REVIEW: All Quiet On The Western Front (2022)

Felix Kammerer as ‘Paul Bäumer’ in IM WESTEN NICHTS NEUES — PHOTO: Netflix.

Directed by Edward Berger — Screenplay by Ian Stokell, Lesley Paterson, and Edward Berger.

Can a war film ever truly be anti-war? A lot has been said on the topic over the years, with François Truffaut often being attributed to the quote that “there is no such thing as an anti-war film,” and Steven Spielberg reportedly disagreeing completely in an interview with Newsweek in which he stated that “every war movie, good or bad, is an anti-war movie.” With respect, I think both of their black-and-white absolute statements miss the mark. Certainly, there are war films that aren’t explicitly anti-war in case they showcase heroism or glorify the act of fighting for one’s country. Some would definitely argue that Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan fell prey to some of these war movie pitfalls. On the other hand, I also think the Truffaut quote is a strange generalization. Actually, with All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), I think Edward Berger has done an excellent job of recreating the hell of World War One in a way that knocks you out, shakes you up, and sends waves through you.

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REVIEW: The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Kathryn Hunter in Joel Coen’s THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, now streaming on Apple TV+ — PHOTO: Apple TV+.

Directed by Joel Coen — Screenplay by Joel Coen.

The Coen brothers are obviously one of the most influential and acclaimed filmmaking duos of the late 20th and early 21st Century. I have had the great pleasure of watching and enjoying several of their films, and I think all cinephiles wait eagerly every time one of their projects is announced. The Tragedy of Macbeth is, however, a special entry in their filmography since it is the first solo effort from Joel Coen. Even though his brother did not work on this film, Joel Coen didn’t lose a step. The Tragedy of Macbeth, obviously an adaptation of an oft-adapted Shakespeare play that needs no introduction, is one of the best-looking films of 2021.

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REVIEW: Emma. (2020)

Mia Goth as Harriet Smith (left) and Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse (right) in Autumn de Wilde’s ‘Emma.’ — Photo: Focus Features.

Directed by Autumn de Wilde — Screenplay by Eleanor Catton.

Autumn de Wilde’s feature film directorial debut, Emma., is a romantic-dramedy period piece based on the 1815 Jane Austin novel of the same name, which has been adapted numerous times. Autumn de Wilde’s film takes place in the early 19th Century and it follows its privileged titular character, Emma Woodhouse (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), as she interferes with her friend’s love life. Her friend, the sweet but impressionable Harriet Smith (played by Mia Goth), is attracted to a Mr. Robert Martin (played by Connor Swindells). But, instead, Emma thinks that Harriet should pursue a romantic relationship with the local vicar, Mr. Elton (played by Josh O’Connor), even though it’s clear to everyone except for Emma and Harriet that he is actually attracted to the title character. Continue reading “REVIEW: Emma. (2020)”

REVIEW: Mulan (2020)

Liu Yifei as the title character in ‘Mulan (2020),’ available on Disney+. — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

Directed by Niki Caro — Screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin.

Niki Caro’s Mulan is an adaptation of the late 1990s Disney animated film of the same name, which itself was based on the story of the folk heroine Hua Mulan. Caro’s film tells the story of a Chinese woman, Mulan (played by Liu Yifei), who disguised herself as a man and enlisted herself in the Imperial Army to protect her frail and injured father, Zhou (played by Tzi Ma), even though she knew it would bring dishonor to her family. In the film, while fighting alongside other brave soldiers, she must do all that she can to save China from an invading army that is fighting alongside a witch (played by Gong Li). Continue reading “REVIEW: Mulan (2020)”

REVIEW: Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

Hillbilly Elegy - Still Image - Lacey Terrell - Netflix
‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ Still Image — Photo by Lacey Terrell / Netflix.

Directed by Ron Howard — Screenplay by Vanessa Taylor.

Though it was once touted as a huge player at the upcoming Academy Awards, the overall critical reception of Ron Howard’s adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy has been surprisingly negative. What was once looked upon as the film that might finally be the vehicle that would give Amy Adams and Glenn Close the Oscars that their careers most definitely deserve, now looks like a surprisingly unengaging piece of Oscar-bait, which is a term that refers to films that give off the impression that they were made only to be nominated for Oscars. However, while I do think one performance is good enough to earn praise at awards ceremonies, the film as a whole is not memorable or good enough to leave a lasting impression. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hillbilly Elegy (2020)”

REVIEW: The Invisible Man (2020)

Theatrical Release Poster – Universal Pictures

The following is a review of The Invisible Man — Directed by Leigh Whannell.

120 years after H. G. Wells’ original science fiction novel The Invisible Man was released, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy was released to negative reviews. That film was intended to kickstart an interconnected cinematic universe known as the ‘Dark Universe,’ of which a The Invisible Man-adaptation was supposed to be a part. However, instead, the Dark Universe quickly became the most used example of a cinematic universe that fell apart before it had a chance to connect two films. Three years after the release of Kurtzman’s monster movie, which was a critical and financial failure, we have the latest adaptation of the aforementioned iconic Wells-novel. Although Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man is notably not a part of any cinematic universe, he has done what Kurtzman, unfortunately, failed to do, i.e. make an effective and modern monster movie. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Invisible Man (2020)”

REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Doctor Sleep — Directed by Mike Flanagan.

How do you please the fans of two very different masters of storytelling (i.e. Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick) when the storytellers’ understanding of The Shining differs so much that the author, Stephen King, once disowned director Stanley Kubrick’s extremely popular adaptation? How do you continue the story of The Shining on the big screen, when King and Kubrick’s endings are in conflict with each other? Those questions made the adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to his hit novel The Shining, an incredibly daunting task exactly because audiences would expect it to also be a sequel to Kubrick’s beloved masterpiece. Mike Flanagan, a promising horror filmmaker who adapted Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game into a terrific Netflix film, was eventually chosen for the difficult task. Ultimately, I think Flanagan, who both wrote, directed, and edited Doctor Sleep, did an outstanding job. Flanagan has confidently united two clashing visions in this quite satisfying, but undeniably unnecessary sequel. Continue reading “REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)”

REVIEW: In the Tall Grass (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of In the Tall Grass — Directed by Vincenzo Natali.

Vincenzo Natali’s In the Tall Grass is a straight-to-Netflix horror film based on the Stephen King and Joe Hill novella of the same name, which was initially released in issues of Esquire magazine in 2012. Natali’s adaptation follows Cal (played by Avery Whitted) and his pregnant sister Becky (played by Laysla De Oliveira), who is considering giving up her baby for adoption. When they are driving in the middle of nowhere, Cal has to pull over because his sister is feeling sick. While having stopped by the side of the road, they both hear a boy (played by Will Buie, Jr.) screaming for help from inside a nearby field of very tall grass. They both decide to enter the field to get him out, but, once they have entered the claustrophobic green field of grass, they quickly realize that they are unable to escape it or even find each other. Continue reading “REVIEW: In the Tall Grass (2019)”

REVIEW: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a review of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — Directed by André Øvredal.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an adaptation of a trilogy of children’s horror short story collections of the same name from author Alvin Schwartz. The film has been in development since 2013, and now Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal has finally brought the children’s short stories to the big screen in the form of a horror film that’s frankly really enjoyable if you know what you’re getting into. This is just scary enough to severely frighten teens, but I don’t think it is so frightening that it’ll haunt them at night unless they are young tweens, but you and your kids’ mileage may vary. It’s a cute and fairly effective horror film that, I think, has the potential to become a favorite for teens. Those who dug Annabelle Comes Home will be happy with this similarly cutesy horror film. Continue reading “REVIEW: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)”

REVIEW: Tomb Raider (2018)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Tomb Raider — Directed by Roar Uthaug.

After winning her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Girl, Interrupted, Angelina Jolie went on to play smart female adventurous archaeologist Lara Croft in the first film based on the popular series of video games Tomb Raider. Neither of the two Jolie-led Tomb Raider-films were at all memorable, to me. Continue reading “REVIEW: Tomb Raider (2018)”