Get Out: Film Review

Get Out - Film Review

Comedy genius Jordan Peele made his directorial debut in thrilling horror film Get Out last year, which was met by thunderous critical approval, as well as an Oscar for outstanding writing. I’m not personally a fan of horror films. Call me generalist (or a wimp), but my image of a horror film involves someone being dragged through a dimly lit room screaming, by something you can’t see; or a pale girl in a tattered dress walking menacingly in the distance behind a protagonist with a high pitched brass note behind it. Despite that predisposition, I absolutely loved Get Out. It completely turned the stereotypical image of a horror film on it’s head, and made for one of the most pulsating movies I’ve ever seen.

I want to be clear. Get Out is terrifying, but that’s not always the same thing as scary. Off the top of my head, I can think of some three jump scares in the entirety of a 1 and three-quarter hour long horror film. The film isn’t scary in the way traditional horror fans might be accustomed to, but that doesn’t stop it from being the creepiest movie ever. There were moments in the film where I actually needed to pause it to recollect myself, with Peele’s masterful screenplay building such unbearably gripping tension and undeniable creepiness that I was almost laughing at how damn good it was. Such a good use of close-in shots and stunning performances, even from supporting cast members, that really hit home the out-of-your-skin kind of scary that they were going for.

I can’t emphasize how good Peele’s writing and directing on this film was, only by saying that he probably should have got the Oscar best Director as well. Unlike most standalone films, this one has the capacity to be spoiled for people, so I’ll just say this, without giving anything away. When you watch this film, the moment it ends, watch it again. Or at the first convenient time. Pay attention to the character’s actions, the choices they make during the film. By knowing what happens next, it’ll make your skin crawl when you glean the motivations and plans that they had, which is another testament to the cast. Daniel Kaluuya was inspired, giving off a nervous, suspicious air that was so relatable I wanted to scream for him throughout the film. One of my favorite actors, Bradley Whitford, was exceptional as per usual; joined by on screen wife Catherine Keener, who made only her second, and most convincing appearance as a diabolical psycho witch. I’ve already mentioned the incredible performance from most of the supporting cast, who were an instrumental in the creation of that insanely creepy energy, but the star of the show, in my opinion, was Allison Williams, who’s double-edged-sword of a character was the scarily convincing performance I’ve seen in as long as I can remember, especially from someone who’s spent the line share of their career in sitcoms. I really can’t say more without giving anything away. You have no idea how much I want to.

The biggest difference between this film and your average horror (or at least my concept of a horror), was the weight of social issue addressed in the film. The film tackles racism in a way that I personally have never seen before, and in the context of a story I don’t know that the world has ever seen before. I just don’t think I’ve seen a story that’s so unique, so compelling, and so well written all at the same time. Jordan Peele deserves our highest respect. He’s made a film riddled with suspense, full of twists and turns, and more compelling than most and he’s done it under the guise of a horror film, a genre that I genuinely thought was a lost cause in my eyes. I would strongly recommend it to anyone, even those who, like me, don’t take horror with their tea. Almost especially them, as it might even turn some people around on a whole genre of film. Without a doubt one of the best film released over the past couple years, and, in my opinion, as a result of it’s layered, pulsating storyline and characters, one of my favorite films.

Aman’s Rating: 86/100                                                                    Aryamaan’s Rating: 78/100

Spiderman Into the Spiderverse: Film Review

Spiderman Into the Spider Verse - Film Review

Billed as one of the most unique and interesting animated movies in recent memory, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse swung into theatres this December, boasting an explosive cast; the likes of Chris Pine, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Stienfeld, Lily Tomlim, Liev Schriber, the one and only Nick Cage, and more. The expectations literally could not have been higher for the film, which was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Picture. The film follows Miles Morales, a young upstart prodigy whose world turns upside down when he is bitten, surprise surprise, by a radioactive spider. Upon realizing his powers, he quickly runs into Peter Parker, and embarks on a journey that would take him across dimensions into other worlds with more spidermen.

Not gonna lie, I was a little shifty about this film going in. The hype was real, with enough people whispering in my ear that this was to be the best animated film I’ve ever seen. Wow. I had seen the trailer and found it amusing but not exactly show-stopping, and I was weary of another over-quirky crowd pleaser. I did not expect what I saw.

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse is hilarious and wildly entertaining. The animation is wonderful, getting the right mix between realism and batshit craziness (which can sometimes be a little over the top) and makes for a thoroughly engaging visual treat. One of the main doubts I had before I saw it was on a conceptual level. I was worried that they were taking Spiderman a little too far, trying to do too much with the character and overextending. Someone I spoke too since seeing it made a compelling case that the overextension did happen, but I didn’t see it and I don’t think there was a moment during the film where I was annoyed by what was happening on a purely conceptual or plotline level.

I can’t stress how funny the film is sometimes. The self aware, comic book aspect pays off in a big way, never feeling forced and timed just right in almost all cases. The conceptual strength that I touched on before gives the writers the freedom to come up with some cool stuff too. Nick Cage, the almighty, plays Spiderman Noir, who, aside from being the only Spiderman from a past dimension, might be Nick Cage’s true identity. I’m dead serious. Aside from that Nick Cage glory, an Anime Spiderman, a pig Spiderman, and a deadbeat Spiderman add up to make a proper hilarious movie that lands nearly everything it throws.

There’s an admirable balance between the comedy and the emotional sophistication of the film, though not an unprecedented one. There are bits and pieces of the film that bring it back down to a human level, most notably in the case of the relationship between Miles and his father. It’s not insane, it’s not the most powerful emotional journey you’ve ever seen, but it’s good and ties in well with the comedy of the film. It doesn’t ever feel forced, which I find pretty admirable in a literal comic book movie. Again, don’t let reports containing delusions of grandeur fool you, it’s decent not extraordinary, but it’s sweet and well done. Spiderverse is reasonably emotionally stimulating as well as a comedic treat.

Some of the action sequences go way over the top. The climactic sequence, most notably, gets so wacky it’s hard to follow; which is okay I suppose but it leads to getting a little bored in the middle of all the random flashing and banging. The climactic fight sequence isn’t especially song in the first place, thanks mainly to a so-so villain. Much more interesting than his conflict is the relationship between Miles and his uncle, after their identities are revealed to each other. That ended too quickly in my opinion.

I’ve already mentioned it, but I thought I’d touch again on the strength of the character work. Characters like Spiderman Noir, Spider Ham, and Anime Spiderman serve as excellent comic relief, but the use of Peter B Parker and Gwen Stacy are wonderful, not just to aid in the development of Miles but in the context of their own arcs. Deadbeat Spiderman, who I’m guessing is meant to be the future version of Spiderman from our universe, that is, the universe of the original Spiderman timeline (based on some evidence in the film) is a proper, fully drawn character with his own interesting stuff going on. The same goes for Gwen Stacy’s Spiderwoman, though maybe a little less potently.

All in all, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse is an exciting, fun branch of the Spiderman timeline. With at least two more films green-lit in by the studio, one can only hope that they try as hard as they can not to ruin a quality first volume. Kudos to the team involved for vastly exceeding my expectations, and good luck to them in the continuation. Spiderverse is, without a doubt, worth a watch.

– Aman Datta

Aman’s Rating: 81/100                                                                          Aryamaan’s Rating: N/A

Fantastic Beasts – Crimes of Grindelwald: Film Review

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald - Film Review

The wizarding world grew wider still with the release of the latest Harry Potter prequel film in the form of Fantastic Beast and Where to Find them: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The film is set some seventy years before the events of Harry Potter, during the height of Grindelwald’s powers. Eddie Redmayne and co reprise their roles from the first Beasts film, while newcomers to the franchise, Jude Law and Johnny Depp, introduce younger versions of characters well known to Harry Potter faithful in the form of Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this film. I have a lot of faith in the likes of David Yates and Eddie Redmayne, but the critics have been absolutely ripping into this one. They’ve been merciless. I read somewhere that it’s “the worst thing to happen to prequel filmmaking since A Phantom Menace.” Woah. Without any exaggeration, I honestly have a hard time imagining anything quite that bad. So I walked into the theatre for this one slightly apprehensive of what was to come. What I saw was an average, if slightly forgettable franchise filler film. Eddie Redmayne does not get enough credit for the phenomenal job he’s done with the character of Newt Schamander. Schamander’s relationship with Tina Goldstien, Katherine Waterston’s character, which was a little lifeless in the first film, showed some awkward promise; a foundation upon which to build. I was worried about Jude Law and Johnny Depp, but I could be heard singing their praises after watching the film. Johnny Depp is, of course, a genius unlike any other. He gives Grindelwald a certain gravitas that makes up for maybe not looking exactly like what I imagined Grindelwald to look like. I absolutely loved Jude Law. He really captured it. It’s a little difficult to articulate, but I was completely and utterly sold by his portrayal of Dumbledore in this film, and I’m excited to see where he goes with it. He really gave off the twinkle-in-the-eye effect that Dumbledore has, while equally communicating a deep, deep sorrow, most notably in a scene with the Mirror of Erised.

The main criticism I’ve noticed from just about everyone who didn’t like the film is that nothing really happens. There’s an extent to which that’s true, the plot doesn’t exactly bound forward in this film, but it’s a little unfair to say nothing happened. A few new characters were introduced, some of which were interesting and some of which were decidedly not. Zoe Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange was meh until her slightly odd death, which I don’t expect to remain permanent. Newt’s brother, Theseus, was bland and shallow, which I hope they change in the forthcoming films because I actually liked the little bits and pieces of relationship they showed between the two brothers. Nagini being a human was far and away the most interesting addition, but even her character was effectively not there. I tend to give them a little leeway for such things, they’ve got three movies left and the irritatingly banal character development in this film might be course corrected later on. One thing I had little to no patience for, however, was the turn that Queenie’s character took. Jacob was always my favorite character from the first film, but the cart goes off the rails a little with their relationship at the start, and Queenie’s turn to Grindelwald, ridden with character inconsistencies, made literally no sense whatsoever. This is something I expect to be improved upon in later films, else it will stand as a gaping hole in the Harry Potter extended universe.

A lot of people got mad at the twist at the end. Personally, I’m scratching my head. There’s no reason why an Aurelius Dumbledore wouldn’t have been discussed in the books, especially when Dumbledore’s family history, as well as his history with Grindelwald, was brought to the forefront of the narrative in the seventh book. Obviously it’s possible Grindelwald was lying; perhaps he is related by a less direct connection than siblinghood or not at all. The presence of the phoenix, who I assume was Fawkes, might invalidate the second of those two explanations. One way or another, we will know as the next few films come out. As of now, it looks like J.K just gave us what Star Wars didn’t in a characters lineage. Whether I like it or not will be determined, most likely, by the details we get in the later films.

All in all, The Grimes of Grindelwald was not nearly as bad a film as some people might make it out to be, though a little underwhelming. It could never be as bad as The Cursed Child, which I honestly believe to be the worst canon to a beloved franchise ever; but the Fantastic Beasts franchise has a little to make up for when it premiers its third film in 2020.

-Aman Datta

Aman’s Rating: 63/100                                                                             Aryamaan’s Rating: N/A

Creed 2: Film Review

Creed 2 - Film Review

“A fantastic addition to the Rocky film franchise, staying true to the legacy of the story”

 “Well performed, well put together, and manages to engage an audience in a forty-year old story that’s still going strong.”

The next chapter in the iconic Rocky franchise was released a few weeks ago in the form of Creed 2. This film continues the story of Adonis Creed, son of Apollo Creed, as he is challenged by the don of the man who killed his father in the ring: Ivan Drago. Sylvestre Stallone and Dolph Ludgen both reprise their talismanic roles from earlier films, while Michael B Jordan and Tessa Thompson continue in their next-generation roles.

I was really, really looking forward to this one, having loved the first Creed and the original Rocky movies. I found my expectations well met. I loved this movie, even more so as compared to the first Creed. Michael B Jordan continues to cement himself as an absolutely top notch actor (so long as we forget about fantastic four) and delivers a superb performance in this movie. Tessa Thompson is an unsung hero if you as me, and the ever-unintelligible Sylvestre Stallone continues to blur the lines between himself and his self proclaimed ‘best friend’. A lot of the ‘wow’ factor of this film comes from the legacy of the characters in the film. Each and every scene is charged. The director, Steve Caple Jr, makes sure that the audience is, at no point, more than three inches deep into their seats; often hanging right off the edge. I attribute that mostly to the performances, but to be honest, there’s an inherent tension that comes up just with Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago on the same screen (it’s a little difficult to differentiate which of the two of them is Russian when they talk :). I love that about these films. A lot of the impact of the story is what has happened before, and just the knowledge of the history of the characters is enough to maintain a tangible level of tension and excitement throughout the film.

The actual fighting is a little bit mind boggling. There were actual moments during the boxing where my brother and I would turn to each other and just laugh for how insanely intense some of it was, without seeming outlandish in any way. It adds, exponentially, to the incredible tension that the director achieves in the film. I knew that during the first fight Adonis couldn’t die, but I swear to god I stopped breathing every time he went down. It was shocking. Florian Munteanu, who plays Viktor Drago in the film, should be arrested on the charge of being an absolute goddamned monster. The guy is huge, and his contrast with Jordan, who, while in ridiculous shape for this film, is comparatively small, gives a bone chilling David and Goliath feel to the matchup. All in all, the fighting in the film is electrifying and engaging, not allowing for a second’s relief in the thick of the action.

But the Rocky franchise is known for more than just the fighting. Ringside, the writers of the film have managed to cultivate extremely strong, likable characters. The fights only matter and the tension only so thick as a result of the deeply emotional connections the characters beg you to make with them. Rocky’s family relationship with Adonis and Bianca is beautiful, and Adonis and Bianca’s personal struggles are interesting enough for a film of their own. The film asks questions about parenting and love and what is and is not important, going above and beyond its purview as a fighting film.

Creed 2 is a fantastic addition to the Rocky film franchise, staying true to the legacy of the story and exploring new, rich avenues at the same time. It’s not too often these days for a sequel franchise to be handled well, but I can safely say that I enjoyed Creed 2, even more so than Creed 1. It’s well performed, well put together, and manages to engage an audience in a forty-year old story that’s still going strong.

Aman’s Rating: 81/100                                                                          Aryamaan’s Rating: N/A