The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

Directed by: Colm McCarthy

Written by: Mike Carey

Starring: Sennia Nanua, Fisayo Akinade, Dominique Tipper

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 51 min

Genre: Action, Drama, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Availability: Netflix

A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie. (IMDb)

Much like the previously reviewed Cargo, The Girl with All the Gifts is a unique zombie film that plays with the overdone sub-genre and creates something new. 

Based off a book of the same, The Girl with All the Gifts delivers a truly philosophical look on zombies with the addition of the second-generation zombie. Something rarely seen in related films. It takes the concept of a dystopian future, and rather as seeing it solely as the end this film depicts the end of the world as the start of a new era. It paints the character who would traditionally be the hero into the villain and forces the audience to sympathize with the “other.” 

None of this wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional preforming of the cast, who do well to present realistic characters. The star of this film is film is Sennia Nanua, who as a young actor manages to make the traditionally horrifying zombie into a sympathetic creature. She manages to show both the humanity and inhumanity of zombies, making them into a new iteration of humanity. Her youth allows her to have an unbiased view of the situation before her, as she is fond of the humans caring for her but also wants to help her fellow second-generation zombie children. 

This film is beautiful and raises a lot of questions that may make you rethink what you would do in a zombie apocalypse. For those who enjoy the action of your standard zombie movie, this has that for you, but those who enjoy the more intellectual horror of the current renaissance will find this film an excellent and thought-provoking watch.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jaws (1975) Review

Jaws (1975) Review

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

Rated: PG

Run-Time: 2h 4min

Genre: Adventure, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Availability: HBO Max

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down. (IMDb)

So, yeah, I’m reviewing the classic Jaws. Not because it needs to be reviewed, it’s a masterwork of film that could only be achieved by the incomparable Spielberg, but I recently realized than many people of my generation and younger haven’t seen this film. How is that possible you ask? I have no clue. 

If you’re not aware of this piece of film history you need to go check it out, and if you’re aware of it and haven’t watched it recently I recommend doing so. This film is 40 years old and holds up better than many films from the ’70s and truly revolutionized the film release schedule with its status as the first blockbuster flick. It is practically ageless, with the aspects that age it is minimal. The thrills, all achieved through practical effects still managed to strike fear in viewers. Because there isn’t much scarier than the real-life terror of great white sharks. 

I could go on and on, essentially rehashing everything every reviewer, film professor, avid-film watcher has every said; but I’m going to make it easy on you: JUST WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Directed by: Yasushi Kawamura, Keiichi Sato

Written by: Hiroya Oku (manga), Tsutomu Kuroiwa (screenplay)

Starring: Daisuke Ono, M-A-O, Tomohito Kaku

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 35m

Genre: Animation, Action, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Availability: Netflix

After being brutally murdered in a subway station, a teen boy awakens to find himself resurrected by a strange computer named Gantz, and forced to fight a large force of invading aliens in Osaka. (IMDb)

What did I just watch? Like seriously. When I woke up this morning I did not expect to watch a movie that includes a “monster” alien-thing made of up a bunch of naked women forming a giant naked woman. Really, that happened.

Adapted from the Osaka arc of the manga Gantz, Gantz: O is a convoluted visual spectacle that only boasts beautiful game-like visuals. Otherwise, this film has a veil-thin plot and forgettable characters. For those not familiar with the source material, this film is a boring series of events that don’t quite add up. For those familiar with it, this film may be more entertaining, but the experience of watching this film is more like watching someone else play a video game than playing it yourself. There is some semblance of fun there, but it could be so much better. 

In a single sentence, I sum up this film as a visually well-done waste-of-time. The only thing I enjoyed was the Final Fantasy-esque animation that is beautiful but does not lend itself to truly emotional story-telling with the eerily dead eyes and flat expressions.

Subjective Rating

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Crawl (2019) Review

Crawl (2019) Review

Directed by: Alexandra Aja

Written by: Michael Rusmussen, Shawn Rasmussen

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 27m

Genre: Action, Drama, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Availability: Amazon Prime and Hulu

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators. (IMDb)

I generally don’t have much hope for movies like this. They tend to be formulaic, and easily predictable since the beats of this type of thriller are pretty much set in stone. This movie isn’t an exception in that it is pretty predictable. It tried to set itself apart, especially in the second act but fails to do so. 

Crawl doesn’t struggle to keep your attention but does struggle with reality. A lot of things that happened in this film were tough to believe whether you know a lot about alligators or not. This film does set itself apart in that it heavily features the protagonist potentially getting gravely injured. Of course, this starts to get a little old after the second time she miraculously gets away. The only character that was safe throughout the film was, of course, the dog. Because, if you didn’t already know, it’s a sin to kill a dog in any movie. Keanu Reeves will come after you. 

The acting was believable enough, but after watching the film I can’t tell you much about the characters other than the main girl can swim really well, her dad is stupid, and the dog’s name is Sugar. Even the few lines in the film that had me laughing have already left my mind. 

I feel like I say this about practically every movie I review, but this movie is one you can only watch once. If you want to watch a thrilling film that you don’t have to overthink while watching, this film is the right choice.  But I doubt you’d be clicking it again after experiencing it once. 

Subjective Rating

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Final Rating

Code 8 Review

Code 8 Review

Directed by: Jeff Chan 

Written by: Chris Pare, Jeff Chan

Starring: Karl Matchett, Robbie Amell, Penny Eizenga

Rated: NR

Run-Time: 1h 38m

Genre: Action, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Availability: Netflix

A super-powered construction worker falls in with a group of criminals in order to raise the fund to help his ill mother. (IMDb)

I’m a big fan of movies with superpowers, franchised and otherwise. Code 8 is one of those rare films that doesn’t belong to any big franchise; it also just so happens to be a film that was funded through Indiegogo. Code 8 definitely has the innate charm of a passion project, but could still stand to benefit with improvement in its writing.

The overall execution of this film is impressive. The effects are on par with films with a much larger budget, which is something you don’t often get to say. This shows the filmmakers really took care in how they allocated the money, as well as likely employing underused techniques that need not be forgotten. 

This fill can’t really boast much else. The most recognizable name featured in this film

Is Robbie Amell, and the plot is overdone and not well executed. The action is not well-paced and it’s easy to find yourself getting bored. Overall the film tends to have a general sense of being disjointed. The effects and mild mystery is enough to keep you interested in the film to the end, but like many films I’ve discussed before this is not necessarily a film you watch more than once. 

In the end, I was quite disappointed. The concept for this film is so good and could have been used in so many creative ways. There is some hope, with a series revival supposedly coming to Quibi. But, let’s be honest… who uses Quibi?

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Extinction (2018) Review

Extinction (2018) Review

Directed by: Ben Young

Written by: Spencer Cohen, Brad Kane

Starring: Michael Pena, Lizza Caplan, Amelia Crouch

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 35min

Genre: Action, Drama, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Availability: Netflix

A father has a recurring dream of losing his family. His nightmare turns into reality when the planet is invaded by a force bent on destruction. Fighting for their lives, he comes to realize an unknown strength to keep them safe from harm. (IMDb)

This movie, at best, is hard to quantify for a number of reasons. 

At this point, I’ve seen this film twice. And both times I found myself struggling to maintain interest. This film has an exceptionally unique concept but falls short in execution. It doesn’t quite follow the beats of a proper thriller and takes a long time to gets where it wants to go. This film is definitely philosophical because it does not necessarily end with your common film resolution. It ends with a question: can people and AI live together in harmony?

The best part of this movie is the concept, followed by Pena’s performance. We are used to seeing Pena in comedic secondary roles, but with being at the forefront of this film we find that he has a great range of emotion. After a point, he might as well be carrying the whole film on his shoulders, as he makes lacklustre reveals have more weight than they would have with a bad performance. If anything, this film shows that Pena has the potential to take on more serious roles, as well as play more major roles in future films. 

In a way, I want to call this movie a hidden gem of Netflix, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem quite good enough to call it that. It’s a surprising film, but not one I’d willingly watch more than once.

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Hanna (2011) Review

Hanna (2011) Review

Directed by: Joe Wright

Written by: Seth Lochhead, David Farr

Starring: Saoirse Ronan Care Blanchett, Eric Bana

Rated: PG-13

Run-Time: 1h 51m

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Availability: HBO Max

A sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives. (IMDb)

I recently became interested in rewatching Hanna after learning about the show. I’m quite tempted to watch– the show– but would feel wrong in doing so without first rewatching the original film. The film is very much how I remembered it. 

The film is very well faceted, especially by Saoirse Ronan, with an interesting story and well-choreographed action. At the time of its release, I feel it was much more original that it comes across as now, a sad downfall for many older films. If there is one thing to truly highlight in this film it would be Ronan’s performance. Ronan is one of the best things about this film, which is not surprising considering her current Hollywood status. I do believe Ms Ronan has what it takes to be the next Streep or Andrews. 

My main criticisms come from the fact the film hasn’t aged well, even for it barely being ten years old. The audio is very pre-2010 cinema and the film utilizes certain stylistic editing techniques long retired. 

If you haven’t seen the movie but are currently watching, or considering watching, the show please consider giving the film a chance. You won’t regret it.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

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Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Directed by: Rob Letterman

Written by: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit

Starring: Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton

Rated: PG

Run-Time: 1h44m

Genre: Action, Comedy

Rotten Tomatoes:  65%

Availability: HBO Max

In a world where people collect Pokemon to do battle, a boy comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective. (IMDb)

This review was originally published on my personal website crystinaluna.com.

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 there 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 real 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 my 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, it’s 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. 

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 maybe because I was too preoccupied looking at all the pokemon, but still. The plot is nothing to write home about, a pretty cliche storyline with a twist that can be seen from a mile away, and none of the actors are 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.

Subjective Rating

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What Happened to Monday (2017) Review

What Happened to Monday (2017) Review

Directed by: Tommy Wirkola

Written by: Max Botkin, Kerry Williamson

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close, Willen Dafoe

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 2h 3m

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

Availability: Netflix

In a future with a strict one-child policy, six septuplets must avoid government detection while searching for their missing sister. (Netflix)

Like many Netflix originals, I found myself immediately interested in this film solely based off of the title and I doubt I’m the only one. When you move past the title and thumbnail you find that the overall premise of this film is fascinating.

At this point, the concept of a one-child-policy is not only common in science-fiction but real life. What Happens to Monday takes this trope and takes it to the extreme, presenting it in a unique way. The film is well-acted with a truly talented cast, but the majority of the praise falls onto the films lead actor Noomi Rapace who manages to play seven different characters and she does so exceptionally well. Additionally, the visuals of the film are breath-taking; and it’s a true shame that this film often takes the easy way out when it comes to story-telling, often relying on dialogue to carry the story. 

This is definitely one of those films you watch once, enjoy, but then simply move on. It’s interesting, don’t get me wrong, and raises many important questions but doesn’t have the impact that some similar titles have regardless of the impressive effects. Some aspects of the story are a little hard to believe, but it’s not too hard to suspend one’s belief. The film’s main twist falls short, with it not really being much of a surprise. If you haven’t seen this film, go ahead, watch it, but trust me one time is enough.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating