The film Deadly Scholars (AKA #Squadgoals) was released on January 16, 2018. It is about a high school reporter who investigates a couple of murders at her school. At the time that it was released it was Unrated.
It was very difficult to find anything positive about this film. I suppose the best I can say is that the acting was decent even though the script was dull and predictable. This was listed as a thriller, but it came across more as a chiller. The actors were, apparently, more used to working on TV channels like Nickelodeon or Disney. The murders were hardly scary or gory. And the other major sin of this film (I can’t even bring myself to call it a movie) was that the “teen” actors were in their mid-20s or older.
I consider it my duty to warn people about wasting their time when it comes to entertainment. This film was a major disappointment and should be avoided at all costs unless you need a sleep remedy. Another clue to watch for is when the producers can’t decide on a title to stick with. I give it 1 star out of 5.
The Chinese film Detective Dee :The Four Heavenly Kings is the third in a series which blends martial arts, action, and fantasy. It was released in the United States on July 27, 2018. I will admit that I fell in love with this series from the very first film.
Detective Dee (Mark Chao) is commissioned by the Emperor to protect the Dragon-Taming Mace which is a symbol of the Emperor’s power. Unfortunately, the Empress Wu (Carina Lau) plots against Detective Dee. She convinces Dee’s best friend to help her and he hires a troupe of wizards in this mission. To top it off, there is a cult seeking revenge against the Imperial dynasty. This is where the fantasy elements are brought in.
The actors were all excellent as were the martial arts scenes. I also enjoyed the CGI effects. The only disappointment in the movie were the subtitles which sometimes flashed for a second on the screen. I give this 5 stars out of 5.
The film Velvet Buzzsaw was released on February 1, 2019. It is a horror/thriller about what happens when the art of a reclusive artist is promoted by greed. The artist wanted his work destroyed, but a neighbor of his uses it for her own enrichment. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a bisexual art critic, Rene Russo is a art promoter, and John Malkovich is an ex-alcoholic artist who is losing his talent.
All of the actors portrayed their characters very well, but the subject matter was not very interesting. The movie started out slow and the portrayal of this select group of people did not do much to make the film relatable. The murder scenes were interesting and the CGI was well done.
This is definitely an, excuse the pun, “art house” movie. The cinematography was excellent but overall, I would only give this 3 stars.
I too found the start a little slow but it certainly improved throughout. Once the actual ‘action’ began I found it really good and Gyllenaal portrayed his character really well I thought. It did prove that when people become rich and famous they can change completely and sometimes act like spoilt-brats if they are not getting there own way or people are not treating them how they think they deserve to be treated.
I found the story to be original and if you can get over the first half-hour it becomes enjoyable. I rate this 4 stars.
Normally, Black Mirror is a television series, but this “episode” Bandersnatch is a stand alone video which is movie version length. It was released on December 28, 2018. It is an interesting film in that the viewer is given choices during the movie of how to direct the characters. If the viewer does not choose one of the options within a 10 second interval, the story goes to a default setting.
The basic story line takes place in the summer of 1984. Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) is an amateur game developer who is working on a game based on a book his late mother had. The acting was very good. The interactive aspect of the movie was good and, at times, funny. The story line was somewhat improved by the producers and writers going with this concept, but I imagine it must have been just as stressful for them as it was for the actors to keep the time line straightened out.
The concept of “Life is full of choices” was the main theme of this story. It was well done and the acting was believable. I thought this was well worth watching and give it 4 stars out of 5.
The film Outlaw King was released on November 9, 2018. It is an historical film dealing with the history of Scotland under the role of Robert the Bruce (1275-1329). It starts with the submission of the Scottish lords to King Edward I of England in 1304. Chris Pine plays Robert the Bruce and Stephen Dillane is King Edward I. The film is a bit slow in the beginning due to the presentation of other historical persons, such as Queen Margaret of Scotland and Prince Edward of England and various influential lords.
This was a very bloody time in the history of Scotland but this was not shown until halfway through the film. The death of William Wallace was skimmed over. Another thing that is a problem with biopics is that historical facts are sometimes presented out of sequence. I understand the reasoning behind this, which is due to time limitations, but it presents a prejudicial viewpoint of history. Putting this aside, Outlaw King was a well written story. For the most part it keeps the viewer’s interest. The acting was sufficient and believable. The direction was excellent. I admit that if every battle ever fought by the English and the Scots, the back door politics, and other factors were shown in this film, it would probably last about 6-7 hours.
I like historical films for the most part if the subject is of interest. I knew a bit about Robert the Bruce and King Edward I, but this film gives an interesting perspective on the interaction between these two countries. I would watch it again and I would recommend it others. I give this 4 stars out of 5.
The French action movie The Crew (Braqueurs) was released in the US on November 15, 2018. A gang of armored car robbers find themselves in a bigger mess when one of them sells a gun to the local crime gang. In order to pay off a debt, they are forced to hold up a caravan loaded with 80,000 euros (around $90,000) worth of heroin.
Most of the actors were good and very believable. The director was also very good. I don’t know if French action movies are usually this dialogue heavy, but this did tend to slow down the story. The action sequences were good, but had very little blood. The cinematography was good and helped bring a sense of gloom to the film. The soundtrack was good and didn’t overwhelm the story.
Despite the slow section of the movie, it was entertaining. An audience would be drawn into the story more if there would have been more emphasis on the action sequences instead of establishing the relationships between the characters. I give this 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
This TV-MA movie was released in November, 2018. Savannah is an author who is occasionally plagued by night terrors. When she returns to her family’s cabin with her boyfriend and another couple in order to attend her brother’s graduation, her past seems to haunt her more than before.
All Light Will End is a psychological thriller with a few bloody, but not gory, scenes. That is about the only positive thing I can say that it has going for it. The editing was reminiscent of 1980s slasher movies, the acting and musical score were below average, and the story line could have been stronger. The pacing was too slow to maintain my attention.
I would not bother recommending this film to anyone unless they are fans of B movies. The best that I can give it is 2 stars out of 5.
On November 2, 2018 the biographic film of one of rock’s greatest bands Queen, was released. Bohemian Rhapsody covers the time when Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) introduced himself to his favorite band Smile and ended up leading them to be one of the greatest bands of the 1970s. The other members were Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello).
Most biographic films tend to ignore some parts of history, while expanding other parts. Bohemian Rhapsody may be guilty of this aspect, but it is somewhat tempered by Brian May and Roger Taylor’s remembrance of this time and of Freddie. All of the actors did a great job of portraying their characters and the story line was handled very well. The director was also very good. I especially enjoyed the soundtrack. He made a great decision to recreate Queen’s complete concert for Live Aid which revived Queen’s popularity after Freddie Mercury had tried to go solo.
I can hardly imagine anyone who has never heard of Queen or never heard any of their music. Freddie Mercury had a great vocal range and he and the band are experiencing a resurgence. I highly recommend this movie to everyone. By the end of the film, I was starting to tear up and this was the second film I’ve seen where the theater audience stood up and applauded. I give this a 5 stars out of 5 for the emotional experience alone.