Kicking Ass Despite the Controversy: Anna Movie Review

One of Luc Besson’s secrets of getting commercial movie success is to portray ladies in a bad-ass fashion kicking ass in the most action way as possible. There is no doubt that the director’s massive space operatic flop the “Valerian And the City Of A Thousand Planets” was poorly received by critics and moviegoers alike. However, the tables have turned with his latest 2019 action film “Anna” which was highly received worldwide thanks to its sticking-to-its-roots formula that Besson is known for.

Synopsis

  • Anna was Sasha Luss’ first movie that has her as the leading role. The film is about a ruthless woman who worked as a model, and at the same time, a spy from the Russian Government. She was portrayed as a lady that lived a hard life despite its high-demanding occupations. Things start to fire up as CIA agent Lenny Miller, portrayed by Cillian Murphy, follows her every move. The movie has its good points, paired with an ample amount of time-travel twists, which makes it kind of repetitive.

Haven’t you heard that plot before? Yes, you did. And it did share some similarities with last year’s massive hit the “Red Sparrow.” However, Anna is not a complete copycat of such. Anna even began production months before the Red Sparrow hit the big screen. But the comparisons from those who have seen both movies are unavoidable.

But as you’ve noticed, Anna hasn’t been marketed well compared to other ass-kicking female-led movies. This is because Besson has been hit with sexual assault allegations while the film is being made, hence the lack of marketing for the movie itself. There is a saying that one should separate the art from its creator. But in the case of Besson and its controversy, it looks like splitting the two is a terrible idea. However, this doesn’t stop the movie from hitting theatres. And the allegations were dismissed because of lack of evidence.

Taking a look at Anna, you will see Besson’s style of directing action movies. Sharp sound effects, over the top cinematography as a lot of action is going on the screen, combined with impressive set pieces, what’s not to love? But it all comes down to the storytelling department, where it can be hard for some to separate what’s real and what’s not. Anna’s story is intentionally jumbled paired with complex connections in between that can make it really hard to understand what’s going on. It may be impressive for some, but can be frustrating for others.

One of the movie’s selling points is their lead actress Sasha Luss. She has done an impressive job in portraying the character, which makes the movie her stepping stone to becoming big in the film industry. However, because of the controversy that surrounds its director, it seems like a thing in the past for now.

One of the best set piece in the movie is where Anna was shown in scenes in her modeling career and then transitions into her weapon-wielding action as she kicks-ass of her opponents. Both perspectives are then spliced into footages that transition back and forth, making it an eye-candy. It’s actually fun to look at. And it’s a big thumbs up to Besson’s directing skills for executing that scene very well.

Verdict Anna was such an ambitious film which is unfortunately shadowed by the director’s controversy. If only the allegations didn’t happen, Anna would have been successful in the financial department on the big screen. And also, Besson’s comeback in the film industry as wel

It Gets Better the Third Time Around: Annabelle Comes Home Review

2013’s massive horror-hit “Conjuring” has seen several sequels and prequels, turning it into a cinematic Universe just like Marvel’s. This kind of approach keeps the audience engaged, wanting for more, as well as creating a fan-base for the cinematic universe itself. It also allows writers to create stories that will connect to each film, making them a branch to each and one another.

The first Annabelle film was highly anticipated, which is then destroyed by poor storytelling. The second one was a bit of an improvement but still lacking. But things have changed with Annabelle Comes Home as it gives a breath of fresh air to the series thanks to its better-written characters and plenty of scares that can keep you awake. Gary Dauberman is the director of the third Annabelle film (who is only a writer of the previous Annabelle films), and it is an exciting debut for a first-timer like him where his movie was well-received by many.

The movie takes place between Conjuring 1 and Conjuring 2. As seen in the second Annabelle movie, the doll was locked up in an artifact room inside a house. However, this doesn’t stop the doll from unleashing its inner hell as she seeks revenge.

The movie begins where the doll was captured by the Warrens and then centers on their daughter Judy, which is portrayed by Mckenna Grace. Life is a bit hard for her as a newspaper exposes what her parents do for a living. What’s even worse is that her birthday is coming up, which will definitely result in a ruckus where she expects it to be a blast. However, thanks to her babysitter Marry Ellen, portrayed by Madison Iseman, she learned how to be strong no matter how tough her situation is.

But it all went down where the Warrens go out of a town for a night, where Judy and Mary Ellen was left in the house. To accompany the two, Mary Ellen herself invited her best friend Daniela, portrayed by Katie Sarife, to stay over with them. With Daniela’s curious nature, she sneaked into the artifact room where Annabelle was contained, surprised where there is a big warning sign on the glass where Annabelle is. The artifact room is like an engine, where Annabelle acts as the battery. Once opened, it led to a series of unfortunate and ghastly events. And it’s up to Judy, Mary Ellen, and Daniella to stop her before it’s too late.

What makes it different from its predecessors is the lighter tone of the movie. Off course, we’re not saying that you will be laughing the whole time or finding Annabelle cute despite its appearance. What it does is that it generates post-scream laughs making it a smart move despite the film’s monster-infested storyline. It’s a different approach from the usual horror films that will give you nightmares. This film is for those who enjoy horror movies while wanting to have a good night sleep after seeing such. Of course, there are also new “monsters” that were introduced in the movie, which makes it a perfect opportunity for writers to create more branching movies in the Conjuring universe.

Seeing the movie itself, you can see that Dauberman has vastly improved in the storytelling department. It’s more evident in the movie’s cinematography composed of sweeping camera movements, use of eerie space, and paired with unnerving images and scenes that can keep you awake scene after scene. You will be scared by the atmosphere of the movie itself, unlike others who only rely on jump scares and loud music.

Verdict

  • Annabelle Comes Home is the perfect end to the series’ trilogy. Despite having a bad start with the first movie, it gradually became better over time, and the improvements are there. If you’re having doubts about seeing this movie because of its predecessor’s lack of success, then it’s time to give it a try and see it for yourself.

Dark Phoenix is Another Complete Mess in the X-Men Franchise

The X-Men franchise is at it again with their tenth and final film of the series deeming to flop once more. 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse didn’t do well enough in the eyes of critics and moviegoers. And here comes Dark Phoenix hoping to shadow the negative response of their previous films. Well, it shows. Dark Phoenix is better than X-Men Apocalypse, and even better than 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Not to mention, better than Captain Marvel, while sharing no specific plot details, but to the point where they have to reshoot Dark Phoenix’s climax scenes to avoid looking like a complete rip-off. Although better in some ways, it’s not a good movie. It’s one of those boring movies that is completely uninspired.

The movie starts in 1975 where young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) unexpectedly discovered that she had powers and caused a car accident which led her to be an orphan. Years later, 25-yeard old Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) has received her much-needed attention and care in the hands of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and became part of the X-Men.

What’s really interesting is that Jean Grey was more fleshed out and develop in her own solo film. Compared to the past X-Men movies (or even in animations) where she was portrayed as this weak damsel in distress with uncontrollable powers. So kudos to the story writing department for giving her a much more interesting and stronger story arc that makes her a likable character for once.

The problem lies where X-Men screenwriter Simon Kinberg spent too much time relying on character development across the entire X-Men movies. This worked well with Logan, which has been the most successful comic-based movie to date. But this Jean Grey we have in Dark Phoenix is only seen once before, in X-Men Apocalypse. Which only has a small share of screen time in a rather forgettable movie. Thankfully, because of Dark Phoenix, we now have the chance to see “this” Jean Grey once again and how her origin story turned out to be.

This whole character study thing runs smack into the film’s mandate to be a popcorn movie, something it does indifferently for most of its long running time of about 113 minutes (which is okay by comic book movie standards). Kinberg is not any more than a proficient director, either of his cast or of his camera; cinematography Mauro Fiore oversees things to an utterly shocking degree. Between the two of them, they manage to make this horrible expensive film look somewhat unimaginative and uninspired, mistaking glossiness in the form of style.

The only scene where the film was worthy of being called a “popcorn film” is in the climax where the mutants are fighting of hordes of aliens, all in the form of a train fight scene in a montage way. This has been the staple of X-Men films where each mutant was showing off their powers in a sequence of set pieces just like in X-Men 2 back then. This is where the Dark Phoenix has done it right. Eye-candy fight scenes with an ample amount of epilogue scenes that finishes the movie with quality material. And the rest was garbage.

Dark Phoenix is Another Complete Mess in the X-Men Franchise

The X-Men franchise is at it again with their tenth and final film of the series deeming to flop once more. 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse didn’t do well enough in the eyes of critics and moviegoers. And here comes Dark Phoenix hoping to shadow the negative response of their previous films. Well, it shows. Dark Phoenix is better than X-Men Apocalypse, and even better than 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Not to mention, better than Captain Marvel, while sharing no specific plot details, but to the point where they have to reshoot Dark Phoenix’s climax scenes to avoid looking like a complete rip-off. Although better in some ways, it’s not a good movie. It’s one of those boring movies that is completely uninspired.

The movie starts in 1975 where young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) unexpectedly discovered that she had powers and caused a car accident which led her to be an orphan. Years later, 25-yeard old Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) has received her much-needed attention and care in the hands of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and became part of the X-Men.

What’s really interesting is that Jean Grey was more fleshed out and develop in her own solo film. Compared to the past X-Men movies (or even in animations) where she was portrayed as this weak damsel in distress with uncontrollable powers. So kudos to the story writing department for giving her a much more interesting and stronger story arc that makes her a likable character for once.

The problem lies where X-Men screenwriter Simon Kinberg spent too much time relying on character development across the entire X-Men movies. This worked well with Logan, which has been the most successful comic-based movie to date. But this Jean Grey we have in Dark Phoenix is only seen once before, in X-Men Apocalypse. Which only has a small share of screen time in a rather forgettable movie. Thankfully, because of Dark Phoenix, we now have the chance to see “this” Jean Grey once again and how her origin story turned out to be.

This whole character study thing runs smack into the film’s mandate to be a popcorn movie, something it does indifferently for most of its long running time of about 113 minutes (which is okay by comic book movie standards). Kinberg is not any more than a proficient director, either of his cast or of his camera; cinematography Mauro Fiore oversees things to an utterly shocking degree. Between the two of them, they manage to make this horrible expensive film look somewhat unimaginative and uninspired, mistaking glossiness in the form of style.

The only scene where the film was worthy of being called a “popcorn film” is in the climax where the mutants are fighting of hordes of aliens, all in the form of a train fight scene in a montage way. This has been the staple of X-Men films where each mutant was showing off their powers in a sequence of set pieces just like in X-Men 2 back then. This is where the Dark Phoenix has done it right. Eye-candy fight scenes with an ample amount of epilogue scenes that finishes the movie with quality material. And the rest was garbage.

An Entertaining Live Adaptation of a Videogame: Detective Pikachu Review

A lot of filmmakers have been trying how to implement a film adaptation of a video game properly. Many have succeeded (Tomb Raider 2001), and others failed (Assasin’s Creed 2016). But in the case of 2019’s “Detective Pikachu”, it seems like everything turned out well.

The movie is based on the 2016 game “Detective Pikachu” that was released exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. It was the first live-action adaptation of the Pokemon series which fans have been excited about. Many are worried that it may turn out as a flop, but it looks like the movie has seen the brighter side of the day because of its success.

Synopsis

  • Detective Pikachu features Tim Goodman (portrayed by Justice Smith), who is a son of a police detective Harry Goodman. A mysterious car accident killed Tim’s father, and it’s up to him to find out what really happened. He traveled to Ryme and met his father’s Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), and both of them formed a team to bring justice to Tim’s dad. Aspiring reporter Lucy Stevens (portrayed by Kathryn Newton) together with her Psyduck joined Tim and Pikachu into their adventure. As they go deeper on the mystery, they found out a mysterious thing that could put Ryme and its human and pokemon residents to danger.

Directed by Rob Letterman and written by Dan Hernandez, Detective Pikachu has a simple story with little twists and turns in between. There are also “surprises” that was already predictable as well. The movie was aimed at younger audiences, hence its PG rating, but can also be enjoyed by all ages as well.

The story is not Detective Pikachu’s strongest points, but it’s how the world (Ryme City) was implemented that you feel like you’re included in the adventure. The movie successfully portrayed the world very well and how pokemon and humans interact with one another. It gives you an idea of how it feels like to live in Ryme City and to have a very own pokemon yourself.

The relationship between Tim and Pikachu is what stands out throughout the entire movie. Kudos to Smith’s performance while talking to CGI creatures the entire film (and some humans of course). Ryan Reynolds also did a pretty good job on voicing Pikachu as well. His comedic side still shows, but only lessened to make it more family-friendly since you don’t want to hear Pikachu blasting out curse words in a PG-rated film, right? (Deadpool is waving at you).

Verdict

  • Avid fans of Pokemon will surely appreciate this masterpiece. It’s worth every penny on watching this movie in theatres, and your expectations were actually met. The choice of the cast may sound a bit odd at first (Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu is still puzzling to think about), but the formula works very well. Pokemon is a massive videogame franchise that was loved by many, and it’s surprising to see that the first live-action adaptation of the video game has ticked the right boxes.

An Exciting Title Riddled with Bad Storytelling: Brightburn Review

Developed by James Gunn and his family, Brightburn is a pretty ambitious title that didn’t deliver to what’s promised. The film was supposed to be released back then in November but was delayed when Disney fired Gunn from the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy. Because of this, Brightburn wasn’t adequately promoted, and he even refused to show it at San Diego’s Comic-Con last year and just kept silent about it.

The movie sounds impressive on paper, but once you see it in motion, you will be disappointed that it’s too far from what you expected. Brightburn is a thriller-horror film that fails to deliver what it feels like to be a villain or a superhero that uses its powers in the wrong thing.

Synopsis

  • Married couple Tori (portrayed by Elizabeth Banks), and Kyle Brryer (David Denman) lived in a small town in Brightburn, Kansas. One night, a mysterious pod landed from the sky and crashed near their home. What they found inside was an infant, not knowing where it came from. Failing to have a child, the couple decided to adopt the infant and named it Brandon. Ten years later, Brandon lived a life just like a normal human being. He was able to make friends and even excel at his classes. But it all went down during his twelfth birthday where Brandon discovered that he has superpowers. Not knowing why he had these abilities, he then began to use them for evil and became a reckless killing machine.

Brightburn was written by James brother Brian, his cousin Mark, and was directed by David Yarovesky who was also the director of “The Hive.” What went wrong is that Brightburn failed to explore what it’s like to become a superhero or villain. It even falls short on how parenting was played out, especially when your child has superpowers to begin with.

The issue is more prominent in the script where character development was lackluster. It turned Brandon to be an evil entity in the cheapest way as possible by hearing voices only him can hear that’s coming from his pod. The “hearing voices” thing was already used a lot of times, especially in horror-thriller films and we’re hoping that Brightburn has something fresh up their sleeves, but we were left with disappointment instead. However, the cast has done an excellent job on portraying each of their characters which makes up to the terrible story writing.

On the bright side, Brightburn has done an excellent job, especially in the directing and editing department. It shows Brandon hunting his victims in the most creative yet gruesome ways as possible, and then killing them brutally that will keep you holding on to your seats. Not to mention, the use of camera angles and lighting that create a suspenseful atmosphere despite the film’s limited budget.

Verdict

  • Although lacking in proper story writing, it excelled in the visual department which was executed correctly in the most exciting way possible. If you’re a fan of James Gunn and his previous films, then you should give Brightburn a go, although not necessarily on theatres if you don’t want to waste your money on something that you would regret. Just wait for a DVD release and then you’re good. A Brightburn sequel may be possible, and here’s hoping that it’s better than what we got at the moment.

An Enjoyable Sci-Flick Despite its Shortcomings: I Am Mother Review

I Am Mother is an independent film that premiered in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Luckily, because of its positive reviews, the film is now available to stream on Netflix. Directed by Grant Sputore, I Am Mother is his first feature-length film that delivers high ambitions but failed to execute on making it an exciting sci-fi film. However, the final product is still enjoyable to watch hence its negative sides.

Synopsis

  • Humanity has gone extinct because of a mysterious event that triggered to the awakening of “Mother” (voiced by Rose Byrne), a robot whose mission is to repopulate the earth thanks to the thousands of human embryos that are stored in a facility. To perfect her parenting style, she raised a girl named “Daughter” (portrayed by Clara Rugaard). It perfectly went well at first, but as soon as Daughter turned into a teenager, this is where things start to go down.

The relationship between the two is what will keep audiences to stay on their seats thanks to the character development that was done pretty well. However, it all boils down to how Daughter was written. In the movie, Daughter became bored with her existence and decided to rebel against her own people. It sounds impressive on paper, but the execution of the screenplay felt a bit mediocre, especially Rugaard who only delivered a solid performance on the character.

Setting the negativity aside, I Am Mother was praised mostly of its technical aspects. Thanks to Sputore’s directing skills with the help of his assistant production designer Hugh Bateup and cinematographer Steve Annis. The visuals are stunning despite of the film’s limited budget. And streaming I Am Mother on an HDTV is pleasant to watch. The special effects on Mother were astonishing that it felt like a huge blockbuster. Smalltime director Sputore has outdone itself on the directing department as well, and he’s willing to commit to more ambitious titles in the future if given a chance.

The cast of I Am Mother is not that extensive. Byrne has done an outstanding job on voicing Mother that made her feel human at some times without losing the fact that she’s only an A.I. Ruugard also showed a great job as Daughter as well, but a little improvement could be better.

Verdict

  • Sci-fi lovers will definitely appreciate this little masterpiece despite its small shortcomings. Putting it on Netflix instead of releasing it directly to theatres is the right choice for this film to build an audience from the start, avoiding competition in the already oversaturated market in the film industry. After all, I Am Mother is a robust feature film you don’t want to miss.

An Emotional Origin Story of a Music Icon: Rocketman Review

When it comes to music-focused movies, Rocketman follows the footsteps of last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody who garnered a lot of success. And it’s also the same thing for this movie as well thanks to its choice of cast and beautiful storytelling that’s true to the original Rocketman himself. Rocketman is a full-blown musical, which is not very evident in the trailer.

Synopsis

  • The movie is about Elton John and how he honed his way to becoming an icon of music. At a young age, he lived with his mother Sheila, portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard, and his grandmother Ivy, portrayed by Gemma Jones, and also his father Stanley, played by Steven Mackintosh. Young Reggie (Elton’s real name) didn’t receive much affection throughout his life, and it’s only his grandmother Ivy who encourages him to continue. But when Reggie discovers music, he was able to find his voice and became the icon we know and love. However, as he grew older, Reggie was tied into his alcoholic ways and drug use, which led to a series of toxic relationships that challenges his career.

For those who don’t know, the movie is R-rated because of drug use and inappropriate relationships with Elton’s love affairs. Not to mention, his hatred towards himself at the peak of his career, which led to self-destruction.

Director Dexter Fletcher successfully portrayed Rocketman and stayed true to the original man himself. It also features Elton John’s popular songs as well and adequately executed how his life was during at a young age. In the narrative side of things, everything was going seamless that won’t bore the hell out of you.

Not to mention, the execution of the song choice and editing. A great example is a scene where tween Reggie sings “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” which transitions from the tween Reggie into the grown version of Reggie seamlessly.

Rocketman is a movie that will make you feel mixed emotions. Of course, it’s not a movie for everyone, especially those who don’t know the icon and those who are not into musicals. There are funny moments and also sad ones that can make you bawl your eyes out. It’s a tragic movie that deals with flawed families, and the portrayal of self-destruction can really touch your emotions.

Verdict

  • Rocketman is a spectacular movie that stays true of the music icon. It shows all the highs and lows of Elton John’s life and career. Taron Egerton also did a remarkable job at portraying Elton John himself, what’s even better is that he does his own singing as well. Bryce Dallas Howard also did a pretty good job on portraying as Elton’s miserable mother. And it’s the relationship between the two that really shaped Elton John to become what he was known for in the music industry. It’s a musical you don’t want to miss.