Movie Reviews

Black Panther – Movie Review

Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it continues the story of T’Challa, otherwise known as Black Panther, that was set up in Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his father, T’Challa must take up his mantle as king of Wakanda, a secluded, technologically advanced country in Africa. When his power is challenged by Erik Killmonger, he realizes what it takes to be king. Ryan Coogler directed the film, and this is his third feature film after Fruitvale Station and Creed, two near-perfect movies, and Black Panther is no different.

Image via Variety

This is the first major blockbuster movie with an entirely Black cast, so the expectations were extremely high. They took this on by highlighting the African culture in Wakanda. They didn’t shy away from the mysticism of the Black Panther lore. Everything about the origin was straight from the comics.

Marvel let Coogler go all out with the set design in the movie. It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially scenes in Wakanda, with vibrant colors, extravagant architecture, and Oscar-worthy costume design. All of the technology also added to the uniqueness of the scenery. The country was so beautiful, well-realized, and detailed that it became a character in the movie.

The story is incredibly exciting and thoughtful. They give you a fun superhero movie while highlighting some of today’s most pressing issues. This is one of Marvel’s most serious movies up there with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it can certainly still be enjoyed like any other comic book movie.

Although the story is what makes the movie special, the action is still prevalent and well-done for the most part. The choreography should be commended, especially in a one-take scene in a casino. All of the scenes with Black Panther and the scenes with the Dora Milaje were impressing enough to get reactions from the audience.

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Chadwick Boseman is becoming one of my favorite actors, with this after 42 and Get On Up he’s getting great at playing influential Black people. His powerful performance as T’Challa drives the movie because he brings a certain regalness that coincided with him still learning how to be a king.

The supporting cast is phenomenal and integral to the movie’s structure, the cast includes Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, and Winston Duke. M’Baku was probably my favorite supporting character, he commanded the screen whenever he was featured with his presence, yet he had some of the funniest moments of the movie. Winston Duke gave a great performance, and he’s definitely someone to watch out for.

In the supporting cast, a group that was highlighted prominently was the Black women. Danai Gurira plays the leader of the Dora Milaje, and she is badass along with the rest of the group. Not only are the warriors put into the spotlight, but Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia was a female that wasn’t necessarily a warrior but could handle herself. Letitia Wright was one of my favorites as Shuri, she is T’Challa’s sister and creates most of his tech. Their relationship felt authentic and brought levity to the movie.

As consistently great as the Marvel movies are, one of their problems is that they have trouble making writing good villains for their heroes. Michael B. Jordan completely inhabited the character of Erik Killmonger, and the combination of his performance and the writing made him one of the best Marvel villains yet. He was a character who knew exactly what he wanted, and he pushed past all barriers to skip straight to that.

Image via The Verge

When he explains his backstory and why he’s doing what he is, you feel for him and maybe even agree. This does what Marvel rarely pulls off by having the audience understand and empathize with the villain. You almost want his ideas to come to fruition because of the perspective he comes from and the way Michael B. Jordan sells the character.

Of course, the movie isn’t perfect. Some of the CGI is overabundant and ends up looking like a video game. This was most obvious in certain parts of a car chase sequence and the final fight between Black Panther and Killmonger.

With those issues aside, I absolutely loved this movie. It’s a giant step forward for diversity in film, and it’s just a great movie from Ryan Coogler. The story is gripping, the cast creates some great characters, and Marvel gives us a fantastic villain, which is rare.

As late as this review is, you’ve probably seen the movie by now, but go see it if you haven’t. The movie has been immensely successful in the box office already, but it still deserves to be seen and supported by everybody.

Rating: A

Image via Variety

Have you seen Black Panther? If so, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

Darkest Hour – Movie Review

In 1940 World War II, the Nazis were taking over Europe and about to capture France. At this point, England was losing faith in their Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and he eventually resigns. When his successor declines the position, England turns to their next option, whom no one had faith in, Winston Churchill. He then has to make the difficult choice of whether to continue the war against Germany or negotiate peace with Hitler.

Image via The Filtered Lens

Gary Oldman undoubtedly gives one of the best performances of a historical figure of all time. Credit must be given to Oldman himself for completely enveloping Churchill down to his accent, speech patterns, and even small mannerisms. However, the makeup team deserves immense praise for their difficult task of physically transforming Oldman into Churchill. They perfected his look to where I never noticed the prosthetics, even in the close-up shots.

Gary Oldman could have overdone the acting, instead, he gives a believable performance that will be remembered as one of the best in years to come. The combination of the masterful performance and the impeccable prosthetics made Oldman unrecognizable as Churchill. You never see Gary Oldman, all you see is Winston Churchill.

The supporting cast is fantastic and elevates the film, some of which giving context to Churchill’s personal life. Kristen Scott Thomas is a standout as Clementine Churchill, and Ben Mendelsohn was surprisingly fit for the role of King George. Lily James was competent as Churchill’s secretary, but despite some great moments, the script struggles to find a use for her character for the majority of the film.

Image via The Atlantic

This film is incredibly interesting if you want to know more about how Churchill came into power and how much support he had from his party. The writers didn’t over glorify Churchill, they gave insight into why he didn’t have support from many people, even his own party. He also has an interesting relationship with King George, which was one of my favorite parts of the movie.

Churchill has to consult with the British Parliament throughout the movie, and this prompts long dialogue sequences. Much like Lincoln, the lead performance and the directing cause these scenes to be tense and engaging when they could fall flat and become dull. The movie is also very funny, there are some funny jokes scattered throughout that add to the film’s accessibility and enjoyment.

One of the main points of the movie is as a deeper look into Operation Dynamo, otherwise known as the Dunkirk Evacuation, recently told in DunkirkDarkest Hour goes into depth about what decisions were made to reach that point, and how important that event was to England in the war.

Image via Hardwood and Hollywood

While he film was wholy intriguing and entertaining to me, I would understand if some people find it boring if they aren’t interested in the subject matter. If you want to know more about what I described above, you will probably really like this movie as I did, but if this isn’t your cup of tea it might drag in many scenes.

Darkest Hour is worth watching for the lead performance alone, and the compelling story makes me reccomend it that much more. It is a great character piece about Winston Churchill, while being an enthralling historical film. Make sure to catch this before Oscars because Gary Oldman is a lock for the Best Actor awards.

Rating: A-

Have you seen Darkest Hour? If so, what did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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20 Most Anicipated Movies of 2018

Now that 2017 is over, we can look forward to the movies releasing in 2018. There are a lot of movies to look forward to, and some that we don’t know about yet, but might end up being great. Here are my top 20 most anticipated movies of 2017 in release order.

Black Panther – February 16th

Image via The Hollywood News

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther was one of the best parts of Captain America: Civil War, so naturally, I’m excited to see him in a solo film. The trailers look fantastic, and I can’t wait to see the world of Wakanda. Ryan Coogler (Creed) is directing which makes this movie look like it could be one of Marvel’s best.

Tomb Raider – March 16th

Image via SuperHeroHype

I won’t lie, the trailers don’t look great for this movie, but it at least seems enjoyable. I’m a huge fan of the new Tomb Raider games, I’ve always thought they would make a good movie. I’m also a fan of Alicia Vikander, so hopefully, her performance can save the movie even if the story isn’t great. This could be a great, fun popcorn movie that you can go and have a good time at, similar to Kong: Skull Island from last year.

Ready Player One – March 30th

Image via Film School Rejects

Steven Speilberg’s next film is set in a fantastical virtual world, and visually it looks stunning. I can’t wait to explore this world and also see all of the references they’ve shown in the trailers. I haven’t read the book yet, but the story still seems like a lot of fun. Also, this movie could be a great “video game” movie that’s not based on an actual game.

A Quiet Place – April 6th

Image via E! Online

After seeing Get Out, I know that comedians can make great horror movies. A Quiet Place is John Krasinski’s directorial debut, and the premise alone has me intrigued. John Krasinski’s character’s family lives in a house in the woods, and if they make any noise, they attract strange creatures. Previously, I haven’t been the biggest fan of horror movies, but after last year with Split, It, and Get Out, I’m paying much more attention to horror.

The New Mutants – April 13th

Image via Digital Spy

Fox has shown that they are willing to take risks in their Marvel movies with Deadpool, and Logan, and next, they’re going full horror with The New Mutants. I’m just really interested to see a comic book horror film. If Fox hadn’t been successful with their last few movies, I would be a little nervous, but I have full faith in them to bring another great X-Men movie.

Avengers: Infinity War – May 4th

Image via IMDb

If I were ranking this list, this movie would be at the number one spot. This movie will have pretty much every MCU character to date. Anthony and Joe Russo are arguably the best directors in the MCU, and they are great choices to helm the finale to this 10-year story. The trailer looks like an epic Avengers movie with possibly one of the better Marvel villains in Thanos.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – May 25th

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Image via Wookiepedia

It’s a Star Wars movie, so it has to be on the list. Even though Han Solo’s backstory doesn’t need to be explained, Ron Howard as the director is promising. Also, recent comments about it being a gangster film are very intriguing. Let’s hope that this movie turns out great, and the controversy about the production is forgotten.

Deadpool 2 – June 1st

Image via MovieWeb

Deadpool was one of the most surprising comic book movies of all time, and I’m very excited for the sequel. Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool, and that shows in the first movie. Hopefully, the ad campaign for this movie is just as good as the last one, and the Bob Ross teaser hints at that

Incredibles 2 – June 15th

Image via Entertainment Weekly

The first Incredibles is one of the best animated movies of all time and after 14 years many people, including me, still want to see a second one. Pixar can keep up a streak after Coco if this one is great. It’ll be interesting to see the Incredibles possible grown up, and also to see Jack-Jack with powers.

Sicario 2: Soldado – June 29th

Image via SlashFilm

Sicario was one of the best movies of 2015, and it probably didn’t need a sequel; however, the trailer for Soldado made me legitimately excited to see it. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro were some of the best parts of the first film, and it’s a great idea to make them the leads. Denis Villeneuve isn’t coming back to direct, but the trailer still looks amazing visually and Taylor Sheridan is coming back to write the script.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6th

Image via Cinema Blend

Ant-Man is one of the best MCU movies to date, and definitely one of the most surprising ones. Evangeline Lily was great as Wasp, it’ll be great to see her character team-up with Ant-Man. Peyton Reed is coming back to direct, and the MCU has been on a roll lately, so this movie is shaping out to be pretty great.

Mission: Impossible 6 – July 27th

Image via Den of Geek

The Mission: Impossible franchise has been a lot of fun lately. Tom Cruise puts his all into the role of Ethan Hunt, which prevents the series from overstaying its welcome. Christopher McQuarrie is returning from Rogue Nation to helm, and I’m sure he has another big stunt planned for Tom Cruise to tackle.

The Predator – August 3rd

Image via Collider

I was nervous when a Predator reboot was announced, but when Shane Black was chosen to direct, I was much more interested to see it. The cast looks great, and the movie could be a lot of fun.

First Man – October 12th

Image via Den of Geek

Damien Chazelle is one of the best new directors, and his next film will be about Neil Armstrong. Chazelle is directing Ryan Gosling in the lead role again after La La Land along with a great cast. Anything involving these two has the potential to be amazing, and after seeing Damien Chazelle’s past work I can’t but look forward to his next project.

X-Men Dark Phoenix – November 2nd

Image via 20th Century Fox

This is the seventh X-Men movie and will be the thirteenth of the entire franchise. Simon Kinberg, who’s produced and written many of the X-Men films, is making his directorial debut with the movie. I’m at least curious to see what this turns out to be. The fact that this is the first film he’s directed is scary, but Fox has been saying this will be a darker, more serious X-Men movie, so I want to see their second take on the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald – November 16th

Image via The Verge

Harry Potter is one of the most beloved franchises of all time, so when Warner Bros. brought it back in the movies, fans, including me, got excited. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was really enjoyable and a great introduction to another part of the Wizarding World. Hopefully, this movie will expand the universe, and add another great film to the Harry Potter series.

Creed 2 – November 21th

Image via MovieWeb

Creed was one of my favorite movies of 2015, and I desperately wanted a sequel to it. Though Ryan Coogler can’t direct this one, Sylvester Stallone will be heavily involved with this movie, and many Instagram posts by Stallone suggest that Dolph Lundgren may return to reprise his role as Ivan Drago. Michael B. Jordan is great as Adnois Creed, and I’m excited to see his story continued.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph 2 – November 21st

Image via Gizmodo

Wreck it Ralph is one of my favorite Disney movies, and the sequel has a great premise. The first movie had many references to video game characters, and this one will have references to websites on the internet. The first movie was great, and Disney seems to have a great sequel in the works.

Aquaman – December 21st

Image via Digital Trends

Say what you will about Justice League, but Jason Momoa was one of the best parts of that movie as Aquaman. James Wan is coming in to direct, and his horror experience could bring some interesting aspects to the movie. Wonder Woman was great, and Justice League was a lot of fun, so here’s hoping that DC can keep changing the narrative with Aquaman.

Bumblebee: The Movie – December 21st

Image via MovieWeb

The Transformers franchise is one of the worst franchises of all time. I’ve only seen one of them (it was horrible), but many people say they aren’t good movies. I’m very curious and this movie because Travis Knight is directing, and he directed Kubo and the Two Strings, my favorite animated movie of last year. Also, Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena are starring, and they are two great actors. This movie is very interesting, it could be the first good Transformers movie.

What are some of your most anticipated movies of 2018? Leave them in the comments below.

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Top 10 Best Movies of 2017

2017 has come to an end, and it’s time to highlight some of the best movies of the past year. This has actually been a great year for movies, there were a lot of great ones throughout the year. I love every movie on this list, and just because it’s lower down doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Also, I haven’t seen every single movie this year for various reasons, so there are a few movies that might have ended up on this list but couldn’t. Lastly, this is my personal list, your’s might be different and that’s okay.

Honorable Mentions: (Alphabetical Order)

  1. Coco
  2. John Wick: Chapter 2
  3. The Lego Batman Movie
  4. Logan Lucky
  5. Mudbound
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  7. Split
  8. Thor: Ragnarok
  9. Wonder
  10. Wonder Woman

#10: Wind River

Image via Roger Ebert

This movie flew completely under my radar until I rented it about a week ago in preparation for this list. Taylor Sheridan proves he can direct a film just as well as he can write one. Wind River is an incredibly suspenseful film that pulls you into its setting through a captivating story, well-written characters, and amazing dialogue. Elizabeth Olsen is fantastic, and Jeremy Renner gives the best performance of his career. The two of them have great chemistry, making an interesting dynamic for the movie. Taylor Sheridan balanced story and mystery with characters to make a directorial debut that makes me excited to see what he makes next.

#9: It

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Read my review here! I didn’t think I would love this movie as much as I did. I’m usually not a fan of horror movies, but It had gravitating characters that made it special. All of the kids’ performances are great, they have bright futures ahead of them. Their relationships are what set the movie apart from other horror movies. Bill Skarsgård plays one of the best movie villains of the year in Pennywise. The character could be seen as over the top, but Skarsgård went all the way and created a haunting character. It is one of the most unique horror movies in a long time because of its surprising amount of heart and its terrifying villain.

#8: Get Out

Image via Roger Ebert

Get Out was one of the most surprising movies of the year. No one expected Jordan Peele’s directorial debut to be this creative and socially relevant. It works as an enjoyable horror movie, but when you peel back the layers the entire story is a metaphor for racism in today’s world. Daniel Kaluuya gives one of the best performances of the year, and Allison Williams pulls off a tough job because of what she has to do near the end of the movie.

When you find out what is really going on, the reveal is crazy and creepy, and I loved it. Also, if you sit back and think about the movie and look at interviews with the director, you’ll see how genius Jordan Peele is with his parallels between racism and the story, and also callbacks throughout the movie. I can’t wait to see what Peele directs next because this movie is terrifying while giving social commentary.

#7: Dunkirk

Image via LetterboxD

Read my review here! Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors working today, and Dunkirk proves that. Unlike most war movies, Dunkirk is solely based on the experience. Many war films have character-based scenes during the quieter moments, but this movie doesn’t give the characters time to get to know each other because in reality there wouldn’t be time for that.

From the first scene, you are locked into the story and you feel like you’re trapped with them on that beach. Nolan’s directing is masterful, and if you saw it in IMAX you know how well he used the IMAX cameras. The story is told in a very interesting way that enhances the movie and adds another element to it. Dunkirk is a great war movie because it accurately represented the intensity and hopelessness of this one event.

#6: War for the Planet of the Apes

Image via Empire

Every trilogy needs a good finale, and War for the Planet of the Apes delivers on that and does more. Despite the title, this is actually a very character based movie. Caesar is fighting to protect his kind while trying to find peace with the humans, and you see some flaws in his leadership that make him a more compelling character. Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination for his work even with the motion capture because every facial movement on Caesar is Serkis, and he gives a powerful performance.

There are also many themes about the inevitability of humans to destroy themselves through war, they don’t focus on it much, but it was handled very well. This movie is a satisfying conclusion to the Apes franchise and proves that it’s one of the best trilogies of all time.

#5: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Image via FlickeringMyth

Read my review here! Star Wars: The Last Jedi is one of the best Star Wars movies yet. Rian Johnson took a lot of risks in the story and the vast majority of them land. He took some of the criticisms from The Force Awakens and improved on those in The Last Jedi. They give the characters more development, and they expand on certain elements of the universe as a whole, specifically the Force. Mark Hamill plays a very different version of Luke Skywalker than we’re used to, and it ended up being his best performance of the character. The Last Jedi is the Star Wars movie I didn’t know I wanted and is a great addition to the franchise.

#4. The Big Sick

Image via Pentangle Arts

The Big Sick is Kumail Nanjiani’s story about how he met his wife, Emily Gordon, while dealing with his parents wanting him to have an arranged marriage. Kumail Nanjiani is hilarious in this movie, he is a real talent to watch out for. He and Zoe Kazan, who plays Emily, have great chemistry. They didn’t seem like they were acting, I felt like I was watching two real people falling in love. There were some great themes in this movie that people of all religions can relate to about pleasing your family while doing what makes you happy. The Big Sick is the most charming movie of the year with a beautiful relationship that feels real and believable.

#3: Blade Runner 2049

Image via Feminist Current

Blade Runner is one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all time, and also one of the best. Denis Villeneuve had a tough act to follow, and Blade Runner 2049 ended up being even better than the original. Roger Deakins’s cinematography is gorgeous in every shot, this is the best looking movie I’ve seen in a long time. The story is slow-moving, but in a great way that makes it completely enthralling. They build on the original film to create a realistic future for that world and with that, there are more concepts that have evolved to explore, which is what makes it better than the original.

#2: Baby Driver

Image via ShowBiz411

Baby Driver is fun and fast-paced, it never slows down and there are no dull moments. Edgar Wright made a musical without words with the music playing a significant role in the movie. Whether the beats are matching up with gunshots, or the lyrics are graffiti on the walls, he always tries to find something new to do with the songs. Ansel Elgort is awesome as Baby and so is the rest of the cast.

The movie has a great ensemble cast, even though Doc uses a different team for each job. Many people have problems with the romance between Baby and Debora, but I liked it a lot, it was really sweet and fit the style of the rest of the movie. Baby Driver is the most stylish and creative movie of the year, it’s it’s a lot of fun and hit all the right buttons for me.

#1: Logan

Image via Wired

Logan is a comic book movie that feels like a true film. It’s the first R-Rated X-Men movie, (excluding Deadpool) and while the action is bloody and brutal, the rating really comes from the mature themes in the movie. It’s really about Logan getting much older and what comes with that like his diminishing healing factor, having to care for his father figure, Charles Xavier, and him being a father to Laura. The action in this movie is what Wolverine fans have been waiting for, it’s very R-rated and they don’t hold anything back.

While the action is great, this movie is mainly character based, Hugh Jackman gives his best performance as Logan yet, and Patrick Stewart is Oscar-worthy good. Dafne Keen is a great new talent as Laura, she played a fierce character and was one of the best parts of the movie. Logan is an emotional end to Wolverine’s story about one of our favorite heroes becoming old and having to risk everything to protect a young girl. It’s one of the best comic book movies of all time, and the ending still makes me emotional after multiple viewings.

That’s my list! I didn’t get to see many of the Oscar contenders this year because they either weren’t playing near me, or I just missed them because of other obligations. 2017 was a truly great year for movies and I can’t wait for 2018.

What are your top 10 movies of 2017? Put your lists in the comments below!

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Movie Reviews

Coco – Movie Review

Coco is about Miguel, a young boy, who loves playing guitar, he wants to be like his idol, the famous Ernesto de la Cruz. The only problem is his family is the only one in Mexico that hates music. They don’t play music, listen to it, or allow it anywhere near them. One day, Miguel decides to steal Ernesto’s guitar, and in doing that he finds himself in the Land of the Dead. There he finds his ancestors to find out why his family hates music.

Image via MUSE

Pixar is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, animation studios working today. Although, their last few movies (The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, and Cars 3) have been disappointing. Coco is different than any of the other Pixar movies because of its setting in Mexico. They give a lot of attention to the Mexican culture and their focus on family. You get to see how their family operates and how they celebrate Dia de los Muertos, better known as Day of the Dead. This holiday is the focal point of the movie because Miguel has to learn about the importance of remembering the dead and not letting them be forgotten.

The animation in this movie is by far the best Pixar’s has ever been. They use extensive details to animate the world, if you look closely you’ll even see the individual grains on the wood. It’s getting to the point where some of the sets and people almost look real. There’s a short featurette before the movie that shows how they animated a particular scene, and it’s interesting to see how much work went into it.

The story is extremely entertaining, you’re never bored watching the movie because they keep the story moving and don’t let it drag at any moments. It’s really funny, many comedic moments come from Dante, a dog who goes to the Land of the Dead with Miguel. His family is a lot of fun to watch on screen, both living and dead families, although the specific relationships they have can get confusing. Despite how enjoyable it is though, the story is very predictable. For example, there’s a big reveal that happens in the third act that I saw coming about 30 minutes into the movie.

Image via ABC News

They manage to make the story appealing to people of all ages while including some mature themes. Some of the themes include death, loss, sacrifice, and even dementia, but the entire story is told through the Pixar charm we’re all used to which makes it accessible to all audiences. Even though the main plot of the movie revolves around the idea of death, they use it to create a message about not forgetting those we’ve lost.

Coco is both visually and emotionally beautiful. Under its harmless, fun exterior, the film handles some dark themes in a way that makes it understandable to kids, yet relatable to people of older demographics. The Mexican culture aspect sets it apart from the rest of Pixar’s films and adds diversity to their lineup. Pixar has made one of their best in this movie, and it’s definitely the best animated movie of the year.

Rating: A-

Have you seen Coco? If so, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Star Wars Movies Ranked

Now that The Last Jedi is out, I thought it would be a good time to rank all of the Star Wars movies. Please keep in mind, this is my ranking and it may be different than your’sThis list includes all of the live-action Star Wars movies, including Rogue One, but not the animated Clone Wars movie.

#9: Attack of the Clones

Image via THR

This movie’s just bad. It’s the only Star Wars movie that I just don’t enjoy watching, it’s just boring for the majority of the movie. The romance between Anakin and Padmé is really dry, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have next to no chemistry, and Lucas’s dialogue doesn’t help at all. The CGI is overtly terrible and incredibly distracting. The story structure is messy, with numerous unimportant sub-plots.

They tried to pull off the aspect of Anakin slowly turning to the dark side, but it comes across as angsty, creepy, and forced. There are a few saving graces to the film, including Ewan McGregor’s and Ian McDiarmid’s performances, some lightsaber fights that are at least cool, and some of the moments between Anakin and Padmé are cute at best.

#8: The Phantom Menace

Image via Nerdist

I don’t think The Phantom Menace is as bad as people say it is, but it isn’t necessarily a good movie. Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson both to a solid job and their comradery is the best part of the movie. Darth Maul is a great new character and the mysteriousness of his master is intriguing. The pod-racing scene is well done, and the final fight scene is one of my favorite lightsaber battles of the entire saga.

On the other hand, Jake Lloyd wasn’t great as Anakin, and his dialogue didn’t help. Jar Jar Binks is a dumb character who just annoys the audience whenever he’s on screen. The worst part of the movie, other than Jar Jar, is the politics. This movie is full of Jedi council and Senate meetings, and they are some of the worst scenes in the movie. The dialogue is bland, and the subjects are always boring. The opening crawl itself is even boring, talking about tax and trade routes. This movie solidifies the fact that George Lucas isn’t a very good writer.

#7: Revenge of the Sith

Image via SyFy

I’d say this movie is the most watchable of the prequels. My favorite part of the movie has to be Anakin’s turn to the dark side. Hayden Christensen does a surprisingly decent job, he’s less whiny and does a better job with the darkness of his character. Ian McDiarmid does a great job again as he is slowly turning Anakin to become a Sith Lord. The final lightsaber battle with Anakin and Obi-Wan is well done with the setting on Mustafar. Overall, the movie just works better, it has a more coherent plot and Hayden Christensen improves his acting skills.

#6: Rogue One

Image via Nerdist

Gareth Edwards tried something different with this spin-off, and it works really well for the most part. We got to see a closer look at the Rebel Alliance, and why they might not be the glamorous heroes we’ve thought they are. They will do anything to get their job done, no matter how dirty it is. The movie also has a grittier feel to it, and I think that’s what the Star Wars universe needed. It could even be described as a war movie with the battle sequences and the strategizing.

The reason it’s down at number 6 is that most of the characters are paper-thin. Felicity Jones is great as Jyn Erso, and her character is given the most background. The rest of the characters are good characters, but I wasn’t given a reason to care about them. Diego Luna does a good job, but his character is literally given one line of background. Donne Yen’s character adds the most to the universe as a whole, introducing the concept of non-Jedi who are still in tune with the Force, but he still has a lack of development. This movie a great fresh addition to the franchise, but the characters bring it down a little.

#5: Return of the Jedi

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Return of the Jedi was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Luke has become a Jedi Knight, and he shows off some new skills he’s learned throughout the movie. The opening scene in Jabba the Hutt’s palace is great. Jabba is one of my favorite Star Wars characters, the reuniting of Leia and Han was earned, and Luke was awesome as a Jedi Knight. All of the characters have great chemistry, and it was great seeing them on screen again.

The best part of the movie is definitely Luke and Darth Vader’s scenes. Vader is trying to bring Luke over to the dark side, and it all leads to the throne room battle. This is the first movie with Emperor Palpatine, seeing someone who Vader was subservient to was pretty menacing. The final fight between Luke and Darth Vader is my favorite lightsaber battle of all time. The entire trilogy has led to this moment, father and son facing off. I get chills every time Vader mentions turning Leia to the dark side, Luke goes crazy and cuts Vader’s hand off.

#4: The Force Awakens

Image via Digital Spy

The Force Awakens had a tough job. J.J. Abrams had to make people excited about Star Wars again, while also making them forget about the prequels. He did both of those things, on top of making one of the most financially successful movies of all time. The movie feels new, but still like a Star Wars movie. The new characters are all great with Rey, Finn, and Poe. This was Daisy Ridley’s first movie, and she made Rey one of my favorite Star Wars character through her performance. It’s also just a lot of fun, there’s a really adventurous feel, the movie is funny, and it all creates a very enjoyable movie.

Harrison Ford did a great job of inhabiting the role of Han Solo again, and his character serves as a bridge between the original and sequel trilogies. I liked how he was the one that led Rey and Finn on their mission to get to the Resistance. Kylo Ren is a fantastic villain, he might be my favorite new character in the trilogy. Instead of recreating Darth Vader, he’s given conflict with the light and dark sides, which makes his character much more interesting. However, despite everything he did before, him killing Han Solo still makes me hate him. Spoiler alert I guess…

#3: The Last Jedi


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I’ve already written my review for The Last Jedi, and my full thoughts on the movie are there, but what I liked about it was that it took a lot of chances. It’s fair to say that The Force Awakens played it safe, so it was refreshing to see some things I didn’t expect. All of the characters are expanded on and get more development, especially Poe. Mark Hamill gives his best performance as Luke Skywalker in this movie, and his character makes some unexpected decisions. Carrie Fisher was great as Leia as always with some great scenes.

Again, Kylo Ren is a riveting character. They go deeper into his struggle with being pulled to the light side, which was a great storyline. The action is some of the best of the franchise, and so were the space battles. The Last Jedi goes in some surprising directions, but they make the movie different and new.

#2: A New Hope

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The first Star Wars movie introduced us to the “big three”, Luke, Leia, and Han, some of the most iconic characters of all time. The reason the movie is so entertaining is the characters. Luke has a great arc from being a farm boy to wanting to learn the ways of the Jedi and destroying the Death Star. Han is just a smuggler who just cares about the money, and he became one of my favorite Star Wars characters. The interesting things about Leia was that she was a damsel in distress that could handle herself. She was a female character that didn’t need to be saved constantly but stayed feminine.

The visual effects hold up after 40 years. The spaceships, blasters, and lightsabers still look good. They also used some practical effects that make the world feel more real and believable. Even though he doesn’t get much screen time, Darth Vader became possibly the most iconic villain of all time in this movie. James Earl Jones’s voice work made him a menacing force. John William’s score is amazing, the Star Wars theme is probably my favorite movie theme of all time. This movie is full of distinct characters, groundbreaking visual effects, and original ideas.

#1: The Empire Strikes Back

Image via Empire

I truly believe that Empire Strikes Back is a perfect movie. They built on everything that was set up in A New Hope while introducing new planets and characters we hadn’t seen before. Leia plays a major role in the Rebellion as we see on the opening scene on Hoth. There, we also see the AT-ATs for the first time and the method of taking them down that has been referenced. Later in the movie, Han and Leia develop a relationship which feels natural and isn’t a hindrance to the film. There’s a storyline on the new planet, Dagobah, where Yoda trains Luke to be a Jedi. Frank Oz created a unique voice and speech pattern for him that allowed him to still be remembered today.

Lando Calrissian is introduced as an old friend of Han’s, and Bily Dee Williams makes his character smooth and different from any other character in the franchise so far. Darth Vader gets much more attention in this movie than in A New Hope and with that, the Imperial March by John Williams is written. Vader gets to show off how powerful he actually is in this movie through Imperial power and in the Force. He especially shows off some skills in the lightsaber battle between him and Luke. At the end of that battle, Vader reveals to Luke that he is his father, one of the best twists in movie history.

How would you rank the Star Wars movies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

La La Land – Movie Review

Since The Greatest Showman just came out, and the same lyricists from La La Land worked on the songs, I thought I would review the Oscar-winning film. La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, who plays a jazz pianist looking to save jazz and eventually open his own jazz club, and Emma Stone, a struggling actress looking to make her name in Hollywood through the grueling process of constant auditions. The two characters fall for each other, and the story is told in the style of a modern-day musical.

Image via Rolling Stone

Despite the phenomenal performances, the real star of this film is the writer/director, Damien Chazelle. This is his second feature film, his first being Whiplash, and it’s hard to believe that looking at the work he did. The film is gorgeously shot, making Los Angeles look absolutely beautiful. Chazelle uses vibrant colors in the costumes, props, and backgrounds to enhance the scenes, especially the dance sequences which are also very impressive.

Mandy Moore, the choreographer, deserves a special Oscar for her work on this film. The opening number is one of the most elaborate scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie and the musical scenes that follow don’t disappoint at all. The songs are some of the best I’ve ever heard in movies, I immediately got the soundtrack after seeing the movie because of how catchy the songs were. The musical numbers are shot using long takes which makes the scenes flow much better. Unlike in many musicals, the transitions between normal scenes and musical scenes are seamless, feeling like they belong.

The performances in this movie are stellar. As I wrote earlier, Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a jazz pianist, whose dream is to open a jazz club, and his performance is fantastic. He does a great job of conveying his love for jazz through passionate dialogue including one great scene where he is explaining to Emma Stone’s character why jazz is one of the best music genres. According to the director, Ryan took piano lessons for three months and did all of the piano playing scenes himself. Coming from someone who plays piano, he plays some songs that would be almost impossible to play with only three months of practice, so he gets extra credit from me.

Emma Stone gives the best performance of her career in this movie as a barista who wants to be an actress, and they do a great job of showing how miserable auditions can be. People walk into the room and interrupt her, no one pays attention, and sometimes she just isn’t the type of person they’re looking for. You get a strong sense of her struggle, yet persistence in becoming an actress.

Image via Time Out

While both performances are great, they both need to have good chemistry for the film to work. Thankfully, they did and I really bought into their relationship. The two have some great scenes together including dialogue scenes and musical scenes. The film shows the ups and downs of their relationship, and whenever they have problems it doesn’t feel cliché, instead it feels natural and necessary. They can both sing very well, and the dancing scenes are done to perfection.

The best aspect of the movie is the overall theme of following your dreams. That sounds extremely cheesy, but the film manages to integrate it into the film in a way that feels real. They go into the harsh reality that you have to make some sacrifices to go for what you want in life, and everything might not go your way. The filmmakers could have gone for the more glossy and optimistic route, but they are honest with the audience and don’t hit them over the head with the theme. This movie will be relatable to people who have goals and will go as far as they can to reach them.

Image via Entertainment Weekly

This movie had a very divisive reception after it was nominated for dozens of awards, but I have to say that the film earned all of them. This proves that Damien Chazelle is one of the best new directors out there, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling give career performances, the songs and dances are some of the best parts, and the film is inspirational throughout.

Rating: A

I’m working on some end of the year articles including my top 10 movies of the year. Those should go up in the next week or two.

Have you seen La La Land? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Movie Review

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the original 1995 film, Jumanji. While the original film is about a board game and releasing elements of the game into the real world, in this one a group of high school students find an old video game and get sucked into it as the characters that they chose.

The main driving force of this movie is the characters. The conserved nerd of the group is stuck in the body of Dwane Johnson’s character. The football playing jock chooses the avatar played by Kevin Hart. The popular girl chooses Jack Black, and the quieter girl chooses Karen Gillan. All of the actors do a great job. It was fun to see Dwane Johnson and Jack Black play against type, but while Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan do great, they are really just playing the characters they normally play. It would have been nice to see them play more different characters.

Image via Digital Trends

The writers were very creative with the concept of being stuck inside a video game. If you are a gamer you will definitely get many of the references and ideas they throw in about strange things that happen when you play video games, like NPCs repeating the same thing over and over again, respawning, and other concepts.

However, this also works against them as sometimes things get a little too crazy, to where it’s hard to believe. It gets confusing as certain things happen that don’t make sense in the video game setting. For example, a certain character shows up to help out, but it’s unclear how they would have gotten out of that situation without him being there. Other than that, the story is fairly cohesive. They use the video game format of levels, and that adds structure to the story and a sense of progression as well.

The movie is also surprisingly funny! I expected a lot of the jokes to fall flat, but I actually laughed at the majority of them. While some of the jokes become worn out, like Kevin Hart making short jokes, or Jack Black not having his phone, they keep them fresh for the most part. The action sequences are also very well done with some great stunt work. They are probably some of the best scenes in the movie. Because it’s a Jumanji movie, there are obviously lots of animals. CGI is used to create them, and some of the effects are a little shaky. However, the CGI is never so terrible that it is distracting to the rest of the movie.

Image via Nerd HQ

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a truly fun movie. Despite a few plot holes and sub-par special effects, it is very enjoyable and funny. This is a great movie to see with a group of friends and just have a good time. I’m not just saying that to be nice, it really is fun. Again, the movie’s not perfect, there are some issues, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

Rating: B

Have you seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? If so, what did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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Movie Reviews

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review (No Spoilers)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth episode of the Star Wars saga. It takes place right after The Force Awakens and has been highly anticipated for the past two years. That’s literally all I can say without spoiling it.

This installment is directed by Rian Johnson, and he brings a unique voice to the Star Wars universe. He manages to make it feel like it belongs in the universe while giving us something we haven’t seen before. There are numerous gorgeous shots in the movie that will stick with you for days. He also sets a slightly darker tone in comparison to the last film. There’s a sense of hopelessness that elevates the stakes, and ultimately makes the film more emotional.

Image via Maxim

The title of the film is The Last Jedi, so many fans are wondering how it handles Luke. Mark Hamill gives his best performance ever as Luke Skywalker without a doubt. The trailers have hinted at a more reluctant and weary Luke, who might not be the hero that people remember him as. Thankfully, the film goes for this and it really works. The storyline between Luke and Rey was, personally, the best part of the movie. Daisy Ridley gives another fantastic performance as Rey in the film. She has some great scenes in the movie with some of the other characters in the movie. As she explained in The Force Awakens, Luke has become so infamous throughout the galaxy that he has become a myth, so she has dreamed of meeting him her entire life, and when it’s not what she expects, we get an interesting dynamic between the two characters.

Image via Making Star Wars

Adam Driver reprises his role as Kylo Ren, and his story arc was also very compelling. It’s hard to talk about him without spoiling anything, so I’ll say he has to deal with certain things, and it creates a conflict that brought about a great character arc. Adam Driver definitely has much more to work with as an actor than in Force Awakens, and his character has more of a role to play as well. Overall, I still love his character just as much, if not more, as I did previously. Supreme Leader Snoke also plays a bigger role, and the performance capture is unbelievable in this film. It’s hard to believe that he’s not played by a live-action actor because it looks that good. Andy Serkis proves that he is the king of performance capture as he gives a dark, menacing performance as Snoke.

Everybody involved with the Resistance does a great job as well. Oscar Issac is great as Poe Dameron and is given a bigger and stronger storyline, making him one of my favorite characters in the movie. He also has a great relationship with General Leia in the film. This will sadly be Carrie Fisher’s last performance as Leia, and she does a wonderful job with it. If you’re like me, it’ll be tough to get through some of the scenes, but she played a great leader in the Resistance. She still feels like the same character from the original trilogy, but a little bit older… in a good way. The film reminds us why we love Leia as a character and serves as a great remembrance to Carrie Fisher.

Image via Entertainment Weekly

There’s one thing people every fan wants to know about, and that’s the porgs. I’m happy to say that the porgs really work They don’t over do it to the point where they feel like Jar Jar Binks, but they do add some humorous moments to the film. There are surprisingly a lot of funny scenes in the movie. The vast majority of the jokes land really well, even though some feel a little out of place. For example, there’s a gag near the beginning of the movie that was funny but took away some of the weight to the scene for me.

The action scenes are exceptional in this movie. Johnson uses wide and long takes, which gives you the full scope of the battles. There’s one scene that is definitely one of my favorite action sequences of all the Star Wars movies. The space battles are also extremely exciting. There are quite a few of them, and they all left me on the edge of my seat.

Image via Entertainment Weekly

One problem I had with the film was the Finn and Rose storyline. John Boyega is great as Finn again, and Kelly Marie Tran is a great new addition to the Star Wars universe, but whenever it cut to them it took me I was taken out of the film. Even though the planet they were on was interesting, it didn’t feel like it belonged in a Star Wars movie. Benicio Del Toro plays a character they meet, and I thought he was great. I really loved his character, but just not their storyline. The movie is 2 and a half hours, making it the longest Star Wars movie to date, and the only times I felt the length of the movie was in the Finn and rose storyline.

The Last Jedi might be the best Star Wars movie since Empire. They build on a lot of ideas and characters from The Force Awakens and give us a great sequel that will make fans very happy.

Rating: A

Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

‘It’ Movie Review

It is an adaptation of one of Stephen King’s most famous novels, and it is about a group of middle school students who discover a string of strange events throughout their town’s history. These events start-up again, and they work as a team to track down the source of the problem. Also, there’s a clown.

It was surprisingly one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I’m usually not a big fan of horror movies. I appreciate them, but they’re just not for me. However, something about this film intrigued me more than the average horror film. The trailers were super creepy, and I just gravitated to them for some odd reason.

Image via Warner Bros.
The movie is mainly driven by the kids and their experience with the disappearances that all link to a clown. There’s always apprehension when it comes to child actors as there are numerous examples of them who couldn’t pull off their roles. Thankfully, all of the child actors in It do a fantastic job. There were many of them so I can’t talk about all of them, but there were some standouts that are definitely worth mentioning. Jeremy Ray Taylor was great as the heart of the group, Sophia Lillis handled her character’s situation at home very well, Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things plays a completely different type of character than he does in the show, and he surprisingly creates one of my favorite characters in the movie. Jack Dylan Grazer has a lot of lines in the movie, which could have gone south, and delivers all of them smoothly. Jayden Lieberher probably had the toughest job out of the kids, I won’t spoil why he does, but he really plays it realistically. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the movie, I just don’t want to go too far into detail.

Not only are the performances great, but the relationship between the kids is just as fantastic. The kids the movie focuses on are in a group called the Loser’s Club, and as you would imagine they are the nerds of the school. Almost all of the kids’ characters are firmly established. They all have unique personalities and dialogue traits which is what makes It special. Many horror movies rely on jump scares and cheap tactics to grab audiences, whereas It introduces interesting characters so you care when they are put into the terrifying situations. Hopefully the success of the film will help other studios see what makes the movie work and implement those things in their films.

Every horror movie requires an element that gives it credibility as “horror”, and It has quite the scare as its villain. Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise the clown, and leading up to the release of the film many fans wondered if Pennywise would turn out being too silly, or legitimately haunting. Thankfully, it is more of the latter. Surprisingly, Pennywise is absent for much of the film because he can only be seen if he wants to, but when he happens to be on-screen it creates an extremely creepy atmosphere. Tim Curry’s performance in the 1990 TV miniseries will never be forgotten, however Skarsgård takes the clown to a new level that we haven’t seen before. The thing that makes it work is that he goes really far with the character, but doesn’t take it too far to where is humorous. He finds the perfect balance to where you can put yourself in the characters’ shoes and feel for them.

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Image via Warner Bros.
Skarsgård isn’t only that makes the film work, the movie also looks beautiful. While that might be a strange term for the type of movie this is, the film is shot magnificently. The cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung transports you into the world of Derry in 1989. Side note: look in the background during the movie, there are some cool 1989 easter eggs on the streets that you would probably like to see.

It does have great characters, however some are given significantly more attention than others. One of the characters is named Stan, and you only remember him as the Jewish kid. Unfortunately, Mike is given even less to do, and that was really ad because Chosen Jacobs did a fantastic job whenever he was given a chance to shine. Also, when adapting a book to film, one of the most difficult things is deciding what to include and what to exclude in the movie. It is over a thousand pages, so the writers had no easy task with the film. The movie only adapts the first half of the novel; however, the film does feel like it’s telling an incomplete story. Certain aspects of the film aren’t expanded upon like I would imagine they are in the book. For example, a character makes a certain decision late in the movie, and that moment didn’t quite feel earned like the filmakers were tying to. One last thing, this isn’t quite a negative, but the movie wasn’t exactly scary. Don’t get me wrong, the clown was extremely creepy in all of his scenes. At the same time, I wasn’t given nightmares from the film. Keep in mind, I’m not easily scared, so that might have something to do with it. So, if you get like getting scared and you get scared easily, the film might do its job for you.

Image via Warner Bros.
It is a horror film that expands the genre, not by relying on scaring the audience, but by giving you gravitating characters that give the film a strong emotional core that makes it stand out. Andy Muschietti established an immersive world that left me wanting more. I definitely recommend seeing It if you haven’t yet.

Rating: A

What did you think of It? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Also, what movie do you want me to review next? Leave any suggestions in the comments.

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