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jmunky [2018] TV

 

Blake's 7 [4 seasons, 52 episodes, 1978-1981] * * * *

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Two hot women, four horny guys, and a computer. Just like my Friday night.


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Curtis Loves Movies [2018] FILM

 

Game Night [2018] * * * *

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I think if Judd Apatow and Edgar Wright had a baby, it might be named Game Night.

I really enjoyed the economy of the comedy (a la Wright) combined with the low brow humor and shenanigans (a la Apatow). Nothing was wasted and every joke was exploited to the fullest.

I laughed out loud several times, which is rare for me, and in between laughs I was swept up in the adventure of it all.

Often, I can see jokes telegraphed but there were several times when the pacing of the jokes accelerated so quickly I was completely caught off guard. I'm thinking in particular of the bloody dog scene. It's making me chuckle again right now.

And Jason Bateman's sincere approach to comedy is a nice antidote to the snarky Chandler Bing style that too many movies lean on like a crutch.

Favorite line: "Well that's some real cute full-circle bullshit."


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Biscoito18 [2018] FILM

 

Cult of Chucky [2017] * * *

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After finally watching all 7 movies, I can say that "Child's Play/Chucky" is definitely one of the best horror franchises ever, and the last two entries ("Curse of Chucky" and this one) are amazing examples of how to conduct an old horror franchise nowadays.

The franchise will turn 30 on November 9 this year and, as all the other great franchises of the '80s/'90s, it went through several phases trying to revitalize itself over the years. The lowest point for sure was the fifth film, "Seed of Chucky" in 2004. But what horror icon doesn't have at least one horrible entry on its resume?

What draws attention is what it did to recover after this huge failure.

Unlike almost all other famous franchises with such a large number of entries (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre...), "Child's Play" didn't follow the remake/reboot path. On the contrary. When it released its sixth film "Curse of Chucky" (9 years after the previous one), the first of a planned new trilogy, it decided to value the past and, consequently, its older fans.

Most try to get the best of both worlds: create a new generation of fans while keeping the old ones happy and loyal in the process. But this is a tactic that hardly ever works with horror fans, a group extremely demanding and passionate about its icons.

"Curse of Chucky" continues the plot of the series, brings back old characters played by the same actors (something that usually happens only with those who have kept fame over the years, which is not the case here), brings back Chucky's original voice (Brad Dourif) which is one of his most important traits, and also, just as in the first film, reduces the villain's exposure time to increase the tension and impact of his appearances and maintains a balance between black humor and carnage.

The whole movie is like a shameless gift to the fans. It doesn't hide the fan services. On the contrary, he embraces the whole story of the franchise with pleasure. This is a realistic and rational approach because, let's be honest, who would be interested in the sixth film of a franchise that was gone for almost a decade? This also justifies the limited release in theaters.

Greed is what would make Don Mancini believe otherwise. Glad he decided to embraced his franchise (even after the fiasco of his "Seed of Chucky") and to appreciate its original characteristics, focusing on pleasing those who really care about it: the old fans.

Now, speaking of "Cult of Chucky", I only have compliments to give. It's much better than the previous in all aspects.

Fiona Dourif continues to prove herself as a great protagonist, the plot doesn't take itself too seriously while also building its ridiculous situations with the right timing, some fun surprises here and there, and decent explanations.

Chucky (Brad Dourif) has some of the funniest moments of his career, the practical effects are pretty good resulting in some of the goriest deaths in the series and, the director, Don Mancini continues to show a huge appreciation for the series' past, including original actors.

"Cult of Chucky" is one of the best entries in the 30-year-old franchise. A "miracle", for the seventh entry (!), that was only possible thanks to the director's appreciation for the franchise's past, its beloved characteristics and, also, his commitment to stay focused on pleasing the old fans.


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Biscoito18 [2018] FILM

 

Tomb Raider [2018] * * *

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I've been a HUGE fan of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider since I was a child. "Tomb Raider III" was the first video game I played and since then Lara is part of my life. I've played (and replay) all the major games and several others, including, obviously, the two most recent titles: the 2013 reboot and "Rise of the Tomb Raider", in which the plot of this new movie is based.

The Croft manor was my second home and Lara Croft will always be my muse. Even the name of my goddaughter, Lara, was my suggestion in honor of the character and what she always represented for me: an example of courage, beauty and intelligence. Her mother accepted because she thought the name was beautiful, but she didn't want to put the "Croft", obviously. I wish I could've watched this movie with her, but she's still only 6 years old.

I'm telling all this because it's impossible that my experience and passion for the games and Lara Croft doesn't influence my critique of this film, for better or worse.

First, I have to say that as an adventure movie, "Tomb Raider" is quite common and follows Hollywood's standard, but it's well produced, well acted and, above all, it's fun.

Alicia Vikander gave herself to the role. Body and soul. Mainly body in fact, which she used in practically all the action scenes (the stunt double had almost no work to do). She trained heavily for this movie and her muscles show that. Dedication like this is rare nowadays. Bravo!

As an adaptation, the film is okay. I liked that it spent a good deal of time developing Lara before arriving on the island. The game already starts inside the Endurance (which is a much larger ship there). The good thing is that all these new scenes added by the movie combine with her character. I can see Lara doing all that stuff.

It also serves to explain some of her abilities since the film has very little time to spend with her learning things in the island, unlike the game.

The large number of uninteresting characters drag the 2013 game's plot (they fix this a bit in the sequel though). Unfortunately, the film does the same mistake and fails to understand that Lara is the only star. The plot and everything else should be just a stage for her to shine.

The games' stories have almost always been basic with the focus being more on Lara's intimate experience with the challenges around her. So it was expected that the film, although fun, would never deliver the main factor of the games' success, which is precisely the connection that the player creates with Lara, unraveling secrets and overcoming traps alone with her for hours.

There is also the question of time. The game in which this movie was most based (Tomb Raider 2013) lasts about 8-12 hours. Of course, MANY cuts would have to be made, and looking in this aspect I was quite satisfied with the result that went to the screen.

The scale of the events has been diminished and with that also diminished the extreme violence that is an important part of Lara's development.

The big problem I had with the changes was in relation to the supernatural aspects, which are very strong and important in the game, and which have been discarded here for a realistic (and boring) approach.

But, like an out-of-order summary, the film manages to adapt the game's plot effectively. If they couldn't adapt all the fantastic sequences of the game, at least they chose one of the best (the river sequence) and did a good job on it.

I missed the puzzles with use of wind and the spectacular sequence of Lara's awakening on the island. At least they made some references later (such as the twig traversed in the belly and Lara's escape in the final part).

Unlike the recent games that practically abandoned the old puzzles for more realistic challenges that use basic knowledge of physics, the film prefers an old school approach in the third act with classic puzzles and traps. It was an interesting choice but also quite out of place in relation to the more realistic approach of the plot.

I really liked how they did the scene where Lara kills a human being for the first time. It was more emotional than in the game but without the controversial insinuation of rape.

By choosing to develop in two hours the maximum of the plot (including parts of the plot of "Rise of the Tomb Raider", the second game after the reboot), important moments of exploration with Lara alone were sacrificed. These moments are fundamental in the game to show the evolution of Lara (she does her own bandages, she learns to make fire, she has to kill an animal to feed herself...). Here, Lara gets a lot more help and this undermines the credibility of her (super fast) evolution.

In addition, in the new games, despite being present in flashbacks and in Lara's motivation, her father doesn't have a huge presence, precisely because the overemphasis on Lara's family in previous games has become tiresome for fans. Unfortunately the film goes against this and brings total focus back to Lara's father.

This element could've been totally discarded because it just divides the villain's attention and steals time that could be used for Lara to develop her abilities alone, without so much help and doing more than is expected from THE tomb raider.

"Tomb Raider" wastes too much time trying to adapt the huge storyline of recent games and forgets to let its star shine, wasting part of the potential of Alicia Vikander who has devoted so much in physical preparation to the role. The result, though satisfactory, pales in comparison to the games and ends up being only a weak version of a much better adventure.


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Biscoito18 [2018] FILM

 

The Borderlands [2013] * * * *

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"The Borderlands", also known as "Final Prayer", has one of the most surprising and horrifying endings I've ever seen in a horror movie.

Even though it has been spoiled to me by a goddamn list on a site, the final scene is still shocking.

And this was only possible because the film manages to build well a tense and believable atmosphere and maintain it until the final moment.

The beginning is slow, but in the second act we have the first moment of impact involving an act of pure cruelty. Really fucked up stuff.

I'm not a fan of "found footage", but I recognize when a movie is good regardless of the style choices. In this case, as in "Afflicted" and "Cloverfield", for example, it works. The hand-held camera and the use of flashlight to illuminate the ruins under the church in the final sequence, create an extremely efficient feeling of claustrophobia and of "going down the rabbit hole".

The plot reminded me of the classic "The Wicker Man". Especially in the fact that the protagonists are outsiders in a village away from civilization and, of course, by the strong presence of a pagan cult in the center of the mystery surrounding the place.

But, unlike the classic of '73, here the pagan worship isn't presented naturally by the inhabitants. On the contrary, it's hidden as a dirty secret. Who calls the Vatican investigators to check the phenomenon is the priest of the village's church, who is also an outsider. The little church itself receives very few visitors.

Another positive point is their concern with details, such as the opening scene that takes place in the city of Belém, Brazil, where they have actors speaking Brazilian Portuguese including local slang.

I'm Brazilian and for a moment I thought I was watching the wrong movie. I thought it was a national production because they NEVER represent Brazil in a proper way, especially in horror movies. I still remember a scene in "Stigmata" that portrayed Brazil with a desert landscape and women covered with veils like in some Muslim countries. Or when they portray Brazilian characters with a Spanish accent, or worse, speaking Spanish.

One of the main characters is very annoying in the first act (especially in a scene with a fake jump scare), but the dynamic between him and the other protagonist, with a completely different personality, becomes quite interesting.

"The Borderlands" ventures into a really scary place overflowing with helplessness in the face of a much bigger and much older evil than anyone could've ever predicted.


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audreyv [2018] FILM

 

Night of the Creeps [1986] * * * *

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This film is undeniably intended for a very specific audience of cheesy horror fans, and if you fall into that category you are most certainly in luck. The writer and director Fred Dekker intentionally worked every single B movie/horror cliché possible into the script, earning him a spot as my hero of the month. The script is superb; the dialogue is impeccable; the gore is awful. The entire film is a whole lot of fun, with Tom Atkins' performance as a jaded detective being an absolute standout. Every character is named after a famous horror director; there’s definitely a lot of love of the genre here (in a very playful way). Parts of this were filmed at my university which definitely added to my experience. It put a smile on my face and I highly recommend this to the cult film and horror fans!


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Reviews by Morg [2018] FILM

 

Annihilation [2018] * * * *

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Annihilation is the perfect blend of Jurassic Park and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It explores a world removed from our own on a purely natural level, and is hell-bent on sending you into your next existential crisis along the way. It fulfills every ounce of hype one could have about a movie that features high-caliber actors, an up-and-coming household name as writer/director, breathtaking visuals, critically acclaiming reviews, and made almost no money at the box. The requirements for a great movie have been met.

For starters, the visual effects were stunning and gorgeous all the way through. There's really well shot, excellently designed and creepy aesthetic that reaches from one end of the film to the other, including the bear, and especially the open stomach. Separated from these scenes is the last 15 to 20 minute stretch of the film, which was one of the most awe inducing image experiences I've ever had the blessing to witness. Some of the purest kino ever made. When Portman entered the cave under the lighthouse, and Jennifer Jason Leigh started to transform, I sank into my chair and knew that something wonderful was about to happen to me.

Most of the acting went off without any flaw, save for some dialogue that occurs preceding the now popularized "bear-scene", however, one could attribute this to some more or less gratuitous writing. Oscar Isaac is particularly entertaining, further proving the failure of Disney to do anything with truly raw talent. I cannot say enough about the career this man is developing outside of Star Wars.

Annihilation leaves one with way more questions than answers in the best possible way. It's smart, technically savvy science fiction in a market flooded with superheroes and spaceships, and the lack of support for a near fully female casted film in today's socially conscious environment also leaves one with questions. Garland continues to rise.


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