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Ready Player One

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“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.”

1522380538225 (6)To be totally transparent, this was my most anticipated movie of 2018. Last July I saw the teaser trailer and my mind was blown on how they squeezed so many movie and video game properties into one film and I was immediately hooked. Once I learned it was based on a book, I purchased it, and yes, I’m a slow reader so it took me four months to finish it (also I left my first copy on a plane so congrats for the free book I blessed someone with).

I convinced myself to go into this film not doing the comparison game and allowed it to stand on its on, and honestly, I’m all the better for it.

First off, lets start with the real draw; the visuals. This was a really good looking film. The V.R. world known as the OASIS was utterly spectacular. I feared that this would be the part where the film could fail, but they did a great job making this place look as realistic as possible. Another area I was concerned with was the avatar designs of the characters. In the trailers I found them to be uninteresting, but in the movie they were far more compelling. They excelled in the humanization of each character as the CGI form and were actually far more engaging then their real-life counterparts.

Olivia Cooke was the biggest standout in this film as Artemis aka Samantha. She really evoked the most emotion and energy in a cast of characters that often disappeared within each other. While Lena Waithe was a lot of fun as Aech, her human counterpart was less of a focal point throughout the film. I also liked Ben Mendelsohn as the antagonist, Sorrento. He always had a great bad guy demeanor that fit well into this movie.

So, just a quick comparison to the book; it is best, if you did read it, to think of it as two stand-alone projects. The puzzles and challenges in the book were segmented to a smaller audience. When I read it, I found myself YouTubing and Googling a lot of the albums, movies, and games that were referenced because they were so obscure, or I wasn’t aware of them. I figured that the creators of the movie were aware of that and instead completely transitioned each challenge to cultural reference the masses could relate to. This was the best option, and if I may say so, the challenge to get the Jade key was totally awesome for me, especially being a horror movie buff.

The biggest weaknesses for me were the story, dialogue, and interactions. Even though the overall movie was fun, at times it felt cheesy. As if they tried to force in elements from the book in a very PG sort of way. The dialogue sometimes felt wedged with pop-culture references and jokes that didn’t seem to connect with the audience at times. They also sped through the relationships between the characters (other than Artemis and Parzival) so quickly I didn’t feel like there was a true bond beyond their avatars.

Overall Grade: B or B+

I’m not too sure which one just yet. Even though I really enjoyed the movie, the relationships between the characters was weak and again, sometimes the dialogue and the cheesiness was right at the cusp of distracting. I do believe it deserves a second viewing for a final grade, or at least to catch the hundred of easter eggs I’m sure I missed.

Ready Player One
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
March 2018
Director: Steven Spielberg
Warner Bros.
2 hours 20 minutes

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Halloween: The Classic Slasher Film Gets a Proper Sequel

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“Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.”

1539919451162Michael Meyers is considered one of the elder slashers that helped catapult the sub-genre in the late 70’s and opened the door for such favorites as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger.

Much like its influences, the Halloween films have churned out eleven sequels, prequels, and I guess spin-offs, that tend to be cheap thrills on a boring night. These production companies try their best to produce cash grab after cash grab that tend to water down the legacies of the original films for the sake of forced jokes and cheap jump scares. Does this sequel, that for some reason names itself after the original movie, have anything to bring to the table?

Yes, I would say so. It feels like this movie attributes itself as a direct sequel to the first film, and totally ignores every other film in the franchise. This was a good move because this film does feel like a direct sequel – almost like it was an old movie from the 80’s recently unearthed with an aged washed-out color scheme and familiar score. It wasn’t as polished as the H20 series, but it wasn’t as grungy and delusional as the Rob Zombie films, either

The plot managed to remain simple which often is the Kryptonite for sequels and does a few callbacks to the first film without being heavy-handed about it.

Michael Meyers felt like an old man with the Director David Gordon Green giving us glimpses of his age, however he’s still very broad and menacing with little need to run after his victims. He tends to be great at sneaking and trapping his victims in inescapable corners.

“Feels like an old movie from the 80’s that was recently unearthed…”

The acting was decent, led by the talented Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode. The characters felt real and not too far-fetched for some B-movie style decision making.

Even the story was engaging, but be prepared to question how some people are oblivious when they should be on high alert that a psycho murderer is on the loose in their town. Either way, you might want to lock your doors.

Overall Grade: B

It definitely was better that the last few Halloween films and manages to provide a couple of scares and jumps.

The director made a good decision of going with a John Carpenter-style Halloween film that delivers on good old slasher film exploitation without feeling the pressures of some big-time studio exec telling him to tone it down.

* * *

Halloween (2018)
Horror, Thriller
October 2018
Director: David Gordon Green
Blumhouse/Miramax
1 hour 46 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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The Predator

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When a young boy accidentally triggers the universe’s most lethal hunters’ return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.”

The movies that made my childhood great continue to get tarnished for a profit. First Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, now this. When they announced that another Predator movie was coming out this year, I let out my first exhausted sigh since I saw a Predator running side by side with Sanaa Lathan. The only thing that piqued my interest is that the prestigious Hollywood writer and original Predator alum, Shane Black was writing and directing this film. Lo and behold, not even Mr. Black could save this movie.

Before I get into my dislikes in this film, lets talk about the state of monsters in movies. Making a bigger hybrid of the original does not officially make a better movie. Typically these hybrids tend to stifle themselves by having all these new superpowers they can’t even use to dominate the unevolved human species, and find a way to self-implode, thus making them useless as a threat or even close to an iconic character.

Subtly is what made the first one great.

Now, in regards to the Predator series…it’s over. I know this film tried to open itself up to a sequel, but no. Leave it alone. We’ve watered it down way too much. What made the first film amazing was the ambiguity of the Predator. We didn’t know what it was or why it was killing people. In essence, we were drawn closer to the movie because we didn’t  see the monster until the 3rd act. After we saw its face and knew its intentions, the magic was gone. That’s why every other Predator movie paled in comparison.

Now this film in particular, it overcompensated by trying to be the biggest Predator movie without realizing that subtly is what made the first one great. It told you the Predator’s intentions way before we needed to know, and even tried to turn it into a social commentary. Listen, I’m here to see a Predator movie, not get beat over the head with the state of our planet…again.

What I found annoying is that everyone was so amazing at deciphering the Predators intentions, physical makeup, language, purpose, and weaponry with the smallest clues and all of a sudden they knew everything there was to know about these creatures. The speed and precision that these areas were identified were just way too convenient.

Okay, the little kid, Jacob Tremblay. I’ve done reviews of his movies before and I think he’s a great actor, but why the hell do we have a kid in a Predator movie??? You know he’s safe, and it changes the whole dynamic because now you know the adults are going to appease to the kid and turn this movie into something more friendlier than what we were expecting.

Overall Grade: D

As the movie went on, my grade got worse. The original Predator in this film was bad-ass enough, but introducing the hybrid Predator actually worsened the value of the movie. With that, the acting got worse and the plot conveniences got better and turned this movie into a big pile of Predator dung. They tried to resort to comedy and forgot that this film was originally a testosterone-filled horror/action thriller that was unforgiving to human sympathies and catered to the realities of brutal warfare. Also, another Predator film that failed to have a Schwarzenegger cameo. Remember, Dutch NEVER DIED!!!

Bonus Feature: Best Predator movies in order.

6. Predator 2
5. Predator vs. Alien
4. The Predator
3. Predator vs. Alien 2
2. Predators (go see this one instead. It’s a lot better)
1. Predator (the best one, period)

The Predator
Action, Adventure, (Horror)
September 2018
Director: Shane Black
20th Century Fox
1 hour 47 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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Ralph Breaks the Internet | Official Trailer

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