“Annabelle: Creation” stars Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto. Released on August 11, 2017, the film is about a group of orphaned girls who discovers that they’re being haunted by a dollmaker's possessed creation.
The film is directed by David F. Sandberg, who is mostly known for directing Lights Out. It is a prequel to the 2014 horror film, Annabelle, and the fourth film in the Conjuring franchise. With the success of The Conjuring and Annabelle, it’s no surprise that Hollywood wanted to continue expanding this horror-filled universe. I managed to watch Lights Out the other day to prepare myself for Sandberg’s latest horror project, and I found its execution to be pretty darn impressive. While the first Annabelle film didn’t impress me that much, I was interested in seeing the prequel because of its glowing reviews and the fact that I liked the first two Conjuring films. The last time that we saw a horror sequel that was received better than its predecessor was Ouija: Origin of Evil. Now it looks like that “Creation” might capture the same success as Ouija 2, but what do I think about this latest chapter in the Conjuring universe?
Similar to Ouija: Origin of Evil, this latest horror prequel shows the audience how the supernatural threat began. For this film, the supernatural threat is classified as a possessed doll, which is quite possibly the most terrifying thing that I’ve ever seen, and it still creeped me out every time I see that stupid thing. For those who have seen every single horror film that involves supernatural beings haunting the main characters, it doesn’t really offer anything new to the table, but in this case, it’s all about the execution, and for the most part, it works. I believe what made this film work for me was how Sandberg uses the film’s atmosphere and old-school tension to scare its audience instead of always relying on jump scares and gore. They do have jump scares, of course, but they’re not fake jump scares. The first half of the film had a proper build-up that respectfully relies on creepiness and its sense of mystery. The second half still retains that amount of tension while also providing plenty of necessary (and sometimes disturbing) scares. The cast offered some good performances to their characters, including Sigman and Bateman as Sister Charlotte and Janice, respectively. While nothing special, it’s nice to see them act as survivors and not just horror victims. Lulu Wilson also makes another appearance in the realm of supernatural films as Linda, one of the orphan girls. It’s funny that she had to deal with the supernatural three times during her acting career. She might need a long break after this. Other than its usual supernatural cliches, the only flaw I could find in this film was that the pacing can be a bit slow during a couple of scenes, but it didn’t bring the film down that much.
Overall, “Annabelle: Creation” marks a solid addition to the Conjuring cinematic universe as it relied on build-up, creepiness, and tension to scare its audience. Thanks to its cast, Sandberg’s solid direction, and its respectable use of tension and jump scares, this latest horror prequel offers enough evidence to prove that creepy dolls are just as worse as creepy clowns. It definitely creeped me out a little bit, but I managed to have fun watching it in the process. With two successful horror films under his belt, I believe that David F. Sandberg is going to have a bright future ahead of him in terms of horror filmmaking. If you like horror films that don’t always rely on cheap jump scares or if you like the Conjuring films, this movie is worth checking out. If you don’t like the horror genre, then don’t bother with it because it will definitely freak you out a lot.
“The Nut Job” stars Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Liam Neeson, and Katherine Heigl. Released on January 17, 2014, the film is about a purple squirrel who recruits a group of park animals to help him rob a nut shop.
The film is directed by Peter Lepeniotis, who served as an animator for films such as Toy Story 2 and Dinosaur. It is based on the 2005 animated short, Surly Squirrel, by Lepeniotis. With the release of the animated sequel, The Nut Job 2, heading our way, I decided to look back at its predecessor to see whether or not it is worthy of spawning a new animated franchise. The last time I saw this film was actually more than three years ago during its original theatrical run. I remember not liking it for a few reasons, including the main character. Looking back at it now for the first time since then, it’s possible that my opinion may change a little bit, but let’s find out, anyway.
The story takes place in a fictional town of Oakton City, where a group of furry animals are facing a food shortage issue. Because, you know, animals need food to survive the harsh wintery days. But when a thieving purple squirrel named Surly (Arnett) makes the situation even worse, he wound up being banished from the clan. He later comes across a nut shop and decides to steal every piece of nut that is stored in the building, but he might need a little help from the other animals if he wants to accomplish that goal. To put it in a more simpler perspective, it is a kid-friendly version of every heist film that we’ve seen countless times. Not only that, but it also expresses the theme of friendship. While the little ones will be entertained by the cartoonish shenanigans from the park animals, it sadly didn’t do any favors for movie buffs and animation lovers alike. The film’s story has plenty of predictable and mediocre moments that are destined to get nitpicked by almost everyone, and it doesn’t get any better as it went on. There were a few things that I found entertaining, however, including the end credit sequence where the characters dance to PSY’s hit song “Gangnam Style”, but that’s about it. I wonder if the sequel will include another song from PSY. The animation wasn’t something to write about either. While not as bad as…Oh, I don’t know, Norm of the North, it does look pretty bland and uninteresting. I think the biggest offender of this film would have to be the characters. Ranging from obnoxious to forgettable, these animals gave me a hard time to grow attached to them during their quest to retrieve some nuts. On the plus side, the cast did a decent job with their vocal performances. I thought Arnett was a good choice to voice Surly because his voice matches his rude personality almost perfectly. The only downside to this is that his mean-spiritedness can be a bit much for those who wanted a more respectable animated character that their kids can relate to. This is one of the reasons why I didn’t like the film that much, and after watching it today, my reason remains unchanged. Probably my least favorite character in the film would have to be the idiotic Grayson, voiced by Brendan Fraser. At some points, he’s a glory-hogging nutcase (no pun intended), but later on in the film, he can become a big pain in the butt. This squirrel will make you tear your hair apart the moment he appears onscreen. My respectable tip to all you future voice actors out there: Loud and annoying does not always equal funny, so be careful. The only character that is actually smarter than the other animals is Andie, voiced by Heigl, who teams up with Surly to secure the nuts. That reminds me, why isn’t she the main character? The humor has some chuckle-worthy moments here and there, but during certain times, they just included the “nut” lines just to force in a laugh from the kids.
Overall, “The Nut Job” has its share of moments that the younger viewers will go nuts for, but it will also make movie buffs and animation lovers go nuts for all the wrong reasons. With its mediocre plot, uninteresting animation, and characters that are either annoying, mean-spirited, or just plain forgettable, this is one heist that is best left undone. I don’t think it’s necessary for the filmmakers to develop a sequel to this unless they got something that’ll make it a bit better than the original. I highly doubt it, but I won’t know for sure until I see it for myself this weekend. If you’re interested in seeing it, it’s available to watch on Amazon Prime as of this writing. Otherwise, go watch the adult-rated heist films.
“The Dark Tower” stars Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, and Jackie Earle Haley. Released on August 4, 2017, the film is about an 11-year-old who teams up with a lone gunslinger to protect a mythical structure from the villainous “Man in Black”.
The film is directed by Nikolaj Arcel, who also directed King’s Game, Island of Lost Souls, Truth About Men, and A Royal Affair. It is based on the novel series of the same name by Stephen King. 2017 seems like a good year for Stephen King fans. Not only are we getting the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It next month, but we are also getting the long-awaited film adaptation of The Dark Tower. Unfortunately for the latter, it isn’t exactly what die-hard fans of the series are expecting it to be. I haven’t read that much of Stephen King nor have I seen a lot of film adaptations of his novels, so apparently, I’m heading into new territory for this review. On the plus side, it has Idris Elba fighting against Matthew McConaughey, so I might get a kick out of that. As always, since I have no history with the source material, I will be reviewing it as its own film.
According to the film’s director, the story takes place after the events of the book series while also containing plenty of elements that fans of the source material are familiar with, such as the parallel universe set in the Old West known as Mid-World. It looked like they were attempting to make this film for the newcomers as well as the fans of the books. As a newcomer, all I can say about it is this: it had the right idea, but in terms of its execution, it’s not enough to keep itself stable. It’s not entirely bad or anything since it’s got plenty of good moments, it just didn’t offer much else for other newcomers. Idris Elba was undeniably impressive as Roland Deschain for a couple of reasons. One of them is that he pulled off some sweet gun moves. The other reasons are his ability to make his character likable and reliable and his reactions to some of the modern-day items. Matthew McConaughey also did a good job as the Man in Black despite his character being a typical, cliched villain. Tom Taylor portrays Jake Chambers, a boy who becomes an ally to Roland after following the clues that lead him to Mid-World. I thought he was all right. He didn’t do that much to offer anything new to his character, but he was able to pull through. Despite the fact that it was made from a $60 million budget, the visuals looked pretty darn cool in terms of the action and some of the creature designs. Speaking of the action, there weren’t a lot of sequences that really stand out that much like its substance, but I did get a kick out of watching Idris Elba shoot some baddies. As for the story itself, it has its usual good-vs-evil elements, along with the ordinary-kid-with-extraordinary-powers plot element, but I think there were a lot of moments that could’ve been developed more in order for the newcomers to fully adapt to the concept, such as the backstories for the main characters and the relationship between Roland and Jake.
Overall, as a person who has not read the books, I found “The Dark Tower” to be visually impressive and somewhat entertaining, but it’s not enough to cover up its cliched plot and its lack of character depth. Elba and McConaughey were proper stand outs as the gunslinger and the villainous Man in Black, respectively. Sadly, those two talented actors were the main reasons why I gave it a tolerable rating. If you’re planning on seeing it because of those two, then by all means, go right ahead. Otherwise, I would say it’s worth watching at home.
“Kidnap” stars Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Lew Temple, and Chris McGinn. Released on August 4, 2017, the film is about a single mother who goes on a perilous quest to rescue her kidnapped son.
The film is directed by Luis Prieto, who also directed the 2012 remake of Pusher. These types of situations can happen to almost everyone. There are a lot of crazy people out there who have nothing better to do in their lives other than plucking helpless children off the streets like they’re blueberries. I mean, seriously, that’s just plain sick. In Hollywood’s case, this concept alone sounds like something that would make people’s hearts race. This latest thriller comes from a new distributer known as Aviron Pictures, who purchased the rights to the film after Relativity Media, the film’s original distributer, filed for bankruptcy. After three years of release date troubles since production began, we finally get to find out if it’s worth our money or not.
If you’ve seen the marketing for this film (if you’re lucky), then you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a simple, by-the-numbers thrill ride that’ll make your heart race from the first chase sequence to the very last scene. For the strong-minded, it doesn’t offer anything new to its generic and predictable plot, and the lack of exploration to some plot elements didn’t help much either. But for those who wanted nothing but non-stop thrills all the way through, it is what it’s supposed to be without being anything different, and yes, I did manage to enjoy watching it. Halle Berry once again heads into thriller territory as Karla Dyson, a mother who will stop at nothing to rescue her son, Frankie (Correa). What made Berry’s character interesting to me was her traits. She’s not a retired cop nor does she have any special training from the CIA or the FBI or whatever. She’s just a vulnerable parent who’s willing to risk her own life to save her son’s, and I thought Berry did a nice job at portraying this type of character. Like I said before, this film is a non-stop thrill ride that has a couple of small breaks here and there, and it doesn’t slow down until the very end. Director Luis Prieto wanted to make sure that our hearts are pounding throughout the entire film, and he did so with ease. My other flaw with this film, besides its unexplored plot elements, was how some of the sequences were edited. They’re not exactly irritating, let alone choppy, but there were a couple of moments where the editing could’ve been handled a bit better.
Overall, “Kidnap” relies on its talented main lead and its heart-stopping thrills to avoid getting captured by its easy-to-spot flaws. It is not for people who wanted a more complex thriller, but sometimes, we need something that is simple and to-the-point, and this film manages to be that something. I would probably recommend it to those who are in the mood for something more thrilling and action-packed.
“Detroit” stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie. Released in limited theaters on July 28, 2017, followed by a wide release on August 4, 2017, the film showcases the Algiers Motel incident that occurred in 1967 during the racially charged 12th Street Riot.
The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed films such as Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty. Once again, we just entered the final few weeks of this year’s summer movie season, and you know what that means? Yep, it’s time for me to review a fact-based drama that may have some Oscar potential according to critics. Bigelow has been known for delivering strong and intense fact-based stories that are as real as life itself, and this film appears to be no different. Her last film, Zero Dark Thirty, left me entirely speechless, and I expected this one to do the same. While the experience is not for the sensitive crowd, I can easily say that Bigelow still got her A-game.
The entire story focuses on the events before, during, and after the Algiers Motel incident that took place in Detroit, Michigan 50 years ago. Not only that, but it also showcases the characters and their experiences towards this terrifying and brutal event. To me, this is one of Bigelow’s biggest strengths in her filmography because of her ability to generate emotion and realism from the characters, their perspectives, and the brutality that is shown to her audience. The violence here is not meant to be pure entertainment, it is portrayed to teach us, the audience, what life was like in the 1960s. It’s filled with frustration and fear, and that’s what made the film both disturbing and relatable to me. The direction she took for this film is absolutely flawless and riveting. If she doesn’t get some sort of recognition for her work, then I will be at a loss for words. The entire cast did such an excellent job with their performances. John Boyega delivered his best performance yet as Melvin Dismukes. He’s come a long way since starring in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I am glad to see that he’s still going strong. I also thought Will Poulter and Algee Smith were both brilliant as Philip Krauss and Larry Reed, respectively. I could definitely see Poulter getting some Oscar recognition for his performance because of his stunning and demanding tone that almost felt real. The subject matter that is shown in this film is well-handled and filled with emotional depth that just comes naturally instead of being forced. Mark Boal’s screenplay also helps in expressing the characters’ thoughts and feelings towards the incident. My only minor concern for the film is its running time, which clocks in at about two hours and 23 minutes. It doesn’t affect my experience entirely since it moves at a respectable pace, but I’m not sure if people who are sensitive to this kind of stuff would be able to handle the amount of tension and violence that is shown in the film.
Overall, “Detroit” is not just a great film. It is also a reminder. A reminder of what will happen if we don’t pull ourselves together and think with our heads instead of our butts. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes, then sooner or later, history will repeat itself and we won’t be able to live long enough to see tomorrow. Kathryn Bigelow has successfully accomplished her goal in delivering that message while also creating a strong and tension-filled experience that’s as emotional as the Algiers Motel incident itself. With its strong cast, Bigelow’s flawless direction, and Mark Boal’s captivating screenplay, this hard-hitting drama is a splendid late summer hit. If you’re a fan of Bigelow’s filmography, it is definitely worth checking out. If you’re sensitive to the realistic brutality that is shown in some films, I don’t think this one will be able to win you over, but if you’re interested in seeing it regardless, then I would say watch it at home.