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Us Review

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Jordan Peele has done it again with Us! This is a horror film that leaves you wanting more from beginning to end. The music in it has a lot of throwbacks like NWA to even the Beach Boys.

 

When the movie first start out, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is a little girl vacationing with her parents on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Wandering away from her parents, she decides to go into the hall of mirrors, where she comes face to face with something in the reflection that is not normal. Cutting to her adult life, Adelaide is married to Gabe (Winston Duke) and has two kids Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). The family decides to vacation at her parents old house and visit Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From the beginning of the vacation, Adelaide is skeptical about going back to the place she was terrified as a kid. Pause, let’s just talk about Winston Duke’s character, Gabe, who will make you laugh throughout the movie when serious moments approach. Back to the movie, as Adelaide, Gabe, and the kids try to enjoy their vacation, a family approach their house. The family who is in their driveway is a version of themselves who isn’t happy that they are living this picture perfect life and decide they want to take back everything that is theirs. Pay close attention to everything that Adelaide’s shadow tells the family because it makes sense later. The kids also play a big role in this movie when it comes to fighting back and knowing how to manipulate themselves.

 

There are a lot of twists and turns in the movie, especially when the audience thinks the family are just fighting themselves but there are also other people being killed. At the end, you begin to see the plan of this attack from the beginning to end as Adelaide’s evil self explains how she planned everything since the hall of mirrors. Also, wanted to highlight Lupita Nyong’o performance because it was phenomenal from the beginning to the end all while handcuffed. I would love to see Lupita in more horror movies in the future. And there is definitely a twist to her character at the end that makes you want to know more.

 

Us will have you holding your jacket over your face because of what happens next in every scene. You have to pay close attention to the movie because if you miss anything, you can get a little confused. Jordan Peele is definitely on to something big with the movies he has written, produced, and directed. I’m excited to see what movie he comes up with next. So, go watch Us, especially if you enjoy a good horror film.

 

 

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Us Review. Featured Image Credit: Universal Pictures 

Fighting With My Family Movie Review – Is It Worth Checking Out?

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Professional wrestling is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing facets of our pop culture. The debate of whether or not it truly fits the description of a sport has gone on for decades. When it comes down to it, professional wrestling is entertainment, performed by athletes who have made it their mission to be the best inside the squared circle. Just be careful not to call it “fake”, as the term is pretty much considered derogatory to the wrestling community. Whether or not you’ve been a fan for years (like myself), or you’ve completely fallen out of love with it (like the person who got me into it in the first place: my brother), or perhaps you’ve never watched it and don’t have a desire to, Fighting With My Family, based on a true story, is a film worth checking out. That’s because it’s for everyone.

Dwayne Johnson (center), along with Florence Pugh (left), and the real Saraya “Paige” Bevis (right).

Co-produced by Dwayne Johnson (who also makes appearances in the film) and starring Florence Pugh, Vince Vaughn, and Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, Fighting With My Family tells the story of professional wrestler Saraya Bevis – better known to wrestling fans as “Paige”. The film follows her journey from growing up in a family of professional wrestlers to making it to the biggest professional wrestling company on the planet: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Pugh portrays Paige, the anti-diva. She’s not your typical blonde, model-esque, female wrestler that people were used to seeing for years. She’s a tough, black-haired, pale-skinned, British girl from Norwich, with dreams of superstardom. She shares this dream with her ride or die brother, Zak, portrayed by Jack Lowden. However, as seen in the trailer, Paige is the only one of the two to get that shot at glory.

The film is essentially a dramedy, mixing intense scenes with ones that will give you a good laugh – more particularly by Paige and Zak’s loving and supportive parents, Patrick and Julia Bevis. You can also count on Vince Vaughn to give you those much-needed laughs in between those emotionally draining parts. It’s a story you’ve probably never seen played out in a movie before about a young woman you’ve probably never heard of either. But none of that matters when the film’s themes are ones that anyone can relate to.

With a cast that is fully committed to their performances, you’d start to question why all the big film studios ultimately passed on the project. You’ll be cheering for Paige as she struggles to find herself, and Zak as he searches to find his true purpose in life. No longer are the days that female wrestlers must look like they came off the pages of a centerfold. Because of Paige and her story, you can look and be different, and still make it.

Due to a serious neck injury that she sustained at a WWE Live Event in Long Island, Paige was forced to retire at just 26 years of age. But even though her in-ring career was cut short, her journey from humble beginnings to wrestling champion is still a very inspiring and undeniable one. After watching the film, you will feel like, just as Paige has, you can go against the status quo and drown out those around you who are saying you’re just not good enough. 

Fighting With My Family is now playing in select theaters in the United States. The film will open nationwide on February 22, and February 27 in the United Kingdom. Check out the trailer below.

 

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Fighting With My Family Movie Review – Is It Worth Checking Out?: Featured Image Credit: MGM

Ocean’s 8 Shines Bright Like a Diamond and Dazzle’s Audience

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The most anticipated movie of the summer is finally out in theaters and we are here for it! Ocean’s 8 is unlike any other Ocean’s movie. Ocean’s 8 is filled with beautiful, witty and smart women. There are no males that have a main role in this movie, making it different than the past Ocean’s movies.

 

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), is Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) sister. Debbie is finally released from prison after five years; eight months and twelve days and she has a brilliant plan for her next heist. But no heist is complete without a kick-ass team; Nine Ball (Rihanna), Lou (Cate Blanchett), Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Constance (Awkwafina) and Amita (Mindy Kaling) all join Debbie on her biggest heist yet.

 

Debbie is money hungry and knows just how to get a few extra million dollars, and by a few extra million dollars, I mean $150 million. Ocean’s 8 is out for a $150 million Cartier necklace that they can only steal on the night of the biggest party in the world, the Met Gala.

 

There were even a few guests from the past Ocean’s movies that made an appearance in the movie! In the beginning of Ocean’s 8, we find out that Danny Ocean is dead. There is never an explanation on how or when he died. This was frustrating to say the least, as fans of the Ocean’s movies are itching to know why the writers chose Danny to be dead and why they never went into detail on how he died.

 

Before Danny died he told Debbie the plan was brilliant, watch the movie for yourself and see just how brilliant this heist was.

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Ocean’s 8 Shines Bright Like a Diamond and Dazzle’s Audience: Photo Credits: Warner Bros.

Black Panther Review: A Much Needed Change for Superhero Movie

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Director Ryan Coogler made his own uniquely individualistic twist of a Marvel movie and it is nothing short of amazing and revolutionary. From the complex setting, characters, music, and the fashion, watching this film I felt a full immersion of how special and important the insanely advanced nation of Wakanda truly is and it’s fleshed out culture.  

Wakanda feels more like a character than a setting. There are traditions and distinct tribes that highlight the different aspects of this technological beauty of a nation. The king of Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), has to not only be the deciding factor in which direction to take his nation, but also protect and defend it with the mantle of Black Panther. The film focuses on T’Challa’s duality as king and warrior of a secretive nation and the effects an extremely vindictive outsider can have due to a severe mistake by T’Challa’ father.

Each actor puts such a high level of care, complexity, and development into their character. While the film does not mainly focus on T’Challa as a character so much as its side characters, Boseman’s T’Challa has a dynamic perspective of how his nation should be led. He struggles to choose a side with his nation’s internal conflict of tradition vs. innovation. He also struggles to follow in his father’s footsteps as a king while making his own mark as well. The women in this film are integral to the film’s plot and are never brushed to the side. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is such a refreshing take on the role of the younger teenage sister. Wright’s portrayal is caring, innovative, comedic, and confident. Her character helps create most of the country’s technology, and never takes a back seat in this film. Wright knows when to time each joke effectively and knows how to show true emotion when a scene demands it. She takes part in action sequences and is never told to let the adults handle things.

Okoye (Danai Gurira) is a loyal, determined, compassionate, and bold warrior, and is head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite all-female bodyguards/special forces. Gurira’s performance is unique. She leads in her action sequences and highlights the struggles she goes through when she wants to care for her loved ones but has to stay committed to her position. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend, but is never portrayed as the damsel. She is actually a Wakandian spy that knows how to be both brutal in her fighting technique and considerate when it comes for the love of country and T’Challa. Nyong’o reflects her character’s desires for her country and shows how she’d rather have her country strive for change rather than tradition.

Forest Whitaker as Wakandan shaman Zuri and Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Queen Mother of Wakanda and mother to T’Challa and Shuri, both shine brightly in the moments when they have to support T’Challa with his vital decisions as king. And while Martin Freeman’s Agent Everett Ross and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue were wonderful additions as side characters, the film’s most significant character aside from T’Challa was the American outsider known as Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Jordan’s performance was the most fascinating and heartfelt villain Marvel has seen since Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Jordan’s portrayal as Killmonger made me feel such a great level of sympathy for the character and how he feels he was wronged by Wakanda in a way. A film’s hero is only as good as it’s villain and Jordan knocks it out of the park in this film. The best villains also make you understand their perspectives and motivations and Jordan presents a villain where you can somewhat see the reasoning behind his perspective and motivation due to the cards he’s been dealt in life.

The film’s music composed by Ludwig Goransson is deeply-rooted in a type of African percussion and choral sounds and is highlights the character’s personalities and their specific culture. The album for this film has a mix of R&B and hip-hop stars such as Kendrick Lamar. Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, SZA, Khalid, and many more. This album gives off a tone of revolution in this film.

The costume designer Ruth E. Carter displays distinct tones and styles for each character’s personality and reflects Wakanda’s hybrid culture of tradition and innovation especially with the uniforms worn by the Dora Milaje.

Director Ryan Coogler has constructed a film that feels both separate yet connected to the rest of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coogler’s tone mixes mostly with the theme of tradition vs. innovation and develops each character to see how they alter their perspectives of the world.

The film does have some flaws such as pacing and special effects but they don’t diminish the successful aspects of the film. The pacing sometimes unevenly alternates from one action sequence to a more character driven scene. And some of the special effects of the film such as the CGI felt a little cartoon-ish rather than completely realistic.Lastly, I felt that there needed to be slightly more development with T’Challa in some scenes.

Overall, the film proves how superhero films can be fresh, vibrant, and truly unconventional. They don’t always have to set up another film or stick to a type of formula. This film strays away from the formulated plot that these Marvel movies are known for by having its own original tone, distinct personalities in its characters, questionably agreeable motivations from its villain, and a great moral to the entire story.  Coogler provided a film that should be common in the film industry but sadly is rarely seen and hopefully, this film helps usher in more stories that reflect the world today. I give Black Panther an A-.

 

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Black Panther Review: A Much Needed Change for Superhero Movie. Featured Image Credit: Marvel Studios Facebook

‘Beauty and The Beast’ Review: Experience The Live Action Magic

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Do yourself a favor and be a guest to the Beauty and The Beast movie to experience the magic. (That sounds like a typical Disney line, but whatever.) Or, maybe wait a few weeks until the parking lots aren’t packed. This past weekend, my money contributed to the $174.8 million dollars that has now made Beauty and The Beast a box office hit, according to Deadline. After months of huge anticipation built from fans all over the world, it’s not hard to see why this animated to live-action adaptation was so popular.


Fair warning: The below contains spoilers!

 


The legendary Emma Watson stars as the classic main character, Belle, opposite of Dan Stevens, the Beast. The movie follows the same exact storyline as the animated flick with a few modifications here and there such as the semi-controversial difference of Josh Gad’s character, LeFou, being portrayed as a gay man. Was it really that shocking? No. Was his character hilarious? Uh, yes! Another huge difference that we witnessed in the 2017 film versus 1991 version was the fact audience members got to see more of a background story for both Belle and Beast.


It’s almost a thing with Disney movies that either one parent is missing or both are missing. To switch things up a bit and learn more about Belle’s upbringing, Beast along with the audience discovers Belle’s mother passed away in Paris due to the plague. On the other hand, Beast’s mother passed away due to her own personal illness which lead him to be brought up by his father who taught the Beast to become the man he was before meeting Belle; stingy and unsympathetic. I, for one, thought this was a fantastic feature to add considering viewers don’t necessarily ever learn about a Disney main character’s back stories.


The other huge wow factor to the movie is the undeniably impressive set design and wardrobe. Major thumbs up to that team who paved the way to bring our beloved classical film to life. Lastly, we can’t forget the musical numbers! “Be Our Guest” had to be the best one out of all which seems like a very obvious choice to make but the effects made to bring that scene to life did not fall short. If my five-year-old self had a chance to watch this, I know she would want to be Belle and sit in that room while an impossible performance was occurring right in front of me. It looked real. It 
felt real. Granted, this would only happen if objects can really talk…
On the downside, the only minor upset I could possibly imagine would be the strong focus on Gaston’s storyline right when I wanted to see more chemistry built between Beast and Belle. It just seemed as soon as the two main characters grew a stronger bond, we were dragged to witness Gaston live his life while Belle is missing. Not that Luke Evans didn’t do a phenomenal job portraying the narcissistic Gaston, but it somewhat felt very Gaston focused more than Belle, at times.

Despite that,
Beauty and The Beast left me jaw-dropped, dancing in my seat, and clapping in the end knowing Bill Condon successfully brought a classic feature with a huge following to the big screen. This isn’t an easy thing to do especially with having the pressure from critics around the world depending on Belle to be depicted similar to the ‘91 film. But the way I see it, not everything will always be the same. If we wanted the same thing, we could have just remastered Beauty and The Beast and called it a day.

What did you think of the movie? Let us know down below in the comments.

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‘Beauty and The Beast’ Review: Experience The Live Action Magic. (Photo Credit: Beauty and The Beast Official Facebook)

Why You Should Watch ‘Snowden’

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Oliver Stone’s biopic Snowden came out on September 16, 2016 to mixed reviews, even though it smashed the highly anticipated Bridget Jones’s Baby in the box office. This film tells the story of Edward Snowden, the famed whistleblower who exposed the NSA and USA’s government for spying on their own citizens in 2013. The film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Ed Snowden, who was absolutely suburb in this role. Never before have I seen him disappear into a character this much.

The real strength of this movie was the cinematography. It feels that with contemporary films, less thought is put into shots. In movies I’ve seen over the past few months, there were no shots or angles that seemed to really enhance the plot or connect to the idea of the film. This, however, a film all about surveillance, used wide angles and nontraditional angles which helped to make it seem as if you were seeing something you shouldn’t have been, as if you were peeking into a world, unseen. There was also a lot of transitional moments that were really clever, such as a camera lens turning to an eye or Snowden walking out of a dimly lit room as he leaves the NSA into a bright light. This, paired with a strong score by Craig Armstrong, made this an exciting and enthralling viewing experience.
The one thing I would have changed? The focus on the relationship in the script. Although I’m a sucker for romance, something about this connection seemed irrelevant to the rest of the story. Sure, the relationship was used as a tool to show Snowden’s increased anxiety and the way he began to pull away as he learned more about the NSA, but at the same time, the focus didn’t really add anything for me. In fact, it sort of took away from the strength of the rest of the film. I’m not suggesting that they should have re-wrote history to make him single or anything that extreme but I do feel that some of their scenes together, especially the ones that exemplified how little chemistry the two actors had, should have made their way to the editing room floor.
And, without giving away the manner that they handled the masterful ending, I will say this: for a movie about being watched, the last shot where Edward Snowden is looking thoughtfully out the window should have concluded with him breaking the fourth wall and looking directly into camera at the audience.

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Featured image courtesy of Open Road Films

SKIPTRACE: The Unlikely Buddy-Copy Pairing

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The most bizarre and unlikely pairing came together and made a movie: Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. You have one man who sacrifices himself to be his own stuntman for the art of a movie while on the other hand, you have a man who has been known to do the most ridiculous stunts for the hell of it. So, maybe it isn’t that bizarre after all?
Chan and Knoxville star in the Action-Comedy Skiptrace, directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Covenant). Set in different locations throughout Asia, Chan plays detective Bennie Chan who is hell-bent on avenging the murder of his partner, Yung (Eric Tsang). Bennie spends years trying to catch on the crime lord “The Matador” and pin him behind bars, but fails to do so with every attempt. On the other hand, conman Connor Watts (Knoxville) gets caught in the crosshairs of an organized crime with Bennie’s niece, Samantha (Fan Bingbing). However, Connor gets kidnapped by a Russian kingpin and is taken to Russia. Bennie is now forced to hunt down Connor to clear Samantha’s name. When Bennie and Connor finally cross paths, this eventually turns into a buddy cop movie except this isn’t Chris Rock by Jackie’s side.
Phew. Did you catch all that?
Skiptrace shows a much more relaxed side of Jackie Chan. I mean, for crying out loud we’re given the gift of him singing Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and him absolutely losing his mind over alpacas. It’s rare to see Jackie’s true personality be revealed in movies where he’s not always a straightedge! And that would explain why Knoxville seemed so fitting to be his co-star.  As you guessed it, Knoxville is the comic relief in the movie that counteracts all of Jackie Chan’s seriousness. He successfully manages to get Jackie’s character into trouble time and time again.
At 62 years old, Chan is still out there kicking ass with absolutely no stunt double – all while accepting each painstaking bruise or cut with a smile on his face. He hasn’t lost his stride. As much as I want to praise him for his existence and being the man he is, this wouldn’t be an honest review. My only question to him would be, “Why?”
As much as this movie is enjoyable with hilarious side comments and banter between the characters, it’s clear to see why this isn’t a theatrical release despite having Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville tied to the film. There were just some scenes that didn’t seem necessary or storylines that seemed a bit bleh. For instance, Knoxville’s character was hung upside down on top of a bowling lane so a Russian mafia-like family could determine if he was cheating on one of their family members. Really? I get that this is the whole reason why they needed to travel from point A to point B, but this could have been thought out differently.
If you’re expecting an Oscar-worthy movie, skip out on this. If you’re seeking for a good, wholesome fun movie to kick back to, this can be one of them. Although I’m upset with what kind of movie Jackie Chan chose to star in, I’ll still stand by him and support his work.
Note: To be fair, I cannot really base much of Knoxville’s roles to anything serious that I’ve seen from him other than The Ringer, Bad Grandpa or Jackass.
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Photos courtesy of Saban Films

Why You Should See ‘Money Monster’

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Money Monster hit theaters this past Friday, and what a ride it was. The movie takes place during the time span of one day, as Wall Street guru and TV show host Lee Gates is held hostage by an angry investor who lost all his money due to one of Gates’ faulty investment suggestions. What initially drew me to this movie was the cast. As a big fan of both George Clooney and Julia Roberts, Money Monster immediately interested me. However, I would have never anticipated the emotional rollercoaster this movie would take me on. From the tremendous story line and terrific acting, to the criticism of our current society, Money Monster tackles it all. This is, without a doubt, a must-see movie for everyone.

Here are some highlights from this phenomenal film.

Money Monster

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1. And The Award Goes To…
Both Julia Roberts and George Clooney give incredible performances in the film. Clooney’s portrayal of Lee Gates is at times both funny and heart-wrenching. The way Gates evolves as a character throughout the movie is conveyed powerfully by Clooney. Julia Roberts plays Patty, the director of the show Money Monster. She’s the guiding force throughout the movie, talking in Gates’ earpiece, leading him through the hostage situation. She gives nothing short of an amazing performance, truly expressing the bravery and passion her character possesses.
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Sony Pictures


2. SUSPENSE
I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. I was really impressed the way the film was able to keep the suspense heightened throughout the entire time. There isn’t a single dull moment. It’s so suspenseful you forget you’re actually watching a movie. You feel a part of it, continually anticipating the next big moment. The film keeps you captivated the entire way through as the hostage situation progresses.
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Money Monster Official Trailer


3. Right and Wrong
This film blurs the line between right and wrong. Kyle Budwell, played by Jack O’Connell, holds Lee Gates hostage after losing all of his money in a bad investment. Although what Kyle is doing is wrong, you can’t help but sympathize with him. He lost everything due to the lying and greed of Wall Street tycoons. It’s heartbreaking to watch Kyle’s desperate pursuit of an answer for why he lost his money. O’Connell gives an outstanding performance of Kyle Budwell, eliciting sympathy for his character despite the wrong he is doing.
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Sony Pictures


4. Mad World
There’s a lot wrong with our society, the things we value, our media, and the way we treat one another. Money Monster is able to critique all of these. We’re shown just how horrible the greed of Wall Street can be. We see how the elite rich get richer, in this case by stealing from others. The film also critiques the media. Throughout the film the often show other television shows that are talking about the hostage situation. Many of them are laughing at the situation, making jokes, referencing how this will boost their social media, and so on. The film also shows how it seems we have lost much of our empathy. We see businessmen in a bar watching the hostage situation of TV, making jokes and laughing about it. They had no concern for Kyle Budwell or Lee Gates. To them, it was all entertainment. There’s even a moment in the film where Lee and Kyle are out in the streets moving from one building to another. Kyle is still holding Lee hostage with both a gun and a bomb, yet the people on the streets are crowding around them taking pictures. Money Monster does a superb job at really holding the mirror to our society, allowing us to see that we care too much about appearances and what is for show.
You can watch the trailer below:

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Why You Should See ‘Money Monster’: Featured image courtesy of Sony Pictures

‘Allegiant’ Doesn’t Shine As Much As its Divergent Series Predecessors

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Although it pains me to say this, the latest installment of the Divergent Series, Allegiant, was subpar at best.
For one, the people who adapted the film from its original novel decided to take out two major storylines. Now Allegiant is a long and dense book, so of course they had to make changes, but one would think that after the decision to split the book into a two-film finale, there would be more room for inclusion.
The basic premise is the still same. After finding out that their entire city was actually a social experiment, Tris, her boyfriend Four, and their friends escape from their dystopian Chicago to see what’s past the walls. Once successfully crossing the barrier, they are rescued by a group of futuristic soldiers who bring them back to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. Here, they not only find out that the citizens have been watching them grow up Truman Show style, but also learn that years ago society tried to perfect the human genome and as a result ruined humanity – which is where the factions come in. They made people too smart (Erudite) and they lost a sense of empathy. They made people too kind (Amity) and they lost a sense of ambition. These new, ‘damaged’ people began to fight each other and the world almost ended in entirety.
So, the Bureau set up a variety of communities, like Tris’s home, and hoped that people would one day be able to fix themselves and revert back to the ‘pure’ form of humanity. As it turns out, Tris’s divergent identity is actually because she is ‘pure’ – and therefore she is very valuable to the Bureau. It’s here where she meets David, the charming director of the Bureau who turns out to be the bad guy who she automatically trusts more than her friends. Surprise, surprise.
The film isn’t all-bad though. In fact, it’s pretty entertaining for a mindless ‘lets watch a movie and stuff our faces with junk food’ night. Miles Teller continues to bring lightheartedness through his egotistical character Peter. The special effects are really impressive and seamlessly add to the reality of that world. Four is, quite frankly, just fun to look at.
Still, the film feels pointless to a degree. The actors, minus Miles, seem less enthused to be part of this world than they did in its predecessors. More than that though, the story didn’t really lead to anything or feel like it was a necessary set up to the big finale, which, following this, I’m not sure anyone will care about by 2017.

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‘Allegiant’ doesn’t shine as much as its Divergent Series predecessors.: Photos coutesy of Lionsgate

‘Fifty Shades of Black’ Movie Review

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Around this time last year, we gave you the rundown about one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, consider this the review of the not-so-sequel Fifty Shades of Black, as it made its theater debut this past weekend!
The parody was written by and stars Marlon Wayans as Christian Black, alongside Kali Hawk as Hannah Steele. Wayans, known for his more risque comedic style, definitely took a no-holds-barred approach to this film. It was quite reminiscent of his performance in his previous spoof, A Haunted House (2013).
Now, just like Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades of Black was definitely a film for an acquired taste and audience—but this time around, we aren’t talking about the sexually deprived housewife or the low-key sexual deviant looking to the big screen to witness their inner fantasies come alive. Between the plethora of penis jokes, the frequent use of the “N word,” and Florence Henderson (aka Carol Brady) taking on the role of a Dominant (as his “teacher”) during one of Black’s first sexual encounters as a teen, the film proved to have shock value—but ultimately lacked in true humor.
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To call it basic, overrated, or poorly executed may or may not be accurate, but to say it wasn’t Wayans’ best work is spot on. On one hand, the spoof accurately depicts the timeline laid out by its more seriously toned counterpart; however, to call the film humorous is a reach. Scenes ranged from overexaggerated “we get it already” moments, to overly sexualized scenes that kind of made you want to look away (there’s only so long you can focus on male genitalia that measure out to be 3-ft long), to sheer uninterest.
Now to say that the film was predictable is in fact untrue. The momentary reference made to last year’s Magic Mike XXL was definitely a crowd pleaser—until yet another penis made its debut onto the screen, but this time in a rather miniature package. It also did a fabulous job at making us remember everything we’ll never forget from 2015:
When Kim K broke the internet
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And things like “Got’em” and “eating booty like groceries.”
Across the board, it’s clear that Fifty Shades of Black was not something anyone would have expected, but it is here, and much like its parallel, it’s still “fifty shades of f*cked up.”
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‘Fifty Shades of Black’ Movie Review: Images courtesy of MovieWeb, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Life, New York Daily News

Chloë Grace Moretz Fights for Her Life in ‘The 5th Wave’

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Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is the all-American student athlete, partying, huge crush on the star of the football team type of girl — the typical teen story. Her life is devastated when an alien invasion occurs, causing four waves of increasingly deadly attacks that leave most of the Earth in ruin. Separated from her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), Cassie is on the run and desperate to find him before the inevitable fifth wave occurs.
The 5th Wave starts off with tons of promise. In the opening scene, armed, Cassie faces a man sitting on the floor who is also armed. Both are scared out of their minds and tell each other to put the guns down. Cassie is reluctant to do so. As the man tries to show her his other hand, she shoots him out of fear. It was an amazing way to start the film because it really pulled the audience in — at least for the moment.
The movie is based off of the novel The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I, for one, love novel-based movies; however, they are hit or miss. I would call this one a miss. The character development was poor and the plot didn’t flow together very well. It was hard to care about the characters because we did not really know them. For example, in The Hunger Games when Rue was killed, I cried as if I had been her friend for years. That was because we knew Rue. We knew where she was from, her poor quality of life, and the fear of her imminent death. And she wasn’t even the main character.
Overlooking the poor character development — because I can understand how difficult it is to turn a 500-page novel into a 2-hour movie — the “aliens,” also known as “The Others,” were not actually aliens. They were humans who had an alien bug-like thing attached to their brains! They carried guns and fought with their fists like humans as well. I think this aspect of the movie was a missed opportunity for the director to get creative and blow our minds with some graphics. While in the movie we were presented with what one of their brains looked like, it reminded me of something from Danny Phantom (if you remember that show from Nickelodeon). Very cartoonesque.
All in all if you’re between the ages of 13 and 17 and love the book series, The 5th Wave is a decently great movie. If you are older and have a more critical eye for a novel-turned-movie, then save your money and wait for it to come on TV.
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The 5th wave review photos courtesy of: Sony Pictures Entertainment 

Black Mass Review

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Black Mass is a movie about the rise and fall of the notorious Winter Hill Gang leader turned mafioso crime kingpin, James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp).  This true life film takes some liberties with the history of Bulger, but mostly covers his rise to power after establishing his unholy alliance with the FBI.  You didn’t read that wrong — unlike most “gangster” films where the cops chase the bad guys, Black Mass is about a bad guy benefiting from a deal with the good guys (and vice versa).  Bulger’s childhood friend turned federal agent, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), seeks his help in nailing the Italian mafia, who happens to be Bulger’s competition.  Bulger seeing the benefits from such a deal, but noting the potential “rat” implications eventually acquiesces.  Bulger goes from a neighborhood street thug to a federally protected crime boss. With his competition behind bars and the FBI looking the other way, it appears that no one can do much to stop the spread of black mass that is “Whitey” Bulger… You know, because he’s like a cancer in Boston. Boston, Massachusetts. Mass. He’s a dark brooding figured that is ironically nicknamed, “Whitey”. Anyway…

I’m not going to front and act like I went mainly for the story, because I didn’t. I went because the gangster character that this movie was about was being played by none other than Johnny Depp.  The dinner scene trailer and official trailer also helped out a lot in bringing my butt into the theater.  Either way, Johnny Depp’s performance was phenomenal (as usual), a breath of fresh air from his performance in Transcendence.  There’s not much I can say about how good an actor Johnny Depp is that hasn’t been said already, but I’ll wholeheartedly say that he pulls off a solid performance in Black Mass. An unforgettable one? No, not necessarily, but for a fan of Johnny Depp, this will be worth the money spent, because he gets plenty of screen time to creep out viewers with the sinister character he portrays.  The movie also has some great shots of Depp’s character mulling over his life, brooding, or doing something as simple as daydreaming — adding to the mystique of his character.  When not filling up the screen with his commanding performance, we’re treated to both Benedict Cumberbatch, whose character, William Bulger, plays foil to his brother, “Whitey,” and Joel Edgerton, the aforementioned FBI agent who, for some reason, I found likeable. His character was so desperate to make a name for himself that he was willing to break the rules to make it happen.  Edgerton manages to carve out a place for himself on screen, especially when sharing it with Johnny Depp.
 

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… ugh, “sharing,” for lack of a better word?


I recently watched a documentary about “Whitey” Bulger prior to viewing Black Mass, and the story behind it all was terrifyingly intriguing.  I couldn’t take my eyes off throughout the entire run time, but unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Black Mass.  Johnny Depp’s performance aside, the theatrical adaptation of Black Mass isn’t quite as engaging as it should be. It has great material to work with; I mean, to some extent, I kind of wish they would’ve taken even more liberties with the actual story, because the only dynamic character there was Johnny Depp (Joel Edgerton gets an honorable mention) and that wasn’t enough to make the story interesting.
Black Mass is a movie that offers the chance to witness a legendary actor flex his talent.  There is the intriguing gangster story line, but aside from the whole FBI-in-cahootery twist, the movie grows stale as it inches towards the two-hour mark.  Johnny Depp’s brilliance as an actor is ultimately hindered by a story that doesn’t do enough to compliment it’s character. So, what I’m saying is: go only if you must see Johnny Depp. Otherwise, Black Mass is a decent fact-based gangster movie.
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Black Mass Review photos courtesy of: www.imdb.com