Film · Reviews

Days 131 – 140 | 365 Day Film Challenge (Year Two)

My voyage into the cinematic depths is still going strong, so of course that means ten more movie reviews for your eyes to soak in! (Oh, by the way, if you’d like to know ahead of time what films I watch and the ratings I assign them, follow me on good ol’ Letterboxd)

 

DAY 131 – EMULSION (2014)

I’ll admit it: even though I saw that this film had pretty meh ratings, I had to watch it (HAD TO being the operative words) because of Sam Heughan. I should have listened to the reviews. Emulsion is a gorgeously shot and framed film, and Sam Heughan is incredible as always, but the story is formulaic and felt like it was dragging on. There were some entertaining scenes, but overall, this was extremely average.

VERDICT: 2.5/5

 

DAY 132 – NIGHTWORLD (2017)

Another movie I watched due to an actor I adore appearing in it (this time Robert Englund), Nightworld is a mediocre horror film that has a few good jump scares, but the story is lacking and the pacing is off. Jason London’s acting was hit or miss, and I grew tired of watching the movie about halfway through. The atmosphere is great, as is Englund, but I can’t recommend this to horror buffs.

VERDICT: 2.5/5

 

DAY 133 –  VICTORIA & ABDUL (2017)

A sweet, humorous cinematic treat, Victoria & Abdul charts the friendship of Queen Victoria (a delightful Dame Judi Dench) and her munshi Abdul (played wonderfully by Ali Fazal). Stephen Frears imbues the film with charm while also packing powerful messages about acceptance under its beautiful story and atmosphere. Eddie Izzard and Michael Gambon lend incredible support, and the pace is quick and engaging. If you’re a fan of period pieces and want something to lift your mood, give Victoria & Abdul a watch.

 

DAY 134 – READY PLAYER ONE (2018)

Being a HUGE fan of the novel by Ernest Cline (as well as a massive admirer of Steven Spielberg’s directorial output), I had massive expectations for Ready Player One. Luckily, they were met and even exceeded. The story follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager living in 2045 who spends most of his time in the OASIS, a virtual-reality haven that consumes most citizens lives in this bleak landscape. When the creator of this program, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), dies, the world discovers he created an Easter egg hunt that gives the winner half a billion dollars and complete control over the OASIS. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of competition going on, especially from the nefarious corporation IOI (headed by Ben Mendehlson’s Nolan Sorrento).

The visual effects are outstanding, and the film is jam-packed with Easter eggs for geeks. You can’t go a full minute without seeing a reference to something from nerd culture, and I LOVED IT. The performances are great, and the film moves at a brisk pace, despite its length. This feels like a loving homage to both the source material and geekdom in general, and I can’t praise it highly enough. Sure, there are some predictable story beats, but this is one hell of a ride.

VERDICT: 4.5/5

 

DAY 135 – THE FIFTH ESTATE (2013)

I found The Fifth Estate to be a thrilling, if flawed, biopic. I cannot attest to how accurate this film is, due to not knowing a lot about the life of and case against Julian Assange, but Benedict Cumberbatch gives a remarkable performance (even if sometimes his accent slips from Australian to British). Daniel Brühl and Alicia Vikander provide standout supporting turns, and the movie moves at a brisk pace. I did find some of the dialogue and story beats to be a little disappointing for such a promising, interesting tale, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Fifth Estate, warts and all.

 

DAY 136 – WONDERSTRUCK (2017)

Wonderstruck is a gorgeous film with great acting and a promising concept, but the execution of the story hampered the movie. The plot (based on Brian Selznick’s novel of the same name) follows two kids from two different decades who suffer from the same affliction: Rose (Millicent Simmonds) in 1927 and Ben (Oakes Fegley) in 1977. They share a connection to a specific person (Julianne Moore), and the film spends it’s time unspooling this connection. Personally, I knew the twist just from reading previews of the film, so if you want to be completely blind, DO NOT read any kind of synopsis deeper than the one I just gave you. It dampened my experience and made the film feel a little sluggish. Todd Haynes knows how to direct the hell out of a film, though, and Wonderstruck is sumptuously beautiful.

VERDICT: 3/5

 

DAY 137 – GAME OVER, MAN! (2018)

Let’s get this out of the way before I rage: I HATE comedies that delight in stuffing themselves to the brim with jokes involving sex, bodily fluids, and genitalia, and this movie is chock-full of them. I didn’t laugh at all, and the only enjoyment I derived from Game Over, Man! was the fantastic action scenes and Neal McDonough’s turn. Unless you enjoy this kind of film, I would personally recommend giving this a hard pass.

VERDICT: 2/5

 

DAY 138 – MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS (2015)

 

A film that definitely suffers from middle-entry syndrome, The Scorch Trials is an average YA dystopian film that is packed with exciting action but a dull story. Dylan O’Brien and Aidan Gillen are delightful, but the film is so long and the special effects are middling at best. This is by no means a bad film, but it doesn’t live up to the thrills of the first movie.

VERDICT: 3/5

 

DAY 139 – FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL (2017)

I watched this on an airplane ride, and this was a surprisingly emotional, moving experience (even with a kid kicking the back of my seat). Annette Bening is fantastic as Gloria Grahame, a real actress who contracted cancer and leaned on her former lover Peter Turner (Jamie Bell at his best) as she fought the aggressive disease. The film beautifully portrays Grahame, both in her best and worst moments, without making you feel like you should either love her or despise her for her actions. The cinematography is stunning, and the story was captivating. Sure, some of it’s predictable (even if you’re not familiar with Grahame and Turner), but Paul McGuigan pays terrific homage to both individuals. Some of the pacing was off, but this is definitely a worthwhile watch if you’re fascinated by the entertainment industry.

VERDICT: 3.5/5

 

DAY 140 – 6 BALLOONS (2018)

One of Netflix’s latest original offering, 6 Balloons follows a young woman named Katie (Abbi Jacobson) as she not only cares for her heroin addict brother Seth (a fantastic Dave Franco), but his young daughter as well. This is a moving, powerful film, even if some of the message gets muddled by certain story beats. I felt like 6 Balloons had so much untapped potential, and wished it had been longer so some elements could have been fleshed out more and given more importance. Still, this kept me engaged and had me caring for the characters’ well-being.

VERDICT: 3/5

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