“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: Something of a Miracle!

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Hail, Caesar (Andy Serkis)! TPihe future king of the apes! (Source: Salon.com)

In 1968, Franklin J. Schaffner and Arthur P. Jacobs introduced a planet unlike any other. A planet where chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans (oh my!) have the ability to talk, read and write, and hold a certain occupation. The only humans who live on this planet are mute and used for sport. Based on the books by Pierre Boulle, Planet of the Apes became a definitive science-fiction classic. Three lousy sequels and one good one (Escape from the Planet of the Apes) would soon follow. As well as a 2001 remake, directed by the master of bizarre, Tim Burton.

Ten years later, director Rupert Wyatt sits in the director’s chair to reboot the beloved franchise. Instead of taking place two thousand years into the future, it’s set in the present-day. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) has a similar premise to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but what Wyatt does with Rise is nothing short of a miracle.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist working for Gen-Sys in San Francisco. For about six years, he has developed ALZ-112, a drug that can repair bad brain cells. In other words, it may be the key solution to cure Alzheimer’s disease. He, along with other scientists, test the drug on chimpanzees, which give them an intelligence unlike anything they have ever seen. One day, he brings home a baby chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis), whose mother has been linked with the drug.

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Will always has Caesar’s back in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Source: IGN)

This is where morality comes into play for Will. He might be risking his job, but he might be doing something good for once. He uses most of his research on Caesar. Over the past two years, Will begins to realize he can learn words, play board games, and complete jigsaw puzzles at an astounding rate. “He’s been displaying incredible signs of intelligence. I designed the 112 to repair. But Caesar has gone way beyond that,” he says. He goes on to say his IQ double since the year before.

After the incredible discovery, Will uses the drug on his father Charles (the legendary John Lithgow), a former music teacher who happens to have Alzheimer’s. With his condition getting worse, the drug seems to work (he wakes up to see his father playing away on the piano), but not permanently.

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Motion capture makes a vast difference. Doesn’t it? (Source: ComingSoon.net)

If you compare this movie to the originals, it doesn’t come as a surprise the tone of the original films are dry and the ape costumes tend to get a little silly. The 20th century had limited technology, so the only option is using make-up and costumes. We now live in a world where everything is possible. Weta Digital, based in New Zealand, are known for bringing brilliant Lord of the Rings, District 9, The Hobbit to pure life with their brilliant motion capture. Rise is the first movie where the company uses motion-capture not only in the studio, but also on-location. The apes here look a lot more like apes than anything. Dozens of actors are performed through this modern technology (for the better). Known for portraying Gollum and King Kong, Andy Serkis brings forth another great character in Caesar. The expressions and the body language are 100% authentic to an actual ape. It’s hard not to feel sympathetic for Caesar whenever he is in the middle of any difficult situation.

Speaking of emotion, the movie has a lot to get teary-eyed over. In one scene, Charles’s condition returns as he’s about to steal a neighbor’s (David Hewlett) Mustang. Looking out of the attic window, Caesar gets pissed off seeing the neighbor giving Charles a hard time. Then, Caesar attacks the neighbor and bites his finger off. While he might have gone a little too far, he’s just protecting one of the only humans he trusts. Despite convincing him to get a girlfriend in a primatologist named Caroline (Freida Pinto), Will takes Caesar to an infirmary, under the supervision of Dodge Landon (Tom Felton, doing his best attempt at an American accent) There, Caesar meets some colorful characters including a circus orangutan named Maurice (Karin Konoval).

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Caesar protecting Charles (John Lithgow) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Source: Collider)

Rise proves the apes are getting smarter with each movie. Caesar is named after Julius Caesar, the ruthless leader of Ancient Rome. He understands the abuse that the apes have gone through over the years (at one point, Dodge screams, “It’s a madhouse!” One of the many references to the original film). He uses a stick as a metaphor for sticking together as one. “Apes together…weak,” referring to the one stick. Then, he breaks it in half, and holds the two halves together, he says (in sign language), “Apes together strong.”

“Apes stupid,” Maurice deadpans, referring to the apes’ behavior in the sanctuary.

Caesar simply can’t take the abuse anymore. He fights Dodge in the sanctuary. While grabbing onto Dodge, he tells him to “Take your stinkin’ paw off me, you damn dirty ape.” Before defeating him, Caesar yells, “No!” Then, Caesar and his fellow apes escape and cause a rebellion, resulting a miraculous sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge.

(When I saw this movie in theaters, I remember laughing at the Planet of the Apes reference. At the moment when Caesar spoke for the first time, the theater went completely silent. Every time I watch it, the scene never fails to send chills down my spine.)

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Caesar and his primates (no pun intended) take San Francisco by storm in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Source: Collider)

While it is bizarre to see a comedic actor perform a serious role, Franco is no stranger to that. After earning an Oscar as Aron Rolston in the magnificent 127 Hours, he leads an exceptional cast with his performance as Will. The reason why he’s one of the most convincing human characters in the franchise is because he takes his work very seriously, while his boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) decides to improve on the ALZ-112 with a more effective drug, which leads to problems. He trusts Caesar as much as Caesar does to him. This is way before Franco went entirely nuts, and posting a naked mirror selfie on his Instagram.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of those rare reboots which slightly improves over the original. It serves as an excellent build-up to the next film in the series, which happens to be my favorite.

2017 Summer Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man (Tom Holland) swings into action in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest in the MCU. (Source: Den of Geek!)

Who doesn’t love Spider-Man? The friendly neighborhood superhero who swings into action to stop crime in New York City? He’s one of the wittiest superheroes in the Marvel comics. He made his theatrical debut in 2002, starring Tobey Maguire, and has rebooted ten years later, starring Andrew Garfield. Spider-Man is rebooted yet again so he can show the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose boss.

He might have been brought in at the last minute. But—he exceeded everyone’s expectations in Captain America: Civil War. What worked was the authenticity of Spider-Man being played by an actual teenager. Tom Holland—who was 19 at the time—got the character right on the money.

It’s hard not to look forward to seeing him on the verge of becoming an Avenger. Spider-Man: Homecoming proves MCU is stepping up its A-game.

After Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns to living with his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) at his home in Queens. He goes to a private high school, where he is one of the smartest kids there. Not to mention being on the academic decathlon. However, school is getting rough, particularly with his frequent encounters with his bully Flash (Tony Revolori).

While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is moving the Avengers Headquarters upstate, they remain his mentor. Things get worse when Spider-Man must face against Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), or the Vulture, who has plans of his own to take over the Stark’s business.

There is plenty to like here. One of the best action set pieces in the movie takes place on the Staten Island Ferry where Spider-Man saves the people on board after a weapon malfunctions. One problem, however, is that the ferry doesn’t allow cars after the 9/11 attacks.

Holland is the definitive Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He gets every one-liner and every web-slinging action pitch perfect! Keaton’s Vulture feels more like a real person than the previous Spider-Man villains. In terms of the MCU, he joins the ranks of Loki and Zemo as one of the best villains. But—in terms of the Spider-Man movies, he’s not quite as menacing as Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2. John Batalon steals the show as Ned, Peter’s awkwardly funny best friend. It’s hard not to get a laugh out of him.

2017 has been full of surprises thus far. Spider-Man: Homecoming is another great addition to the MCU, and easily one of the best high school movies of all-time.

3.5/4

“Planet of the Apes” and the Sequels

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Source: IMDb

Planet of the Apes (1968) – Three astronauts—George Taylor (Charlton Heston), Landon (Robert Gunner), and Dodge (Jeff Burton)—wake up two thousand years later on a faraway planet. They soon discover it populated by highly intelligent apes, who have created their own laws and religion. Suffering from a throat injury, Taylor tries to communicate with two chimpanzees—Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) and Zira (Kim Hunter). They both take a vast interest in him. The only humans on the planet are unable to speak–Taylor takes a liking for the mute Nova (Linda Harrison)—and used for sport. Taylor eventually respects the two apes. (“Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” he sneers at one point when he is captured by gorillas).

Planet of the Apes is a milestone in science-fiction cinema. It’s an allegory of American slavery (almost ironic, in a way) and it tackles the questions of religion and science. Since its release in 1968, the movie stills holds up with its impressive sets and terrific ape costumes and make-up. The performances—led by Heston—are one-of-a-kind. A lot of people who haven’t seen the movie yet might be aware of the film’s iconic twist ending. It’s on the DVD cover, for crying out loud!

One of the best movies ever made!

4/4

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Source: Collider

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – This is where everything gets real bizarre.

Astronaut Brent (James Franciscus) is on a rescue mission to find Taylor on the planet while searching for “his destiny”. In perhaps the most laughable green screen shot in existence, Taylor goes missing through the boulders. Brent finds Nova and encounters both Cornelius and Zira, who warns him about talking to other apes, or else he’ll get in trouble. Nova takes Brent underground until they hear something humming. It’s actually a group of mutants who communicate telepathically.

When I first watched this after seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I found it to be a decent escape. Rewatching it today, it’s not as good as I remembered. Franciscus makes for a weak protagonist, and it’s obvious Charlton Heston didn’t want to take part in the sequel at all. There also should have been more of a backstory about how the telekinetic mutants lived underground all this time, and wanting to use a doomsday bomb. Beneath might be bad, but it is far from the worst movie in the franchise.

1.5/4

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Source: Den of Geek!

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) – Now—this is more like it!

Cornelius and Zira have escaped from their planet mere minutes before it got destroyed. Along with Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo), they end up going back in time in present-day Los Angeles. Soon, they are brought to the zoo’s infirmary to be looked upon by doctors Stephanie Branton (Natalie Trundy) and Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman). Right away, the doctor as well as the public discover the apes are intelligent and understand human speech. They become celebrities. However, problems begin to arise when the public asks where the two apes are from and Zira eventually getting pregnant.

Escape has what the rest of the sequels lack: humor and heart. I had no idea Frank Capra’s son was one of the producers of this movie. It certainly captures the charm reminiscent to Capra’s films. While the audience gets to learn about the apes’ home planet, we also learn how possible time travel is. There is a scene where Cornelius and Zira are brought before the Commission, and explain how humans are treated in their world. “Where we come from, apes talk. Humans are dumb,” Cornelius says to a shocked crowd. Later on, a doctor talks about the possibility of time travel using a painting of a painter painting a landscape as an example.

The movie is not without its flaws, it does have a suspenseful climax and great performances. Good stuff!

3/4

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Source: Collider

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) – The year is 1991. The apes have taken over the Earth’s population. After a virus that has killed many cats and dogs, the humans use the apes as pets. As the apes get older, they are used more as slaves. Caesar, the son of Cornelius and Zira, does not like this one bit. He leads a rebellion with his fellow apes against mankind.

You have to give Roddy McDowall credit for playing the father and the son in the franchise. He’s the highlight of not only this movie, but the entire franchise. Conquest has a fascinating input of the Earth’s future; making modern ape slavery the subject of controversy. However, the results are a bit underwhelming. The music score is nothing compared to Jerry Goldsmith’s scores in the previous films (his score for Escape is perhaps my favorite). The tone feels as dry as the Sahara desert. The rebellious climax can be suspenseful and a ton of fun to watch, some of the lighting can be dark at times. Caesar’s final speech never fails to send shivers down my spine.

2.5/4

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Source: Collider

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) – Caesar has officially ruled the Earth. His job is to keep peace between his fellow apes and the surviving humans. However, gorilla General Aldo (Claude Akins) begs to differ about keeping humans on their planet. As a group of humans want to gain back their once-beloved civilization, this results in an “epic” battle between the apes and humans.

Is it just me, or have the ape costumes gotten sillier in each sequel? Nothing comes closer than this atrocious sequel. With the exception of the beginning and end, almost every shot looks so cheaply-made (not to mention the movie having a budget of about $2 million). The narrative is a straight-up mess. I mean…how do the modern apes make that quick transition from being enslaved to ruthless leaders?

The title battle is just as embarrassing as it is boring. There is one point in which the same shot of a tree house burning down is used twice. Even Roddy McDowall cannot save this movie from being an absolute disaster. Easily the worst in the franchise.

1/4

2017 Summer Movie Review: Okja

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Mija (An Seo Hyun) bonds with Okja in Bong Joon-Ho’s latest film, distributed by Netflix. (Source: Slash Film)

South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho has become an international sensation. His 2014 hit Snowpiercer is one of the best post-apocalyptic films in recent memory. It had a talented, diverse cast, strong action, marvelous visuals, and a message with an Orwellian touch. His new film, Okja (which released on Netflix June 28), is unlike your average monster flick. Despite the gifted cast, the results are quite underwhelming.

Mija (An Seo Hyun) is a young girl living with his grandfather (Byun Hee-bong) in the beautiful South Korean countryside. Her only priority is taking care of a “super pig” named Okja. One day, wacky zoologist Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a crew of his television show come to do a segment on this stunning creature. However, Mija learns the truth on what is happening with Okja.

Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), the CEO of Mirando Corporation, constructs a plan to use the super pigs as food. Why? “Because they need to taste f***ing good,” she says during the opening scene.

Meanwhile, Mija goes to New York City where a festival is about to take place. She must save her only friend before it’s too late.

There is a great message about the environment and the livestock industry. But—the film’s satire and beauty fall apart after the first hour. It’s hard to determine what the audience is aiming towards. The tone is inconsistent throughout; ranging from childish and innocent to dark and upsetting. Although the movie is rated TV-MA, there are times in which the movie is too childish for adults. Swinton stands out from the rest of the cast (she is a chameleon!), while it seems like Gyllenhaal is doing his best impression of Jim Carrey as the environmentalist in In Loving Color. It gets annoying after a while.

Okja is the second movie this year in which it (ironically) uses John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”. Case in point, the song is used in a wonderful scene where Mija attempts to save Okja in Seoul until being picked up by the Animal Liberation Front, an animal activist group, led by Jay (Paul Dano). Other than that, I’m not a big fan.

1.5/4

2017 Summer Movie Preview: July

Two months down, two months to go.

Sometimes, I forget to talk about movies that came out this past month. Case in point, The Hero, starring Sam Elliott. This is the role that he was born to play! An aging Western icon with a stellar voice who comes to terms with his life once he is diagnosed with cancer. Starring alongside Laura Prepon (That ‘70s Show, Orange is the New Black) and Nick Offerman, it might sound clichéd, but I have a feeling this is going to be delightful.

Without further ado, let’s talk about what has yet to come this July.

July 7

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Source: IMP Awards

Spider-Man Homecoming – Spider-Man made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War. He might have been added in at the last minute, but he certainly deserved to be in it. It was a joy to watch an actual teenager—given Tom Holland was 19 at the time—tackle the web-slinging superhero that everyone knew and loved. Holland gave a much better performance than both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

Fresh from giving a powerful performance in The Lost City of Z, Holland returns to play the title character in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s surprising to see Michael Keaton play the villain this time. I guess it takes a hero to become the villain. I’m pretty certain we’ll keep seeing different interpretations of Spider-Man for years to come. Bring it on!

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Source: IMP Awards

A Ghost Story – Believe it or not, this is perhaps my most anticipated movie of the entire summer. A Ghost Story is far from a horror movie. This is a drama about a man’s ghost (in a white sheet with two holes for eyes) exploring the afterlife after dying in a car crash. Director David Lowery—of the sluggish yet decent tribute to Terrence Malick, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and the surprisingly exceptional Pete’s Dragon—reunites Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints to make another hit at this year’s Sundance. I’m hoping A Ghost Story will find an audience. Every shot is like a painting in motion. Totally looking forward to it!

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Source: The Film Stage

City of Ghosts – This is a documentary following a group of Syrian journalists risking their lives to stand up against ISIS. Documentaries and journalism are two of my biggest interests. Seeing a preview of City of Ghosts opened my eyes. Hearing about journalists and soldiers getting killed in the Middle East (particularly by ISIS) is downright devastating. It’s fascinating to hear about the lives of people living across the ocean.

July 14

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Source: IMP Awards

War for the Planet of the Apes – Hell yeah! The new Planet of the Apes trilogy is about to come to an end. While the 1968 film is a timeless sci-fi classic with one of the most iconic twists in film history (so iconic that it’s on the DVD cover), I actually prefer the new films. Rise was a marvelous build-up. And Matt Reeves brought the franchise to another level with Dawn, which is my personal favorite in the franchise. In War, the apes begin their civil war with a group of soldiers led by a vicious Colonel (Woody Harrelson). The reason why I prefer the new films over the original is not just because of the gorgeous visuals and motion capture being brought. But—rather the emotional appeal. The sequels of the original films are often dry and downright silly. It’s time for Reeves to end the trilogy on a high note.

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Source: IMP Awards

Wish Upon – *sigh* Another horror movie with a dumb premise? Next!

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Source: IMP Awards

Lady Macbeth – Whenever you see Lady Macbeth as the title of your movie, you might expect a prequel, of a sort, to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This is anything but. One review described Lady Macbeth as: “Wuthering Heights, as if it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock” (not the exact quote, but you get the idea). Seeing the preview before Manchester by the Sea (twice), I saw something that might be tense.

July 21

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Source: IMP Awards

Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan has directed some of the best films in existence—from The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. His last film, Interstellar, had the potential of being a wonderful space film, but faltered from a manipulative script and a syrupy final act. This time, Nolan goes back to the past to depict the Battle of Dunkirk, where 400,000 allied forces from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are evacuated from the battle and are surrounded by the Germans. This movie doesn’t seem to follow the “war is hell” structure compared to most WWII films, which is a good thing. With a brilliant cast including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, and One Direction’s Harry Styles (quite unususal, but hopefully, he’ll give a surprisingly good performance) This seems to be more of an intense war thriller than anything.  Please don’t disappoint me again, Christopher Nolan.

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Source: IMP Awards

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (try saying the title three times fast) – Known for directing Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, and Lucy, Luc Besson adapts a graphic novel, originally published in France (his home country). While I’m not familiar with comics, it doesn’t change my mind that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets looks horrible although visually stunning. I wouldn’t be surprised if it flops.

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Source: IMP Awards

Girls Trip – Yay…another black comedy. Moving on.

July 28

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Source: IMP Awards

The Emoji Movie – Another corporate sellout appealing to kids rather than adults? No, thank you.

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Source: IMP Awards

Atomic Blonde – Charlize Theron continues her repertoire starring in action movies in which she plays a badass. Atomic Blonde is no exception. Teaming up with James McAvoy, this seems to be some brutal fun.

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Source: IMP Awards

Menashe – In the orthodox Jewish community of New York City, a widow is struggling to live his life after the passing of his wife. Mostly told in Yiddish, Menashe seems to be fascinating sociological outlook of a least-known culture. While this is the first PG-rated film by A24, this movie seems to be more for adults than children (I guarantee they will be bored to death). I don’t know if I’ll see it, but it might be pretty good.

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Source: IMP Awards

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – The 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth brought forth some deep discussion about the climate change in our world. Al Gore is back to talk about how the Earth’s climate change has evolved since then. It might be okay, but I’m not entirely interested.

Recap:

Most Anticipated: Atomic Blonde, City of Ghosts, Dunkirk, A Ghost Story, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes

Least Anticipated: The Emoji Movie, Girls Trip, Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets, Wish Upon,

I hope you all enjoyed what my thoughts on upcoming movies for July are. Please feel free to leave comments on what you are looking forward to this July. Stay tuned at the end of this month as I give my thoughts on what has yet to come in the month of August. Take care.

2017 Summer Movie Review: Baby Driver

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Baby (Ansel Elgort) puts on his earbuds and goes for a ride in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. (Source: The Playlist)

That’s what I’m talking about!

When it comes to writing and directing, Edgar Wright is unlike any other filmmaker. He brings forth the most unique visual style in movies, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (a colorful tribute to graphic novels and video games) and The Cornetto trilogy—Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End (my absolute favorite). After ditching Ant-Man (which, to this day, has no interest in seeing), to do Baby Driver, the latest action-comedy that only Wright wrote the screenplay.

Baby (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in our Stars) is a marvelous getaway driver living in Atlanta working under crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). As a child, he witnessed his parents getting killed in a car crash. It left him with tinnitus, or constant ringing in the ear drum. The only way he can drown out the ringing is listen to music on his iPod. While he doesn’t sit with his team—including Buddy (Jon Hamm), his girlfriend Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Bats (Jamie Foxx)—he can repeat back the heist plan even though he’s preoccupied with his music.

One day, at a local diner, he locks eyes on a gorgeous waitress named Debora (Lily James, Cinderella and Downton Abbey). He decides to leave behind his life of crime, so he can be with her.

I have never had this much fun at a movie theater all summer. Baby Driver is no exception! The movie has it all: action, laughs, romance, twists, turns, and straight-up emotion. Most—if not, all—of the action and stunts seen on the screen is actually real. There are a couple of shootouts in the movie where the guns go off in sync with the music, compared to Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim. Goofy, yes. However, it’s a ton of fun to watch, and it makes the audience wonder how the sequences were performed without any accidents.

Elgort leads a terrific cast bring enough energy, either behind the wheel or interacting with his crew, foster dad, or his new girlfriend. Even when he is singing and dancing to his playlist (particularly during the opening credits), it’s hard not to crack a smile. The soundtrack is one of the best of the year. It’s as if Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and Awesome Mix Vol. 2 had a baby (a big baby!), and got Baby Driver. Featuring music by Queen, Golden Earring, The Commodores, and many more, the movie is like a rock opera mixed with a straight-up action film. One of the year’s best films.

Oh—and always remember: “The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet.”

4/4

2017 Summer Movie Review: It Comes at Night

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Paul (Joel Edgerton) tries to find answers about an intruder in It Comes at Night. (Source: Slash Film)

Director Trey Edward Shults made his directorial debut last year with Krisha. Made on an extremely low budget ($30,000, no less), he cast his family members in a movie about a woman (played by Shults’ real-life aunt, Krisha Fairchild) whose past begins to haunt her while at a Thanksgiving dinner. It unnerved audiences at the SXSW Film Festival.

He’s back to unnerve audiences again with It Comes at Night. It is unlike your average cabin-in-the-woods horror picture. Without any annoying characters doing dumb decisions or cheap scares, it features a claustrophobic atmosphere and humanity. A lot of people called it “a horror masterpiece” prior to its release. After going into this movie blind, I found it to be far from a masterpiece. Nevertheless, it is nothing short of a solid shocker.

Paul (Joel Edgerton) is a patriarch of a secluded house in the woods. He’s doing everything he can to protect his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) from a nasty virus that wiped out the outside world. One day, a stranger named Will (Christopher Abbot) is seeking shelter. Paul reluctantly agrees to have him, his lover Kim (Riley Keough), and son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner) into their home. After breaking a few ground rules, the group must fight for survival.

Compared to last year’s The Witch, Shults has crafted a slow-burning psychological horror-thriller featuring a solid cast—with Edgerton doing what he does best—and some of the creepiest images in all of horror (I’m talking about the one where an old man is seen with black eyes and blood dribbling from his mouth). However, what falters is the limited character development and sluggish pacing. While a lot better than most horror movies today, It Comes at Night isn’t something I’ll revisit anytime soon.

3/4