I know this is a common cliche to say in movie reviews of movies that had a lot of potential but I’m going to ask it anyway…what happened here? I will say the animation is very colorful and has a lot of detail to it plus I really liked Ethan (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White) as well as the rest of the cast. They all give pretty solid voice work that adds to their characters quite well, even if some of the characters aren’t exactly that well written. Which is when the problems start to occur…the writing, what you have here is a pretty strong cast that unfortunately has to work with a very lackluster script that really doesn’t offer anything new to the table. A lot of this is a very basic Sci-Fi story of a group of people who get stuck on a planet, there’s some nice representation here (at least when you compare it to Disney’s other films) but that doesn’t help the movie all that much. Ethan is a great character that’s surrounded by a very bland movie that unfortunately doesn’t take the opportunity to explore the movie’s themes, there’s a few scenes that dance around the movie’s themes but don’t flat out want to tell them. Having that said I do think there’s some cute father and son bonding moments here that are effective and are by far some of the highlights of the movie. Strange World is just one of those Disney films that sort of exists, it’s not particularly bad but it’s a very forgettable and uninspired movie that could have absolutely been great had the writing been far better.
I’m not someone who was a huge fan of the first Avatar, it was a gorgeous film that I absolutely respect what went into making it, having that said I absolutely loved Avatar: The Way Of Water. I guess this is James Cameron’s whole thing of making sequels that a lot of people could consider better than the first film (depending on who you ask of course), The Way Of Water fixes all of the problems that were present from the first film. First off the characters are a lot more fleshed out to the point where the viewer can grow a connection to them, there’s so many character moments here that really give these characters so much development and personalities. The overall theme and connection of the characters is family, which yes is done quite a lot in film, but James Cameron gives it this very human like feel, as well as it feeling very natural rather than making it seem like a plot device. The story is the other major part that this movie really improved, all three acts are exciting, beautiful and masterfully done in there own ways turning this film into a huge powerhouse. The story much like the characters goes into the family element and really nails it down well, this isn’t much of a surprise but the film is absolutely gorgeous. If you thought the first film was breathtaking Way Of Water ups it by really being such a good word building film that captures the beauty of Pandora, the underwater technology is just incredible it’s by far some of if not THE most beautiful underwater shots in film. The action scenes are truly fantastic and have so much detail to each of them, there’s this huge adrenaline rush feel to the action scenes that are truly exciting. The cast does such a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life each of them brings so much beauty into the film that completely captures why this film completely works. It’s the human connection between the characters that really makes the film shine, a huge amount of detail to each scene and just the overall fairy tale like atmosphere that gives the film a whimsical feel.
Avatar: The Way Of Water is available in theaters.
In case Hellboy and The Reckoning weren’t proof enough that the glory days of Neil Marshall are over than The Lair just confirms it. While The Lair isn’t as bad as the two previous mentioned movies it’s still a horrible addition to Marshall’s career. It’s pretty much if you took any sci-fi movie where a bunch of creatures attack from the last 10 years and did absolutely nothing new with it, the acting and writing are beyond abysmal and like in The Reckoning there’s a few so bad it’s hilarious moments but not enough to save this movie. Even the actions scenes and creature designs are very poor, I get this was on a low budget but a lot of it was very uninspired a huge disappointment due to knowing how capable Marshall is as a director and his creativity. Which is probably the main point I’m trying to get across here, the creativity is just no longer in his movies, The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Centurion had so much creativity, atmosphere and character to them that were and still are really great (The Descent being one of my favorite horror films of all time) the same can’t be said for The Lair, it’s a terrible sci-fi monster movie that is very disposable that you will quickly forget about after watching.
Significant Other is one of those movies that has the right ingredients to make a really interesting little movie, but only meets at the halfway point. Maika Monroe gives a strong performance here, she really turns what would otherwise be a lot of dull moments into something truly interesting. The atmosphere is definitely there as well, the movie quickly establishes a thrilling and haunting atmosphere that works for quite awhile until the movie starts to become a bit too goofy. Especially during the third act where the twist while I can see what they were going for, doesn’t quite stick it’s landing. It’s a bit too goofy and takes away from the atmosphere that made the movie pretty thrilling, there’s a few decent character moments here that really work and the setting combined with the atmosphere works well. The movie itself just doesn’t fully come together in the end.
Vesper is definitely an interesting little Sci-Fi film that really expands itself as it goes on, the film does start out a bit rough with a lot of slow burn elements that don’t exactly work all that well here. Mainly due to the story itself actually being a bit more straightforward than you would think, but once it gets going the film becomes quite an Interesting exploration. The characters are quite intriguing particularly Raffiella Chapman’s character Vesper who gets a really solid backstory and several character moments as the film goes on, there’s some world exploration here that definitely could have been used a lot more, but for what’s presented it’s a quite decent look at a post apocalyptic world that introduces some ideas that are pretty investing. The film does follow a few familiar Sci-Fi film tropes but at the very least the film does things a bit different, as I said before the slow burn elements are kind of just there. They are very unnecessary especially with the story being told where it’s actually straightforward and really doesn’t need these long moments of silence to digest what’s happening on screen. If you can get through that you are in for a very investing ride.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is an interesting little movie, that while story wise it really isn’t anything special it makes up for it with a lot of other elements that go together quite nicely. The cinematography combined with the setting of New Orleans is truly a lot of fun and adds to the movie’s overall atmosphere, the performances are overall pretty solid particularly Jeon Jong-seo and Kate Hudson who have great chemistry and really steal every scene they are in together. Craig Robinson is also a fun addition as well, the direction from Ana Lily Amirpour (director of The Bad Batch and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) is really fantastic here, we get more character development than we usually would when it comes to films like this. There’s some character driven moments that are very investing and really drag the viewer into the film, Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon might be Amirpour’s weakest film mainly due to the story feeling a bit too recognizable, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that I do recommend giving a watch, it’s a solid introduction to her work.
Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is available on all VOD platforms.
Unless you haven’t seen a single Twilight Zone episode or haven’t watched a low budget Sci-Fi movie before this might not be a bad watch. Otherwise prepare for a lot of Sci-Fi tropes that really don’t add anything new to the genre, there’s some decent shots here considering the budget and the acting isn’t as bad as you would expect. But this ends up being more of a chore to finish than anything else.
Alienoid is what happens when you combine so many different ideas and elements from other movies and TV Shows then proceed to go wild with it. The movie is a mess but it’s the type of mess that is a whole lot of fun and strangely has charm to it as well. There’s bits that reminded me of Power Rangers, Terminator, Transformers, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and so on. That’s a very crazy movie that isn’t afraid to go all out, the performances are pretty solid, the writing is engaging and genuinely hilarious plus has a lot of charm as well. The main flaw comes from the almost two and a half hour running time that really stretches itself for far too long, it really starts to overstay it’s welcome but luckily it’s enjoyable for most of it. Alienoid is flawed but it has a lot of charm and is wildly entertaining that you just can’t help but like it.
I can’t think of such a huge turn for a franchise in a good way more than the Predator franchise, for awhile The Predator franchise has been struggling to get a really solid film out. Outside of Predator and Predator 2 (depending on who you ask, I personally find it to be quite fun) the series is very lacking and was in dire need of another really good film. Luckily that was the case with Dan Trachtenberg’s (10 Cloverfield Lane) Installment Prey, Prey takes the series back to it’s roots and brings everything back that people loved about the series in the first place. For starters Amber Midthunder was truly brilliant here and gives a breakout performance that completely captures the spirit the film is going for, the same can be said with the rest of the cast Dakota Beavers in particular does a really fantastic job. The film itself is visually stunning and the cinematography is captivating, one of the main criticisms I’ve had with the franchise is that a lot of the films visually don’t look very great. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see Prey take advantage of it’s setting and go all out with it. Especially when you combine it with the atmosphere that Dan Trachtenberg creates, like in 10 Cloverfield Lane the atmosphere here is horrifying and suspenseful it grabs the viewer’s attention and never let’s go. Everything that Trachtenberg did masterfully in 10 Cloverfield Lane is present here and it’s just as effective. The action scenes are well shot and the kills are quite brutal and a lot of fun as well, the combination of campy like feel of the kills with a serious tone actually works quite beautifully with the film. What’s very interesting about Prey is that it’s a franchise film that has the visuals and the character’s actions tell the story which is not something you see in a lot of franchise films. It’s truly fascinating and is pretty straightforward, overall Prey is the best film of the franchise since the first movie. Amber Midthunder is truly a star that I hope to see a lot more of and I’m excited to see what Dan Trachtenberg does next.
Glasshouse is definitely a better than expected, the movie plays out like a post apocalyptic version of The Beguiled but manages to make a few elements it’s own. The themes of exploring trauma through memories is quite creative and actually executed pretty well, there’s a bit folk horror thrown in there that adds too it as well. Writing wise there’s some ideas that could have been expanded upon a bit more as the movie does present a bunch at a time, but for what Glasshouse is it’s a very decent movie with well done characters.
Glasshouse releases tomorrow on all VOD Platforms.
Death Hunt is your nothing special about it “bunch of people hunt for some other people” you have seen this done before in far better movies. With that said Death Hunt isn’t necessarily bad, there’s definitely some entertainment to be had and the setting actually takes advantage of the premise quite well. But everything else is unfortunately very beat by beat.
Death Hunt releases tomorrow on all VOD Platforms.