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Sicario: Day Of The Soldado

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“The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.”

So, the first Sicario film was undeniably my favorite movie of 2015. It was raw, gritty and unapologetic. The tension in the film managed to carry over scene by scene and at times it was palpable. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. When I heard that they were making a sequel to it, I really didn’t understand why. There was no way to out-do the first one.

Watching Day of the Soldado‘s trailer felt like it was missing something that made it less appealing, but as the release date grew closer I felt compelled to give it a go. I knew that Emily Blunt would not return for the second film when it was announced it was in production. I didn’t realize how much of integral part she was to this cast of characters. In the middle of a group of men that only do what needs to be done, she was the moral barometer of the bunch. She was also the protagonist that we followed into this underbelly of violence in which we lived vicariously through her tension and stress.

Now with Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin tag teaming the protagonist role, it seems less relatable. Neither one of their characters are known for their decency and even when they try to bring it into play, it falls flat. We know all the vile things they are capable of so once they do something that seems redeeming, you really don’t care because we’ve seen them do the worst things to people. It didn’t help the audience connect.

Also, the great director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) did not return to helm the film. Villeneuve nailed the art of suspense through great camera angles, and shots that put us dead center in the action. Stefano Solima did a decent job, but it lacked some of the edginess that the first film delivered.

The story was written by Taylor Sheridan who has quickly become one of my favorite Hollywood writers. He penned the first Sicario movie, Wind River and Hell or High Water. This plot though felt a little jumbled and at times hard to follow. It had great moments, but there were also moments where I was trying to figure out which side of the border they were on and what exactly everyone’s agendas were.

The action scenes were decent, but nothing could match the highway scene from the first movie. There’s only so much threat a cartel of henchman can pose to the U.S. military.

Another thing that bugged me was that we didn’t see any of the major cartel kingpins. Not of glimpse. It felt like we only connected with the lowest level Sicario’s and employees that came off as faceless characters to use as target practice.

Overall Grade: C

It wasn’t a terrible movie, but with Emily Blunt and Denis Villeneuve missing, it felt let there was a giant hole that Soldado couldn’t fill, and at times it came off a bit boring. Unfortunately since this is a sequel it has to be paired with the first film and that proved to be its biggest obstacle. Also the ending just felt unfulfilling. It just feels like it ended a few scenes before it needed to, and just left us with questions unanswered. See it on a lazy Sunday st home. It’s too drab for a date movie, and too standard in its action to be a theater-worthy watch.

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
Action, Crime, Drama
June 2018
Director: Stefano Solima
Black Label Media/Lionsgate
2 hours 2 minutes
IMDB

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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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