An avid movie watcher, and I have been writing short stories and novels on the side for years now. Hoping to hone my craft here on Vocal!
Review: "Stranger Things 4"
The streaming giant that is Netflix has become known for many of its Original shows, but none seem to reach the heights of popularity such as Stranger Things. What once began as a show that echoed the same feel of the 80’s films that Spielberg gave us has now evolved into a much darker affair with its fourth season so far. Due to the three-year hiatus between seasons three and four, the season is much bigger in scope and runtime as well as what it is dealing with in terms of trauma and loss. They even decided to break up the season into volumes, the final two episodes of the season will come out on July 1st, and yet even with the season not over, it feels like a more complete season than previous years. With the actors being more mature, it has allowed the writers to get more creative and daring with the content which they definitely did. Right out of the gate, the show proves to the audience that it is much more dark and terrifying. Thankfully, the show has aged with its cast and fan base. To an extent, this season echoes some of the same themes as Nightmare on Elm Street, a popular film series that debuted in the 80s.
Fresh starts off making a commentary on how stale and gross online dating can be. In many ways, the way people view people on these apps ends up the same way as we look at meat. All of this takes place rather quickly in the beginning as the viewer is treated to seeing Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) as she goes out with a loser from her bland menu of endless app scrolling. The date goes poorly but it doesn’t stop her from losing hope of finding love. It is an intriguing start that seems a bit ho-hum but quickly takes a turn into a horror-comedy that will certainly surprise audiences.
Review: "The Adam Project"
The Adam Project is a big film for the giant streaming service in Netflix that delivers in what it promises to its viewers. Filled to the brim with star talent, you can expect to have a few good laughs watching this film along with an enjoyable ride throughout the runtime. However, a lot of the Netflix original films haven’t been well-recieved by critics up until this one. A lot of that can be attributed to writer and director Shawn Levy allowing Ryan Reynolds, the film’s star, to do what he does best. Beyond the humor you could come to expect from a Ryan Reynolds-led movie, The Adam Project features some shiny action sequences along with some softer and quieter heartwarming moments.
The original Scream struck a chord among horror fans alike that spent time thinking about John Carpenter’s Halloween and other slasher films and how all of them had similar pitfalls. The original Scream was horror-comedy at its finest along with how it made fun of the genre. Kevin Willamson and Wes Craven created some unique in a failing genre. Fast forward from 1996, to now, and the conversation about the genre has again shifted. The slasher films have become less popular in favor of thought-provoking horror, however, this installment of the beloved series comes off as a “re-quel” that acts as a love letter to the franchise and to Wes Craven the original director. Clearly, James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick crafted this film with the original Scream in mind to pay homage to Craven, who passed away but they wanted to do so in such a way that feels consistent with Williamson and Craven’s voice but also distinct enough with its own flare that is more in line with the times. At times, it works well, but mostly, it feels largely too familiar and predictable.
Review: "The Batman"
The character of Batman has been synonymous with film ever since he appeared in Tim Burton's take of the Caped Crusader back in the late 80s. It is easy to say that the character will forever be a staple in movie theaters, but many would argue that no film has truly captured what makes the great so great on the comic book panels. Until now. Burton's take on the character was much more cartoonish, Nolan's was more realistic and grounded in reality stripping away any of the larger-than-life elements of the character. Matt Reeves noir thriller film feels like it is straight ripped from the pages of many comic book fans' beloved stories. Reeves depiction of Gotham feels alive, and terrifying in its musty and moody crime-filled streets. It clearly draws inspiration from "The Long Halloween" and "No Man's Land", two stories that were loosely used even in Nolan's trilogy. Some may find fault in how each iteration of Batman has gotten darker and darker, but the character and the world he occupies need to be closer to what Reeves has crafted with this film for it to truly work.
Review: "The Matrix: Resurrections"
The original Matrix that the Wachowski brothers created way back in 1999 was ahead of its time with its spectacular action sequences as well as its special effects. Fast forward twenty-plus years and the original is still beloved while the subsequent sequels are less so. It isn't surprising to see that Warner Brothers studio would opt for a soft reboot in Resurrections, but at the end of the film, it is increasingly difficult to question whether this film was even necessary. Neo and Trinity are back, but yet Morpheus and Agent Smith are recast in a weird decision as there is an intent to have a younger cast for a new potential trilogy, but the way the characters are made isn't treading new ground or particularly interesting, just like the central plot.
Review: "Spider-Man: No Way Home"
Tom Holland's iteration has always been viewed in an indifferent light. While he captures the boyish-ness of the character, the way he has been written has always led people to believe he is more "Iron Boy" than the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. This is largely due to the fact that he has always received help from Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark in the form of his tech. The genius of Spider-Man: No Way Home helps eliminate that as in the grand picture of this "Homecoming" trilogy for this version of Spider-Man is one of a long origin story where a boy who wants to be an Avenger becomes a fully realized character who wants to do good. Tom Holland also does a tremendous job in the role and may have silenced his critics with just this one film.
Review: "The Last Duel"
Ridley Scott is a renowned director in the industry who has made some films that are viewed as absolute classics but he also has a bit of a reputation. For all of his great films he has just as many uneven films that feature great set pieces, excellent action but suffer in pacing and overindulgence in being "Ridley Scott." The Last Duel falls somewhere in a weird place between one of his great films and one of his uneven films. He doesn't compromise in his films, for better or for worse, as he has a clear and concise view for all of them even if it doesn't fit for modern times. Along with Scott in the directing chair, the film has incredible talent in front of the camera and on the page. For the first time in a long time, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have penned a script, which may just be one of the weaker parts of the film sadly. The gold they hit on in Good Will Hunting, has not carried over to The Last Duel as it is largely an uneven period piece that takes too long.
Review: "The Unforgivable"
Sandra Bullock is a bonafide movie star that lifts up any movie that she is in, however, The Unforgivable has one too many flaws. It is a personal tale that Bullock does a great job of in an almost unrecognizable role for her, but the direction of Nora Fingscheidt and the script leave a lot to be desired. Beyond Bullock, the film has a star-studded cast including Jon Bernthal, Viola Davis, and Vincent D'Onofrio. The cast is fine, but for such a personal journey, the writer and director put focus on far too many characters leading to a jumbled and rather uninteresting plot.
Bernard Rose's take on Clive Barker's Candyman back in 1992 still stands the test of time as one of the best horror films to come out. Inevitably, the hit film spawned a bunch of sequels that never quite hit the success of its predecessor. In comes Jordan Peele off the success of hit films like Get Out and Us looking to rejuvenate the franchise and largely he did. Peele worked with director Nia DaCosta on this film and both shared writing credits. The pair disregarded the sequels that followed the original Candyman and instead focused on the aftermath of it created a pseudo-spiritual sequel. This take on the character enriches the universe and builds on it to incredible success.
Review: "8-Bit Christmas"
With Thanksgiving in our rearview mirrors now, it is inevitable to see Christmas movies on our televisions as it is the season to be jolly. On Thanksgiving Day, this film was available to stream to anyone with a subscription to HBO Max. Anyone that watches it will surely be hit with just as much nostalgia as product placement. However, it is a heartwarming tale that many once had a Nintendo console or memories of wanting a video game console so bad will surely enjoy. 8-Bit Christmas sticks to the old tropes of most Christmas movies for better or for worse throughout the film and at its core, it is really difficult to have a hard time enjoying Christmas movies on some level.
Review: "King Richard"
Many sport films follow a simple formula that all too well feature a heartwarming underdog story and at its heart that is exactly what King Richard is. On top of that, it also seems a bit of an "Oscar-bait" type of film as it features arguably one of the best performances of Will Smith's long career. The film tells the story of the man behind two of the greatest tennis players to ever grace the sport, their father, and his pursuit of stardom for them both. During Venus and Serena Williams ascension to stardom, something that constantly made headlines at the time was how controversial their father was. You'd assume this film at its core would be about the two sisters but instead, it shines the light on the father to paint him in a better picture than the media ever did. In the process, it instills in the audience that it is always important to keep sight of what truly matters, the ones you love and protecting them.