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Friday, February 24, 2017

Get Out Movie Review

The Trailer:
The Good:
From the very beginning the film hits on some very central social themes. In a brilliant way, Get Out explores the various challenges of interracial relationships. What makes it so smart, in my opinion, is that it not only takes a look at the inter-workings of those relationships but also how others (i.e. family, friends) are effected as well. Another social theme that gets addressed is of course the notion of "blackness" from different perspectives. You get that from the little racial jokes from time to time. Often times, you couldn't tell whether you should be scared or just continue laughing.

Speaking of jokes, this movie was practically laugh out loud funny! I wasn't expecting to be laughing as much as I did. I have to give a huge kudos to Lil Rel Howery (who plays Chris's best friend.). Lil Rel was absolutely hilarious every time he was on the screen. Bradley Whitford (who plays the dad) also had some pretty funny moments. Of course, Daniel Kaluuya (played Chris) does a nice job as the lead. Most of his facial expressions and reactions to others will probably match that of the audiences' as well.

Director/writer Jordan Peele simply did an amazing job of blending both comedy and thrills while still embedding social themes along the way. As far as the plot, I give it credit for being rather unique. Aside from the jokes and social issues, this was actually a nice bit of a mystery. For the majority of the film you're constantly trying to find out the actual motivations of the characters and just what is going on in that strange little neighborhood. I personally think that this movie had a lot of great pay offs for the audience, so don't be surprised if you find yourself really getting into the film.

The Bad
:

The only slightly negative aspect to this film is that while there were a few nice plot twists, some things were rather predictable. It's not a huge deal even if you do predict some events though. I just thought it was worth mentioning at the very least.

The Reason
:

First and foremost, let me say once again that Get Out was a really smart piece of film. The social issues that it touches on will certain drive an interesting dialogue for audiences. Not only that, but it doesn't come off as political or preachy. The comedy and thrilling aspect kind of take the edge off of any potential social bias or awkwardness someone may feel. The film essentially addresses cultural appropriation at it's finest. Lol

If you're afraid by the trailers, don't be. There's nothing really scary in this movie that I would say makes it horror film at all. I'll also say that because of this movie, and Lil Rel Howery, I have a new found respect for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Get Out is a surprisingly great movie that's more than worth the watch in theaters. Get out and go see it! (See what I did there?)

The Rating: 9/10

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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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Thursday, February 23, 2017

[Giveaway] The Boss Baby

The Trailer:
CHICAGO: Here's your chance to see the animated family film The Boss Baby early and FREE! I've got a limited number of passes to see the movie Saturday, March 18th 11:00AM in downtown Chicago. HURRY, these tickets go super fast and they are first come, first serve.

Be sure to arrive early because the screenings are overbooked intentionally to fill maximum capacity. Seating is not guaranteed, so again ARRIVE EARLY!
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Screening Location:
Saturday, March 18th
11:00AM
Kerasotes Showplace ICON
150 W Roosevelt Rd
Chicago, IL 60605

LINK: Click Here for The Boss Baby Studio Code

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About the Movie:
Release date: March 31, 2017 (USA)
Director: Tom McGrath
Writers: Marla Frazee, Michael McCullers
Stars: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow

Plot: A suit-wearing briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co.

Friday, February 17, 2017

[GUEST] The LEGO Batman Movie 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:
When done with gusto, what makes Batman unique and special is that he works in any tone.  With brooding attitude, he can be the Dark Knight.  With zest and camp, he can be the Bright Knight like Adam West.  Batman works in either setting because the human fortitude at the core of the character, his drive to right wrongs after personal tragedy, can be employed equally for heroic and virtuous causes and also for the vigilante and urban myth that takes matters into his own hands.

The roller coaster that can be praised without reservation or question is the technical and artistic achievement of the film’s sparklingly detailed animation.  The CGI and 3D rendering is off the charts and better than “The LEGO Movie.”  Every detail is so nimbly imagined, right down to the perceived-smooth LEGO surfaces with subtle chips and scratches of playtime weathering.  This confection has unquestioned luster.

Another heap of praise goes to the ensemble voice cast of inspired choices, large and small.  Galifianakis is a perfect frazzled Joker and Michael Cera steals scenes with his flamboyant Robin act.  The real hidden gems are the clever casting matches for underlying characters, like Billy Dee Williams getting to play Two-Face nearly 30 years after playing Harvey Dent in 1989’s “Batman.”  Test your ears to place the likes of Conan O’Brien, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey, Ellie Kemper, Riki Lindhome, Adam DeVine, Jason Mantzoukas, and plot the scavenger hunt of who they play.

The Bad
:

To say the narrative trajectory of “The LEGO Batman Movie” is all over the place is an understatement.  This is cinematic carnival bumper cars with all of the wild tangents representing the carny food confection.  Such is delicious, yet admittedly shallow and not all that healthy.  Batman being a known commodity makes this tale less compelling than learning all about the new hero of Emmet Brickowski two years ago.

The film is a great deal of fun as big-screen entertainment, but is constantly frenetic with its breakneck pace.  It stands as proof that you can’t make a movie entirely out of references, even if they are clever ones concocted by a five-man story team led by TV joke writer Chris McKenna (“Community”) and genre-bending author Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”).  The kids should come first and most of “The LEGO Batman movie” is going to zoom over their heads.

The Reason
:

Chock full of more jokes, puns, and references than there are virtual plastic bricks, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is a breezy blast of unabashed fun.  Twirling with dazzling animation and saturated with endless character possibilities, these two hours of zippy entertainment offer exhilarating playful engagement for young audiences and many absolute belly laughs for the adults.

The Rating: 8/10

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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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Thursday, February 9, 2017

John Wick 2 Movie Review


The Trailer:

The Good:
Keanu Reeves has found his new franchise. One of the best things about John Wick 2 is that it adds to Wick's "Chuck Norris-esque legend". Of course I won't ruin it, but you actually get to see one of the rumored legendary John Wick moves, and it's amazing (and disturbing) to see. I think part of what makes his depiction of Wick even better is that he's committed himself to really training for most of the action you'll see in the film. Given the fact that Keanu is the one that's actually doing a lot of the action and fighting scenes, it really helps make the action that much more authentic. (You can see a video of him training here)

Speaking of action...Wooow. They clearly raised the bar compared to the first movie. There are lots of guns. I mean it's practically gun porn to a certain degree. This almost felt like watching a video game with the amount of weapons and ammo that were used. The fighting also took a bit of a leap. There's a lot more hand to hand combat; more specifically, judo and/or MMA style of combat. The fighting choreography definitely made this movie stand out, and so did the great cinematography from the director.

In regards to the plot, I enjoyed the fact that the film didn't over complicate things. It's an action flick. Deep plots shouldn't be expected, but there was a bit of an expansion in the story. We come to find out a little bit more about the mysterious assassin organization. What I really appreciated were the many rules of this organization's universe. The rules play a major role in what Wick and others can and cannot do. I thought that the interesting rules were a great way to maintain a bit of intrigue and keep the plot compelling. The ending of this film....perfect!

Another interesting highlight was the inclusion of a bit more humor. Throughout the film there are a couple of instances of humor that help in breaking up the intense action sequences. One of those can be seen with Wick and Common's encounter even in the trailer. Speaking of Common, he did a wonderful job as playing another assassin. His moments on screen with Reeves were probably the most memorable.

The Bad:
There's a guest cameo made by a familiar actor in the film. Unfortunately the trailers ruined it, but it doesn't necessarily hurt the movie at all. It's just that it would've been such a great surprise had no one known going into the film. If you have seen the trailers, and the guest surprise cameo, well then it's not really much of a surprise anymore.

One thing I was really looking forward to was more of the "Gun-Fu" (it's actually called "gun kata") that made the first John Wick so unforgettable. Rather than going for more of it, they included more of the hand to hand combat and mixed martial arts. I just think the balance was off, and I would've preferred more of the gun-fu vs hand to hand combat.

Most action movies don't really care about making things realistic at all, and this film took that aspect a bit further. With all of the crazy chaos and shooting, not once do you see any collateral damage and/or innocents being hurt or wounded. I get it, it's an action film, and your focus should be on the main characters. However, given the fact that a lot of the action happens in public places, I just think that there was an opportunity to address this in other ways. (Similar to the damage left by Superman in Man of Steel.)

The Reason:
John Wick 2 is a great example of a sequel taking the best parts of the original film, and taking it to a new level. It's action-packed and then some. If you're an action junkie, then this will definitely be something for you to plan your night around. If they decide to make a sequel for this, I'm a little worried about what direction they take it in, but I think it still has a lot of promise.

I may catch some heat for this but: JOHN WICK 2 IS THE BEST ACTION MOVIE OF THE YEAR! Yup. I said it. You wanna fight? I'll deal with the consequences later if need be. Go see it. Turn your brain off and enjoy!

The Rating: 9.0/10

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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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Rings Movie Review


The Trailer:

The Good:
If for some reason you're curious about the origins of dead girl, Samara, then this film will certainly help you get just a little more insight into her dark past. Vincent D'Onofrio was probably the best highlight of this film.

The Bad:
The opening sequence just felt like a disjointed piece of a movie franchise thrown in for the sake of showing off the ghost-kid. Matter of fact it was very similar to a random scene from Final Destination 2-5. Granted, the opening scene had a loose connection to get the movie going, it just felt as though it could've been handled differently. Matter of fact, it didn't even feel connected to the past movies at all. So it's hard to say if this was even a reboot or remake or whatever.

I suppose the biggest issue with this film is just that the scare tactics don't feel any different than those used from the very first movie. Samara simply isn't scary anymore. Coming out of a TV doesn't make someone afraid the same way it did when it first surprised us in the early 2000's. Furthermore, her backstory isn't all that compelling either. I thought that this film was going to give some sort of explanation about how and why she is who/what she is, but I don't think it succeeded in delivering on that.

Along with the lack of innovative horror, this film appeared to almost copy the same scenes from the movie "Don't Breathe". It literally felt like the tone shifted from horror to thriller, and you were watching two completely different films. This also translated into issues with the plot. It felt like I was watching multiple cuts of different versions of the same movie.

Unfortunately, the characters were equally as uninteresting as the plot of the film itself. There was nothing compelling about the main character or her motivations to "keep going" throughout the film.

The Reason
:

As a fan of the first "The Ring" film, I must admit that I am grossly disappointed in "Rings". The Ring, for me, was one of my top 5 scariest films. Rings unfortunately eviscerates the notion of any future "Ring" type of movies from holding that place again. Unless the studios can come up with some other type of innovative way to scare people with this ghost/monster kid, it's more than time to simply lay it to rest permanently. I couldn't recommend this film even to the most die hard Ring or horror fans. The irony here is that this whole movie is about warning you not to watch a video or else you suffer the consequences. I suggest you heed the movie's advice in advance. -_-

The Rating: 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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[GUEST] The Space Between Us 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:
Through all the glossy cheese, what is winning and worthwhile about this adventure are its positive messages and old-fashioned romantic vibes that lie far removed from the usual recipe of petulant Millennial angst that permeates the movies targeting today’s teen demographic. Composer Andrew Lockington’s blend of synth and strings merges well with a coffee shop pop soundtrack featuring a pair of Ingrid Michaelson songs. The key draw is Gardner. Asa Butterfield plays the teen as a pleasantly hopeless romantic. His smile and wide-eyed worldview are charming and contagious. The kid’s got spirit and so does the movie.

The Bad:
The high concept of a child raised on another planet in “The Space Between Us” downshifts to a teen-bonding road movie. It is peppered with a dash of “Starman”-esque initiative as Gardner detrimentally has trouble acclimating to the greener, wetter, heavier, and brighter Earth. The thought-provoking scientific ramifications that created the film’s intriguing premise are muddied by the silly coinkydinks and frequently preposterous holes and turns of the plot’s earthbound pursuits.

Telling you the film was written by Allan Loeb, the screenwriter of the reviled “Collateral Beauty” and directed by Peter Chelsom, the man behind “Hannah Montana: The Movie” does not help its cause. Nobody does frantic like Gary Oldman who is always overselling, forgivably so. 26-year-old Britt Robertson is too old to play a convincing teenager, but shows bossy pluck as the chatty and fetching love interest. You have to take the bad with the good because the same writer also composed the colorful fun of “21” and the director brought the masses the chick flick fave “Serendipity.”

The Reason
:

Call me a softy or a sunny optimist, but I will take "The Space Between Us" over the next "Percy Jackson and the Hunger Maze Runner City of Bones Games with the 5th Wave of Divergent Mortal Instruments." The YA movie marketplace is overfilled with militarized kid-on-kid peril in the science fiction department. “The Space Between Us” is cheesy, corny, and pretends to be better than it really is, but, gosh darnit, the film has a charming and positive core that is hard to ignore. For as much as there is a place for the heady and heavy, there should be room for the simple as sweet too.

The Rating:  6.5/10
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