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.

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Cargo (2018) Review

Cargo (2018) Review

Directed by: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Written by: Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Simone Landers, Martin Freeman, Marlee Jane McPherson-Dobbins

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 45m

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Availability: Netflix

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter. (IMDb)

Cargo is a unique zombie film, one that breaks the monotony of the modern zombie flick by bringing something refreshing to the table. With a character-driven story, Cargo is less about the scares and more about how much you grow to care for the characters. Whenever they are faced with a challenge, which is definitely plentiful, we fear for the character’s lives but the deeper implications of their deaths. 

This movie, as mentioned above isn’t particularly scary in the traditional sense. You’re less scared of the zombie’s themselves and more scared of the events that would follow being bitten. This film manages to avoid the gory horror that is so prevalent in zombie films and settles for a low key storyline. 

The film also tackles a lot of important themes: such as the injustice towards the aboriginal people of Australia, and the process of death, illness and mourning. And while the film manages to have a happy ending, it’s more bittersweet than truly joyous. You’ll find yourself relieved, but also mourning. 

This is a film that is more accessible to a wider audience due to its character-driven storyline. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “family-friendly” horror film, but its close. If you like horror but can’t really handle extensive gore and violence this film is a must-watch. For those who like those things, this movie should have enough to satiate your zombie craving.

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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. 

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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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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.

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In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) Review

Directed by Jim Mickle

Written by Gregory Weidman, Geoff Tock

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Micheal C. Hall

Rating: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 55m

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%

Currently streaming on Netflix.

He’s tracked her for decades. Every nine years, she kills again. His obsession could destroy him– and everything he loves. (Netflix)

If the title doesn’t draw you in, then Netflix’s thumbnail will. The description doesn’t do it justice. At least, it doesn’t do the concept justice; because not even the film managed to do that. 

For the most part the film isn’t bad. The only issue with it is that it’s not well paced, at all.  The film begins on a high note, introducing use to the stakes of the film. It’s pleasantly paced, but this doesn’t last very long. It doesn’t seem like the editing team knew what they were trying to do most of the time because the film can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a quick action-flick or a satisfying slow-burn sort of story. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact it makes it unnecessarily hard to maintain focus when watching the film and detracts from it’s most important scenes, including the big reveal. 

The concept of the film, when you ignore the execution, is extremely interesting and promising. With that said, it is also a bit of a headache, but in a good way. It’s one of those films that you have to think while watching, and a background understanding of topics tackled is definitely helpful.

In the end, I’m not sure if I can say I recommend this film or not. Maybe if you have nothing else to watch? Or if you’re a hardcore sci-fi fan? Whether you decide to watch it or not I think it’s over agreeable that this is a one-time watch deal.

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I’m Not an Easy Man (Je ne suis pas un homme facile) (2018) Review

I’m Not an Easy Man (Je ne suis pas un homme facile) (2018) Review

I Am Not an Easy Man is a humor film with an obvious feminist agenda that manages to be more hilarious than preachy. Though at times the way the aspects of the story are presented is ridiculous it manages to paint an interesting alternate universe where society is matriarchal. As a women, this sounds like a blessed idea, but the film does a good job of showing the importance for equality, that even in a truly matriarchal world has its own flaws. The characters are well written and the presentation of this world is done well, with both obvious and subtle differences. It does a very good job of raising topics of discussion, regarding topics of toxic masculinity to the effect of a gender dominated society. 

The only true downsides I could find in the film is some of the cultural differences in the matriarchal society that were hard to believe and therefore brought me out of my suspension of belief. The film features a number of scenes with shirtless women, a parallel to how our society has no problem with partial nudity of men but think differently when it comes to women. This simple fact doesn’t bother me, but when a short scene included a shirtless women going on a job my immediate thoughts were “God that must hurt!” Because, even in a society where it is totally okay for a women to be out shirtless its hard for me to believe someone would be content running while shirtless. For those who don’t have breasts, let me tell you, it is not comfortable to run without some sort of support. Scenes with similar minor grievances are littered throughout the film and while they do not detract from the basic storyline i am going to consider them a negative of this film because they still managed to pull me out of this world. Even in a good film, little things like this can affect the experience greatly.

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