“Insidious: The Last Key” stars Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Josh Stewart, and Caitlin Gerard. Released on January 5, 2018, the film has Elise Rainier facing her past when she is called upon to investigate supernatural disturbances in a family home.
The film is directed by Adam Robitel, who also directed The Taking of Deborah Logan, and it is the fourth installment in the Insidious film series. Yep, we are starting the new year with a horror movie once again. Well, technically, it’s a sequel to a horror movie, but you get the idea. The Insidious films have been pretty successful at the box office even though they’re not in the same veins as Evil Dead or The Exorcist in terms of critical reception. I think the only installment I saw in theaters was Insidious: Chapter 3 back in 2015, which I thought was actually pretty good. I wasn’t really excited to see this one because…well, it’s a horror sequel, and horror sequels always tend to perform worse than the originals. Another reason is that I wasn’t really into the franchise to begin with. However, I was interested in seeing where they’re going in terms of the story, so there’s that. Like most horror films, I’m not expecting this one to be the next Exorcist or the next Get Out because that would be impossible. With that said, let’s delve right into The Further once again.
Like the previous installment, “The Last Key” takes place sometime before the events of Insidious. The story once again focuses on Elise Rainier (Shaye), who takes on another job at ridding supernatural beings that are disturbing a new family home, only to discover that the house she’s exploring in is her childhood home. If you’re familiar with the other Insidious films, you can expect plenty of similar elements that made the franchise creepy and thrilling, like the dark lighting, the atmosphere, and, of course, the entities that came from The Further. The film also attempts to further explore the character of Elise and provide a more personal challenge for her. While this premise alone has its moments, it sadly wasn’t enough to prevent the story from falling into familiar horror territory. Granted, the film did a nice job at tying the franchise together, but if they’re attempting to make a character-driven story filled with supernatural elements, they could’ve done a lot better in my opinion. Like I said before, it has a few moments that made me care for Elise, but its execution on the overall plot was pretty underwhelming. Not even the amount of scares were enough to make the experience terrifying. Yes, even the “jump scare” ones. Moving on to the pros, Lin Shaye delivered another solid performance as Elise, and its dark-lighted atmosphere did its part once again in creating the film’s sense of creepiness and terror. Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell also reprised their roles as Tucker and Specs, respectively, who are somehow the comic reliefs of the film. While their performances were enjoyable for the most part, their attempts at being comedic ranged from flat to just being OK. I would also give credit to the people behind the design of Keyface, the film’s main antagonist with long key-like fingernails. While not nightmare-inducing, the way they made this type of entity is truly a frightening sight.
Overall, “Insidious: The Last Key” offers a likable performance from Lin Shaye and its terror-filled atmosphere that the franchise is known for. However, in terms of its storytelling and its amount of scares, they’re not enough to help the film escape from The Further. It had the right idea of placing its focus on Elise’s past and her struggle to face it. It just needed to stick close to that idea instead of always relying on its familiar horror elements. It had a few moments that I found tolerable, but other than that, it’s a big step down from Insidious: Chapter 3. If you like the Insidious films for what they were, you might or might not like this latest installment. If not, then this isn’t your cup of tea.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. The first week of 2018 has gotten off to a pretty good start, so let’s talk about awards season. 2017 had tons of movies that were either good or bad, but the ones that every critic and movie fanatic cares about the most are those who have “awards potential”. Films that have a chance to earn a golden statuette for their certain achievement, whether it’s for acting, directing, or even music. The first awards show that will be screened on television this year (and the first that I will be talking about) is the 75th Golden Globe Awards. The nominations for the Golden Globes were already announced last month, and there were a couple of movies that I believe got left out into the dust, like Detroit for Best Drama and Lego Batman for Best Animated Feature. But I’m not talking about the snubs, I’m talking about the ones that are competing against one another for the golden globe award. For this “award-worthy” episode of Movie Talk, I will be sharing my brief prediction list on who I think will win the award and who I think might have a chance to pull off an upset. This will be a “film-only” list because I am extremely bad at predicting television categories. Like last year, I didn’t get a chance to see all of the movies that are nominated (especially The Post and I, Tonya), so some of my predictions will be based on my gut and on my research. I highly doubt that I will get every prediction right, but I still find this list fun to create. Either way, here is my prediction list for the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
Best Motion Picture - Drama
-Call Me by Your Name
-The Shape of Water
-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will Win: The Shape of Water
Might Win: The Post
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
-The Disaster Artist
-The Greatest Showman
Will Win: The Disaster Artist
Might Win: Get Out
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Drama (Actor)
-Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
-Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
-Tom Hanks (The Post)
-Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
-Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)
Will Win: Gary Oldman
Might Win: Tom Hanks
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Drama (Actress)
-Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game)
-Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
-Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
-Meryl Streep (The Post)
-Michelle Williams (All the Money in the World)
Will Win: Sally Hawkins
Might Win: Jessica Chastain
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Actor)
-Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)
-Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
-James Franco (The Disaster Artist)
-Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman)
-Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Will Win: James Franco
Might Win: Steve Carell
Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Actress)
-Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul)
-Helen Mirren (The Leisure Seeker)
-Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
-Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
-Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes)
Will Win: Margot Robbie
Might Win: Emma Stone
Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Actor)
-Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
-Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name)
-Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)
-Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)
-Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Will Win: Richard Jenkins
Might Win: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Performance in a Motion Picture (Actress)
-Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
-Hong Chau (Downsizing)
-Allison Janney (I, Tonya)
-Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
-Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Might Win: Mary J. Blige
-Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
-Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
-Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
-Ridley Scott (All the Money in the World)
-Steven Spielberg (The Post)
Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
Might Win: Christopher Nolan
-The Shape of Water
-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Will Win: Molly’s Game
Might Win: The Post
Best Original Score
-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
-The Shape of Water
Will Win: The Shape of Water
Might Win: Dunkirk
Best Original Song
-“Mighty River” (Mudbound)
-“Remember Me” (Coco)
-“The Star” (The Star)
-“This is Me” (The Greatest Showman)
Will Win: Coco
Might Win: The Greatest Showman
Best Animated Feature Film
-The Boss Baby
Will Win: Coco
Might Win: The Breadwinner
Best Foreign Language Film
-A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
-First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)
-In the Fade (Germany/France)
-The Square (Sweden/Germany/France)
Will Win: First They Killed My Father
Might Win: A Fantastic Woman
As I said before, I doubt that every prediction I made will be accurate because awards shows can be unpredictable when it comes to the winners. Trust me, I already figured that out last year. The 75th annual Golden Globe Awards will air on NBC on January 7, with Seth Meyers as the host. Until then, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed to make sure I get most of them correct.
“Downsizing” stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig. Released on December 22, 2017, the film is about a couple who volunteers to shrink themselves in order to live better lives in a downsized community.
The film is directed by Alexander Payne, who also directed films such as Citizen Ruth, Sideways, The Descendants, and Nebraska. Just because 2017 is over doesn’t mean I can’t review at least a couple more films from last year. This next film sees Alexander Payne tackle a concept that involves a solution to overpopulation. That solution, my friends, is shrinking people and placing them in a minuscule town. It does sound insane when you think about it, but hey, you never know what the future might bring us. Despite the film’s mixed reception from critics and its underwhelming box office performance, it was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of the year. Plus, one of the supporting actors, Hong Chau, is receiving plenty of awards recognition for her performance, including a Golden Globe nomination. So far, I’ve only seen two of Payne’s other films (The Descendants and Nebraska), both of which are very well-made in my opinion, so it would be interesting to see if he can impress me again with this.
The story takes place in the near future, where scientists have invented an environmentally friendly process known as “downsizing”, which involves shrinking volunteers to the size of a fairy. The catch? It is irreversible, so better make your choices carefully. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the husband and wife (played by Damon and Wiig, respectively), who went through the procedure and the latter backed out at the very last minute. So now, the husband has to adjust to his new life as a small human being in a small community all by himself. The film’s marketing does describe it as some sort of a light-hearted comedy with a concept that reflects how people’s lives are affected by a procedure that may solve one of humanity’s biggest problems. Well, it is light-hearted and comedic during certain occasions, but it’s actually more of a small-scale drama that’s literally as small as the tiny people themselves. The film’s story does express the idea of how the process of “downsizing” can affect people’s lives, mostly Matt Damon’s character. Unfortunately, the concept took a massive detour at the start of the second half and reinvented itself as a cliched romantic comedy that involves Damon’s character and a Vietnamese activist, played by Chau. The idea still exists, but the deliverance on its themes wasn’t portrayed well enough. Despite these flaws, Alexander Payne was able to keep the story interesting thanks to some likable characters and its tolerable screenplay. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig both delivered some very good performances as Paul and Audrey Safranek, respectively, but my personal highlights of the cast have to go out to Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau. Waltz absolutely nailed his role as Dusan, a playboy who is also Paul’s neighbor. I can definitely tell that he was having fun portraying his character due to his humor and his personality. As for Hong Chau, I can easily say that her first impression on screen was nothing but impressive. Although I would like to see Waltz get some awards recognition for his performance, it’s nice to see her grabbing some love from the other critics as well. Another aspect that I enjoyed the most was the visuals. Despite not being a science fiction blockbuster, the film shines in providing some beautiful visual effects that felt condensed and stunning in scale. Payne was able to create a satisfying small-scaled world that’s full of grace and majesty, as well as blending the small people in with the big people during a few scenes. It makes me wonder why it’s not getting any recognition for its visually stunning achievement.
Overall, despite its inability to fully explore its concept and its familiar romantic comedy elements, “Downsizing” is another solid effort from Alexander Payne. It does fall short (no pun intended) compared to his other works, but its talented cast, splendid visuals, and an engaging story provide enough juice to soar into “good watch” territory. I can understand why the film left a lot of people with mixed feelings, whether it’s the misleading trailers or the execution of its concept, but I don’t think it deserves some of the hate it’s been getting. Just saying. If you’re a fan of Payne’s filmography, you might like this one as well. Just don’t expect anything really special and you should be fine.
Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Now that I got through with my top ten favorite films of 2017 list, it’s time for me to focus on my top ten least favorite films of 2017. This list contains the films that had potential to be good, but wound up being majorly flawed and disappointing projects. So while other people are accusing films like Transformers: The Last Knight and The Emoji Movie as the worst of the year, I found the films that are far more unsatisfying than giant transforming robots and anthropomorphic emojis. If you happen to enjoy some of the films that are on my list, that’s completely fine. Everyone should be allowed to like a certain film that’s been getting a bad reputation from critics. So without further ado, let’s count down the stinkers.
Coming in at the bottom of the list is the second chapter in the much-hated, sex-obsessed trilogy that’s made for adults. “Fifty Shades Darker” continues the pleasurable relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, and yes, it’s as sexy as Fifty Shades of Grey. Coming from a guy who has not read the Fifty Shades books, the film did well in impressing some fans of the book series, but it also did very little to give the non-fans the same amount of pleasure. Its weak execution and its desire to provide sexual wet dreams over substance are what made this romance sequel a step down from its predecessor.
A sequel to a Madea film that, unsurprisingly, nobody wanted. “Boo 2!” took the formula that worked in the other Madea films and threw it out into the ocean. As a result, the film wound up being the most disappointing and unnecessary film in Tyler Perry’s library.
Jonathan Levine has made some pretty solid comedies throughout his career, which makes it hard for me to believe that his latest comedy, “Snatched”, was actually his weakest effort in his filmography. Despite its tolerable chemistry between Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, the film suffers from its forced jokes and Levine’s troublesome direction. A vacation that’s not worth taking again.
From the guy who gave us a terrible Mortal Kombat sequel and a horror film that involves a possessed doll comes the next film in my least favorite list, “Wish Upon”. Despite a passable performance by Joey King, this is a PG-13 rated ripoff of Final Destination that’s not as scary nor as convincing as the title wants you to believe. It makes me wish that it could’ve been portrayed a lot better.
“CHiPs” is the latest film adaptation of a television show that tries to go for the R-rated comedy approach like 21 Jump Street, but fails miserably in the process. Its formulaic story, weak characters and stale humor are the reasons why this film is another comedy disappointment.
2017 has its share of grand finales that end their franchises with a bang. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” isn’t one of them. Filled with forgettable characters, an underwhelming story, and a lot of editing issues, this latest installment in the video game-based film series is better off as a zombie infection that needs to be caged up.
Director Eli Craig’s latest feature, “Little Evil”, had a good cast and a hilarious concept, but wound up being a soulless disappointment instead. Good thing they released it on Netflix instead of in the theater, am I right?
Another film that had a good cast and a humorous concept, but wound up being a disappointment. The only difference is that “Just Getting Started” has a story that is twice as dull as the story in “Little Evil”.
Aside from Katherine Heigl’s engaging performance, “Unforgettable” is just…well, forgettable. The story has that “been there, done that” scenario that made me ask myself, “Why can’t these people just move on with their lives?”, and the thriller aspect did not help that much at all. It is a definitive sign that the obsession-thriller genre has officially run its course.
Yep. The film that I think is worse than Transformers and The Emoji Movie is a cliched and mediocre horror film that adds nothing new to the story and has an ending that renders the message completely pointless. Nothing in “Friend Request” works for me, and I’m pretty sure that it won’t work for anybody else, either. All I can say is that you’re better off watching Unfriended rather than this.
That’s it for my top ten worst list, which may or may not be completely different compared to the other ones. As always, if you want to read my full reviews for the films I listed above, you can find them in the “2017 Reviews” page. This year has a lot of ups and downs just like last year and the year before that, but once again, all that matters to me and the other movie fanatics is talking about film. Here’s to another year filled with movies.
“Molly’s Game” star Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, and Bill Camp. Released on December 25, 2017, the film is about a young woman who is targeted by the FBI for being involved in an underground poker empire.
The film features the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who wrote screenplays for films such as A Few Good Men, The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. It is based on the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom. Aaron Sorkin has been known for writing stories that captivated a ton of critics, but now he’s taking on the task of directing the story that he wrote himself. After experiencing the beautiful majesty that is The Shape of Water, I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on another movie before New Year’s Eve falls upon us. I would’ve watched it sooner, but my mother wanted me to take her to see it because she loves some of the actors that are in the film, especially Idris Elba. I wasn’t familiar with the events involving Molly Bloom before I saw the marketing for it, but based on what I read about her, she seems to be very attractive to the law. Now her story about her recent arrest is being told on the big screen, but is it worth telling? Well, in terms of the direction they were going for, I would have to say “yes”.
The cast delivered some invigorating performances from start to finish, especially Jessica Chastain. With her energetic charm and her sense of personality, Chastain was able to shine bright as the female host of a high-stakes poker game while also delivering some enticing dialogue to boot. Idris Elba also turned in a solid performance as Molly’s lawyer who attempts to help her win her case. Kevin Costner was really good as Molly’s father and Michael Cera was an unexpected surprise as one of the poker players. One of the things that made the film interesting for me was how they told the story. Most biopics tend to move at a pretty slow pace, but the narrative in this movie moves at a more steady pace while also providing plenty of information that doesn’t feel too much or too little. With the running time of around 2 hours and 20 minutes, I can definitely feel its length by the time the third act comes into play, but there wasn’t a single scene that felt unnecessary or dragged out. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay has a lot of impressive moments including Chastain’s highly entertaining narration and some smartly-written dialogue between the characters, most notably Bloom and her lawyer. As for his direction, I would clearly say that he did a really nice job at bringing this story to life as well as making the characters absorbing.
Overall, Aaron Sorkin has successfully played the right cards in terms of his direction and his screenplay. “Molly’s Game” is an enticing and well-written observation of the Poker Princess herself. Jessica Chastain’s riveting performance as Bloom may provide some sort of challenge for the other nominees at this year’s Golden Globes, especially Sally Hawkins from The Shape of Water. If she’s lucky, she might be able to pull off an upset. If you’re a fan of the actors that are in this film, it’s definitely worth checking out.