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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

[GUEST] Gifted Movie Review

GUEST WRITER: Don Shanahan is a fellow Chicago film critic of "Every Movie Has a Lesson." He is an elementary educator who writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. Don is one of the directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Association (CIFCC). Please welcome him as an occasional contributor to Eman's Movie Reviews.

The Trailer:
The Good:
Aside from any cinematic cliches present, there is an exemplary central message the new film “Gifted” gets utterly and perfectly right in both its actions and its words.  As an elementary school educator, it is one I equally and personally champion every single day.  The notion is worth leading with one of my website’s signature life lessons.

LESSON #1: LET KIDS BE KIDS-- Allow “Gifted” or this school teacher right here tell you and show you that too much academic pressure is placed on school-aged children these days.  They take too many high-stakes tests and spend too many hours doing rote and mindless homework.  College prep can start in high school, but leave it off of seven-year-olds.  Even geniuses can cultivate being well-rounded.  Let them go outside, skin a few knees, build something, and find activities they enjoy.  Feed those brains with experiences and not just book-based knowledge. Need ideas?  Here’s just one list of many things to do instead of homework.

This film presents the closest Chris Evans has come yet to playing his age (35) and a parental-like role.  Evans channels his always engaging charisma into a role requiring his stoicism to be used for brevity rather than heroism.  It’s an emotional and endearing breath of fresh air.  “Gifted” reminds us there is a confident and assured actor underneath that chiseled superhero exterior.  Holding both his hand and our own, Mckenna Grace will make off with your heart in short order.  The two share superb and contagious chemistry, boosted by an extra little sprinkle of charm from underused Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in a small supporting role.

The Bad
:

Tom Flynn’s rescued script from the 2014 Hollywood Black List does falter with two maddening tropes that cannot be ignored.  First, putting a hunk like Chris Evans in a film unfortunately demands an unnecessary and mildly preposterous love interest that demeans the talent of Jenny Slate.  She (and we) deserved better.  Second, if you’ve seen one grandstanding or speechifying movie courtroom scene with shouting or tears, you’ve seen them all.  This story is markedly better when it is out of the courtroom or the bedroom and showcasing the bond of memories being made and principles being built by an impressionable child and her dutiful guardian.

The Reason
:

What saves these cliches from turning the beachfront tonic of “Gifted” entirely into syrupy grenadine is the steady guidance of director Marc Webb.  “Gifted” is a return to smaller domestic fare for the “(500) Days of Summer” filmmaker after steering two big budget “Amazing Spider-Man” films.  This is his ideal directorial speed.  Nothing tonally is laid on too thick, from Stuart Dryburgh’s lens to soak in the Savannah shooting locations to Rob Simonsen’s unobtrusive musical score.  Those and other artistic elements could have really overplayed the melodrama but did not.  The importance of “Gifted” was the stance of its message, and Webb kept it on point, earned the dramatic heft, and avoided full-on preaching.

The Rating: 7.5/10
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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Trailer:

The Good:
From the very beginning, the one thing that I really hoped for had returned to the film. That one thing was the unique racing aspect that started this franchise off and was the core for about the first three movies. I also liked the appreciation involving The Rock that showcased his cultural background in the movie. (It will probably remind you of the movie Moana).

As we all know, this movie doesn't shy away from being action-packed. There's always something happening with only a few dull moments. There's a particular scene (thankfully not shown in the trailers) that is quite the sight to see. It's almost like the creators said "You know what, World War Z was awesome. Let's find a way to put that into this movie!" (You'll know it when you see it.) The stunts, of course, are over the top and probably are the best highlights of this film.

Once again, the theme of family is at the heart of the film. It drives (no pun intended) the characters' motivations and I suppose in a not so cheesy way. You'll have some minor twists that you'll probably appreciate, and there are also some nice humorous moments throughout the movie. Jason Statham's "young co-star", in a particular, scene will probably runaway with the movie for most folks.

The Bad
:

While I may be in the minority here, I personally wished they would continue trying to go back to their roots and focus on the racing. Without it, the movie is just left to explore even more unbelievable and ridiculous stunts that simply go beyond the limits of leeway we extend to action movies. Even as an action junkie myself, this movie continues to do stuff that is just too far-fetched for itself. Seriously, at this point, almost everyone is expecting the next movie to simply be the team going into space. -_-

For example, the Rock clearly is auditioning (as if he has to) for the role of a super-strength comic book character. It makes absolutely no sense as to why he's so insanely strong. I don't understand why they didn't just give him the ability to fly as well. (But whatever, you go with it. Lol) Beyond that, every time the characters happen to do a death defying stunt (with PERFECT timing) they don't even get a scratch, a cut, or a bruise. Just a little dirt after a HUGE explosion. No big deal. Some of the "twists" and surprises just feel like hurried writing and maybe even a plot hole.

I suppose another issue I had with this movie is that the tones are shifting from what we're used to. There's a lot less drama to counter balance the action now. The film has gone from action/drama to more of an action-comedy. Tyrese Gibson is only here for comedic purposes and one-liners that are completely hit or miss. (Like I seriously question what his purpose on the team is anymore.)

The Reason:
The really awkward thing about this is that it feels weird to seriously try and analyze this movie. It barely takes itself seriously. These Fast and Furious movies are obviously money-grabs, and I'll say that they are still worth seeing in the theaters. You've probably invested yourself in the previous seven movies, so at this point you may as well just stay along for the ride. It's a "fun movie" so don't expect anything deep. As always, you can turn your brain off, sit back and enjoy.

The Rating: 7.5/10
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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dig Two Graves Movie Review

The Trailer:

The Good
:

One thing that this film does rather well is maintain an eerie and creepy feeling. The three mysterious "gypsy brothers". There was always a sense of mystery and terror when they appeared on the screen. The entire time, it felt like they left it completely in the gray as to whether they were actually supernaturally powered or not. Beyond that the themes explored are pretty deep. It's really interesting to see how things like grief, sorry, revenge and regret all can come together in various ways.

Another nice aspect to the film was the dual story line. While the film starts off with an event from the past, it also tells a story in a different time a few decades later. The best part of this is that we never get to really see what the past story has to do with the current time until the very end. That helped keep the mystery and intrigue alive, not just in the story, but in the characters as well.

Ted Levine (who plays the Sheriff) does a great job of playing the role of man trying to deal with the errors of his past  while still trying to do the right thing. He probably was the most interesting character given the fact that his actions in the past are what draws you to his character. Overall the direction and acting seemed very well done by Hunter Adams. The movie feels really unique in its tone and the direction that it takes.

The Bad:
Maybe I missed something, but I thought that some of the mystical elements could've been explained a little more. With most horror films, there are usually rules in that "universe" to help us understand the ins and outs of the situation. Given the incident that occurred in the more current time, it was a little difficult to understand the motivation the Brothers had with the young girl. While the connection is somewhat revealed later in the film, I just think that it satisfied the personal motivation that the brothers had, but not necessarily the (maybe) supernatural implications. This is also probably due to my own expectations with how the film was marketed. I was looking for a supernatural horror, but the film goes in its own direction which may or may not be a bad thing depending on the viewer.

Lastly, the film does have a bit of a slow burn with its pacing. If you go in expecting exciting twists and turns, or scary jump scares, then you'll probably be disappointed. Depending on how invested you get into the actual story and characters, that will probably determine whether or not the payoff reveal at the end makes or breaks the movie.

The Reason:
Dig Two Graves felt like a combination of No Country For Old Men and The Witch. It's unconventional and different, which may hit or miss with some audiences. As a film junkie, I personally liked the film because I really like originality. I get the sense that this is the type of film that would be best watched in the comfort of your own home, however, I also think that Dig Two Graves has the potential of developing a cult following as well. If you've got the time, I would recommend checking this out. I'd probably keep expectation low so that way you can enjoy the film to its fullest.

The Rating: 7/10

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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Power Rangers (2017) Movie Review


The Trailer:

The Good:
From the very beginning, compared to the Power Rangers TV series, the film sets a dark tone. Not only was the darker tone appreciated, but so was the additional backstory that was given about some prominent characters. Given that fact, the movie diverges to some degree from the television series and there are a few twists in the plot that you may not expect.

In this Power Rangers movie, there are actually deeper themes and struggles within all of the characters.  Some specific characters actually have different motivations than what the TV show initially demonstrated. Each one goes through some sort of drama or challenge that helps shape and define who they are. In a sense, you actually have legitimate "troubled teens" who have real world issues. Thankfully, it wasn't a cheap and cheesy write off like "Oh no, I don't think I'll get an A+ in Math class. I'm really bummed out.". *cue dramatic sad music* Instead the movie presents a very diverse cast that's also pretty inclusive. For example, one of the characters is "on the spectrum" meaning that they have a form autism.

One aspect that made this film unique was the journey of the group becoming Power Rangers. Unlike in the TV series, it is a process that they have to earn and achieve. (Rather than just being hand picked and automatically jumping into action.) This journey actually helps to make you connect with the group a little more, and make their bond a little bit more genuine. It also helps the audience relive the nostalgic feeling of wishing to become a Power Ranger. (Just a little.)

I will say that the final buildup of the film, which most of us probably should already know about, was pretty satisfying as well. The new look of the Power Rangers, and their "ultimate weapon" looked very cool with its modernized upgrade. (Even though it heavily resembled a very familiar talking, giant robot...you'll know it when you see it.)

The Bad
:

While it is nice to see the journey that the group of teens take into becoming the Power Rangers, it does take a while for it to happen. It almost felt like it took 1.5 hours until they finally morph. (Keep in mind the movie is 2hrs long.) So that means you only get about 30 mins or so of real action, which in a way leaves more to be desired.

Goldar was a mess. It was just visually displeasing to see on the screen. He looked like golden, walking vomit. His conception probably sounded great, but the execution was just poor and didn't translate well on screen. Unlike many other instances in this film, this was probably the one thing that the TV show does better.

Another issue for me was the fact that the film felt the need to consistently show the faces of the Power Rangers while they were in their suits. I thought that it completely disrupted the entire fantasy/illusion and it also was counter productive to the long anticipation of them finally morphing. Not to mention the fact that it doesn't really help the idea of protecting their identities.

The Reason
:

All in all, Power Rangers (2017) was much better than expected. You can easily tell that it's not necessarily for young kids. Actually, I'd probably go as far as to say that this movie isn't for people over the age of 36 either. It's probably best appreciated by those between the ages of 12-35, grew up at least enjoying a few seasons of the TV show, and enjoy movies like the recent Transformers series.

If you couldn't tell by the trailer, this movie is almost identical to the movie Chronicle (2012). It encompasses that nostalgic feeling of the TV series, while still being modern and updated enough to stand on its own. Personally, after being apprehensive about the news that there would be five more sequels, I'm actually very okay with seeing what's to come. Matter of fact, I hope they do a prequel movie too.

*Puts on parental hat*
This isn't the most major issue, but I'd probably say that due to the language of the film. It is PG-13 for a reason. You'll hear some A-words and S-words and BS. Also, unlike the TV show you won't hear them say "I shall destroy you!!". No, instead they just come right out and say things like, "We are going to KILL them!". You also have some scenes of under-aged drinking and so on. There are also just a few quick scenes that may be a little scary for kids younger than 7 or 8.

I think it's well worth the watch in theaters. If you were on the fence, just go and you'll be fine. There's a mid-credit scene so you can stay and check it out when the film ends. It's a little predictable, but whatever. You're probably already invested and interested, so just sit back and enjoy.

The Rating: 7.5/10

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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

6 Issues Preventing Marvel's 'Iron Fist' From Achieving Positive Chi


The essential goal of Feng Shui is to harness the good chi and be rid of the negative chi. Often times things will have to be reassessed or balanced out. The goal I purpose here is to address some of the negative "chi" that I thought plagued the Iron Fist series in hopes that more positive chi will restore the series if the character is given a second season.

Sadly, after completing the show, I came to the conclusion that "Iron Fist" is a disappointment for Marvel in comparison to their other shows. Rather than just bashing them, I thought I'd give some constructive criticism to help them realign their chi in a sense.

>>>>>Click Here To Read More<<<<<


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