Friday, March 31, 2017

Film Review: Arrival (2016)

Arrival (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an ominous but majestic science-fiction that will make you think."

A linguistic lecturer, a theoretical physicist, and several other experts attempt to decode an alien language after twelve spacecraft land around the world...

Arrival is a complex film, but it's worth watching. It's also a bit difficult to review without spoilers—but I'm going to try. The plot follows linguistic expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams). After twelve spacecraft land in seemingly random locations around the world, authorities race to discover their intentions, which means they must be able to accurately interpret their language. So, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlists a group of specialists—which includes Banks and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner)—to decode the language. This team frequently interacts with the alien species, known as 'heptapods,' while the world around them lives on the brink of chaos and all-out war. So, what do they want exactly? Well, like I said, it's a bit complex. Still, the climax is surprising, especially during your first time watching it unravel. The ending was also good. I felt like it could have been more effective, but I digress.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Film Review: Husk (2011)

Husk (Review)
United States/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a hit-or-miss movie."

While driving through rural Nebraska, a group of friends crash and search for help at a secluded farmhouse nearby—unaware of the terror lurking in the cornfield...

Husk starts off running. You probably spend less than three minutes with this generic group of characters—which consists Chris, Scott, Brian, Johnny, and Natalie— before they crash. They end up stranded next to a cornfield, but Johnny has vanished. So, Brian and Scott enter the cornfield and head for a nearby farmhouse. After spotting who she believes to be a teenager in the cornfields, Natalie heedlessly enters the cornfield, too, which causes Chris to follow behind her. Anyway, they're attacked by the scarecrows. The survivors find shelter in the farmhouse since the scarecrows can't leave the fields. It's a fairly basic slasher with a supernatural twist. I usual like traditional serial killer slashers more, but I liked the supernatural twist in this one. It leads to an ineffective ending, though.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Film Review: The Accountant (2016)

The Accountant (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It is a disappointing film, but it's not bad."

Working for both legitimate and criminal businesses, an account's life begins to unravel, which leads to violence and death...

The Accountant is a sloppy film. The plot follows Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck), an accountant with high-functioning autism. Wolff mainly works for criminal organizations around the world. However, this time around, he takes a job auditing a robotics corporation in search of embezzled money, which in-house accountant Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) first discovered. One thing leads to another, and Wolff becomes the target of a crew of assassins. That's pretty much your plot in layman terms. It also frequently jumps to the past to explain Wolff's upbringing. There's also an entire subplot concerning the Treasury Department's investigation on Wolff, which I thought was completely useless. It leads to an action-packed climax with some of the most obvious and unnecessary twists I've ever seen in any movie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Film Review: Deepwater Horizon (2016)

Deepwater Horizon (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a great example of an effective disaster movie."

Based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, where an offshore drilling rig exploded and subsequently caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history...

Deepwater Horizon is a simple but effective disaster movie. The film primarily follows Michael Williams (Mark Wahlberg), the chief electronics technician, James Harrell (Kurt Russell), and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), the navigation officer—among a few other key characters. What's supposed to be a normal day turns into chaos when BP managers force the rig to drill when there's clearly something wrong. Their reasoning? Money. So, due to their negligence, a blowout occurs, which eventually leads to plenty of explosions. The plot is engaging, exciting, dramatic, and fast-paced. I found myself wishing they'd show more of Michael's family, though—aside from about three one-minute scenes, they are hardly used during the disaster. Still, the climax is strong and the ending is powerful.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Film Review: Exists (2014)

Exists (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The first half of the film is difficult to get through—boring, annoying, unnecessary."

A group of douchebags friends visit a cabin in the woods for a vacation, but their party is interrupted by a massive, hairy creature...

Exists could have been an interesting movie. It's a horror movie about Bigfoot after all. Unfortunately, for the most part, this is just another found footage movie. The film follows your typical group of unbearable douchbags. I won't even bother naming them. This group head out to a cabin in the woods. Before arriving, they crash into a large hairy creature, which they end up ignoring as they proceed to the cabin. At the cabin, you basically have to watch this group's vacation videos. They go swimming, paintballing, and the gist—it's boring. It isn't until around the halfway mark where the story truly starts moving. The group is attacked by Bigfoot and they have to fight for survival. When they're not trying to fight, they're running. It leads to a decent climax and ending.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Film Review: 'Pusher 3: I'm the Angel of Death' (2005)

Pusher 3: I'm the Angel of Death (Review)
Denmark/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a great conclusion to the series."

Milo (Zlatko Burić), an aging Serbian drug lord, struggles to cope with his addiction and a set of bad deals during his daughter's 25th birthday...

Like the film before it, Pusher 3: I'm the Angel of Death follows a character from the first film—Milo. Milo has a busy day ahead of him. He has to cook for 50 people for his bratty daughter's birthday party; he has to sell ecstasy, which is not his specialty, due to a botched deal; and he is really trying to stop his self-destructive addiction. That's basically the film's entire plot. Milo runs from place-to-place, dealing with a huge list of issues. It is simple but effective. There are moments where it will make you chuckle, moments where it will make you squirm, and moments where it'll keep you at the edge of your seat. But, like the first film, the simplicity of the plot often leaves some dull moments in the film. It doesn't quite match the pace and intensity of With Blood on My Hands. It leads to a very gruesome climax and a strong ending, though.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Film Review: Graduation Day (1981)

Graduation Day (Review)
United States/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It has several glaring flaws, like the disjointed plot and the dull filler, but it is an entertaining slasher."

A masked killer begins murdering the members of a track team near graduation day...

Graduation Day is a cheesy '80s slasher. There isn't much to say about the plot. It begins with a corny montage of the track team. Laura, a member of the track team, collapses and dies after finishing a race. So, Laura's sister, Anne, arrives in town for her sister's funeral and the graduation—I guess she was supposed to receive Laura's award or something. Anyway, as Anne arrives, members of the track team begin dying. That's about it. Someone dies, there's some unnecessary filler scene, someone else dies, and repeat. It leads to the same climax you've come to expect from every slasher movie ever made. The ending has a surprise or two, but it's nothing groundbreaking.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Film Review: The Driller Killer (1979)

The Driller Killer (Review)
United States/1979
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's not a traditional fast-paced slasher, but it is a very effective and entertaining movie."

Struggling to pay his bills and care for his roommates, an artist slowly goes crazy, which leads to a bloody rampage involving a power drill...

The Driller Killer isn't a traditional slasher. It doesn't have a huge body count, a masked killer, or a fast pace. In fact, aside from a few flashes of violence, I don't think there's a single kill in the first half of the film. Instead, the film focuses on the plot—surprising, isn't it? The plot follows Reno (Abel Ferrara), a struggling artist who lives with two female roommates. He takes care of his roommates while trying to finish an important painting—but the pressure starts to get to him. So, he relieves his stress by killing homeless people with a power drill. Although there aren't a lot of kills early on in the film, the deaths really start to pile on during the latter half—there's even a montage of murder! It leads to an interesting climax and a chilling ending.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Film Review: 'Pusher 2: With Blood on my Hands' (2004)

Pusher 2 (Review)
Denmark/2004
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of the crime genre and you like dark, character-driven films, this is a must-watch movie."

Recently released from prison, Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) returns home with plans of living a decent life—but his plans quickly crumble due to family, debt, and drugs.

Pusher 2 follows Tonny, a low-level criminal with severe drug problems and a tendency to make poor decisions. Tonny is released from prison and he immediately heads out to meet his father, The Duke. Unfortunately, his father is not fond of his presence. So, Tonny takes small jobs here and there while working to gain his father's respect. However, dealing with drugs always leads to bad deals, which inevitably leads to rash decisions and violence. On top of all of that, Tonny also has to deal with his newborn child, who was born to a drug-addict much like himself. This is sort of an indirect sequel to the first film. By that, I mean: it references the original movie, but you don't have to watch the first movie to enjoy this one—I like that. This plot is also more fine-tuned than the first. It leads to a strong ending, too.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Film Review: Sinister 2 (2015)

Sinister 2 (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Although it's not the worst film around, this is the definition of an unnecessary sequel."

A mother and her twin sons, hiding from an abusive husband/father, find themselves in the home of a ritualistic murder...

Sinister 2 is a sequel to the first film—but it might be more of a remake. You see, the film essentially retreads most of the plot from the first movie while  barely developing anything new. The plot follows Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin sons, Dylan and Zach. The family is on-the-run, hiding from an abusive patriarch with too much power. They find shelter in an old house—which happens to be the site of a gruesome murder. At the house, Dylan sees ghosts of children who show him snuff films they recorded. The ghost kids basically try to bring Dylan to the dark side and convince him to murder his family. The Deputy (James Ransone) from the first film, now a private detective, tries to help them. There's a little more to the plot, but that's all you need to know. It's very basic and shallow stuff. It leads to a surprisingly ineffective ending. As a matter of fact, the entire third act felt rushed and underwhelming.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Film Review: Grotesque (2009)

Grotesque (Review)
Japan/2009
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...you should only watch this movie if you're a fan of extreme horror."

A deranged doctor kidnaps an innocent couple in order to torture them for his excitement...

Grotesque is a ridiculously simple film. The plot follows an unnamed doctor (Shigeo Ôsako) who kidnaps a couple, Aki (Tsugumi Nagasawa) and Kazuo (Hiroaki Kawatsure). Aki and Kazuo awaken in a dungeon, then they are tortured in every way possible—physically, sexually, mentally, you name it. This doctor is torturing them in search of excitement since he's bored with his life. And... Well, that's actually the entire plot. It tries to add a few twists and turns here, but there really isn't anything significant in the story. Nothing really stands out. It leads to a ridiculous ending. I'm not really sure how to feel about it. It was... cheesy? I don't know, it was just ridiculous.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Film Review: Pusher (1996)

Pusher (Review)
Denmark/1996
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...offers a grim view of the criminal underworld without compromise."

Frank (Kim Bodnia), a low-level drug dealer, finds himself in debt to a ruthless drug lord after a botched deal.

Pusher is a great crime drama—but it may not be for everyone. The film follows Frank, a low-level drug dealer from Copenhagen. Frank meets a former cellmate and the pair set up a large drug deal. In order to get the drugs for the deal, Frank goes to Milo (Zlatko Burić), a ruthless drug lord. All is well until their deal is busted by the cops and Frank is forced to dump the drugs in the lake. This leads Frank into a frantic chase for money in order to pay off his debt—or else. There are some very dark moments scattered throughout as well as some twists and turns. It leads to a very strong ending. It's not over-the-top or anything like that. It just sort of leaves you in awe.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Film Review: The Happening (2008)

The Happening (Review)
United States/2008
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It feels like an Asylum rip-off of a Shyamalan film that happens to be written and directed by Shyamalan."

A science teacher, his wife, and his best friend's daughter attempt to survive a mysterious attack that causes people to kill themselves...

The Happening is... a bizarre movie. Off the bat, I'll give it credit for being original. The introduction is also strong, showcasing M. Night Shyamalan's directorial skills. The plot follows Elliot (Mark Wahlberg), a science teacher, Alma (Zooey Deschanel), his wife, Julian (John Leguizamo), his best friend, and Jess, Julian's daughter. When the East Coast is hit by a mysterious neurotoxin that causes mass suicide, Elliot and his family/friends depart from New York and search for safety. They find themselves joining several groups, moving to smaller and smaller communities—some with unwelcoming locales. It starts to lose steam towards the second half, where we start talking about plants and cough syrup. It leads to an incredibly underwhelming climax and a very disappointing ending.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Anime Review — The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War (2016)

The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War (aka Season 2, according to Netflix) (TV)
Japan/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...full of action and humor with a pinch of playful romance sprinkled on top."

The Seven Deadly Sins have brought peace back to Liones Kingdom, but more adventures and hijinks await...

First and foremost, Netflix advertises this as Season 2 of The Seven Deadly Sins—a series I loved back when I first reviewed it in 2015. In reality, this is a review for a 4-episode OVA series titled Signs of Holy War. Therefore, this review will be much shorter than my review for Season 1. This OVA series picks up where Season 1 left off. The Liones Kingdom is peaceful and the rebuilding process has started. So, what's happening? Well, Meliodas is still the perv running a tavern with Hawk; Princess Elizabeth is still trying to be as helpful as possible; Ban wants to fight Meliodas to settle their score; King wants to woo Diane; and so on. In terms of building up to the real Season 2, only the last few minutes of each episode actually push the story forward—which is a bit disappointing.