It: Chapter Two

It’s Friday the 13th..let’s review something creepy. It: Chapter Two graced theaters a week ago, and brought with it a star-studded cast and a whopping 2hr and 50 min runtime. It really is a trend for every film to be 3 hours now, isn’t it? Anyway, let’s float.

The film picks up 27 years post the events of Chapter One, and puts all of our Losers back on Pennywise’s menu. As it turns out, Pennywise (played impeccably once again by Skarsgard) has returned to Derry, to wreak havoc on all those afraid. Our Losers reunite, incredibly well-casted and the majority of them have lost most memories of their childhood. What’s clear to all of them, however, is the blood oath they swore all those years ago. And if anyone is going to be able to stop Pennywise the Dancing Clown, it’s going to be them; united.

Chapter Two‘s pacing, while long-winded at times, feels absolutely superb. Each and every “adult version” of our younger characters feels finely crafted to that individual, and their actions through the course of the film feel realistic and warranted to their respective personalities. Some shining stars must be delivered to James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak, and to Bill Hader as Richie Tozier. Not only do they look like their younger counterparts, but their on screen embodiment of Eddie and Richie felt quite literally perfect. But, truth be told, every character delivers here.

Better than the first, you ask? In my opinion, not quite; but extremely close. I think the only reason I give the slightest edge to the first chapter here is for that “wow” factor. Seeing Skarsgard for the first time at the drain scene, and hearing that menacing laugh and chuckle was unlike anything I’d felt in a horror film in quite some time. However, we’re delivered a phenomenal closing to this story, and the scares and laughs are in high amount. I argued with my fiancΓ© over which of the two is scarier, and she gives this one the edge with no competition! As one stand alone story, the It franchise feels beautifully crafted, from top to bottom. Seeing how I never got to review Chapter One, here goes. Chapter One- 9/10. Chapter Two- 8.5/10. Thanks so much for reading, and have an awesome weekend.

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

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Don’t Let Go

Blumhouse’s “Don’t Let Go” might be my most conflicted, and undecided film of 2019. Trust me, I feel strange even structuring that sentence for you. Let’s talk about it.

The film tells the story of Jack Radcliff, a police officer burdened with the case of solving the tragic death of not only his brother and sister in law, but of his niece with whom he’s largely played the role of “co-parent ” to for quite some time. Without any other inkling as to why his family would’ve been killed other than his brother’s past run-ins with drugs/dealing, Jack (played by David Oyewolo) struggles tremendously not only with his loss, but with a sudden estranged connection to his now deceased niece Ashley. What seems like just minutes after her passing, Jack receives a phone call..from her.

It’s essentially from this point forward that Don’t Let Go starts getting so much right, and so much wrong. The film does an absolutely outstanding job with providing tension, suspense, and so much credit to both Oyewolo and the young Storm Reid as Ashley for outstanding jobs in both lead roles. However, the writing in this one struggles immensely as the first (and very brief) act concludes. We’re delivered tonal inconsistencies from plothole-filled writing, confusing flashback sequences, and ultimately a film that feels like it bit off more than it can chew. But, I did say it gets a lot right!

My big confliction with Don’t Let Go is simply from how damn gripping it was. Yes, the story was all over. Yes, there is rather misshapen script work and tone choice. But if you’re looking for an hour and fifty minutes of honestly decent thriller/suspense, I do think you’ll find it here. For all of these reasons, Don’t Let Go steals a 6.8/10 from me. Thanks for reading as always,

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Ready or Not

So I’ll be honest. Earlier last week I saw the movie “Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark”. And I seriously had every intention of reviewing it; but it was absolutely so mediocre that I felt my words on it would make for a lull of a read. So I figured I’d wait on this week’s round, and see how I felt about the under-the-radar black comedy horror “Ready or Not”. Boy, am I glad I waited. Let me tell you about this one.

Directed by two gentlemen whose names I’ve never heard (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett) and led by an actress I’ve never seen before (Samara Weaving), Ready or Not tells a story of a twisted game of hide and seek. See the way tradition works for the Le Domas family is that every time a new member is wed into the family, a game must be played at midnight. Nothing too crazy, right? Well, unless the game that’s chosen (randomly, by essentially a roll of the dice) happens to be hide and seek. Because if and when that game is landed on, well; let’s just say it’s hide and seek until you’re found..dead.

I don’t want to spoil much about this film because the surprise factor and very little insight going into it is what made it so fun, but I have to give credit where credit is due. If you’re a fan of the horror comedy genre in general, I have no doubt Ready or Not will come in to compete as one of your absolute favorites. As many of called her the “Margot Robbie look-alike”, lead actress Samara Weaving should quickly earn her place as a household name after her performance here. She’s witty, gritty, and relatable enough to become almost instantly liked on screen. The supporting cast is no letdown either, with an extremely noteworthy performance by Adam Brody as her new brother-in-law.

Ready or Not is stacked with gory violence, ridiculous humor, and a damn good amount of scares everywhere it turns. The runtime feels just right, and the ending (without saying much) left me wanting to sit down and watch this one again right away. For a brilliant story, and an absolutely perfect blend of horror + comedy, Ready or Not lands a surprising 9.5/10 from me. Thanks as always for reading, and..

Peep, outπŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

For nearly the last 20 years, the Fast franchise has raked in actual billions of dollars on a formula that, while not appealing to all, has paid off sweetly and damn consistently. We’ve seen the car chases, the heists, and somehow bigger and badder villains with every round. Yet somehow they manage to top it all off a year later. Now here in 2019, we’ve found our first “Fast” Spin-off.

Playing on the story of series mains Hobbs & Shaw, this 2 hour and 15 minute shoot em up and chase em flick does..just about what you thought it would! Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham play off of each other like they’ve done this for years, throwing ego jabs and jokes about each other’s masculinity for just about the entire film. Playing the “Black Superman” in the villain’s role was Idris Elba, who doesn’t get to shine as much as I would’ve liked; but nonetheless, does well with what little he’s given. Vanessa Kirby plays a kickass female lead, keeping the two hotheads in check while also keeping up a classic “damsel in distress” role by means of her character’s fairly simple story arc.

So, was Hobbs & Shaw as fast or furious as it’s predecessors? For me, absolutely. The budget here is huge, and you’ll leave with no shortage of explosives and absolutely ridiculous combat sequences. This one’s biggest shining downfall for me was actually it’s runtime. It easily could’ve scored bigger from me with about a 20-25 minute shorter runtime, and there was a point when watching this that I thought for certain it was ending. Nope, another thirty to go!

All in all, if you’re able to look past the whole “oh wow, it just went from morning to night and back again in one scene!” kindof issues here, then I think you’ll have a solid time with this one. For ridiculous action sequences, sleek chases, and solid comedic storytelling, Hobbs & company scores a 7.5/10 from me. Is it silly as all Hell? Oh you bet. Did I enjoy it? Also, you bet. Thanks so much for reading, see you next week for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood

The man himself is back- and he’s brought some damn good company. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood has been on my radar since its announcement, and this weekend we finally got to see this dream team in action. DiCaprio, Pitt, Robbie. Could we ask for a better formula? Let’s discuss.

While “real” history may have its own version of the Sharon Tate murders and the ways they unfolded, Tarantino’s 9th outing tells the tale in a different (or alternate) timeline to our own. The year is 1969, where Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and stuntman/ longtime partner Cliff Booth (Pitt) are just trying to make it; you know, in Hollywood. The film rides just short of 3 hours in length, and there are most definitely chunks that a feel a bit too thick to chew on. However, this is undoubtedly Tarantino’s bittersweet love letter to 60’s Hollywood and the scope and setting of the film do wonders at delivering that. Where it struggles (almost exclusively) is with a story that feels just a little bit loose, and in no particular hurry. This does, however, ultimately pay to the film’s advantage when things heat up beyond belief in the final act.

Quickly, let’s talk the performances. DiCaprio and Robbie are both at the top of their game here, but its Pitt who really delivered for me. His character is not only incredibly cool and complimenting to his on screen-partner, but it feels really cool watching an “anti-hero” play out in a film like this. So what does Hollywood do wrong? Well, not much. I would summarize saying this: a bit too long in parts, and a bit too slow in others. Otherwise, this is classic Tarantino with a bit less gore than usual (don’t worry, you’ll have your fill in the final act). For painting a beautiful timepiece with outstanding characters and extremely memorable writing, Hollywood bags an 8.5/10 from me. Until Hobbs & Shaw, see you guys!πŸ€™πŸΌ

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

The Lion King: Should we leave some alone?

The year is 2019. It’s been 25 whole years since Disney’s The Lion King was brought to the big screen and graced us with all its vibrant, and classical glory. Filled with vibrant color, one of the most memorable soundtracks in animation history, and enough emotion to keep us coming back for years to come. Now, notice I said “us”, yeah? The Lion King was a film that many of us not only grew up with, but were raised on time and time over. So how’s the new one stack up?

Taking a look at the cast, one might be absolutely mind blown by the talent. Beyonce Knowles, Donald Glover, James Earl Jones (his return was beautiful, let me just be clear), Seth Rogen, the list goes on and on. And by many counts, their “performances” sounded great. But just here lies my main issue with this reboot- the distance between the dialogue, and the visible emotion. I couldn’t count how many times a character would deliver a line, an emotionally heavy line, and would show zero on-screen emotion. Yes, I’m aware we’re dealing with animation/mo-cap here, but it was pulled off beautifully in The Jungle Book(2016) so why not here?

This reboot treads along lightly, never reinventing the wheel at any point (which is good, IMO) but instead cutting things out to make room for new. For example, Scar and company’s song “Be Prepared” found itself chopped down to fit in a new, and rather out of place song by BeyoncΓ©. So was anything good about it? Visually, it’s absolutely beautiful. Hands down some of the best animation I’ve ever seen; this is just simply where it stops. To be frank, I found myself going through the motions with The Lion King, only hopeful for a bit more emotion and “soul” around every turn.

I personally don’t think others will be quite as critical on this one, but it seems audiences do agree on both the “lifeless” tone of the characters’ delivery as well as the lack of matching talent with its respected on screen counterpart. When a character delivers a light in an older animated film, we see bright checks or big eyes. We feel engaged with the dialogue in each sequence because of it. In this one, however, I only hoped for a quicker ending and a stronger follow-up in whatever Disney’s next “live action reboot” decides to be (no pressure, Mulan). For lack of true soul and heart, and a crucial mismatch of character voicing , The Lion King bags a 6.0/10 from me. Check it out, and I hope you guys actually dig it. Until next week,

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Stranger Things: A Season 3 Review

So, by the time many of you read this Stranger Things 3 will have been out for round about two weeks. Think it’s officially safe to dive in deep and go full blown spoilers, yeah? Perfect. Let’s dissect. So season 3 kicks off with our main protagonists (you know, the kids) all budding their own relationships with one another and some, growing up a bit faster than others. Mike and Eleven are growing closer and more intimate, Lucas and Max are the closest thing to “dating” that they can be at their age, and Will..well Will just wants to play D&D. And Dustin? You guessed it, he’s up to no good with Steve “The Hair” Harrington.

The premise behind season 3 follows an extremely unique being that we’ve now come to call “The Mind Flayer” who has managed to creep inside of Hawkins post Eleven’s closing of the gate to the Upside Down, and is hellbent on turning the people of Hawkins *spoiler warning* into pawns to help build up some strange, gooey army of clones. Seriously, it’s tough to explain this one. But what is not difficult to say, is just how incredible this season ends up being.

From the very first sequence in episode 1 to the gut-wrenching and teary climax moments of the finale, The Duffer Bros and company have managed to continue this story in the most brilliant of ways. Noteworthy performances in my opinion would have to include the always wonderful Winona Rider as Joyce, David Harbour as Hopper, and a surprise perinatal favorite of mine this season going to Billy (as played by Dacre Montgomery). Seriously, this guy’s going to have a massive career. Dacre does a beautiful job at keeping season 3 as intense, and as visceral as anything the creators have shown us thus far.

Not only was season 3 in my opinion the most intense of the 3 seasons, but it also delivered some of the most iconic scenes in memory of the show’s short history (looking at you, Dusty Bun). We witness relationships grow stronger and some fall apart, which ends up adding not only additional layers of depth to the characters themselves but also gives a very “high octane” season the chance to slow down and embrace a bit of humility. As with the precious seasons, this one leaves a few doors left unopened; and that’s understandable. While I don’t know how much we have left to experience of Stranger Things, I do know that this season has earned this show the right of being my personal favorite..of all time. From beautiful cinematography, amazing characters, wonderful soundtrack and cast, Stranger Things 3 scores an astounding 10/10 from me. Reviewing TV shows certainly won’t happen much for me, as film is much more my medium, but I thank you guys for taking the time to read this one! I hope you loved it, and how bout that cliffhanger? πŸ˜‰ as always,

Peep, outπŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The web slinger’s back, and it’s our first outing since the almighty Endgame. Taking a much “lighter” tone than the latest Avengers’ outing, Far From Home shows up this weekend with two very big wins for the franchise, in my opinion. The first- a wonderful homage to the character that was (is) Tony Stark and second, well it’s quite simply a damn good film. Let’s talk about it.

Taking place 8 months after the events of “The Blip” (aka Thanos snap), the film jumps right in with some backstory around what our new threat is and who we have strapped up to face it. In this mix is returning Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and welcome newcomer Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), as they draw aim to fight off an emerging group of what they call “Elementals”. And, as you might expect, they call upon our webslinger for some help. Peter Parker, only still age 16, is in a difficult place at the beginning of the film. He finds himself torn between being a boy, longing for his friends and a long-time crush, and being the man he believes Tony Stark called upon him to be.

This inner turmoil troubles Peter throughout the course of the film, and along the way further involves Gyllenhaal’s character (Mysterio) in ways that may or may not surprise a few of you. The dynamic between Holland and Gyllenhaal in this movie is truly remarkable, and I found myself leaving begging for just a few moments more of it. The supporting cast (notably Zendaya and Jacob Batalon) grow even considerably more likable in this sequel, and do a fantastic job of keeping the tone light and familiar. Where Far From Home really shines, however, is as a beautiful coming of age story for Peter. Not just Peter Parker, or “Spider-Man”, but the shoes he must fill as the rightful next heir to the the throne that was “Tony Stark”.

Without diving much further into spoiler territory on this one, I’ll simply state a couple of hot takes. The villain- one of the best we’ve seen in the MCU to date. The story- polished, fresh, and keeps you on your toes. The rest- not only a worthy sequel to Homecoming, but debatably bests it in at least a few key areas. Our Spider-Man isn’t the boy he was a few years ago. His stakes have been raised, his reputation is greater, and the fire within him to “make Tony proud” shines light on more emotion than I might’ve expected to feel in this one. For simply hitting the nail on the head, Spider-Man: Far From Home scores a 9.5/10 from me, with its only real downfall being a semi slow-tostart intro. Check this one out, and maybe check it out again. Thanks so much for reading,

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Toy Story 4: A tale for the Sheriff himself

In 1995, while I was a wee 2 year old, Disney and Pixar brought to life a film that would spark life into a franchise bigger than I’m sure anyone involved would’ve imagined. A film that brought on the idea that toys, while their children were away, had full-fledged personalities and carried on with quite a bit of their own adventures. Toy Story (1995) is credited by many, including myself, as being one of the most revered and iconic animation flicks of all time. Subsequently, Toy Story 2 (1999) and penultimately Toy Story 3 (2011) concluded the story of protagonist Andy and his band of misfit toy pals. With the ending of Toy Story 3, many assumed this would be the last we’d see of the bunch, as the series was wrapped up more beautifully and rightfully than most trilogies I’ve maybe ever seen. But, that wasn’t quite enough for Disney. Here we are, in 2019, and we’re reviewing a Toy Story 4. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Set very shortly after the events that concluded the third, TS4 tells the tale of Woody and friends as they discover that lost toy (Bo Peep) may not be so lost after all. Along the way, we’re introduced to copious amounts of new toys (a few noteworthy being voiced by the likes of Keanu Reeves, Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele) many of which do a fine job of bringing in the laughs. What you’ll notice right away, though, is just how little we hear from most of the original “toy cast”. The one and only space ranger Buzz Lightyear actually has less lines in this film than newly introduced side characters, which was saddening to say the least.

The story itself is where this one begins to lose me. The plot teeters along chaotically, with sprinkled in laughs and emotional moments, but feels altogether a bit..lost? Our driving character in this film is undoubtedly Woody, who we watch go through personal conflict that ultimately means quite a bit for the future of the series as a whole. Is it emotional? At brief moments, yes. However, would I say it packs near the weighty punch that it’s most recent predecessor (or the two prior, for that matter) packed? No, I will confidently say no.

To me, it all feels like Toy Story 4 existed not because there was a story here that needed to be told; but rather that there were several millions of dollars that could be made. As a lover of almost all things Pixar/Disney, I’ll leave you with this. If you’re hoping for TS4 to be the roller coaster of emotions that 3 was, you may unfortunately be let down. But if you wouldn’t mind watching a tale about Sheriff Woody learning what it means to “be alive” or to watch Keanu Reeves be a plastic Canadian stuntman, then I think you may leave with at least a smile. For altogether feeling weaker than its predecessors, but still netting the occasional laugh or tear, I give Toy Story 4 a 6.8/10. Thanks as always for reading this one, and until Spider-Man: Far From Home,

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ

Rocketman: There was no better man for the job

Rocketman, the 2019 biographical musical showed up to give Bohemian a run for its money, right? Well, in many ways it does. Let’s talk about it. Played by the seemingly untouchable Taron Edgerton (Kingsman, Robin Hood), the story of Elton John’s “lavish” and theatrical life play out in a way that, to me, proved to be some of the most unique storytelling I’ve seen in quite some time. The way the scenes are driven is so unique in the sense that the cast becomes so “involved” in the music, progressing the story all while giving insight into some of John’s most intricate of lyrics. Simultaneously, telling the story of his both chaotic and enticing life on the screen.

As is usually the case in these biographies, things trod up and down for the protagonist highlighting his highs, his lows, and making sure not to leave out just how promiscuous and ” drug-friendly” Elton was in his prime. In the mix of things with Edgerton we have a solid ensemble of Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Richard Madden who all do very well in their respective roles. The story itself feels well-told and believable, but by its end, does leave you a bit curious as to why we saw this film even happen while Elton’s still with us? But I digress. I’d honestly say the only thing I truly “disliked” about this film was nothing of its own fault; it was simply that it felt like the slightly weaker counterpart to Bohemian Rhapsody. To anyone curious, the director of this film (Dexter Fletcher) also has director creds on that behemoth of a musical released literally just one year beforehand. Personally, I think between A Star is Born, Bohemian, and Rocketman, I may be just simply “musical’d out” for a few months or so.

But let’s hone it back in. Should you go see Rocketman or not? I say if you love Elton’s music, love Taron Edgerton or like many you love both, then by all means give it a shot. It may not floor you, but I think it’ll do a damn good job entertaining. Rocketman scores a 7.8/10 from me, and I can’t wait to see what Taron does next. Thanks so much for reading, and you can expect a Toy Story 4 review this week as well! As always,

Peep, out πŸ‘‹πŸΌ