Quick Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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The good news is you don’t really need to watch the original Star Wars films in order to follow along with this film. But then honestly, why wouldn’t you have seen the original Star Wars films?

Star Wars is really an amazing franchise, starting in 1977 with the very first film. Can you imagine watching that in its inception? All these years later, you’re still in awe of the characters, the story, the effects, the set pieces–the whole universe. The sets don’t even look that different in this one than the ones from the ’70s. Yet, we’re still in awe.

Without giving too much away, Star Wars: The Force Awakens revolves around the First Order (the dark side) trying to control the galaxy while racing against the Resistance (the light side) to find the disappeared Luke Skywalker. The film mixes old characters with a band of new characters–characters that you’re going to love–and doesn’t stray from what was so charismatic about the original movies.

The film truly has that classic feel to it–from the scene cuts to the camerawork to the dialogue. This isn’t your Marvel movie, folks. In fact, it makes us rethink what exactly we love about those films to begin with. I mean, we have Star Wars back now. What more could we want?

But there is a different kind of levity brought here that we actually may be able to actually thank Marvel for. It’s not too much, but the perfect amount. In the originals, they would have never dared make light of any scene involving Darth Vader, but here we are given one surprising, yet heedful laugh during a bit that involves the neo-Darth Vader, Kylo Ren–who is just as bit of creepy and sinister as Vader.

The newcomers, John Boyega as an ex-stormtrooper, Finn, and Daisy Ridley as a orphaned scavenger, Rey, will have no problems being the new faces of the franchise. Their characters have a lot of depth already, with much more yet to be explored.

Harrison Ford is back as Han Solo, and he’s better than he’s ever been. His performance is actually award-worthy. I mean, just give the guy an Oscar already (he’s only had 1 nomination ever–seriously).

And what is Star Wars without a couple twists? The ones that we’re given are great, and you know they’re stringing you along for more. They don’t answer every question in this film. They answer a lot, but still leave you talking afterwards and speculating. It teaches us to be patient and we’re surprisingly okay with that. The film doesn’t give in to the immediate gratification that the Avengers culture usually demands.

It runs at 135 minutes, but feels no longer than 100. The pacing is basically near-perfect, which attributes to it’s deceptive length.

I truly didn’t want it to end. It’s the year’s best film and perhaps the best one I’ve seen in at least 5 years. It gave me the happy chills about eleven different times. I can’t even begin to explain how good it is. I guess you’re just going to have to see it for yourself. Who am I kidding? Everyone’s about to watch this movie. But that’s Star Wars for ya.

Twizard Rating: 100

Quick Movie Review: Spotlight (2015)

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Journalism can be a hard topic to cover in film without adding a bunch of unnecessary drama to make it interesting. But Spotlight has the benefit of a great script with very natural dialogue. Nothing here feels forced of feigned. It immersively chronicles the Boston Globe’s long-time investigation into the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal.

As a guy who grew up in the Catholic Church, it isn’t easy watching this film and knowing that it’s the Catholic Church who is to blame. But like any place where you have people in a position of power, you’re going to have those who abuse that power. The Church is no different. And just like not every cop is racist and not every black person plays basketball, not every priest is a child molester. Although I was an alter server as a child and luckily never experienced or heard of anyone personally who suffered through this tragedy, I do shake my head at those who tried to cover it up.

Although the sex-abuse issues were nationwide, the film focuses mostly on the staggering numbers in the Boston Archdiocese. Catholicism in Boston has been known to be more of a culture in that city than most other places in the country. Their dependence and wholehearted belief in the Church made for a much easier target for predators. It’s one thing to idolize God and hold true to your religious beliefs, but it’s another to idolize other human beings. To idolize is to believe that one is not capable of fault. Well, the people of Boston held true, more than anyone, that these priests were godlike figures who could do no wrong. It was a sentiment that exuded from everywhere in that city. In California, where I live, I’ve never experienced anything quite like that in the 26 years I’ve spent as a practicing member of the Catholic faith. Not to say that these priests aren’t expected to lead a holier life than most of our own, but then we look back to that whole abuse of power thing.

As for the movie, it’s very well done. The acting is superb. Director, Tom McCarthy, gets the very best performance out of each of his actors. Especially Liev Schreiber, who does his best Steven Wright impression, always remaining soft spoken, yet intimidating. He never overplays his character, which isn’t necessarily easy for an actor to do.

Mark Ruffalo is perhaps the biggest standout. He’s an absolute phenomenon here. He commits so much to every one of his character’s idiosyncrasies that it’s truly hypnotizing.

The script is also great, doing well to explain and give background on a lot of the more convoluted details of the story. It can, however, be hard to follow all the names that are being spewed at you, remembering who everyone is. The story moves along briskly with only a slight thinning out for about 10 minutes towards the end.

But the one thing that Spotlight does pretty poorly at is depth, almost as if it’s deliberately trying not to have any. It’s anything but a character study. There’s a lot of implied background for the characters, but you can’t help but want a little more. Even in the macro sense, it has several perfect opportunities to explore the psychology behind these child molesters, but the film never really takes advantage of them, thus leaving a few scenes feeling unnecessary.

Despite making unbiased claims, the film does have a bit of an agenda of its own. It tells of certain characters’ stated struggles with their faith, although they had already admitted to being lapsed. While it never shows how the Church’s scandal would affect actual churchgoers.

Although I’m not commending any of it, I know why Cardinal Law chose to cover up all of those scandals. When you have a society that is full of ignorant people who constantly generalize everything, then you are going to have other people who try and cover up these instances in fear that the general public will, indeed, generalize. And so it happened anyway. Those who aren’t Catholic go into this movie and may look at the Church in a negative light. But like I said, people love to think in absolutes. I, myself, don’t idolize anyone, but can totally recognize that these are definitely horrible tragedies to be ashamed of.

Twizard Rating: 94

Quick Movie Review: Trumbo (2015)

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Dalton Trumbo, known for penning such classic films as Roman Holiday and Spartacus, had a knack for drama–in both writing it and living it. He was a quirky character who always spoke his mind in spontaneous phrases–a feature that is satirized a few times in this film.

Trumbo stars Bryan Cranston in the title role and details his career starting in 1947 as a successful screenwriter, and then subsequently a blacklisted one for his support of the Communist party.

This film comes from all sides of the situation. It shows how Trumbo has it easy compared to his actor counterparts, as they can’t hide under another name like he can. It also doesn’t directly blame any anti-communist believers’ fears, since they’re just a product of American propaganda, but it does show them as being porous in logic.

It also shows the struggle Trumbo begins having with his own ego and how his political stances get fewer and far between. His family life with his wife and kids takes a toll as well. But the film reveals an amazing glimpse of a great man who means well, but simply loses his way and his intent due to his attempt at proving himself to the ignorance that surrounds him–an understandable evolution. Cranston details this development seamlessly throughout the film in a way that makes you not realize it happens after the fact.

For the most part, the pacing is pretty consistent. It starts quickly and doesn’t waste much time with setup. Throughout we get so many scenes that it almost feels rushed, but retains its sanity enough so that it only comes off as paralleling the turbulence of the era. Every scene jumps to the next so briskly. However, there is one point in the film, about 3/4 of the way through, where Trumbo develops a relationship with director Otto Preminger. Not that this portion of Trumbo’s life isn’t important, but most other scenarios are shown to us as if through a slide projector, while this particular instance is given so much screen time that it becomes a distraction. It slows down the film so much for such a minimally significant part in the story. But once again, it’s only noticeable because of the juxtaposition of it to every other portion of the film. Just a minor hiccup.

Diane Lane plays Dalton’s wife, Cleo, the rock that Trumbo leans against for support and who makes him see his actions. Louis C.K. does a great job as the fictional character Arlen, Trumbo’s contemporary, who is also blacklisted and imprisoned for his beliefs. He provides a great straight man to Trumbo’s eccentricity, making the audience realize his actions. Actor Edward G. Robinson is played by Michael Stuhlbarg, who works well physically, but lacks every bit of Robinson’s timbre and trademark voice inflections.

The film isn’t ridiculously long, but rightfully feels like it is. You don’t feel like anything is left out of the story, but also don’t feel as though you are told too much.

Trumbo does well to shine a refreshingly positive light on communism at its purist form, educating a brand new audience, making them think about its ideals in reference to our world today.

Twizard Rating: 97

Quick Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

in the heart of the sea

In the Heart of the Sea is approached by audiences as an epic film that faces off a man and a whale. And while that’s partially what happens, it’s not the whole story.

The Ron Howard-directed film is one half good movie, one half less good movie. Fortunately for him, the good half is the latter half, so it’s what we are left with. But the first hour of this film drudges along extremely slowly. Taking place in the 1820s, the characters speak in an archaic verbiage, heavy on sailing terms that mostly go over our heads. Sure, it gives the film a more genuine feel, but also provides us with a bit of a snoozer before the action actually starts happening.

For those of you who don’t know, In the Heart of the Sea is about the real-life story that inspired Herman Melville’s famed novel Moby Dick. The film begins in 1850 as Melville (Ben Whishaw) pays an unwanted visit to Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), the last surviving crew member of a whaling ship, the Essex, which is said to have been destroyed by a giant whale 30 years prior. Much to Nickerson’s protest, he tells the story to Melville about how he was a 14-year-old orphan on this boat, lead by Captain Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and First Mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth)–the true protagonist of this film. The strangest thing may be the fact that Nickerson recounts literally all parts of the story, including bits that he wasn’t even present for.

Some background: Back before humans drilled the earth for oil, they would use whale oil for lighting and electricity. Men would go out to sea for months at a time in order to bring back hundreds or thousands of gallons of oil. In this case, they were at sea for 2 years.

The film jumps back and forth between 1850 and 1820 showing multiple character dynamics and relationships–most importantly the one between Chase and Pollard, and between Melville and Nickerson.

But the people come to see a film about Moby Dick–the legendary whale who is chased by Captain Ahab–in this case Pollard and Chase. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see the whale until an hour into the movie. Before that is a lot of setup, which would have been okay if the setup had been more interesting. 1997’s Titanic also features a lot of drama before the action happens, but there’s also a lot more tension leading up to it. And this film doesn’t have the added benefit of being very charismatic, aside from what the giant whale brings. It takes itself a little too seriously, only giving us maybe two real shards of levity throughout.

I understand that In the Heart of the Sea is supposed to be a disaster film, but seeing that the disaster only accounts for a third of the movie, I think they could have afforded to give us a few more laughs here and there.

With that said, I was actually pretty moved by this film. I found it’s overall messages very poignant and thoughtful. The movie showcases some important themes of animal hunting, prejudice, entitlement, and big business integrity–all of which are still relevant in today’s world, and perhaps the most powerful things about this film.

The latter part of the film is very memorable and the effects with the whale are incredible. I left the movie satisfied by the second half, but was hoping for a first half that I don’t have to skip over when I watch it again.

Twizard Rating: 84

Quick Movie Review: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

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I survived the Star Wars Holiday Special. If you’ve ever hear word that it’s terrible, that’s no exaggeration. It’s a TV movie, but I use to word “movie” loosely. About 10% of it is actual coherent plot. The rest plays out more as a variety show with pointless segments and musical numbers scattered randomly throughout.

The overall premise follows Chewbacca’s Wookie family as they wait for him to return home for Life Day (the Wookie version of Christmas), but he is nowhere to be found. We, the audience, know that he is battling TIE fighters with Han Solo on his way home. Additionally, the Galactic Empire is searching homes for members of the Rebel Alliance.

Because there’s such little plot, and it’s a very simple concept, it shouldn’t be this hard to understand what’s going on in the movie. It doesn’t help that none of us speak Wookie (even the characters in the movie can’t understand what they’re saying). The scenes without any humans, which constitute the majority of the special, are incomprehensible and borderline unwatchable. According to writer, Bruce Vilanch, he had wanted many of these scenes cut due to the fact that the audience can’t understand the Wookie language. George Lucas insisted that they remain. Turns out Vilanch was right, as it’s not only incoherent, but in a holiday special that’s supposed to be jovial, we can’t even smile or laugh at what’s happening. But I’m not sure it would matter anyway, as even the jokes that are told by humans have terrible delivery.

Even the music numbers can’t be looked at as a pleasant break from the insipid journey through the Star Wars universe. They’re extremely plodding and lack any real character besides being hypnotic. At one point, Diahann Carroll performs some odd erotic piece which may make this the most uncomfortable holiday special in history–along with the most boring. I think when they torture prisoners they make them have to stay awake through the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Lucas couldn’t even get all the characters in the same room together. Every major actor’s scenes are filmed remotely, except for Harrison Ford’s. It’s a film that is said to feature Darth Vader–even though he literally only gets 4 seconds of screen time (which I’m pretty sure was just a cut scene from A New Hope).

The only highlight is an animated short halfway through that features the first on-screen appearance of Boba Fett. And that’s not all, the storyline is pretty good also. It makes you wish that the whole special was just animated.

The Star Wars Holiday Special wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if it was only an hour maybe. But 90 minutes is just ridiculous (2 hours including commercials). And you can’t say that it’s even bad in a funny way. It’s just flat-out painful. I love Star Wars as much as the next guy, but there’s no wonder why George Lucas wanted all of these destroyed.

Twizard Rating: 32

Quick Movie Review: The Good Dinosaur (2015)

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You can’t blame Pixar for anything really. It’s tough to find things, but honestly they’re there. The films almost always follow the same signature moves: the long journey home, the unlikeliest of friends, the conceptual antagonist. And then they always include the signature Dumbo effect, where they just hand you a character who is so cute that you can’t help but love them–and, in turn, the movie. But no other film does these more blatantly than The Good Dinosaur. Let’s face it, you can attribute much of Pixar’s success to these attributes. People fall for them. However, when it becomes this obvious, you start to take notice unlike ever before. And with this film, it’s more evident than ever that the studio’s biggest pitfalls are what have made them the powerhouse that they are today.

The film follows Arlo–the runt of the litter of talking dinosaurs–as he tries to discover what his true mark on this earth is. After a series of events finds him extremely far from home, he must figure out his way back with the unbidden assistance of a feral, dog-like child, Spot, who is actually inadvertently responsible for a few tragedies in Arlo’s life already.

The Good Dinosaur is the most Pixar-iest Pixar movie thus far. So much so that it’s becoming increasingly more obvious what they’re doing and why they’re doing it with each film that comes along. This one’s a “journey home film” in the strictest way possible–not really playing around with that concept a whole lot like they do with Toy Story or Wall-E. Of the 16 films made by Pixar over the last 20 years, I’d say all but three of them are about the characters finding his or her way back home. And I understand why–mostly thanks to this movie–because it’s easier to find conflict. Throughout the film, there is mishap after mishap, without much room to breathe or develop it’s own organic voice. I wouldn’t say it’s predictable, but it does have a tendency to be by-the-numbers a bit.

It also may be the weirdest Pixar movie to date–which actually helps set it apart from the others. In one scene, we see Spot literally rip the head off of a live bug that’s the same size as he is. Another has a pterodactyl eating a cute furry little creature. In perhaps the most odd moment of the film, Arlo and Spot eat some hallucinogenic fruit and proceed to trip out with much detail.

But it’s not to say that I didn’t like this movie, because it’s actually very pleasant. I mean, he humor is just middle of the road–I probably laughed the least amount out of any Pixar film. But I was also smiling throughout a lot of it. Also, the visuals are spectacular–a triumph in its own right.

The depth of the characters are another highlight, as both children and adults will be able to relate. Arlo is likable, but not Disney perfect. He shows hints of selfishness and stubbornness, which round him out well.

You’ll hear pleasant echoes of City Slickers, which is perhaps the movie’s most unique quality. It’s not as tight nit as you would expect. It starts off painfully slow, but mostly picks up after about 30 minutes. Also, there is not a lot of tonal balance found. It makes jarring leaps between comedy and sheer terror in a few instances.

We see your road movie, Pixar. We’re just curious if you’re using it as a fallback now. Try moving away from it more often. 2012’s Brave was awesome. It felt like one of the most unique films to come out of that studio.

While The Good Dinosaur is actually a really good movie, and I like it way better than Inside Out (yeah, for real), I still think that Pixar can do a whole lot better. At least with this film I can watch it multiple times and not get frustrated doing so.

In staying the same, it’s safe to say that Pixar has devolved a little bit with The Good Dinosaur, but nonetheless, it’s still way better off than what most other studios serve up as their animated offerings.

Twizard Rating: 91

Quick Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)

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Maybe not exactly the way you’d like to top off the Hunger Game series, but in a franchise where only 50% of the movies were great, does it really matter? The sad part is this didn’t have to be the case. If Mockingjay hadn’t been spliced into two separate chapters, we would have looked at this series with only one below par entry. But now there are two.

Obviously Mockingjay Part 2 is better than Part 1 in every way possible, except for being a good substitute for sleeping pills. But this film is the ending, which we’d like to see be a little bit better.

At least if it’s been a year since you’ve watched the last Hunger Games, there isn’t much that you have to remember because nothing really happened. Basically, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) goes crazy and strangles Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). And in this film, Katniss et al are on a mission to attack the capital and kill Snow (Donald Sutherland). Snow expects all this, so he sets up some traps for them along the way–the highlight of the film.

Perhaps the most obvious pitfall in this movie is the tortured Katniss. Now, it isn’t Lawrence’s fault. She plays the part convincingly, but so much so that it almost hinders the film altogether. She comes off as lackadaisical and it really slows down the movie. It’s a shame though. All that depth they spent time heavily building in the previous films is wasted away in this one. She acts like a zombie the entire time–save for one powerful moment about ten minutes in when she’s intensely talking to a man who’s pointing a gun at her head. After that she’s all but absent.

What made the first two Hunger Games so good is that it separated the series from the rest of the YA genre. It was unique to itself. But a third of the way through this film, beginning with Katniss and her friends’ journey to the capital, it turns into every other dystopian teen movie–mutant creatures and all. There’s nothing original about it. There’s no moral struggle. There’s nothing making us feel like anything is at stake. And there’s really no point.

At this movie’s best, it still knows how to build tension and suspense with its action scenes–a trait last seen long ago somewhere in the 2nd film. The effects and visuals are great like always, and I appreciate the “game board” aspect being brought back too. I just wanted the film to be a better conclusion to the series.

But there is still an unresolved love triangle coming into this film. Will Katniss end up with Peeta or Gale (Liam Hemsworth)? I know this is necessary in many films directed towards teenagers, but here it’s not only unnecessary, but it gives the series less credibility–especially considering the forced nature of the conflict. There’s never anything really separating the two guys. She has no real reason to choose one over the other, which then forces a decision to come down to mere physical preference–a trait that openly welcomes a younger, more naive demographic–the demographic that will rid this movie of all credibility. In most love triangles, the two lovers are opposing archetypes–Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s characters in Fight Club, and even Edward and Jacob in Twilight–but here, the two men are basically just the same nice guy. We never feel like she can realistically make a decision. We can’t either. And I think the filmmakers knew this, which is why they abruptly give us a reason not to like one of them with about 10 minutes left in the entire series. It’s really the first sign of differentiation between the two male leads. And so it goes, the decision is pretty much made for Katniss. But it has to be, seeing as they’re the same person, which makes everything that happened in the previous four films feel like a total waste of time.

In Harry Potter, the series never focuses too heavily on the romance between the characters. While Mockingjay Part 2 is still deeper than most other YA films, the love triangle distracts from the overall point of the series, which is the last thing you want as the franchise wraps itself up. It was just too strong in this one.

As the film ends, it never really climaxes–it just tapers off. Oh yeah, we get a betrayal from a character which no one cares about since the character just got introduced to us in the last movie and we got no time to get to know them. There’s no sense of shock or betrayal that a good twist would have given us.

It seems like I hate this installment, although it’s actually entertaining–much unlike Part 1. But overall, the film is way too into itself, presumably due to the hype that it’s gained since its inception back in 2012. As a standalone movie, Part 2 has all the thrills you would need, but in the context of this series it makes us realize that we would have been fine wrapping it up after the 2nd film.

Hey, at least I wasn’t falling asleep.

Twizard Rating: 67

Quick Movie Review: The Night Before (2015)

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The Night Before is as flippant and goofy as any Seth Rogen helping, but just like every Christmas movie, it’s deeper than meets the eye. It’s about something more than Christmas. Christmas is just the nucleus that helps give significance to a story about self-discovery. And even Rogen’s irreverent humor can’t change that.

The film follows three best friends, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Chris (Anthony Mackie), and Isaac (Rogen), who get together every year on Christmas Eve to raise a little hell. The tradition started years earlier following the death of Ethan’s parents. This being the last year of feral fun for the guys, seeing as they are grown-ups now with increasing responsibilities, they try to make it the best one ever.

There’s not much to the plot other than a very generic concept, but that’s not why our butts are in the seats. We really just want to see Rogen and company’s antics as they run uninhibitedly throughout Manhattan.

While it seems at times like this movie serves as just another excuse for three actors to mess around  while making a movie for us to sit and watch for 101 minutes, that’s what these romps are all about. We like watching them simply have a good time. We want a night like this where crazy things happen and we can talk about for the rest of our lives. These films serve as vessels for us to live vicariously through. And we’re okay with that. It’s an added bonus that it happens to have the backdrop of everyone’s favorite time of year; a time of year that we romanticize more and more as we grow older–mostly because we long for that childlike innocence and simplicity of our youth. And it’s interesting to witness amidst the crudity of a Seth Rogen film.

If nothing else, this film proves once again that Rogen can make anyone funny. His humor is contagious and motivates others to match his wit. On an unrelated note, Michael Shannon nearly steals the show as the spectral Mr. Green. He’s mysterious and totally believable as the older scraggly pot dealer who keeps these guys continually paranoid throughout the film.

The film isn’t perfect. It has its slower moments, but those also happen to be when the narrative picks up and we aren’t as concerned about sustaining our laughter. Some plot devices show up merely for comedic effect and don’t contribute much to the movie, but that’s okay because it’s that kind of comedy. And although this one doesn’t get a pass to break all the rules, the filmmakers have crafted that type of movie.

There’s a final realization copout that’s forgiven with the satisfactory ending that follows, but the beauty of this movie is the chemistry of the core cast, which occurs through the empty script and heightened improvisation.

It’s a good Christmas movie. It’s not for the whole family, but it’s a more unique addition to the genre. One that’s definitely worth multiple viewings.

Twizard Rating: 84

Quick Movie Review: Spectre (2015)

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A lot of times this happens in a film series. The film following the standout best usually faces the most quibbles. But in a franchise that boasts 24 installments, the juxtaposition of any previous entry should hardly make a difference.

9 years ago, Daniel Craig and the James Bond “estate” embarked on a renaissance of the franchise. It got revitalized and was able to sustain 2 of the best Bond films to date (Skyfall and Casino Royale). But Skyfall is such a good overall film that I think many casual fans forget what a Bond film used to be. And the few that don’t like Skyfall complain that it doesn’t have a Bond feel to it. However, Spectre, which is beat-by-beat as much of a James Bond film as Thunderball, gets criticized for doing just that.

In Spectre, Bond (Craig) tries to uncover a secret organization after receiving strange hints of its existence. He travels to different locations, off the books at the disobedience of his boss, trying to solve this mystery.

Let’s start off with the criticisms here. Exploiting a plot twist isn’t much of an art–although sometimes films overshoot the importance of the twist. But other times the twist is so enormous that it isn’t exploited enough. This is one of those times. Possibly the best twist you can get in a blockbuster action film is merely played off nonchalantly to the audience. We’re into it more than the filmmakers are, and that’s an anticlimactic feeling.

Spectre also lacks the individual tone specific to the film that Skyfall and Casino Royale have. We like to be able to identify each Bond film with its own characteristics, but outside of the underlying theme, there really isn’t one.

That underlying theme I speak of is the social commentary on “big brother”. While it’s ever so relevant to this day and age, it’s also all but overplayed in films. But perhaps the most overlooked topic in this movie is the subliminal allusions of gun violence. The filmmakers are constantly, albeit subtly, pointing out ironic contradictions involving this topic.

I really like what they’re doing here with the macro storyline of the revamped Bond series. It’s moving along nice and slow and unforced–as opposed to the unmemorable and perfunctory subplots of the Avengers series. Gone are the days where we can just watch whatever Bond film in any order we want. Now we have to keep tabs and remember what took place in the previous installments. But these Bond films do it in a way where you don’t have to keep track of too many details and can just relax for the most part.

Spectre may be by-the-numbers as far as Bond films go, but it’s perhaps just what we need following the plot-heavy Skyfall.

Twizard Rating: 92

Quick Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

last witch hunter

Vin Diesel’s charisma may not be enough to save a movie that is this pedestrian. A rough script is one thing–I mean, Diesel has been known to take a couple–but at it’s best it’s just a stylistic exposition with too many rules built into the film universe.

Full of plot holes and convoluted details is The Last Witch Hunter, a tale about a man (Diesel) cursed with immortality by a witch in the middle ages, only to ward off the same evil 800 years later in New York City.

I applaud the film for a couple of clever plot twists that keep the audience involved and attentive, but I constantly feel like I’m playing catchup with everything else. It will give us a motif or a totem to remember early on and then refer to it much later, after not mentioning it in between, assuming that we remember its significance. More or less, the plot is simple enough to follow. But the confusing details surrounding the events feel included to stretch out the premise.

The Last Witch Hunter is attractive stylistically as it utilizes some cool props and spells, but the use of CGI–albeit few and far between–reminds us that we’re watching a movie.

The film tries creating depth for our lead character by showing us flashbacks of his wife and child. But the only thing is they serve no purpose to the story–literally. It’s forced and keeps the movie untrue to itself, reminding us even more how little depth he has. We really just want to see Diesel go around hunting witches–as the title describes.

Another sign of forced-depth is the use of trite dialogue that merely sounds good in the moment, while having no real meaning or relevance to the premise.

The Last Witch Hunter isn’t a boring movie at all–perhaps is strongest trait–but after it’s finished we long for a better understanding of what we just watched.

Twizard Rating: 69