTION, and a few other earlier hits like RED EYE (2005) and 28 DAYS LATER… (2002). A talented actor that deserves the big projects he seems to be getting and this looks like his first big leading role since RED EYE (that I’ve seen). The other recognized names would be Jamie Dornan and Charlotte Le Bon. You “classy” ladies out there will definitely know Dornan from 50 SHADES OF GREY, but I prefer to remember him from his humble-ish beginnings on the earlier seasons of the TV show ONCE UPON A TIME. I think he can be a good actor if given the right stuff, but that’s all I can say about him. And if you’ve seen such movies like THE WALK (2015) and or THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (2014), then you’ll also recognize Le Bon, whom is absolutely wonderful and probably one of my favorite additions to this film.

On to some of the crew. Sitting in the director’s chair, as well as the co-writer to the screenplay is Sean Ellis, who previously worked on a lot short films, but some of his feature-length films include films, such as CASHBACK (2006 – probably a good film) and THE BROKEN (2008 – probably a bad film), but seems to always be a writer of everything he directs. So kudos to this guy. His partner this round is Anthony Frewin. He’s not a writer of fiction per se, but he seems to have an extensive background of working fairly closely with Stanley Kubrick over the course of the late director’s career as his assistant, and did write the film, COLOR ME KUBRICK (2005). Interesting to see a name like that attached to this project.

Overall, I’m going in excited for the cast. The story looks like it could be interesting, and definitely looks like an exciting film, so I guess I’m pretty interested on the whole. But let’s see how it measures up. This is my honest opinion of ANTHROPOID.

(SUMMARY)

Set in Prague, during 1942. General Reinhard Heydrich (Detlef Bothe), the third highest ranking officer in the Nazi Regime, is the most hated man in the city, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Two men from Czechoslovakia, Jozef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubiš (Jamie Dornan) have been given orders to assassinate General Heydrich at all costs. Aided by two young women, Marie Kovárníková (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka Fafková (Anna Geislerová), as well as the last of the resistance, they map out a plan to best assassinate the very man responsible for The Final Solution.

(REVIEW)

I think this movie met my expectations, more or less. It’s good, so let’s get right into it.

Let’s start with the pros. Murphy is pretty solid as always, but if there’s anyone that steals the show, it’s Dornan. I fuckin’ knew it. Put the right material in his hands and he’s actually a decent actor. In fact, he’s probably the scene stealer. Jozef is definitely more stoic and absolute in their actions, whereas Jan is a lot more… I hesitate to say “timid,” but he’s clearly not used to being in the forefront of killing, despite any training he had. As a result, he’s prone to panic attacks, his hands start shaking, and Jozef has to calm him down. So it’s a very symbiotic relationship between the two men, but take one out of the equation and I feel like Jan would be the more sympathetic and interesting character, as Jozef doesn’t have a running series of moments like that, or any real personal challenges that he has to overcome.

Early on, I sort of raved about how talented an actress Le Bon was. While I do maintain that statement, this is probably her least memorable role. This is no fault of hers, of course, because she’s only given so much to work with. I couldn’t really tell you Marie’s personality other than be Jan’s romantic interest. However, if there is any character that steals the show when she’s on screen would definitely be Geislerová as Lenka. Ironically, despite being more serious a character than Maria, and just as serious as Jozef, Lenka is kind of a bad-ass. The difference between Lenka and Jozef in terms of their seriousness is that all Jozef does in the movie is demonstrate how loyal he is to the assassination. He has vague motivations that make it hard to identify with him, whereas Lenka, yeah, still has some vague motivations too, but she demonstrates that she’s not just some pretty face to help these men complete their mission. She’s a fighter herself, disassembling handguns, repulsed that the gun hasn’t been properly maintained, she’s a damn awesome character.

I give the story a lot of credit too, the scene where the assassination takes place is done extremely well. The built-up tension can be cut with a knife and there’s more than a couple “oh shit!” moments. Honestly, it’s during these action scenes where the movie shines the most, especially toward the end in the church, where waves upon waves of Nazi troops storm in and get mowed down by the resistance fighters, but despite their valiant and impressive efforts, you know there’s no hope for them. So the ending gets pretty emotional.

I think if I had any complaint, and it’s probably closer to a knitpick than a real problem with the movie, is that it has a habit of flirting with boredom. The first half of the movie is almost all build-up to the assassination itself. This obviously makes sense because the assassination takes planning. Those scenes are there, coming up with the best location to kill him and all that, but… no one in the room is making it sound interesting or urgent. When there’s no battle-planning the movie veers into the dual romances between Jan and Maria, and Jozef and Lenka. These are almost not very compelling if only because within each respective relationship only one person seems to be interesting.

At the end of the day, this was a pretty good movie, but unless you’re really into battle-planning and politics, then half this movie could be considered boring. I did fine for the most part, but it got pretty close. But if you enjoy the work of the cast, then I might recommend it just for the performances, as they are top-notch. The story is gripping and interesting, so I do say it’s worth checking out.

My honest opinion for ANTHROPOID: 4/5

anthropoid

Upcoming reviews:

  • PETE’S DRAGON (2016)
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPOamb6d_20
  • SAUSAGE PARTY
    • red band trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fP9q_LyDc
  • FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HszfdNS0JSc

Upcoming hopeful review:

  • HELL OR HIGH WATER
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQoqsKoJVDw