Reviews

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Garrett's film reviews.

 

May 31, 2021 / Garrett Ashworth

Tenet.

 

Tenet is the newest movie directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception, The Prestige). I viewed this movie when it came out in theaters with excitement. Since it just came out on streaming services, I thought it would be the perfect time to review the film. If you are a casual moviegoer who prefers a simple plot, I would recommend skipping this film. However, if you prefer mind-boggling action sequences, Tenet could keep you hooked throughout, if you don’t mind bland characters and an overcomplicated plot. 

 

In Tenet, a  nameless protagonist embarks upon a time-warping espionage mission to thwart a Russian Oligarch from bringing about the end of the world. Tenet is Nolan’s most ambitious and complicated movie to date, but unfortunately it suffers from weak writing and a needlessly confusing plot. 

 

First, I will list some things that the movie did well. The action sequences are jaw-dropping and genius. The choreography and set pieces are all on point, and it really showcases a top-notch attention to detail. Secondly, the soundtrack of the movie is heart-pounding and intense, fitting the movie’s tone perfectly. However, there are some scenes where the music is so loud that it drowns out the dialogue, a mistake I am surprised made it past the editing room. 

 

The core problem with Tenet is it’s failure in delivering an effective story. The characters are bland, used by Nolan and his team as forgettable vessels to travel from one action sequence to another. Their motives are unclear and never fully fleshed out; they are in no way as compelling or unique as Nolan’s previous characters. I feel as though Nolan fully intended for me to care about these characters, and there are scenes where there is supposed to be some sort of emotional punch, but I ended up feeling nothing because there was never enough time to be invested in them. Also, the attempts at trying to explain the extremely complex time travel sequences are so lazily done. Characters spout seemingly endless lines of exposition, and there is never any attempt of making it easy for the audience to understand. Although Tenet and Nolan’s 2010 movie, Inception, both boast complex plots, in Inception, the audience was given adequate time to understand how the  world worked, allowing for meaningful viewer payoff once these foreshadowed details of world building came to fruition later on in the movie. In Tenet, the characters will talk about a certain integral plot point for five minutes, and not only will it be explained in a confusing manner, but sometimes the characters are even rendered inaudible due to the booming soundtrack. If you miss a concept in this movie, good luck because it will never be explained again. The action sequences were extremely cool and easily the best part of the film, but there was a certain payoff lacking, because I found myself confused as to why or how things were happening on the screen in front of me. It would probably take a few rewatches to fully comprehend the plot.

 

All in all, Tenet is indeed a spectacle to watch, but its weak writing ends up making it feel hollow and emotionless. Tenet is a film that will only be

properly understood and appreciated with multiple viewings, but that does not excuse it from being mediocre on a first watch. The movie is not a failure, but it does not succeed in upholding the quality of Nolan’s previous works. 

 

Tenet gets a 2.5 out of 5 star rating.

Justice league: "the Snydercut".

On March 18, Zack Synder’s full vision for the “Justice League'' movie was released after a massive movement by fans to release it. 2017’s “Justice League'', directed by Joss Whedon-director of the first Avengers movie- was viewed as a massive failure. The fans wanted something better, and, luckily, they finally got what they asked for after many years of waiting. Zack Snyder’s “Justice League'' is a major improvement over the original, essentially an entirely new film. Since this superhero movie is Snyder’s full and unfiltered vision, it has a runtime of four hours. If you are a fan of the Snyderverse or DC superhero movies, you will probably enjoy this movie. However, if you are not that invested in the comics or movies, I would strongly recommend skipping this behemoth of a movie.

 

The Snyder Cut is a completely new movie compared to the original,

and every change makes the movie so much better. Because the long run time allows Snyder to realize his full vision, the plot and character motivations make much more sense. Every character is improved upon, especially Cyborg, who has a more detailed backstory. The Flash is also improved upon, even though I still found his personality annoying. As a result of better dialogue and character development, the movie not only makes more sense, but it also makes it more enjoyable to watch. The cinematography is a major improvement as well, with many stunning, jaw-dropping frames littered throughout the movie. The color palette is also significantly darker, better fitting the overall tone of the movie. 

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The Synder cut of “Justice League” is obviously a major step up from the original version, but is it still impressive when not compared to its predecessor? I believe it is . Although much of the praise for the movie comes from how it is an improvement from the original (a compliment which shouldn't be that notable, because the original was so terrible), the film also holds up on its own as an entertaining superhero movie. In fact, it is probably Snyder’s best DC movie. 

 

However, the movie still has some problems. Most of the exposition in the movie consists of the heroes standing around in a circle,explaining things to each other, and, although the exposition is helpful for the viewer to understand why certain things are happening, it can get very boring very fast. Additionally, some of the characters are still not very strong, especially Superman. In the movie, there are a few supposedly “emotional” scenes involving Superman, but he barely conveys any believable emotion. He almost feels like a super powered brute that beats up the bad guys. Batman was also poorly written, but I have many problems with Snyder’s version of Batman, so this is nothing new.  There are also some unnecessarily cliché and awkward moments throughout the movie, but they do not majorly interrupt the viewing experience.

 

Overall, the Syndercut is an impressive improvement over its predecessor and manages to be entertaining and engaging throughout the four hour runtime, which is a commendable feat. If you are a fan of DC comics or the Snyderverse, I believe you will enjoy this movie, although I recommend not watching it all at once.

 

Zack Snyder’s Justice league gets 4 out of 5 Star rating.

No man's sky. 

 

Life Lessons from an Unusually Resilient Game.

 

February 12, 2021 / Hayden Ashworth

No Man's Sky.

 

This game is the reason my neighbor bought a PS4. Unfortunately, I think the hype got to them a little bit, because this game wasn't very good at the time. In their defense, it boasted being able to explore 18 quintillion planets, which means, theoretically, you'd get over 7 billion lifetimes of content in one game.

Wow! Name another game that can offer that scale of gameplay. Revolutionary stuff, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, when the game first came out, there was nothing to do. The planets (all 18 quintillion) were boring and empty, the objective of the game was vague, and there were various problems with the game's code. It ended up being really, really bad. It sort of left with the tide, and everyone forgot about it. And that was the end of No Man's Sky, the game that could never live up to the hype.

However, while the rest of the world moved on, the creators of the No Man's Sky (Hello Games) continued to strive for excellence. In the four years following its catastrophic release, No Man's Sky has received 15 different updates, each one making the game more and more promising, entertaining, and farther from the "disappointment" it was branded as at first. These updates have rescued No Man's Sky from certain demise at the hands of unforgiving critics and the general public, salvaging the creator’s original vision.

In the end, the story of No Man's Sky has a happy ending. Now the world has another great, original game to add to their collection. But why does any of this matter? Why does telling you about this game's underdog story hold any relevance? Well, the reason why is this: Despite the original iteration of the game letting down millions of excited would-be fans, the people behind the game refused to give up. What No Man's Sky showed was that if you have a dream that's important to you and you want to show it to the world, it’s important to be open to receiving valuable feedback, instead of denying it out of stubborness. Even if your original vision crashes and burns, you shouldn't give up on it if it's important to you. No matter what ends up happening, have faith in your dreams while also allowing yourself the flexibility of letting your dreams grow and change alongside you. With this mindset, you might be able to accomplish the impossible.

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Dear evan hansen.

 

March 25th, 2018 / Courtlyn Dranoff

When you think about Broadway, what do you think of? Is it the bright lights? Is it the ballads?

When I think of Broadway, I think of the incredible stories being told right in front of me. Recently, I went to New York and saw the phenomenal musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Dear Evan Hansen is about a boy, Evan, who becomes a social media sensation overnight. It has everything you would ever want to see in a play!  One day, Evan is printing out one of the daily pep-talk letters to himself that his therapist wanted him to write in the computer lab. As he is printing the paper, a boy named Connor Murphy snatches the paper from the printer and puts it into his pocket.  That scene starts the action and plot build up during the musical!

 

Dear Evan Hansen not only has a perfect soundtrack, but also has a perfect story. The musical has hard hitting subjects and inspirational moments.  Dear Evan Hansen has inspired so many people. The fans of this musical feel so emotional and positive while watching, especially after hearing one of the most inspirational songs, You Will Be Found.  Dear Evan Hansen is being adapted into a book called Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel. The book will be written by Val Emmich with Steven Leveson, Benj Pasek, & Justin Paul.

If my review doesn’t show you how incredible the musical is, then let me tell you that this musical won six Tony Awards last year.  I personally can say there were very few dry eyes in the Music Box Theatre the night I saw it, and probably every other night!

the 2018 academy awards.

 

March 2nd, 2018 / Thomas Halsey

The Academy Awards is perhaps one of the most luxurious and prestigious not only award shows, but events of the year. From when the award show first aired on May 16, 1929 to present day, anyone who has won the coveted golden statue has gone on to do great things in movies, television, and entertainment in general. This year, the nominations are filled with jaw-dropping and talented performances that’s going to make it extremely difficult for one winner to come out on top. Here are the nominations!

Best Picture Nominees:

The Shape of Water

 

Darkest Hour

 

Dunkirk (one of my personal favorites)

 

Phantom Thread

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

Get Out

 

The Post

 

Call Me by Your Name

 

Lady Bird (one of my personal favorites)

With a total of nine nominations in the Best Picture category, people have been quick to judge the academy for not filling up the category with the maximum amount of spots, which is ten.  Some people have voted for Wonder Woman, Logan, and The Last Jedi to fill in the last spot.  However, the academy has a long history of not nominating major blockbusters in the category except with the nomination of The Dark Knight in 2009.  The expected winner of Best Picture is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which won The Golden Globe for Best Picture along with The SAG Award. A potential snub however, could be The Shape of Water.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

 

Saoirse Ronan for “Lady Bird”

 

Margot Robbie for “I, Tonya”

 

Sally Hawkins for “The Shape of Water”

 

Meryl Streep for “The Post”

 

Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

This category is pretty much the only category in which there is a clear winner. The expected winner is Frances McDormand who won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG award for this category. She has already won an Academy Award for Best Actress for the film “Fargo” in 1997, so this would be her second victory is she were to win. If there were to be a snub, it would most likely be Saoirse Ronan who portrayed a teenage American girl from Sacramento, California while Ronan herself is an Irish 23-year-old.  Ronan has already been nominated twice before for “Brooklyn” and “Atonement”, so it would be her first win with three nominations under her belt.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

 

Daniel Day-Lewis for “Phantom Thread”

 

Timothée Chalamet for “Call Me by Your Name”

 

Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out”

 

Gary Oldman for “Darkest Hour”


Denzel Washington for “Roman J. Israel, Esq”

This category has two major competitors competing for the win. One of the competitors is Gary Oldman, who has only been nominated once for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for the film “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Oldman has won the Golden Globe and BAFTA for his role in “Darkest Hour," and many regard to him as one of the most talented actors in his generation, so this would be a great moment for the actor if he were to win. The other competitor is Timothée Chalomet. Chalomet is an a young upcoming actor whose first major film roles were both this year, with the films “Lady Bird” and then later “Call Me by Your Name."  Movie journalists have stated that the young actor is bound to win an Academy Award at some point in his career. It just might not be this year though. Oldman has the edge over Chalomet with his two wins already.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

 

Mary J. Blige for “Mudbound”

 

Allison Janney for “I, Tonya”

 

Octavia Spencer for “The Shape of Water”

 

Lesley Manville for “Phantom Thread”

 

Laurie Metcalf for “Lady Bird”

Just like Best Actress, this category is also pretty much decided. The expected winner is Allison Janney, for “I, Tonya." Janney portrays Tonya Harding's abusive and ill-spirited mother who will go through anything to make sure her daughter gets to the top of the figure skating rankings, even if it means verbal and physical abuse on the young skater. Janney has won every single award for this category including The Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and The Critics Choice Award. There is no upset expected in this category. This would be Janney’s first win and first nomination.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

 

Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

 

Woody Harrelson for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

 

Christopher Plummer for “All the Money in the World”

 

Willem Dafoe for “The Florida Project”

 

Richard Jenkins for “The Shape of Water”

This category is a little dicey. The two actors who are up for the statue are Sam Rockwell and Christopher Plummer.  However, many believe that Plummer may bring an upsetting win over Rockwell due to being asked to step into a role a month before the shooting of “All the Money in the World”. That is extremely difficult because its hard to get into character, remember lines, and create chemistry with the director a month before shooting. This category is still up to grabs but Rockwell has the edge over Plummer.

Best Director:

 

Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water”

 

Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk”

 

Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”

 

Jordan Peele for “Get Out”

 

Paul Thomas Anderson for “Phantom Thread”

The expected winner is Guillermo del Toro. He was won The BAFTA, SAG, and Golden Globe for his directing. There is no expected winner other than him. However, I would like to see Greta Gerwig take home the statue. Her film was one of my favorites of the year.

Those are the six major categories that people are worried about and are arguing over. Now, here are some expected winners of other categories.

 

Best Original Screenplay: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

 

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Call Me by Your Name”

 

Best Animated Film: “Coco”

 

Best Visual Effects: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

 

Best Custom: “Phantom Thread”

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Darkest Hour”

 

Best Original Song: “This is Me”

 

Best Sound Editing:  “The Shape of Water”

 

Best Sound Mixing: “Dunkirk”

 

Best Cinematography: “Dunkirk”

 

Best Production Design: “The Shape of Water”

The Academy Awards will be aired on TV on March 4, 8:00pm EST. The show will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who will surely bring entertainment amongst his wide audience. Make sure to tune in to see who wins and what shocking upsets might take place.

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American crime story.

 

February 9th, 2018 / Thomas Halsey

Looking for a new television show to watch with friends, family, or by yourself? Well you’re in luck! A new show recently premiered on FX on January 17 about the assassination of Gianni Versace.  The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Season 2 follows the first season of American Crime Story which was “Simpson: American Crime Story”. The first season followed the tragic murder of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and the court battle of suspected murderer OJ Simpson. “It was a smash hit just like the second season is suspected to be,” wrote Spencer Kornhaber, writer for The Atlantic.

 

The first portion of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story starts with Versace’s life prior to his killing, depicting all its glitz and glamour, then gradually dives into the heavy hitting and dark portion of the murder investigation. It has plenty of drama, romance, and true events that are sure to captivate audiences of all ages. Gianni Versace is portrayed by Emmy nominee Edgar Ramirez, Versace’s wife, Donatella, is portrayed by Academy Award winning actress, Penelope Cruz, Antonio D’Amico, fashion designer and extremely close friend to Versace, is played by Latin singer Ricky Martin, and the killer, Andrew Cunanan, is portrayed by Glee star, Darren Criss. Rotten Tomatoes gave this show a fresh score of 83%, while the audience score had an even higher satisfaction rate with an 88% on rotten tomatoes. With a captivating plot, great reviews, and an all-star cast, there is no reason you shouldn’t watch this show. The show premiers every Wednesday night at 10:00 pm eastern time on the FX Channel. Be sure to tune in and experience the madness of the assassination of Gianni Versace.