Film Review: IT CHAPTER 2 (USA 2019) ***

It Chapter Two Poster
Trailer

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Director:

Andy Muschietti

Writers:

Gary Dauberman (screenplay by), Stephen King (based on the novel by)

It takes close to 3 hours for 7 adult-children to take down the killer clown Pennywise.  

If you can stomach that together with more gore, loud noise and other excessiveness, then IT CHAPTER 2 might be a treat.  Director Andy Muschietti who helmed the first IT returns tothe director’s chair providing more of the formula that works in the original movie.  

(Reviewer’s note: I sat next to a lady that kept texting throughout the film, which was so annoying that I had to say something.  Worse of all, she was a Warner Bros. publicity employee, which made matters worse.  This is something that is way beyond my understanding why she, of all people would be doing the no-no! This might be a reason I had little tolerance for annoyance in the film).

The film opens with the 8 original children played by Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Wyatt Oleff as the younger Losers reprising their roles.  They had left the town of Derry after destroying the evil of Pennyswise but they swear to come back to the town if the evil re-appears.

The evil re-appears.  This is right after a brutal gay bashing (one of the victims is played by Quebec gay director Xavier Dolan).  This segment is the most horrific of all the horror segments put together and makes a  good clear the message regarding the gay cause.  But the segment is unclear as to the story’s significance.  Did the deed bring back the evil or the evil bring about the bashing?

The film moves forward to the year 2016, 27 years after the events depicted in the first film.  Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) returns to create havoc in the town.  The film traces each of the children (now grown ups), leaving their current place of dwelling to return to their childhood town to take down Pennywise.  Each grown up still behave like children.  They hilariously meet at a Chinese restaurant where their fortune cookies turn into little monstrous creatures.  The adults are portrayed by a competent cast comprising James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean.

At its worst, the script by Gary Dauberman contains inane dialogue which makes no sense like: “We are what we forget…”.  with lots of opportunities for car crashes and puke jokes (the Bill Hader character pukes no less than three times in the film).  The film has impressive horror set-pieces such as: the creatures from the fortune cookies; the attacking spider with the human head;  the monster corpse having from the railings and more but often than not, these are not really connected to the story.  If one is a huge fan of horror or if one consumes a bit of weed before or during the show, it does not matter and the film should be a delicious delight.

IT CHAPTER 2 is the only new big Hollywood film opening these few weeks usually a slow time while the Toronto International Film takes place.  With little competition and a huge fan base, IT CHAPTER 2 should scare up a hefty sum at the box-office.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhJ5P7Up3jA

Advertisements

Film Review: DARK PHOENIX (USA 2019) ***1/2

Dark Phoenix Poster
Trailer

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.

Director:

Simon Kinberg

Writers:

John Byrne (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”), Chris Claremont (story “The Dark Phoenix Saga”) | 4 more credits »

A disclaimer from this reviewer that is to be read before proceeding with this review – I am not a fan of the super action hero film genre, so what is written might not apply to the general public who adore action hero movies.   The 10th of the series of X-MEN films, DARK PHOENIX  has so far been the worst reviewed film of the series.  Critics have complained that the film is boring and the rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing is around 20%. (but the film has a higher 70% approval on imdb).  Personally, DARK PHOENIX is not bad, is entertaining and has a good solid storyline.  The same can be said for the FANTASTIC FOUR films.  But he Fantastic Four films bombed because the filmmakers spent too much emphasis on story and less on action.  Action hero fans DO NOT like that at all.  They want mindless violence and special effects.  DARK PHOENIX falls into the same trap.

DARK PHOENIX concentrates on the life of one X-man or X-woman rather, Grey (Sophie Turner).  There is a lot of story here,  The film opens with her as a child, engineering a car accident that kills her parents making her an orphan to be taken in by Professor Charles Xavier  (James McCoy) in his school of Gifted Youngsters or in other words, School for mutant super heroes.  He mentally blocks the accident from her memories and helps her hone her psychic abilities.

The film shifts to 1992 when the X-Men respond to a distress signal from the space shuttle Endeavour.  The shuttle is critically damaged by a solar flare.  While the X-Men save all of the astronauts, Grey absorbs the solar flare in her body.  Her psychic powers are greatly amplified as a result.  At the same time, the mental block placed by Xavier is destroyed and she travels to Red Hook after discovering that her father is still alive. The X-Men attempt to take Grey home.  Grey meets Vuk, a D’Bari (Jessica Chastain) who explains to her that she possesses the Phoenix Force, which wiped out the D’Baris’ home planet years ago.  Meanwhile, Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who feels betrayed by Xavier’s manipulation of Grey’s memories, allies with Erik Lehnsherr (Michale Fassbender) and his mutant refugees to bring down Grey in New York City.  Enough said about the plot, though there is much more.  The action amplifies from here, with lots of special effects.

Most of the other X-Men are present like Cyclops, Beast, Storm, Mistique, Quicksilver among others.  They are not given such to do though.  McAvoy and Turner both turn in solid performances bringing in more emotions in the action flick.

The action sequences are well staged, a lot done old school style like exploding real houses instead of CGI (though there is still quite a lot of CGI).  Director Kinberg is fond of using slow motion to allow the audience to appreciate the action.

Regardless of critics approval, DARK PHOENIX should do well at the box-office grossing an expected $50 million for the opening weekend.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azvR__GRQic

Film Review: GLASS (USA 2018)

Glass Poster
Trailer

Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.

Writers:

M. Night ShyamalanM. Night Shyamalan (characters)

GLASS is a superhero thriller written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a sequel to Shyamalan’s previous films UNBREAKABLE (2000) and SPLIT(2016), cumulatively forming the Eastrail 177 Trilogy.  All the main stars are present – Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard who reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Split characters.

The premise is the fight between good and evil, the good being the super hero David Dunn (Willis) and the bad the McAvoy split characters.

The film opens two years after the events of SPLIT.   David Dunn (Willis) works with his now adult son Joseph (Clark) in using his superhuman abilities to protect people from criminals under a new alias known as “The Overseer”.   This part is incredibly silly and unbelievable.  David learns from Joseph that Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy), who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, has a group of cheerleaders held up in a warehouse.  David goes to free them after discovering the fact out of pure coincidence but encounters one of Kevin’s personalities known as “The Beast,” and the ensuing fight spills out into the streets.  The Philadelphia police department are called leading to the eventual capture of both David and Kevin.  Why David is brought in is never really explained as he has done no harm. The two are sent to a mental institution where Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), David’s sworn enemy, in another wild coincidence, is being held.

Shyamalan introduces a new character into the story.  Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) is the head doctor of the mental institution and works with patients who claim to have special powers. In order to have them suppress those thoughts, she tries to persuade them that there is no such thing as superhuman powers and that they actually have a mental illness. Meanwhile, Elijah (Jackson) is secretly working with Kevin to unleash “The Beast” and expose the world to the existence of superheroes. With the help of “The Beast,” Elijah escapes but he is soon pursued by David, who again battles Kevin on the institution’s grounds.  The Dr. Staple character is the silliest of all the characters – coming off as a  pompous dumb bitch know-it-all who will obviously be roved wrong, cliche-wise at the end of the story.

At this point, the film appears to have gone through full circle with nothing at all accomplished.

GLASS is a trilogy of two UNBREAKABLE, SPLIT and this one.  A word of warning that one must be familiar with the other two films or end up completely lost in following the plot or characters in GLASS.  Director Shyamalan makes no attempt to update his audience to the current proceedings of GLASS.  

One point of observation.  This is the rare film where the actor Samuel L. Jackson’s character does not utter the ‘mf’ word.

Shyamalan make a guest cameo at a store in the film.  He sees David Dunn and mentions that he recognizes the man from the stadium where Dunn used to work security, stating that he used to do shady things when younger.  Those familiar with UNBREAKABLE will recall that Shyamalan gave himself a cameo in UNBREAKABLE selling drugs at the stadium.

There are many reasons that the word ‘split’ would apply to GLASS.  One is the main character from SPLIT portrayed by Jame McAvoy who is also one of the lead characters in GLASS.  Second, the film splits between the thriller and super action hero genres though unfortunately not blending well.  The fight scenes are minimal and the thrills and suspense are also unimpressive.  As GLASS contains two main characters, one from SPLIT and the other, the Bruce Willis superhero from UNBREAKABLE, there was debate regarding the film’s distribution.  Distribution is now split.  Universal now distributes the film in North American while Buena Vista (UNBREAKABLE was from Touchtone Pictures) internationally.  Willis’ performance is stoic while McAvoy’s is downright crazy as he switches from one personality to another instantly.  Director Shyamalan films often splits between the excellent (SIGNS, THE SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, SPLIT, THE VISIT) and the duds (LADY IN THE WATER, THE LAST AIRBENDER, AFTER EARTH).  Unfortunately, GLASS belongs to the latter category.  Audiences will undoubtedly be split on whether liking or hating GLASS.  But GLASS is long, boring, too dead serious on its subjects despite the general silliness overall.

At the promo screening, a fair portion of the audience stayed to the end of the closing credits as in SPLI there a was a surprise appearance of Bruce Willis at the ed of that film signalling the sequel GLASS.  No such luck in GLASS.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7ztHi9ejp4

Film Review: ATOMIC BLONDE (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

atomic blonde.jpgAn undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

Director: David Leitch
Writers: Kurt Johnstad (screenplay), Antony Johnston (based on the Oni Press graphic novel series “The Coldest City” written by)
Stars: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Advertised as a female James Bond film with Charlize Theron as a top ass-kicking M16 spy, ATOMIC BLONDE tries its best to assume a British setting though Theron and most of the cast speak with an unchanged American accent. Who really cares, as the film delivers senseless action with dazzling visual and choreographed fight scenes courtesy of director David Leitch in his first solo directorial debut, himself a stunt coordinator and stuntman for stars like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

The film is written by Kurt Johnstad, based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, published by Oni Press. The film opens with a commentary of how the cold war has ended in 1989 flowing the collapse of the Berlin Wall and then goes on to say that the film is not about this subject. The film is about the cold war revolving the good guys, the British M16 and the Americans in this case trying to retrieve a list of double agents that if fallen into the wrong hands would…..It does not really matter as Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock says. The point is that top level female spy, Lorraine Broughton (Theron) has been assigned to aid fellow spy and wild card David Percival (James McAvoy) with this mission. As it turns out Percival has supposedly got the list from Spyglass, a Starsi agent (Eddie Marsan) and he is to be escorted out of Berlin. Not so easy, as every Russian and German spy is also out to get the list.

With the film setting in the 80’s, one can expect a solid 80’s soundtrack. And the film has a great one at that, and not surprising as the music is by Tyler Bates who has put together similar memorable soundtracks for films like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 1 and 2 and the two John Wick Films. The song are also appropriately chosen to fit the plot for example with Depeche Mode’s ‘Behind the Wheel’ during the defection segment and Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ at the film’s climax.

The film’s excellent cast includes McAvoy (SPLIT), always good in portraying crazies. Eddie Marsan who plays Spyglass steals the show with a dead serious performance amidst the over-the-top action. German veteran actress Barbara Sukowa has a cameo as the coroner who delivers a key line: “In Germany, we do not make little mistakes.”

The film’s best action sequence lasts a full 10 minutes as Lorraine fights off multiple attackers in ultra-violent hand-to-hand combat on a staircase while protecting Spyglass. If this is not enough, an exciting car chase follows right after where villains in cars appear out of nowhere to chse the two. Director Leitch dishes sexiness to the limit with same sex scenes between Lorraine and a French spy (Sofia Boutella).

The plot of ATOMIC BLONDE is quite difficult to follow and there is no use trying as the plot is pointless. The story’s twist in the end of who is the double agent makes little sense either. But cold war spy films in the 70’s were often difficult to follow. ATOMIC BLONDE delivers dazzling senseless action, that is the point of the film and that it succeeds.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI7HVnZlleo

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: SPLIT (USA 2017) ***1/2

split_poster.jpgDirector: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

Review by Gilbert Seah

 The first thing on the mind of anyone venturing to see a new M. Night Shyamalan film is whether the film is going to be a bomb like AFTER EARTH and THE LAST AIRBENDER or a hit like his early films THE SIXTH SENSE, SIGNS and UNBREAKABLE. His last film THE VISIT pleased the majority of filmgoers and SPILT should do the same.

The film begins with the abduction in a car in broad daylight of three teenage friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and difficult outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). The three girls get seated in the car while the father of one of them puts their gear in the trunk. “Can I help you?” the father says to a stranger whose face is off-camera.

From the car mirror, Casey senses something is wrong when she sees their bags on the road. She turns to get a glimpse of the man who has just moved into the driver’s seat and it is not her friend’s father. This is top notch camera work worthy of Hitchcock and proves a hard act to follow. True enough, none of the rest of the film can match the first 10 minutes of pure suspense.

Their captor Kevin (James McAvoy) locks the trio in a windowless room, then proceeds to frighten and baffle them. One minute he’s wearing eyeglasses and obsessive about cleanliness, the next he is presenting as female (PSYCHO style), and later he acts like a nine-year-old boy. It is revealed that Kevin exhibits 23 alternate personalities, and in order to escape, his captives must convince one of the personalities within him to set them free, before the arrival of the 24th and final personality, the “beast”.

James McAvoy delivers a really creepy performance worthy of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Teen actress Taylor-Joy need not have to do much. The film is scary enough and all she has to do is register fear in hr face. Shyamalan often has the camera in close-up.

To add more to the simple plot of abduction, the story of Casey’s life is told in flashbacks. Her father has passed on from a heart attack and she is looked after by a creepy uncle who may be a pedophile. Kevin is a patient under study by Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who hopes to rehabilitate him.

As in all Shyamalan’s films, there is a surprise twist – the best of which were in his first two films. There is a big surprise at the end of this one too, but only consequential to the goings-on. Still, Shyamalan fans should not be disappointed.

Shyamalan’s films all make money even his two big critical flops. SPLIT only cost a paltry $10 million to make, primarily for its use of inexpensive stars and absent unneeded special effects. SPLIT is expected to gross $20-25 million this weekend alone which means that there should be another Shyamalan thriller/horror the next year. No one should be complaining.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84TouqfIsiI

Watch Winning Best Scene Readings:

TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script

Movie Review: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (USA 2016) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

xmenapol.jpgX-MEN: APOCALYPSE (USA 2016) ****
Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Oscar Isaac, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Nicholas Hoult,

Review by Gilbert Seah

From the first 15 minutes of X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, it appears that director Bryan Singer, the director of the new X-MEN movie (and the director of all the others except for X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) is going all out to outdo all the other X-MEN films in terms of yes, everything. The film begins with the first mutant born in ancient times (3600 B.C.) in Egypt. He is none other than En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), and if that name is too difficult to remember, he is also called Apocalypse. He is entombed. Singer has the volume up full blast, the special effects at full throttle, 3D included, so there are tons of rocks, sharp objects and metal thrown out of the screen. If you think Singer will give audiences a break, forget it! The film is nonstop action, effects, noise and explosions all the way – the way an action super hero film should be. But he also builds in the storyline (script by Simon Kinberg), so that it is not just meaningless action.

The story involves Apocalypse resurrected in 1983. There is some humour and irony in him being disgusted by the human race ruled by weaklings. So, he decides to take over the world and rid the world of weaklings. This actually sounds not too bad an idea. So Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is conned into joining him. If Apocalypse gains the power of Professor X (James McAvoy) he can rule the world. So, it is up to Professor X aka Charles Xavier and the good X-Men to save the day. It is also good to see so many super heroes (or mutants) in a single movie – enough to satisfy any action fan. And it seems that it must be a requirement to look good to be in this film. Every male and female are drop dead gorgeous.

The action sequences especially the climax in which all the X-MEN have to join powers to destroy Apocalypse, are super well executed, much better than all the recent super hero films. The film also works because all the actors seem to take their roles seriously. But the oddest is Jennifer Lawrence as the blue Raven. She looks as if she does not want to be in the film, as she is making so much money being famous right now. She gives Professor X the kind of look: “You want to recruit me again to save the world? I have better things to do.”

Unlike DEADPOOL, BATMAN V SUPERMAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA, Singer’s film has action segments that are imaginative and cinematically stunning. The best of these has Quicksilver (Evan Peters) save his fellow X-Men amidst slow motion or stopped background to the song “Sweet Dreams”. The final fight scene in which a big silver X falls from the sky would definitely draw cheers from a packed house of elated fans. The one with Professor X’s wheelchair pulled backwards with his head tilted to the side is yet another inspirational storyboarded sequence.

The film also contains great scenes of the world being destroyed. The dialogue also contains lots of quotable lines like: You are no longer students, you are X-Men”, “I have never felt so much power in my life, “ etc.

APOCALYPSE costs a whopping $234 million to make. Singer makes sure it shows. And the results are worth it. This is the best Super Hero Action Movie so far this year. Let’s hope it pays off at the box-office.

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Happy Birthday: James McAvoy

jamesmcavoy.jpgHappy Birthday actor James McAvoy

Born: April 21, 1979 in Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

Gnomeo & JulietGNOMEO AND JULIET
dir. Kelly Asbury
Stars:
James McAvoy
Emily Blunt

X-MEN: FIRST CLASSX-MEN: FIRST CLASS
dir. Matthew Vaughn
Stars:
James McAvoy
Michael Fassbender

ATONEMENTAtonement
2007
dir. Joe Wright
Starring
Knightley
James McAvoy

MOVIE POSTERARTHUR CHRISTMAS
dir. Sarah Smith
Stars:
James McAvoy
Jim Broadbent

WantedWanted
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Starring
James McAvoy
Morgan Freeman
Jolie

WIMBLETONWimbleton
2004
dir. Richard Loncraine
Cast
Kirsten Dunst
Paul Bettany

MOVIE POSTERTRANCE
2013
dir. Danny Boyle
Stars:
James McAvoy
Rosario Dawson

LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBEThe Lion the witch and the wardrobe – Chronicles of Narnia
2005
dir. Andrew Adamson

MOVIE POSTERTHE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
2006
dir. Kevin Macdonald
Stars:
James McAvoy
Forest Whitaker

MOVIE POSTERX-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
2014
dir. Bryan Singer
Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellen

MOVIE POSTERSTARTER FOR 10
2006
dir. Tom Vaughan
Stars:
James McAvoy
Alice Eve