The Foreigner: The Working Man’s Taken

The Foreigner: The Working Man’s Taken

With the Chinese film market being as huge as it is and with Jackie Chan being its biggest export (sorry, Chow Yun Fat), Hollywood being Hollywood will capitalize on it. But this time around the powers that be also placed a quality filmmaker at the helm. Martin Campbell has a very specific set of skills. He will find a dying franchise and/or actor and he will rejuvenate them. He did that twice for the Bond franchise with GoldenEye and Casino Royale, he made people care about The Mask Of Zorro, and he shepherded Mel Gibson’s return with Edge Of Darkness.

Good ol’ Billy Shakes once said that when every story in the known world is condensed to its bare essence, we have all but seven unique ones. Little did we know that the story of Taken was one of those. The Foreigner (which should have been named The Chinaman going by the number of times the word is used in this film) follows Jackie Chan’s 64-year-old restaurateur Ngoc Minh Quan as he tries to uncover the identities of the men who bombed a local department store to smithereens killing his daughter. On the other end of the story, we have Liam Hennessey (Pierce “I’m Irish” Brosnan), a former leader of the IRA and present-day politician, who himself is embroiled in a deadly game of bureaucratic chess with a few members of the British Parliament and police force.

Between trying to keep his affair out of the sight of his wife and trying to obtain pardons for 40 IRA members, Hennessey is constantly pestered by the subdued and quiet Quan. Soon after Hennessey dismisses Quan and his requests as nothing more than a nuisance, Hennessey’s bathroom is blown to bits, and his car is next. All that Quan wants are some names.

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Unsurprisingly, Quan is a man with a very specific set of skills (a combination of Bryan Mills and Rambo) who is hell-bent on getting the names he needs. Like a holier-than-thou life coach would say, he is flexible with his methods but is rigid about his goals.
The film-like Quan himself is workman-like. It is not trying to be high art or even high action. Unlike Liam Neeson demolishing fools with an endless series of throat chops, Jackie Chan exhibits vulnerability, pain, and intelligence. Following in the footsteps of a CBS procedural, the movie moves from scene to scene with precision, not allowing itself too much time to needlessly dwell on unimportant things which do not further the plot.

While one needs to appreciate the movie’s adherence to pacing itself out and respecting the audience’s time, Quan’s vendetta is often overshadowed by Hennessey’s political manoeuvring, and for most of us Indians with little to no to concept of what the IRA is and how it affects the political climate between England and Northern Ireland, the film’s conflicts might come off as needlessly convoluted. With the Asian audience being its prime demographic, the movie could have done better by elaborating on and meshing the two plotlines in a more convincing way.

But we did not go into this movie for political intrigue; we went in to see the Chan-issance. And the man does not disappoint. Jackie Chan who is known for his salt-of-the-earth roots and immense commitment while acting in his unparalleled action movies is also an actor who worked on Shakespearian plays in his early years. While still performing close combat scenes with the finesse of a much younger actor, Chan’s acting is what takes center stage. Rarely do you see the lovable star sans his smile, and yet through the course of this film, Chan plays his character with pain behind his eyes and a palpable heaviness in his heart. This is unchartered territory for most audiences, but it is a performance bound to impress and hook each and every one of them.

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Going toe-to-toe with Chan is former Bond Pierce Brosnan and his merry band of Irish rogues. Most of them are given a scene to shine in, and the confrontations between Brosnan and Chan are substantially tense.
Underscoring their many tense face-offs is Cliff Martinez’s score. While not as compelling as his previous work in Drive or Only God Forgives, Martinez’s music deviates from the usual pulse-pounding loudness of a run-of-the-mill action film to help underline characters and their tribulations. And thank Cliff for his score as the cinematography is nothing to write home. As previously mentioned, the movie mimics the look and feel of a TV procedural, and does not induce a feeling of the cinematic.

And that line is what defines this film. It does not feel magnificent, and its characters are not superhuman or over-the-top megalomaniacs. To echo a previous sentiment, the movie is workmanlike. The Foreigner comes in, does his job and walks out expecting the audience is satisfied with his service – which is still the perfect prescription for a lazy weekend afternoon.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie: Well, You Ran The Joke Into The Ground

The Lego Ninjago Movie: Well, You Ran The Joke Into The Ground

Right, so this weekend I’m reviewing three films. The first one is a remake and the last one is a sequel to a film that saw the light of day in 1982. The one in the middle is a spin-off from the inexplicable LEGO cinematic universe. These are the times that the one snooty friend of yours who mocks you for watching films (the derivative entertainment medium of the proletarians) while reading high literature gets a few chips stacked in his/her favor.

Before we get into the meat of the matter here, let’s outline what we have going in terms of plot and characters. A random white kid walks into a store filled with artifacts which are curated by JACKIE CHAN!

Okay, this movie earned a brownie point just for letting me look at Jackie Chan’s salt-of-the-earth smile again. I mean, how could anyone not like him? No reasons. I thought so.

Here, the kid expresses his detachment with the world by equating himself to a broken LEGO piece. Mr. Liu fixes the boy’s LEGO man and narrates an old wives’ tales written by a group of eight, directed by a trio, produced by six and edited by a five-some. This orgy of ideas, critiques and no focus leads to the story of one Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), son of evil Lord Garmadon. Evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) wants to destroy the city of Ninjago for some unspecified reason whereas Lloyd and his group of Planeteer-inspired ninjas (remember Captain Planet?) with the aid of their Master Wu (Jackie Chan Role Deux) make it their life’s work to stop Lloyd’s dad who strangely resembles Aku from Samurai Jack.

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While dissecting this movie and its plot, I’d like to direct your attention to the myriad of pop culture references I’ve used and deliberately avoided while describing the movie’s basic plot thread (note the derivativeness) as I want the folk who dare watch this film have a unique experience of their own which is no ruined by a pop-culture savvy show-off like moi. That being said, this film stumbles out of the starting gate as its galloping legs are immobilized by two Nunchuk shots it can’t recover from.

The first hit comes in the form of the film being a part of this self-deprecating cinematic universe. While the original Lego Movie and to a lesser extent The Lego Batman Movie had a sea of built-up history and purity of intent to work with to create their jokes, worlds, and characters, this film suffers from being a wholly recent property that many a person has little to no bond with. There are no Batmen or Supermen or Saurons or Voldemorts. What we are left with are a bunch of interchangeable supporting characters and a plot which that can be classified as an abominable fusion of Star Wars and Kung Fu Panda.

As the movie rubs its shins and tries to play through the pain, a swift second shot immobilizes it completely. The Lego Universe works by endlessly poking holes at overused movie clichés and tropes. Think of it as a film written by the good people at Cinemasins or Honest Trailers. For this to work, the nit-picking needs to be on point while also having a wholly original take on an age-old story. The movie has neither. The jokes come off as clunky rehashes of the first film without any of Lord’s or Miller’s creative sparkle, and the conflicts presented lack any semblance of depth.

While my taking a kids’ movie animated by Lego blocks so seriously seems a tad insensitive, I’d like to point out that the first film had clarity of narration with its real life and animated conflicts aligning perfectly onto each other like a couple of Lego pieces clicking into place. This movie, while being a good distraction to the tiny tots of the world, rarely tries to use the world it has created for itself to any level of effect.

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Stepping away from those paragraphs of analytics, the movie does have a stellar voice cast to bolster its sagging narration. Justin Theroux doing his best Will Arnett impression is combined with the rapidly rising Dave Franco. They deliver belting lines to make their undercooked conflicts of not being able to catch and throw while inexplicably being able to build mechs seem more epic. The interchangeable supporting cast serves their purpose well while Jackie Chan is back doing his brand of self-referential comedy again, and each moment of him trolling his students by offering up a series of red herrings and overly vague life lessons is reminiscent of the martial arts masters of yore.

The animation bringing these characters to life, while not overly inventive, is passable at best. Gone are the days of endless sight gags, and even if the world is rendered better than in the previous iterations, it lacks a sense of wonder and unpredictability that the previous movies of this series had on offer.

The film has one of the most forgettable scores of any big-budget film I’ve seen in a while. A random series of “eastern”-inspired sounds masquerades as the score so much so that I was expecting some character to start humming Om for good measure just to fill out all avenues of Asia.

And therein lies the problem with The Lego Ninjago Movie. While The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie cannibalized the film industry they were a part of to make their properties entertaining, The Lego Ninjago Movie needed to go the Tarantino route and learn to take inspiration from the brand of hokey Eastern cinema it is trying to ape. Reviewing largely unfunny comedies is a task for both the reviewer and the reader as both are trying to understand why a film failed at its primary goal of being a light-hearted romp.

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Simply put, The Lego Ninjago Movie is derivative of its predecessors and is not a whole new avenue of filmmaking. Need proof? We have a laser pointer instead of super glue, the moral standpoint of the power being within you and the extremely uninventive name of Ninjago which is unsurprisingly the catchphrase of its characters – Ninja Go! A Vanilla Ice cameo with him singing Go Ninja Go Ninja Go might have put a wider smile on my face and added to this film’s enjoyability, but as it stands, the comical overuse of the Wilhelm scream and a few well-placed zingers are the only things I found chuckle-worthy in this one.

Blade Runner 2049: Sit Back, Relax and Admire Excellence

Blade Runner 2049: Sit Back, Relax and Admire Excellence

As I walked out of Blade Runner 2049 and performed my usual ritual of looking up at the big screen one last time before I exited the hall, I had to ask myself a few questions before framing the review in my mind. Some of those questions being: how influenced am I by the original and its near-mythical status? Are the ideas I’m going to be expressing in my review mine alone or are they implanted into me by the many voices in the cinema hall callously throwing their opinions around?

What started here slowly morphed into me asking some deeper questions of myself. Are any of my ideas or my identity a product of my environment or a product of who I am internally? Can any of us ever really know the answer to that question? And am I going to rate this film higher because it transported me to a state of questioning my humanity/identity or am I rating it higher because it deserves it?

See what good sci-fi does.

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To paraphrase Leo Dicaprio in Inception: Once an idea is introduced, it morphs and builds but can never be wholly eliminated. And to quote V: Ideas are bulletproof. Blade Runner 2049 is an amalgamation of many such ideas that are bound to create existential crises in those brave enough to wither its slow first half.

Narrating a story while making me ask questions of myself is director Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious follow up to 1982’s Blade Runner. His film beings with Ryan Gosling’s K going about his job eliminating obsolete Nexus-8 replicants – the film acknowledges non-fans of the original by explaining basic vernacular such as replicants and Blade Runners – one such replicant is the imposing and engaging Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista).

As a quick synopsis that doesn’t ruin much of the film (respecting one of my favorite director’s wishes here): K’s altercation with Morton leads him on a trail of discovery. He begins to question his purpose and the true power the old Nexus-8 models possess when not being oppressed by their human masters. Aided by the undying faith of his holographic girlfriend Joi, K sleuths around the desolate landscapes of 2049 Los Angeles aiming to discover his purpose and the specifics of his origin while masquerading these intentions by pretending to comply with his superior’s orders of finding and eliminating an anomaly amongst replicants.

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While the story itself is excessively engaging owing to every scene and interaction working as an excessive yet carefully crafted piece of a beautiful mosaic, the enduring impact Blade Runner 2049 left on me as a viewer is to the questions it dares to ask while employing me to find my own answers to those questions.

However, my experience with this film is wholly mine. I am not blind to the fact that the film’s pacing akin to films of a bygone era is bound to put off many a viewer. Neither filmmaker or filmgoer is at fault here as cinema had evolved multiple times since 1982 and a film that chooses to ape it’s predecessor’s futuristic neo-noir styling falls short at the exact same avenue.

As mentioned above, the film has a wealth of ideas, themes, and morals to offer up in exchange for patience. Blade Runner 2049 adds onto the singular thematic conflict of “what it means to be human?” put forth by its predecessor by deftly navigating between the evils of surrounding yourself in a lonely echo chamber, the beauty of sentience and how once achieved it can never be rolled back, the palpable fear of humans and their penchant for rejecting new avenues of evolution for fear of being replaced, the urge to be a part of a cause while still preserving the need to feel like you’re not just a disposable soldier and so forth with the highest of ease and care. My thanks go to the (forgotten heroes) writers for crafting a narrative that never falls like a deck of cards when one plot point is pulled for deeper investigation.

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The words, however, are only as good when the mouths speaking them are bringing their A-game. Ryan Gosling’s steely yet pained determination coupled with a rejuvenated child abandoning (why do you do this Harrison, first Star Wars and now this?) Harrison Ford are tailor-made for this film. Gosling’s desires, outbursts, and actions have a bit of the mechanical attached to them and that there is clever direction as it helps in selling the reality of his conflicts.

Ford’s Deckard is infinitely more engaging this time around but overshadowing both leading men is relative newcomer Ana De Armas as Joi. Playing a much-advanced version of Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha in Her, De Armas grounds the film by ironically adding the most humanity to a film while being the least human character. While Jared Leto is quite interesting in his limited time on screen, his right-hand woman Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) steals scenes she’s in by mirroring K’s conflicts by possessing all of the same desires with none of the humanity.

Capturing these conflicts and deeply personal stories is 13-time Oscar nominated visionary cinematographer who primarily dictates modern cinema’s visual language, the incomparable Roger Deakins. Bolstered by the impeccable work of the production design crew, the film’s eerie dystopia feels as if it is not quite far away. There is not much I can say here in terms of praise except if Deakins does not win his first Oscar this year for this hypnotically shot gorgeousness, I will start a riot.

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Going hand in hand with the visual spectacle is the score composed by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The iconic original score composed by Vangelis’ is incorporated and improved upon in leaps and bounds by the duo who synthesize unromantic, cold notes of music to mirror the desolate landscape and its characters with calculating precision.

As most of you may have noticed, this review is neither too funny nor is too high in references to pop culture. Simply put, staggering intelligence like the one presented in this motion picture is what stops me from doing so. It dawns on me that I’m yet to achieve a level of narrative, visual, musical or performing standard with any of my personal works as this film and its crew attains with every frame. All I can do is sit back with quiet admiration while applauding its brilliance and learning from it.

Denis Villeneuve quite simply goes on with his work by adding another great film to his enviable repertoire. Philip K. Dick is looking down from the heavens above appreciating what his work has led to.

American Made: Maverick Is A Smuggler Now? Oh No!

American Made: Maverick Is A Smuggler Now? Oh No!

There is a trend emerging in the world of cinema. While Bollywood continues to be enamored with Dawood Ibrahim, his cohorts, his sister and his rivals, Hollywood is busy milking the life and times of Pablo Escobar and his drug cartel for their movies and Netflix shows. Following the herd, director Doug Liman, the man behind Edge Of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity and Swingers, picks up the true life story of Cuban cigar smuggler turned CIA enlisted mole turned drug mule turned money launderer turned CIA secret operative Barry Seal as the basis of his latest project.

The ageless wonder Tom Cruise essays the role of Barry Seal as we follow his life and times from 1978 to 1986. The last line from the previous paragraph works as an adequate description of the plot of a film which takes Seal and the audience on a wild ride which seems too crazy to be true and is peppered along the way with humour, more information than you’d want to know about flight mechanics and Cruise’s enduring charm and smile.

American Made is a movie somehow boosted and hindered by Cruise’s presence and the Seal’s story. The film, while being set smack-bang in the middle of the most tumultuous time in US history and being fuelled by stupidly high amounts of cocaine, neither becomes a brash, uncompromising look into a world of men with lax morals like The Wolf Of Wall Street was, nor falls into the category of paint-by-numbers biopics where filmmakers attempt to justify a man’s descent into a shady world with unconvincing motives. American Made stays in the cushy position between the two extremes snuggled up next to The Big Short.

Coming in at a conservative runtime of 117 minutes and using ’80s-era non-widescreen filming and projection techniques, the film separates itself from its contemporaries with its look, feel and color palette. The frames seem slightly grainy, the colors are a wee bit saturated and the exposition dumps come as droves of unintelligible jargon to aid the movie in keeping its runtime low. While the movie uses crude animation to make these big piles of expositing seem palatable, the story being told and the details it needs to cover necessitate that the film uses conventional story-telling techniques from time to time, and that leaves a chink in the film’s goodwill armor.

The aforementioned armor of goodwill is built and held together by the levity and likability Tom Cruise brings to his role as Barry Seal. While never as complex and intelligent as a Walter White, Seal, as portrayed on screen, is a man of simple tastes and needs. He’d rather fall asleep than cheat on his wife with random women; he wants to fuel his insatiable need to have the finer things in life by earning truckloads of money, he wants to listen to the men who’ll keep his family fed initially and the men who’ll keep him alive eventually. Seal is a simple man who knowingly does a terrible thing sporting a smile worth a million bucks.

While committing the cardinal sin of not having Tom Cruise run in this film – I mean what sort of god allowed that to happen – Doug Liman uses every other aspect of what makes Cruise a bankable star to its fullest extent. Films and performances like this one are when I gladly forgive Cruise for his less than stellar turns in The Mummy or Jack Reacher and follow good old Maverick as he glides along the skies in a movie whose entertainment quotient drops below Top Gun owing only to its lack of quotable one-liners and homoerotic beach volleyball scenes.

While adequate, the supporting cast can rarely upstage Cruise. The supporting cast member could be playing Pablo Escobar or a lingerie-clad wife – the viewer’s focus stays on Cruise and Cruise alone. If there is one aspect of the film Tom does not overpower, it is the excellent cinematography reminiscent of films of a bygone era. Employing some distinctive techniques which result in some excellent and tense shots, cinematographer Cesar Charlone (who shot the inimitable City Of God) creates a lush portrayal of the world the film inhabits. In a narrative that rarely offers any room for you to breathe, it’s shots that linger for a few seconds over stoic backdrops that offer you some respite from the breakneck pace.

When the movie does not even do you the service of slowly winding down, and sticks to paralleling Barry Seal’s meteoric rise to and crushing fall from being the richest man in a Podunk town in Arkansas, it checks the final box on the list to make a wholly enjoyable crime-drama-entertainer. The film rarely affords you any time to question its story or characters or their actions. All it wants to do is quickly tell a tight-knit entertaining tale bolstered by a charming leading man without putting much heed into things like emotional centers and sloppy tearful melodramas. And at that, it succeeds in spades.

Kingsman – The Golden Circle: Eggsy and The Gang Struggle To Cure Their Film of Sequelitis

Kingsman – The Golden Circle: Eggsy and The Gang Struggle To Cure Their Film of Sequelitis

If I were to be playing word associations, the one term I’d closely associate with Kingsman: The Secret Service would be “joy”. The sense of elation you feel through its generous 129-minute runtime is second to none as the send-ups to spy movies past and present, the dialogue bordering on pastiche, the slick production values and the genuinely likeable duo of mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and mentee Eggsy (Taron Egerton) make for a movie whose quality no one could have foreseen but all need to bow their heads down to with respect. Because, simply put, Manners Maketh Man, and when one man, director Matthew Vaughn, showcases his skills at their absolute zenith, it is but you showing your manners when you acknowledge his work.

So breaking the cycle of not directing sequels to the awesome popcorn action movies he makes – look at the sequels to X Men: First Class and Kick-Ass not matching up to their predecessors – Matthew Vaughn returns to helm Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Will it match the unabashed and unrelenting rollicking ride the first one was or will it suffer the disease of Sequelitis?

To adequately answer that question, we must start at the beginning. Eggsy and Merlin spring into action with the base of Kingsman destroyed and every agent on their books terminated. While the two of them survive due to a twist of fate, the realization dawns on them that they are in no way capable of stopping the evil, ’50s loving, drug kingpin Poppy Adams. But unbeknown to them, the elders at that adorable tailor shop left breadcrumbs (whiskey bottles, in this case) to follow in time of such peril. By drinking those drops of elixir and following the trail they leave behind, Eggsy and Merlin meet the secret service across the pond, The Statesman, and quickly form an alliance to eliminate a deadly virus permeating narcotic drugs across the world and the woman masterminding said global catastrophe.

While the plot itself is adequately James Bond to warrant a fun romp, Kingsman: The Golden Circle ties itself in knots with its admittedly cool electric lasso while trying to do both what a sequel and a universe-building cinematic exercise should. The movie doubles down on the novel aspects of its original by overdoing the crass humour, and having multiple iterations of fight scenes reminiscent of that one sequence from The Pseudo Westboro Baptist Church and a slew of overpowered gadgets that skirt the line of silliness, but the cruel thing about novelty is that, like the element of surprise the original carried with it, it only works once.

For the full version of this review, please visit:

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

IT: A Dive Into The Harsh Realities of Growing Up

IT: A Dive Into The Harsh Realities of Growing Up

Ever seen a baby or a child who cannot articulate complex emotions cry? Ever wonder why a moody teen is so moody? Ever wonder why kids scream bloody murder in certain circumstances? How many of their cries for help hold water? Do you really punish them for it? If a child you knew cried wolf falsely a hundred times, would you not help it at hundred and one? What scares children? Can we ever truly know without our cynicism tinted shades? What lies beneath the youthful exterior fuelled by the innocence of thought, if not words?

These questions are the most rudimentary ones (deeper questions are for you to figure out yourself) attached to Andres Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1136 page work of prose, IT. A story of 7 distinct teens who band together owing to circumstance, as they fight to keep their innocence and their lives when faced with the prospect of being consumed by the murderous and unexplained force of nature known as Pennywise, The Dancing Clown or as the kids christen him, IT.

From a personal perspective, I could sum up my liking of this film with a line. I did not have the best of childhoods for a multitude of reasons and those circumstances created a terrifying world around me that only I could see and experience, the only way out of which was to lose my innocence and step into the so called “real world”. This film painted a whole host of those feral emotions on its canvas as I felt myself slip back into the dark recesses of my mind on more than one occasion.

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Great horror films/books have always been more than just meandering tales about the supernatural. They have been allegories for personal experiences and world events. A few examples would be something as universally lauded as The Haunting, which acts as an allegory for psychological deterioration and the need for social acceptance or as divisive as The Hills Have Eyes, which is an allegory for people living in a desert with homes and genetics tattered thanks to incessant radioactive tests being conducted without a modicum of regard, getting their retribution on a race of people who put them in this condition (remind you of someone?).

While the number of examples I can drop are innumerable, the fact remains that Stephen King’s and in turn Andres Muschietti’s exploration into the fragility and terror that accompany childhood is a fantastic portrayal of what makes innocence so fleeting and friendships so indispensable.

As we see first see Georgie Denbrough run own a rainy suburban street, chasing down a paper boat, the film expertly conveys through mood, tone, score, and cinematography that the circumstances looming over this 7-year old boy resemble both, what the viewers have experienced before and everything they fear in the subconscious minds. As we see Georgie succumb through the eyes of a quiet cat and the all-encompassing God Eye View shot, the danger (clown) lurking under the very ground of Derry become anything but comical and the objective The Losers Club set for themselves is anything but meek.

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The audience is allowed to be part an intimate part of The Losers Club from the start as the film takes the viewer on a journey chronicling the lives, laughs, loves and losses of this band of kids. From conniving mothers who administer placebos to keep their kids blissfully ignorant of the world around them to disturbingly abusive fathers to near murderous bullies, the world provides these kids with ample opportunity to abandon hope and submit to their circumstances.

Whilst eliminating a frankly inappropriate aspect of the book (here’s hoping they alter the original ending), The Losers Club in the film band together during their time of crisis by using some clever dick jokes, camaraderie, and strength of character. The organic growth of their friendship parallels the organic evolution of many of their personal arcs as the story unfolds over a gripping 135 minutes. Yes, I could shower praise on each of them for being the funny, intelligent, brave, hypochondriac etc., ones but singling them out would be a disservice to one of the themes of the film as the group lives and dies by their association with each other.

Unlike most films, IT cleverly eliminates the presence of an all-knowing adult and lets the children learn and grow from their personal experiences. While most non-oppressive grown-ups are to either nonchalant or dismissive, the only one of any real concern to an audience is Pennywise. Bolstered by some terrifying character design (almost mimicking The Joker), an ominous score and pitch-perfect lighting, Bill Skarsgard etches out a performance which in equal parts pays homage to the indelible imprint Tim Curry left on the character while carving out a place of his own in the process. While a bigger budget, tighter story, and well-rendered effects do aid the overall feeling of terror he exudes, the work the man behind the makeup puts in is never to be discounted.

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The fact that I chose to dedicate a solitary paragraph to the “horror” element of the film while choosing to discuss almost every other aspect of it with great detail is proof positive that this is a film that’ll stay with me for the foreseeable future. The Dark Knight is usually classified as a crime film with Batman in it and in my book IT is a poignant coming-of-age story with a terrifying clown in it.

True terror and methods to overcome it (even if the film takes the wonky route once in a while) come from within. While IT (1990) took its rightful place amongst the many unintentionally hilarious King adaptations sitting cosily next to Maximum Overdrive and The Langoliers, IT (2017) will settle in well with Misery, Stand By Me and The Shining as a reflection of how cinematically satisfying Stephen King’s works can be when the right story is handed over to the right filmmaker.

 

Annabelle Creation: Funny and Entertaining With A Few Decent Scares, Modern Horror Needs This!

Annabelle Creation: Funny and Entertaining With A Few Decent Scares, Modern Horror Needs This!
Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation were both causes for ridiculously rowdy but ultimately hilarious movie going crowds. I should know. I, myself, was a part of them crowds. While the former had the crowd laughing riotously at its sheer incompetence and stupidity, the latter left the audience with a genuine sense of satisfaction as they were watching a decent horror film after what felt like an extended pause (since the divisive yet wholly creepy Don’t Breathe) filled with not much else but nonsense. While not at the level of The Exorcist, Black Swan or even The OG Conjuring, Annabelle: Creation is an immense improvement over its predecessor as it wholly explores the potential for the upcoming Conjuring Cinematic Universe.
Annabelle: Creation tells the tale of how the creepiest doll in existence, this side of the Saw films, came in possession of its satanic supernatural powers. The film works with a few basic tropes of the films in The Conjuring universe by having multiple children in harm’s way, a set of older folk who are not what they seem, a myriad of religious imagery and so on and so forth. It is a flawed but ultimately enjoyable horror film and revealing many more details of the plot would ruin the overall experience to most audiences, at least in my book. The basic drill is the same, creepy doll who should have been the true bride of Chucky is creeping out and killing many humans.
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The finest decision made, in regards to this film, by the suits at Warner Bros. was hiring David F. Sandberg to grace the director’s chair. A man with a clear sense of appreciation for the genre, Sandberg dropped the mostly well-regarded Lights Out the previous year. By making a tightly wound tale about the horrors of mental depression cleverly packed in a seemingly by the numbers horror film, Sandberg’s potential for creating well-made cinema was on full display. With Annabelle: Creation, Sandberg, and screenwriter Gary Dauberman reach into their bag of tricks and come out with a script which is wonky on a connecting all the dots perspective yet never ceases to be engaging.
Rare is when a horror film has decent character writing. Characters needn’t have expository back stories but what they do need is a sense of purpose and not to contradict themselves. While this film’s characters, both protagonists, and antagonists, are superfluously underwritten with one mostly under baked trait governing each of their behaviors, the film excels in placing these stock characters in scenarios which let the audience experience the film’s many plot points by supplementing themselves as the many blank slate characters. Let’s call it the Keanu Reeves effect.
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The line reads, tight edits, excellent camera work and lighting accompanying these scenes (which mostly inhabit the second half) swung the film’s appeal to the positive. The film takes a stance and chooses not to be high art nor does it cheapen itself with a flurry of poorly thought out sequences. It firmly stands in the middle of the road and tries to serve a satisfying final product to all comers. Hence, this film might not end up taking a place in the pantheon of horror classics even if the internet film community might have you believe otherwise.
Come on guys, not every movie which is half decent is the greatest film ever of said genre. First it was It Follows then it was The Babadook then it was Don’t Breathe, just hold off on the superlatives until a film has been subject to the ravages of time.
Moving on.
The film has a good amount of re-watchabilty built into it owing to all the positives Iisted in this review, but through all those upsides, the film makes it glaringly obvious that if it were to take a few steps in the road less travelled, it might have appealed to a lower segment of the audience while earning a devout cult following.
On second thought, films in The Conjuring universe are designed to be the less sophisticated Exorcist films. Ambiguity and thematic complexity substituted with ease of access and a certain degree of quality (except for this film’s prequel). It is an acceptable trade-off for a middling, money churning franchise.