REVIEW: The Wandering Earth (2019)

Chinese Theatrical Release Poster – China Film Group Corporation

The following is a review of The Wandering Earth — Directed by Frant Gwo. Available on Netflix now.

This 2019 release is a two-hour long blockbuster film that has made close to $700 million globally at the box office. There are no superheroes in the film, it isn’t based on Marvel or DC, and it doesn’t belong to a vastly popular science-fiction or fantasy franchise. On top of that, this isn’t an English-language film. In fact, it wasn’t released widely in theaters in Europe or North America.

This is The Wandering Earth, a relentless Chinese blockbuster film that proves that glorious spectacle created outside of North America can rival the best Hollywood has to offer in disaster film — at least when it comes to incredible and unfathomably spectacular action. I’ve got plenty of issues with The Wandering Earth, but the one thing that really impressed me was the science-fiction visuals because, normally, you don’t get these astoundingly well-designed visuals without the direct influence of a major American studio. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Wandering Earth (2019)”

REVIEW: God of War: Raising Kratos (2019 – Documentary)

Release Poster – Sony PlayStation

The following is a short review of God of War: Raising Kratos — Directed by Brandon Akiaten.

Brandon Akiaten’s God of War: Raising Kratos is a documentary about the making of the 2018 version of God of War, which is arguably one of the best games of the decade. Dubbed a masterpiece by plenty of video game critics and netting a 94 Metacritic-score, God of War was a critical hit and, later, a fan-favorite. It won new fans and it pleased old ones, and it made the developing studio into a reinvigorated and much more cherished studio than it had ever been before. But the journey to get there was arduous as revealed by Akiaten’s feature-length documentary, which has been released on YouTube by Sony PlayStation. Continue reading “REVIEW: God of War: Raising Kratos (2019 – Documentary)”

REVIEW: Pokémon – Detective Pikachu (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros.

The following is a review of Pokémon – Detective Pikachu — Directed by Rob Letterman.

There are going to be plenty of reviews out there that come from the perspective of someone who knows nothing or very little about the world of Pokémon. But that isn’t my perspective. That isn’t my review. For as long as I can remember, Pokémon has been a part of my life. I’ve played and replayed the games, I’ve had tons of trading cards, and I loved to watch the anime with my sister. For this reason, I want this review to be playful with these little references and inside jokes. So, if you’ll indulge me, then please read along.

Pokémon was a huge part of my childhood, and, with that in mind, I have to say that even though Detective Pikachu didn’t rock my world, I thought it was a very enjoyable but safe start to a live-action North American series. I have a lot of issues with the film, but I’m surprised this film works as well as it does. It isn’t perfect, but it’s more than enough for me as a starting point for a live-action film series. Continue reading “REVIEW: Pokémon – Detective Pikachu (2019)”

REVIEW: Greta (2019)

US Theatrical Release Poster – Focus Features

The following is a review of Greta — Directed by Neil Jordan.

It’s been a while since I last felt like walking out of a movie in the middle of it. It still hasn’t ever happened, because every time I feel this way, I’m watching the film with someone I know. Though I did watch the film in its entirety, Neil Jordan’s Greta really pushed me to my limits. Though it starred multiple actors who I enjoy, I had nowhere near as much fun watching the end product as much as it seems Isabelle Huppert enjoyed chewing the scenery in this terribly dull thriller. I’m sure some might say Greta is so bad it’s good, but, to me, it was so bad that even its most outrageously funny lines became infuriating in the long run. Continue reading “REVIEW: Greta (2019)”

REVIEW: Long Shot (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a review of Long Shot — Directed by Jonathan Levine.

It would appear that I have a soft spot for Jonathan Levine films. His is a name that immediately gets me excited to watch a film if his name is attached to it. I am one of the few who thinks Levine’s 50/50 is a genuine masterpiece of the genre within which it belongs. Furthermore, I think his 2015 holiday film The Night Before has the makings of a modern Christmas classic — in fact, it has already become a tradition for me to watch that film every Christmas. Likewise, I really enjoyed my time with Long Shot, which is Levine’s attempt at Rogenesque romantic comedy with a political twist. While I doubt that Long Shot will become as memorable to me as the aforementioned efforts, I think it is another example of a hip Levine film that goes down well. Continue reading “REVIEW: Long Shot (2019)”

REVIEW: At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019 – Documentary)

Release Poster – HBO

The following is a short review of the HBO documentary At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal — Directed by Erin Lee Carr.

From the mid-to-late-1990s to the mid-2010s, Dr. Larry Nassar — a husband, and father of three children — worked for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University as a national team doctor and physician respectively. Nassar was, to many, seen as the nice guy in a sport populated by inhumane coaches. Nassar was, even by victims in this documentary, described as a confidante and friend.

What parents did not realize — and what gymnasts blocked out — was that Nassar was a serial abuser who used his position of power to abuse young women for decades until he was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison in 2018. At the Heart of Gold — Erin Lee Carr’s latest HBO documentary — explores the institutional abuse that allowed for Nassar to exist, and it presents damning and heart-wrenching victim interviews. Continue reading “REVIEW: At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019 – Documentary)”

REVIEW: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile — Directed by Joe Berlinger.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile comes from Joe Berlinger, the director of Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and is based on Elizabeth Kloepfer’s book The Phantom Prince about her relationship with the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Lily Collins stars as Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Kendall, a single mother who has met the perfect guy. He has a nice Volkswagen, he’s nice to her and her kid, and he is fairly attractive.

Zac Efron plays this man who seems to be too good to be true. That’s because he is. Because Efron is Ted Bundy, the man who we know as one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. As authorities catch up to Bundy, Liz becomes caught in a whirlwind with no sense of up or down. Liz doesn’t know if she is being played, or if the system is putting her new man behind bars unjustly. Continue reading “REVIEW: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)”