REVIEW: Dune (2021)

Josh Brolin, left, as Gurney Halleck and Timothée Chalamet, right, as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) — Screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth.

When science-fiction neophytes first lay their eyes on the marketing material for Denis Villeneuve’s latest science-fiction film, Dune, they should be forgiven, if they immediately remark that it looks like an imitation of Star Wars — or other similar films. Obviously, they would be under a false impression, but, after all, it is a little bit strange that one of Star Wars‘ most obvious sources of inspiration — Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune — has not previously generated a widely known or appreciated adaptation.

In fact, the Dune property is perhaps especially renowned for being difficult to adapt. Famously, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried but failed to get an adaptation off the ground, while David Lynch’s adaptation from 1984 was critically panned. Those ‘failed’ attempts are, in fact, more widely known than the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series that the franchise also spawned. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have now entrusted auteur Denis Villeneuve with the job of adapting Frank Herbert’s rich, influential, and dense source material, and I think that was a very smart decision.

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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: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Theatrical Release Poster – Paramount Pictures

The following is a review of Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

The first James Bond novel was published in 1953. Nine years later, Sean Connery first played the central character on the big screen. Since then we’ve seen twenty-five Eon Productions Bond-films. In those films, six different actors have played Agent 007 to varying success. So far, all spy franchises have lived in the shadow of Ian Fleming’s creation. Every actor who becomes a leading spy character has been compared to Connery, Moore, Brosnan, Craig, and so on and so forth. Continue reading “REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)”

REVIEW: The Greatest Showman (2017)

Theatrical Release Poster – 20th Century Fox

The following is a review of The Greatest Showman — Directed by Michael Gracey.

It’s the end of the year, so let’s give it a go with a Christmas analogy. Imagine you’re about to open this great, big present covered with gorgeous wrapping paper. But as you rip off the wrapping paper, and open the box that contains your gift, you start to sense the disappointment as the great, big gift is much smaller than the box and the wrapping paper made it seem.

What did you get? Oh, it’s this neat little plaque with some inspirational quote on it. It’s about as generic as possible. That’s The Greatest Showman. A good-hearted hoodwink so disappointing that you question why you ever got excited at all. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Greatest Showman (2017)”

REVIEW: The Snowman (2017)

British Theatrical Release Poster – Universal Pictures

The following is a quick review of The Snowman – Directed by Tomas Alfredson

The Snowman is based on Norwegian crime-writer Jo Nesbø’s bestseller of the same name, which was actually released ten years ago. The film follows Harry Hole (played by Michael Fassbender), a well-regarded detective with a serious alcohol problem, who is investigating the disappearance of a woman. When that woman turns up dead, Hole teams up with Katrine Bratt (played by Rebecca Ferguson) to find and stop a Norwegian serial killer who likes to build snowmen.
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REVIEW: Life (2017)

Theatrical Release Poster – Columbia Pictures

The following is a review of Life – Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Life, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the writers of Deadpool and Zombieland), is an intense science fiction thriller. The film follows the International Space Station’s crew, which captures a space probe that holds an organism that proofs the existence of extraterrestrial life. The organism is named ‘Calvin,’ after an elementary school named after Calvin Coolidge, but the astronauts soon discover that the organism isn’t as harmless and friendly as they expected. Continue reading “REVIEW: Life (2017)”

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Paramount Pictures poster for ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’

The following is a spoiler-free review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

In Rogue Nation, the IMF is dissolved and Ethan Hunt is being hunted by the CIA. Hunt’s mission is to prove the existence of the Syndicate, and his mission leads him to an undercover MI6-agent that he teams up with. That is the basic premise of the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible-franchise. Continue reading “REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)”