Alien (1979) Review

Alien (1979) Review

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Written by: Dan O’Bannon

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 57 min

Genre: Horror, Science-Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Availability: HBO Max

After a space merchant vessel receives an unknown transmission as a distress call, one of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life form and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (IMDb)

When you really take the time to think about it, there aren’t that many films that stand the tests of time, especially when it comes to science-fiction. Alien is one of the few that thoroughly holds up and does not suffer from details that come across as dated. Of course, viewers may not spend to much time considering the few aspects that are due to the ongoing thrills of this film. 

Whether you view this movie as your standard alien horror or slasher flick, Alien is a terrifying movie. The titular alien is a literal killing machine who kills for sport more than anything else. It’s invincible, quiet, and very good at hiding. One could be in the same room as you, and you may not notice until its too late. 

If you don’t have anxiety, this film may give it to you. All the while you’ll be rooting for the original horror-movie badass Ripley, who almost single-handedly takes badassery to another level. 
Alien is a near-perfect film that’s hard to pick apart without turning into a nitpicky asshole. Its an overall well-rounded film with great acting, special effects, and direction. After 40 years it remains untouchable, even with the more recent attempts to reboot the series. Alien is a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

Directed by: Leigh Whannell

Written by: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer

Rated: R

Run-Time: 2h 4min

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Availability: HBO Max

When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. (IMDb)

Over the past couple of years, there has beem a renaissance of horror with many films going back to the roots of the genre. Films such as Get Out and A Quiet Place break the monotony of jump-scare heavy horror and revitalise techniques long underutilised. 

The Invisible Man does what 2017’s The Mummy tried to and with a much lower budget. For a while now, Universal has been trying to bring back the classic horror icons with the hopes of creating a creature-verse comparable to Disney’s MCU. The Invisible Man is their second and successful attempt at doing so. 

Despite not having the best trailer, The Invisible Man is hands down one of the best films of 2020 with utterly exceptional acting and atmosphere. The film shows considerable restraint, taking its time to build up to real terror. The audience is forced to experience the film in the protagonist’s, Cecilia’s, point-of-view; sympathising with her while being kept partially in the dark about what’s really happening. Even then we’re told what is happening, you can’t be entirely sure. 

This film wears many masks as well. Not only is it a revival of a classic of the same name, but it’s also an examination of domestic violence. At one point, the film becomes less of a psychological horror movie and more of a revenge flick. All the while, it is a prime example of how the legal system can neglect the victims of domestic abuse. 

This is a must-watch film, really, don’t argue with me. Of course, as with most horror, beware the potentially triggering content.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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.

The Platform (or El Hoyo) (2019) Review

The Platform (or El Hoyo) (2019) Review

Directed by: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Written by: David Desola, Pedro Rivero

Starring: Ivan Massague, Zorian Eguileor, Antonia San Juan

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 34m

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Availability: Netflix

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole. (IMDb)

The Platform is one of those expected Netflix gems that keeps the somewhat obsolete service intact. It’s a member of what I would consider a current horror film renaissance, a return to form. This film is simply exceptional, but not for the faint of heart… or weak-stomached. 

At a glance, The Platform seems like your run of the mill torture porn flick, full of exploitation but little substance. But it takes very little digging to find the themes the film is presenting in the most explicit way possible. One of the purposes of torture porn is the exhibition of the human human body at it’s extreme and it plays heavily on our morbid curiosity. The Platform, however, adds a layer of social commentary about subjects rarely explored through such means. 

This film really is just a big “fuck you” to capitalism. It blatantly displays the injustice and inherently unfair nature of capitalism while also highlighting the flaws of total communism. It brings class, sex, and race to the forefront with how closely related it so often is with one’s social standing. The film does all this in the most imaginative and in-your-face way imaginable. 

And, most amazingly, this film manages to connect itself to classical literature by drawing clear parallels to Cervantes’ Don Quijote, even going so far as to heavily display it in the film and quote directly from it. The protagonist even resembles the naive chivalry of Don Quijote through image and spirit. This connection is entirely unexpected but works well for the overall message of the film. 

The only issue with this film is the lack of outside information we are given on the world. We are told this is a dystopian society but are given little information as to how due to the contained nature of the film. This sort of soft world-building doesn’t detract from the story but does leave many questions in the mind of the viewer. 

I truly recommend this film but warn that some of the content is not suitable for some audiences. The film includes depictions of mutilation and cannibalism, visual and thematic devices many viewers cannot handle. But for those more seasoned horror fans, this film is an interesting and terrifying watch. 

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

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

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Review

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Review

Directed by: Ramin Bahrani

Written by: Ray Bradbury (source) Ramin Bahrani (screenplay)

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Aaron Davis, Cindy Katz

Rated: TV-14

Run-Time: 1h 40m

Genre: Drama, Science-Fiction, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Availability: HBO Max

In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young woman– and begins to rebel against society. (IMDb)

Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favourite classics by my most favourite classic author. It has been adapted twice, the most recent being in 2018. This was the version I watched for this review, and for me, this adaption didn’t quite hit the mark. 

It’s evident Bahrani took creative liberty to modernize this story, that was originally written in the early tv-era, way before the advent of the internet. Bradbury was never a fan of the internet, or technology for that matter, so in that sense, this film stayed true to portraying it as a powerful and scary thing. This version takes focus away from television and shifts it social media– an understandable change for the modern audience. The writing we do see people reading in the film is heavily laced with acronyms and emojis, emulating the comment section of many a live video on Instagram and Facebook. 

In taking so many creative liberties, a lot of the story was changed. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but in the case of this film, I feel it differs too greatly from the original tonally. It doesn’t hold the same weight as the book and is more of an aesthetic depiction of a dystopian future. 

One thing this film definitely did right was it’s casting. Michael Shannon is amazing as  Captain Beatty and Jordan’s performance is emotional. Together, they carry this movie farther than any of the other actors. They maintain the tone set in the film well and deliver believable performances. 

For viewers who are not familiar with this film’s source material, this film may be entertaining; but for those acquainted with Bradbury’s original may not enjoy it as much.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

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.

Subjective Rating

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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

Final Rating