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)”

REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

UK Release Poster – Walt Disney Pictures

The following is a review of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon – Directed by David Lowery

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon is a re-imagining of the 1977 comedy musical of the same name. It is not a remake, which I assumed it was until I saw the new film. The original film was about an orphan who is adopted into an abusive family. The 1977 version is a mostly forgotten film, which I remember watching but hardly remember for anything really. That probably tells you why it took me this long to finally watch David Lowery’s re-imagining. Continue reading “REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon (2016)”

REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Release Poster – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The following is a review of Beauty and the Beast – Directed by Bill Condon

I was born in the early 1990s, and, as a result, one of my first favorite movies was the animated ‘classic’ Disney’s Beauty and the Beast from 1991. My mom recently reminded me and my sister that we would watch it over and over again when we were kids, and my father seems to have become tired of the film as a result.

I still absolutely love the animated film, but, seeing as I’ve enjoyed both Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book remake and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella remake, I was confident in Disney’s ability to remake another one of their most beloved films. Yet while I can say that I enjoyed this remake by Bill Condon, it does feel rather unnecessary and it doesn’t hold a candle to the animated classic. Continue reading “REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast (2017)”