Category Archives: Hollywood Movies

Encanto(2021) Movie Review

Disney Animation hasn’t impressed me in recent years because they’ve been more concerned with making films about flawless, marketable characters and it’s really hindered their ability to take risks and tell interesting stories. Encanto is a step in a much better direction. In fact, it’s probably the closest to a Pixar film that the studio has produced since Zootopia. There’s a theme at its core and the film sticks to it. If you can look past the “it’s magic just because” element that’s per the Disney fairy tale norm, Encanto is a strong, character-driven story about the drawbacks of perfection and how having high expectations and ignoring flaws is destructive behavior. The focus is on the characters and how they aren’t the perfect angels they think they are.

It’s like a subtly honest self-critique of Disney’s most recent projects. A villain isn’t needed, flawed characters are what’s paramount to telling an effective story. The characters in Encanto have insecurities and prejudices to overcome and they work past it together through heartfelt writing and plenty of passionate musical sequences with a refreshing cultural touch. I can’t say the songs are especially memorable given Disney’s enormous history – some of the segues are a bit awkward, too – but they further the story, show how the characters feel and burst with plentiful color, emotion and distinctive visuals by an ensemble of characters bearing unique quirks. This is the power of a musical and even though it’s not Disney’s greatest lineup of songs, the effort still shows. Encanto is very enjoyable. Here’s hoping it’s the beginning of a new era for Disney Animation. More passion, more inclusivity, better stories.

Review by sirwillisiv

Dune(2021) Movie Review

Despite being a fan of sci-fi and fantasy fare, I had never read Frank Herbert’s “Dune” novel. To be honest, the plot summaries of trade wars and odd names didn’t exactly appeal to me. So, I came into this film armed only with the expectations that director Dennis Villeneuve (one of my favorite film helmsmen) would probably do a good job with the material. That sentiment turned out to be an enormous understatement.

For a very basic overview, “Dune” tells the story–set thousands of years into the future–of the planet Arrakis, notable in the galaxy for its rich deposits of a spice that powers interstellar travel. Once ruled by House Harkonnen, Arrakis is being transferred to a new bloodline, that of House Atreides–with much political intrigue afoot. Central to all this is Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet), a young man who not only is being recruited into a behind-the-scenes string-pulling society inhabited by his mother (Rebecca Ferguson), but also begins having visions of fulfilling a savior prophecy amongst the Fremen (Arrakis’ desert inhabitants). Truth be told, trying to sum up “Dune” in a few sentences is nearly impossible and comes off sounding boring or trite. Rest assured, however, that the film is anything but.

Perhaps the biggest draw here is the work of director Villeneuve, who may now be nipping at the heels of Christopher Nolan in terms of directors with the prominence to create a project with this type of scale. His ability to take a plot that, yes, essentially stems from a trade war and make it utterly compelling cinema is remarkable. It’s Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings with the best themes of each franchise being showcased.

Having a stellar cast certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Besides Chalamet & Ferguson (both excellent), veterans of the craft like Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellen Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, & Zendaya play key roles. In a film that requires characters to look and feel epic in nature, that is easily accomplished with such a distinguished group.

The visuals and music soundtrack also heavily contribute to the sense of scale in “Dune”. While not flashy in any way, this is a film that begs to be seen on the big screen, where the planetary geography, interesting technology, and swelling score from Hans Zimmer can all best penetrate the senses.

Yes, this film is technically “half a movie” in that a sequel will be released at a later date to cover the rest of the source novel. But never for a moment did I feel in any way cheated or frustrated by this fact. In this case, I actually appreciated the way the filmmakers set the groundwork without rushing to try and cram everything into a single runtime.

Overall, my theater experience while watching “Dune” was one of the best I’ve had in some time. Truth be told, the only reason I deduct even one star is because I have to wait to pass final judgement until the sequel is finished. But I’ll have absolutely no trouble going back to re-watch this effort again in anticipation of that conclusion. In a film era of endless sequels and IP-related projects, “Dune” felt original and fresh in a way that is (sadly) growing more and more rare.

Review by zkonedog

Let Him Go Movie Review

“Let Him Go” is like if Liz Cheney made a movie.

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane act the hell out of this preposterous thriller that somehow manages to be nail bitingly exciting. They play good conservative Americans, the kind that own guns but use them responsibly to do things like shoot sick horses, and are really good at baking pies. Their son dies tragically and their daughter-in-law marries a bad conservative American who whisks her off to live with his nightmare of a family, their grandson in tow. They have reason to believe the grandson and daughter-in-law are in danger, so they take off to retrieve them, partnering up with an indigenous man no less, just to remind us that, once again, there is such a thing as a good conservative American. This brings them in contact with this film’s version of Trump America, a total goon show if ever there was one. I’m not sure our divided culture really needs a movie right now that reinforces the stereotype that people who live out in the middle of nowhere are hillbilly psychopaths, but if that’s your bag, this movie is for you. The hillbilly clan is led by matriarch Lesley Manville, who looks like she eats cigarette sandwiches for breakfast and orders her sons to go around chopping people’s hands off. The final showdown is something out of a southern Gothic horror story, like if William Faulkner and Stephen King had a literary love child.

I’d rather not think too much about this movie, because there is absolutely no way it could possibly stand up to too much scrutiny. I usually hate movies like this, because they make me want to see really bad things happen to vile people, and they usually — like this movie — make the vile people REALLY vile so that you don’t have to feel bad when you’re happy to see them murdered. But I still usually just feel bad, and I don’t like that feeling. This movie, however, just worked for me. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because of how good Costner and Lane are, and how careful the movie is to make these two feel like decent ordinary people trying to do the right thing rather than closet superheroes in flannel shirts and cowboy boots. Nothing they do is remarkable, unless you count standing up against grotesque hatred and bullying as remarkable, which I guess I do since it seems to be so needed in our country right now and seems to be in short supply.

And I’m on board with any movie that lets Lesley Manville devour as much scenery as she does here. I’m surprised there was any set left.

Grade: A

Review by evanston_dad

Red Notice (2021) Movie Review

This is pretty much what you’d expect given the stars and the Netflix tag. I am a bit disappointed that this film took the lamest, most cliched route to the ending, but it’s a fairly fun and breezy film for the most part.

Reynolds and Johnson are basically playing themselves as usual, which works pretty well as their banter keeps things humming along. There are plenty of twists and exotic locales. The running total on The Rock being in jungle-adjacent movies continues to climb. This film more than any thus far showcased how poor Gal Gadot’s acting really is. She has a presence on film, but anything more than looking seductive seems to be a struggle for her.

Red Notice will likely be one of the most watched films of they year and viewers should mostly get their money’s worth.

Review by cardsrock

Army of Thieves(2021) Movie Review

I’ll be honest I was not a fan of Army of the Dead at all. So I had absolutely no expectations watching this and I have to say it is much better than I thought it would be. They also picked one of the better characters to do a prequel on also.

It has some problems don’t get me wrong. I thought it was quite predictable at times and the plot never really went out of its way to surprise you. I was also a little surprised by the amount of action involved, what I mean by this is that there wasn’t much. However the film did really keep my interest and the suspense was built well.

The characters i thought on the whole were very good. I think they missed a trick on a couple of them. The driver in particular. He had a good sense of humour and was likeable, but he just wasn’t really in the film enough to make any sort of impact. But overall they did a good job of making these heist people really likeable and making you root for them.

The ending was much better also. I thought the ending of Army of the Dead was absolutely awful, but this rounded up significantly better. In terms of prequels the ending was spot on.

But yeah, overall I’ll give it a 7/10. I ultimately enjoyed watching it, the characters were fun and I was intrigued the entire time. Sure it’s absolutely not going to blow your socks off, but it’s entertaining and much MUCH better than Army of the Dead. Feel like they learnt from the mistakes a bit.

Review by danielmanson

The Room(2019) Movie Review

This movie is an absolute thriller. Wow! After a long time have I seen a really great thriller. This is one movie that doesn’t take much time in establishing the premise or the story of the movie. Right in the first 15 minutes everything starts proceeding with the right pace. This is NOT A HORROR MOVIE. There are not ghosts, or scary looking creatures. A very well written script till the end. I was worried if they would be able to give a good conclusion after such an amazing movie, but I was blown away by how smartly the climax has been thought of. There is no chance that you will not like this movie. This movie is probably underrated because of no publicity or maybe the current health situation, but this movie deserves a lot of praise.

The movie will also make you question some of the life choices that you make. How a lot of things that we just run after will eventually be of any use or not in life. This movie will surprise you at so many levels that you will completely engross yourself into wanting to know the solution to many situation in the movie.

I watched it on Prime Video. There it is available in Indian language dubbed verions as well. There are no nude scenes, but a couple of very mildly shot sex scenes. One of which is very pivotal for the movie. Ofcourse Olga Kurylenko looks hot! 😉

Review by DS Review

Birds of Paradise(2021) Amazon Movie Review

This is very well shot with good camera moves. The score and production design help the experience so much and are effective. The storytelling is nuanced. The direction was on point. I really enjoyed the way the information was delivered.

The tone was great. Sometimes I expected it to go some ways but it surprised me.

Sometimes the movie moved between genres which I thought made the storytelling better and helped the experience. The performances were great too.

The choreography was amazing. It was beautiful but it also was a big part of the storytelling and was meaningful and symbolic and poetic.

It does what it wanted to do in an effective way imo.

This is personal but the movie made me think about greatness in our society, and what it even means. Maybe there are more ways to interpret the word, compared to what I traditionally used to think. I think with paying attention it is not hard to understand it during the first watch, but I also enjoyed the second watch a lot too.

Review by alpheusthelover

Old(2021) Movie Review

If you knew you were to die today, what would you wish to change about the way you lived your life?

This is one of the themes Shyamalan explores in this astutely-directed, mostly tense, high-concept thriller, and it does result in some genuinely intelligent, emotionally resonant character beats that I did not expect.

Unfortunately, some clunky dialogue, a couple bad actors, and too many repetitive scenes that seem to only stretch the runtime prevent this from being the great film that it could have been.

Review by benjaminskylerhill

Kate(2021) Movie Review 

The second female John Wick rip off in just a month. Based on the trailer I had somewhat high hopes for this one, daring to believe it would deliver some classic John Woo style heroic bloodshed. Yet it’s another letdown, just like Jolt, Atomic Blonde, The Protégé and so many others.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a fine job as the lead, but shares no chemistry with the kid she’s saddled with. A lot of the Japanese actors sleepwalk through their roles, except for the big boss and the effeminate one. Woody Harrelson does his bit and is reliable as ever, even if he doesn’t have much to work with.

The photography was unexpectedly dull, the use of music often didn’t work, and worse, a lot of the kicks and punches lacked precision and speed. MEW has the acting chops, but isn’t a fighter. They would need someone like Gina Carano or some MMA fighter to pull this off convincingly.

Another aspect these John Wick and Crank ripoff movies lack is fun. While John Wick’s humor was found mostly in its timing or interactions, and Crank was just an all out cartoon, these new movies don’t seem to understand their own genre. They play it straight when they shouldn’t, and wink at the audience in a completely self-oblivious manner, as in “haha, aren’t we outrageous?”. John Wick or Crank never tried to trick the audience into thinking they’re watching something edgy. The outrageous scenes happened naturally within the context of the story. The tonality of the humor fit the story.

Kate is a tonal mess, switching from gory dismemberment to J-Pop music to Kate coming to terms with her life ending and scenes of bonding and redemption, to wanna be Japanese crime drama to total schlock again. It feels like a movie put together by a committee checking off boxes instead of a singular artistic vision.

Darn shame. A generous 5/10 for gorehounds and fans of the genre. You can certainly do worse, but you can do a whole lot better, too.

Review by kuner-59029

Cinderella (2021) Movie Review

I never leave reviews! But after watching this movie it was hard not to. I love the original Cinderella and majority of the spin offs, but this was horrible. I enjoyed some of the musical songs but there were only a few original songs and the rest included various old and new songs that just didn’t work like ‘Lets get loud”, it gave off a Spanish vibe that just didn’t make sense with the rest of the music and context of the movie. Just found the movie to be pretty long for a poorly presented ‘Cinderella’ storyline and character development.

Also I’m all for “girl power” but it’s a bit much having it brought up basically throughout the whole movie.

Does not deserve the title “Cinderella”, if you want to make a spin off or want to change the entire storyline then give it a different title!

Review by madison-jade