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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sleight Movie Review


The Trailer:

The Good:
What I appreciated the most about Sleight was the fact that it was able to take a typical situation we've seen in movies before (i.e.: Getting caught up in the dangers of drug deals) and put a fresh take on it. As a fan of magic in general, it was really cool on how the magic was used in this movie. It wasn't over the top or crazy like in Now You See Me, for example. Instead it was all practical and realistic magic. This grounded approach to street magic really helps maintain the tone of the film and keeps the characters honest in a sense. When you finally learn the secret to Bo's magic tricks, it further supports the originality of this film.

I'm a fan of Jacob Latimore's work, and I think he's definitely taking his next step in his acting career with this role. He can carry the dramatic moments in the film without it seeming forced. There's a very intense scene where he's poised to make a very difficult decision in the film. You can tell his performance was effective because more than likely, his expressions during that scene will probably get your own heart pumping as well.

I've also got to give props to DulĂ© Hill for his supporting role as Angelo. I'm used to seeing him in more humorous roles (such as in the TV show Pysch) and serious roles (such as in The West Wing). This was the first time I could recall seeing him play a rather convincing bad guy. He was definitely ruthless and intimidating as the drug dealer who causes Bo a lot of trouble.

The Bad:
There were a bit of pacing issues that created some slow points in the movie. It's kind of hard to put my finger on, but many of the characters felt a little rushed in terms of their development. It was almost like when we first get to meet them, we're then quickly shown their dark secrets or their true nature. Despite the fact that the movie was only an hour and a half, it still feels longer than it really is.

Beyond that, there are only a few minor twists in the film, but overall it's still rather predictable. Towards the end of the film, I was kind of hoping for a bit more of a climatic ending, but it really felt more like a short-lived tease when Bo finally confronts those who were giving him trouble. I thought that the film could've really benefited from showing Bo's intellectual prowess beyond just his "one major trick". I just wanted to see more from the character in general. At the very least, there could've been a bit more of a hint of actual magic that would leave the audiences still in awe.

The Reason:
Director/writer Dillard does an excellent job of blending genres with this film. He was able to construct and portray a story that reflected real life situations, with a genre that we don't usually get to see minorities play. Sleight is a solid film but I don't necessarily see it breaking any box office records. I do believe that it is still worth the watch. I'd probably say that this would be make for a good matinee watch on a Saturday night.

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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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

Don't want to miss future reviews and contests?
 
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

Enjoyed this review?  Share it and let me know what you thought.

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 to join our weekly email list. One email, every Friday, to get my latest reviews. Don't forget to follow me at @SpoilerDashFree