Movie Review: The Witch

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Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the suspect for witchcraft in Robert Eggers’ directorial debut The Witch

Finally! A horror film that is genuinely creepy!

During the 15th century, colonies have been setting up in America (notably Jamestown and Massachusetts). It has dealt with many issues, especially the presence of witchcraft.

In the 21st century, there are countless horror movies relying either on too much gore or cheap scares. The Witch, a big hit from last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is nothing but good ol’ fashioned horror.

Taking place 60 years before the Salem Witch Trials, William (Ralph Ineson) is the father of a Puritan family who decides to move to a remote farm in the New England wilderness. Along with his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) and five children, they are living a peaceful life. That is until the eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy, who has a long career ahead of her), who is going through puberty, notices something odd. While keeping an eye on her newborn brother Samuel, he is abducted by a witch. The family begins to suspect one another as tensions begin to rise.

There are times in which The Witch is reminiscent to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. However, what Robert Eggers–who won a Best Director Award at Sundance–does is craft a gorgeous, atmospheric picture about how a scary situation can affect a family and their religious views. You will notice the use of gray lighting and candle lighting that resembles the family’s grief. The Witch doesn’t move at a fast pace. As a matter of fact, it might test the patience for some viewers. For those who are up for something thoughtful and scary, you are in for a treat. Eggers’ directorial debut is something to behold.

4/4

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Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

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Eddie Mannix is on the case at Capitol Pictures in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!

Over the years, Joel and Ethan Coen have created several masterpieces. Fargo and The Big Lebowski are among them. As well as their 2010 remake of True Grit, which sadly is becoming overlooked. Last year, the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s masterful Bridge of Spies. Their latest picture–Hail, Caesar!–redefines the term “epic comedy”. Not only is the film funny, it’s also big in its scope (kudos to the great cinematographer Roger Deakins).

It’s the 1950s. Eddie Mannix is a “fixer” at Capitol Pictures. He cleans up and solves problems regarding the studio’s big stars. These include:

  • DeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), who gets pregnant during production and must adopt her child.
  • Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenrich), a famous Western star who is assigned a part in a drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes, providing the film’s funniest scene)
  • Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), the main star of a sailor comedy-musical.

The company’s biggest film to date will be Hail, Caesar!, an epic set in ancient Rome. While filming, the film’s star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) passes out after drinking a goblet of wine drugged by one of the extras. A Communist group called “The Future” kidnaps him to a beach house. And Mannix is on the case.

With numerous comedies containing toilet humor, this satire and love letter to 1950s cinema is a breath of fresh air! It has a huge list of A-list actors, offbeat humor, gorgeous cinematography, and a toe-tapping musical number (sang and danced by no other than Channing Tatum). Its purpose is to entertain rather than to provoke thought. Even though it’s not the Coen brothers’ latest masterpiece (in fact, there are times in which the tone can be rather off), it seems like they are having as much fun as their cast and the audience.

3/4

Movie Review: Deadpool

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Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) breaks the fourth wall in Tim Miller’s directorial debut Deadpool

How rare is it for a Marvel comic book movie to receive a hard R-rating from the MPAA? For Deadpool, there is no way on Earth for first-time director Tim Miller to show the audience what he truly is. Because of this, the last time everyone saw Ryan Reynolds as the title character was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He did kick some ass for the five minutes he was in; however, we had no idea what his background is.

In Deadpool, we see him as Wade Wilson. A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary. When he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he becomes involved in an experience run by Ajax (Ed Skrein) where he can cure his cancer. As a result, it gives him incredible healing powers in spite ruining his face. Ajax betrays him and kidnaps his stripper girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Then, Wilson has no other choice than to become Deadpool. With the help of two mutants–Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), he must find Ajax and save his girlfriend.

Does Deadpool live up to the hype? You betcha!

The movie is everything–raunchy comedy, character study, love story, and an exciting (yet grotesque) action film. It feels like Reynolds was born to play the potty-mouthed, fourth-wall breaking, wise-cracking anti-hero. His jokes range from pop culture, comic books, and film in culture. He nails it on every level! T.J. Miller also provides some funny scenes as his best friend Weasel. Despite Ajax being your standard villain, I had an absolute blast with Deadpool. From the opening credits to the post-credits scene, this movie will have you wanting more.

3.5/4

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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Liz Bennett (Lily James) and her sisters kick some zombie ass in Burr Steers’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name, this mashup of the undead coming into Jane Austen’s classic story of the high social class in 19th century England might sound trashy. Smith’s previous adaptation was 2012’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The satirical tale took its premise way too seriously.

With countless adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, this is the first one to contain zombies. Director Burr Steers balances the humor and the thrills well. The zombies are as comical as they are disgusting. Not to mention one scene involving a church communion where the zombies drink pig’s blood with pig’s brains (even that could get away with a PG-13 rating). There isn’t as much zombie action as one would expect, but there is plenty to keep the film going. The gore is mostly off-screen, except for some brief shots of the zombies getting their brains blown off. Yet again, it’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s not without its romantic charms.

Known for her performances on Downton Abbey and last year’s live-action version of Cinderella, Lily James proves to be more than just a pretty face. In her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett, she doesn’t necessarily need a husband–or Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) in this case. She takes care of herself fighting off the zombies. When he sets eyes on Liz, Darcy is impressed by her knowledge of the martial arts. They have each other’s back. The downside is that Darcy can be a bit aggressive. They even get physical at one point. The rest of the cast–including Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey–is solid, but Matt Smith steals the show as the socially awkward Mr. Collins, whose comedic timing and expressions are nothing short of perfect.

With the beautiful sets, scenery and costumes, it is undeniably flawed. As enjoyable the action is, some of the editing can get a little choppy. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can get out-of-hand by the last act. It doesn’t end, it more than just stops. Nevertheless, it offers enough for fans of Jane Austen and zombie fans. This is one inventive, hilarious, and entertaining mash-up.

3/4