I really need to get my ass in gear with these reviews…
DAY 214- FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016)
Set before the events of the Harry Potter novels/films, Fantastic Beasts follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist who is carrying a briefcase full of, well, fantastic beasts. After an accident, the beasts are unleashed, and Scamander must retrieve his beasts before they wreak havoc on New York and draw the No-Maj’s attention.
This was an entertaining film with strong performances and gorgeous effects-work and costumes, but it felt bloated and a tad too long. My attention started to drift at about the half-way point, and I kept checking to see how long I had left with the movie. I admittedly went in with high expectations after hearing others rave about it, and because I really enjoyed the Harry Potter films. I was left slightly disappointed, but I’m still eager to follow Newt on his further adventures and to return to these bright, memorable characters.
DAY 215- THE UNHOLY (1988)
Check out my review of The Unholy!
DAY 216- SUPER (2010)
James Gunn’s hilarious take on the superhero genre, Super follows a normal man named Frank (Rainn Wilson) whose wife (Liv Tyler) has just left him for a drug dealer/owner of a strip club (Kevin Bacon, who BTW, is super hot in this film, but that’s beside the point). He’s determined to save her from this destructive life, so after seeing a religious program on TV and receiving a vision from Jesus himself (a wonderful Nathan Fillion, who deserves his own spin-off movie), he decides to become the Crimson Bolt. Sadly, he’s not the best superhero ever…
I absolutely adored this film. It was a raunchy, filthy, gory, and fucked-up (in the best way possible) experience, and all of the actors were solid. I loved Ellen Page as a comic book store cashier, who becomes Frank’s sidekick Boltie. She added heart and even more humor to this dark tale, while Kevin Bacon was fantastic as the villainous Jacques. Some will find this film too OTT, but I had a great time with Super, and recommend it to anyone suffering from superhero fatigue/fans of films like Kick-Ass.
DAY 217- FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
I admittedly don’t have a great track record with Stanley Kubrick’s filmography (don’t even get me started on my dislike of The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey), but Full Metal Jacket managed to surprise me. I didn’t expect to like this film, let alone love it. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. I love how Kubrick depicted the war and its dehumanizing effect on people, and all of the performances were wonderful (Vincent D’Onofrio was particularly good). A moving, important film that should be experienced by everyone.
DAY 218- THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017)
A vibrant, optimistic take on the Dark Knight, The LEGO Batman Movie was chock-full of charm, amazing characters, and important lessons. The movie finds Batman living his day-to-day life, going up against the Joker and and making sure his typical roster of rogues (Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Bane, etc.) are locked away in Arkham Asylum. One day, though, he hurts the Joker’s feelings, which causes the Clown Prince of Crime to unleash villains such as Sauron, Voldemort, the Daleks, and other well-known pop culture figures onto Gotham. When this occurs, Batman (begrudgingly) realizes he must rely on others to help save the city he loves.
Will Arnett gravelly voices Batman in this iteration, while other talented actors (such as Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, and Ralph Fiennes) also lend their vocal chords to this charmer. There are infectious musical numbers sprinkled throughout, and crucial messages of family are liberally poured over this brightly colored confection. A wonderful, uplifting film.
DAY 219- MANIAC (2012)
A remake of the 1980 film of the same name, Maniac is a unique film with an interesting concept that unfortunately doesn’t utilize the tools at its disposal. Elijah Wood is perfectly cast as the creepy Frank, a man who owns and operates a mannequin store. He also happens to have a taste for killing beautiful women and removing their scalps. The perfect guy to bring home to your parents! I adored the fact that the movie takes place through the eyes of Frank, so we see what he’s seeing. Also, if you love stomach-churning gore, this film will satiate your desires (or alternately leave you really queasy). This film isn’t for the weak of stomach, and it has a genuinely disturbing story.
I just wish the story was more fleshed-out (no pun intended). It felt like the filmmaker was so concerned with making Frank a horrendous serial killer (albeit an extremely fascinating one) that the story itself was left on the wayside. It felt threadbare, and that’s a shame. This would have been an incredible, visceral horror film if it had a little more meat on its bones (that pun WAS intended).
DAY 220- THE MATRIX (1999)
I finally got to see this seminal science-fiction film in its entirety, and boy, am I glad that I did. This movie is incredible. I loved Neo (a babe-a-licious Keanu Reeves) and his struggle with accepting everyday life. I related with his choice of choosing the red pill over the blue pill, and found the film to be extremely relatable to today’s current economic/political climate. Sure, some of the effects look dated, but overall, The Matrix still holds up really well, and the action set-pieces are fucking badass. This is a classic for a reason.
DAY 221- ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003)
The final film in Robert Rodriguez’ El Mariachi saga, this is an extremely fun, perfect send-off to this outrageously fun franchise. Antonion Banderas returns as El Mariachi, seeking vengeance yet again for a terrible tragedy that has befallen him. This time he has help from friends who are played by Johnny Depp and Enrique Iglesias, and the main baddies are portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke. Is this the best series ever made? No, but it’s FUN, and I loved seeing the small touches and props that appear in Rodriguez’ later works. If you’re looking for a fun, balls-to-the-wall film series to sink your teeth into, the El Mariachi films are more than worth your time.
DAY 222- CIRCLE (2015)
Another horror film that has an extremely intriguing concept that totally wastes it, Circle finds a group of fifty people waking up in a mysterious circular room. They’re all placed on a red dot, and if they step off the dot, they’re instantly killed. Also, every two minutes, someone is also killed. The group either has to let this happen randomly, or vote for a certain person to kick the bucket.
This could have been a really fascinating film that reflected on morality, but really, all of the characters besides the few that the film wants you to root for are all kinda selfish assholes. I really didn’t care who lived or died, and guessed the ending way before it happened. Skip this and spend your 90 free minutes on something more interesting.
DAY 223- FLATLINERS (1990)
Finally, a decent horror movie on this list. Flatliners follows a group of really attractive medical students (played by Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Billy Baldwin), who are determined to find out if there’s an afterlife. They decide to flatline themselves, and with each continuous student, they spend a little while longer clinically dead than the previous friend. What they don’t expect to happen is to be confronted with the things they’re most ashamed of after they’re brought back to life.
The concept is extremely fascinating, and the performances aren’t flat (man, I’m terrible). I loved the idea that these young adults had to deal with their past actions, and their rivalry was fun to see. Was it predictable? Yes, but it was a unique film that managed to keep me entertained the whole time.
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