Film Reviews

Movie Review: Mortal Engines (2019)

  • Directed by: Christian Rivers
  • Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Ronan Raferty, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, and Stephen Lang
  • Rating: 6/10

You would expect a movie that begins with an idea as out there as predatory cities on wheels would take more time to establish its exposition and background. Unfortunately, Mortal Engines was done a disservice by being condensed into a two-hour run time with writers uninterested in conveying anything more than a typical revenge story.

Even worse, our heroine, Hester Shaw, loses many significant moments to the male lead in the film. For some reason, their journeys are conflated and intersected in ways they shouldn’t.

Side-note: Robert Sheehan does make a charming leading man. I didn’t get the hype before this movie, and now I’m totally on board.

Mortal Engines has the makings of a new epic. The Victorian-era, steampunk aesthetic is intriguing. But the movie doesn’t do enough with its eccentric concepts to hook a new audience. Mortal Engines was always going to be a hard sell due to being a lesser-known property with such a bizarre premise. The writers get lost early on in their history, trying to establish far too little and far too much simultaneously.

It’s a beautiful film to look at, the production costs were astronomical, and Jackson does deliver a spectacle. It’s such a shame we don’t get to spend more time understanding the eccentricities of Philip Reeves’s world.

Even the action sequences are tepid and uninspired. The movie excels at creating stunning vistas and incredible machine designs, (I’d love to see the concept art), but falls flat almost everywhere else.

I was most disappointed the fighting sequences, even the climactic ones, felt so dull. Even the fight between Anna Fang and Valentine did little to inspire awe. You would anticipate something grander, given the film’s immense scale and size.

That said, I still had a great deal of fun watching Mortal Engines. I am surprised it received such low audience scores. I guess the concept was too out there for general moviegoers.

I wonder if, in a few years, this might be a film revisited with a cult following. The world-building is so compelling. It makes you forgive the lazy writing, at least a little.

I do give the film credit for enticing me to pick up the first book in Philip Reeves series!

Film Reviews

Film Review: Ma (2019)

Ma and her teenage captives Ma (2019)
via Blumhouse
  • Director: Tate Taylor
  • Starring: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans
  • Rating: B

I’ve waited eagerly for Ma since I saw the first trailer months ago. Finally, I saw the film today, and it didn’t disappoint. Although I am going to take a second here to complain about trailers. They do give too much away. I’m making it a priority to not watch them anymore. It sucks because I do enjoy a good movie preview but not at the cost of suspense and surprise.

While it wasn’t as ludicrous and campy as I was hoping it would be, Octavia Spencer is a national treasure who could elevate a Taco Bell menu reading on-screen. You have to work hard not to enjoy yourself when she’s chewing the scenery as Ma. Her genuine enjoyment of the role froths into the audience. Octavia Spencer is infectiously gleeful about playing someone so wicked.

Had any other actor played the role of Sue Ann, I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun. I can admit there were some strange plot elements (Gypsy Blanchard called, she wants her life story back), some underutilized characters (Alison Janney, of all people, is a glorified extra for some reason), and less outright horror than I would have liked, but Ma heartily embraces its faults.

It asks you not to overthink and to let the sheer absurdity entertain you instead. No, I don’t know why Ma had it out for some of the teenagers. Some of whom appeared to get roped in by association alone. Yes, there were plenty of plot holes. But at the end of the day, I wanted to see a movie where Octavia Spencer terrorized a group of idiot teenagers and runs over Missi Pyle with a car. And that is damn well what I got! Ma is utter insanity and never wanted it to stop.

Ma is now playing in theaters.

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Film Reviews

Film Review: 20th Century Women (2016)

via Annapurna PIctures
  • Director: Mike Mills
  • Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, and Billy Crudup
  • Rating: A+
  • Streaming on Amazon Prime | Buy or Rent on iTunes

All it took was a few minutes of this film for me to recognize it as a new favorite. There is something so innately refreshing about 20th Century Women. Each woman is emblematic of some facet of my maturation. I can only hope my time to be as graceful and effortlessly efficacious as Annette Bening is coming down the pipeline.

Wondering if you’re happy is a great shortcut to just being depressed.

From Greta Gerwig’s raw, emotional turn as Abbie to Elle Fanning’s sensual and exploratory chase towards womanhood, I felt myself become seen and also hopeful of what could become of my life. The smallest beats ripple through like a warm embrace.

I know I’ll rewatch this multiple times in the future. I feel like the magic of this film is in stumbling upon it. It’s a gentle surprise, like running into a dear old friend, someone who knows all your secrets and all your secret shames and yet never thinks any less of you.

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Film Reviews

Bird Box vs. The Silence: Which one comes out on top?

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s latest horror film, The Silence, follows a family as they try to survive an infestation of monsters attracted to sound.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Miranda Otto and Kiernan Shipka lead the cast of the new Netflix horror movie, The Silence. The film follows a family as they try and survive a group of prehistoric bat-like creatures known as “vesps” which do not have eyes, but hunt through sound.

Sounds familiar, right? Actually, it’s kind of funny that everyone is calling The Silence a rip-off of A Quiet Place when, ironically, A Quiet Place’s plot is eerily similar to the book The Silence was based on.

The Netflix horror was adapted from the book written by Tim Lebbon, which was published in 2015 — predating A Quiet Place by several years. There were even rumblings of a lawsuit at one point. That said, A Quiet Place is clearly the superior film.

But what about the other Netflix horror film that deals with a civilization being stalked by monsters that limit a key sense, Bird Box? How does The Silence measure up?

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

Film Reviews

Lifetime’s Secrets In a Small Town Review

Credit to Fella Films

Another Saturday, another Lifetime thriller! Secrets in a Small Town is an intense mystery about a missing teenage girl and a mother’s desperation.

Tonight’s Lifetime thriller, Secrets in a Small Town, is about a frantic mother (played by Kate Drummond), in desperate search for her daughter, Sarah, after she goes out for one night with her new basketball teammates and doesn’t return home.

Supposedly, the movie is based on a true story, although I’m not sure which one since it sounds similar to several different cases. The film was originally titled Nowhere and made it’s debut at a Canadian Film Festival earlier this year.

Let’s recap some of the craziest “television small town” rules we learned about from this movie.

Read full review on Hidden Remote.

Film Reviews

Film Review: Missing Link

Missing Link
Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures

Laika Studios has crafted a beautiful epic in Missing Link, a film about self-discovery and friendship that is enjoyable for all ages.

The stop-motion animation studio, Laika, has carved out a niche for themselves in the film world as producers of some of the most elaborate and fantastical animated movies in modern cinema. They were the masterminds behind films like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. Their latest film, Missing Link, is perhaps, one of their best.

Continue reading my full review at Hidden Remote.

Film Reviews

Dirty John – Approachable Dreams – Review: What’s in the Safe, Kiddo?

Bravo is trying their hand at the scripted drama department again. This time they’re bringing us Dirty John, a series based off of a podcast of the same name about the criminal life and exploits of John Meehan. Connie Britton stars as Debra Newell and Eric Bana as the eponymous John Meehan.

The first episode is directed by Jeffrey Reiner, whose previous directing credits include critically acclaimed shows like The Affair and Fargo. Alexandra Cunningham, who wrote more episodes of Desperate Housewives than any other writer for the show, is credited with writing this first episode.

Continue reading on SpoilerTV →

Film Reviews, Film/Television

Movie Review: Primal Fear (1996)

  • Director: Gregory Hoblit
  • Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, and Frances McDormand
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Star Rating: ★★★★☆

So I’ve begun the journey of watching Laura Linney’s filmography since she’s one of those actresses that I’ve always enjoyed and inspired to emulate in my own acting journey and I finally got around to watching Primal Fear.

I realize the film is a popular one, garnering numerous awards, most notoriously for Edward Norton who got a supporting actor nomination for his first ever feature film role. But for some reason or other, I had never really heard about it or knew what it was about.

Continue reading “Movie Review: Primal Fear (1996)”