The DR is In | Hereditary Review

hereditary

Ari Aster’s directorial debut is unsettling, deeply disturbing, and a delight for horror junkies

Opined by Bryan Ray of @DRMovieNews

For the fan, there has been a renaissance of modern horror over the past five years, and Hereditary does more than just continue the trend. While most of the hit horror films in the past couple of years have been critiqued as being just as fun as they are scary, Aster follows the path of The VVitch and takes the material into dark, tragic territory. 

RUN-DOWN: The film follows a, somewhat, normal family after experiencing the death of Annie (Toni Colette)’s mother, whom she wasn’t close to at the time of her death, nor was the entire family: Peter (Alex Wolff), Charlie (Milly Shapiro), and Steve (Gabriel Byrne). As soon, as they arrive home from the funeral, strange things start to happen around the house. This leads to an absolutely unforgettable and horrific end to the first act, which drives the rest of the film.

That is all I will say in terms of plot, because I want you to go in knowing as little as possible.

REVIEW: Let’s talk about Ari Aster. This man is a natural born filmmaker, through-and-through. For a debut motion picture, his efforts are nothing short of masterful and contain infinite promise for a bright future. Aster has very tight grip on his audience, building the tension through heart-wrenching wide shots and terrifying you through the reactions of the characters (at least until the third act, but we will get to that later).

Aster brings out star-turning performances from Wolff and Shapiro. In fact, Alex Wolff may have stole the show for me in this film. His ability to produce raw, authentic emotion is absolutely astounding. If it weren’t for his beautifully innocent and heartbreaking performance, many scenes wouldn’t work considering how much of the film lies on his shoulders. He pulls it off exceptionally well.  

Milly Shapiro, while given a lot less to do than her co-stars, she has a substantially creepy and unsettling presence throughout the film. Without giving anything away, she is crucial in many of the horror-driven sequences.

Gabriel Byrne gives a wonderfully understated performance as Steve, adding a much-needed weight to many of the film’s heavier scenes.

toni collete

Toni Colette gives the performance of a lifetime, bringing the character of Annie to life in a way that only she could do. Aster brings out the best we have ever seen from her. The script demands a lot from her as an actress, making her change emotion, facial expressions, and her character on a dime. It’s truly impressive work and I can see her scoring an Oscar nomination come next February. Yes, it is that good.

While there is expertise in the way he takes his time building up the tension and driving the story in the first two acts, there are some scenes, here-and-there, that do drag a bit, especially when the character of Joan arrives. While she is crucial to the story, some of those sequences could’ve been trimmed in the editing room.

Finally, let’s discuss the third act. The film slow-burns its way through the first hour and 45 minutes of pure tension and drama. Then, in a snap from day-to-night (literally), the film becomes a fast-paced “spookhouse” film for the final twenty minutes.

Some may not buy into the jarring change, but, personally, I absolutely loved it. Aster and his cinematographer, Pawel Pogorzelsk, brilliantly play with lighting and shadow, creating some of the most unsettling horror imagery since The Conjuring in 2013. Brutal, terrifying, and mentally upsetting, the film concludes with a sequence, heightened by a bold score by Colin Stetson and horrific practical effects, that is sure to delight horror junkies and leave the rest of the audience thinking: “WTF!”

REFLECTION: Hereditary absolutely blew me away; not only as a tragic family drama, but as a truly unsettling, disturbing tale of emotional terror. The film is wonderfully acted by the entire cast (Colette is Oscar worthy). Calling all horror junkies! See it!

DR Diagnosis: 90%

(NOTE: Images courtesy of A24 Films) 

 

Will Watch | Deadpool 2 (DVD) Review

thumbnail_Deadpool swanWARNING: For those of you that haven’t watched Deadpool 2 yet, stop reading this review and go and buy the DVD. Then, once you’ve watched it then you can read this review. Please. There will be spoilers and major plot details throughout this review, you have been warned. Plus, Thanos is in this movie (no, not the big purple dude!), the guy who plays Thanos…Josh Brolin! So, what I’m trying to say is that…this is a SPOILER review.

RUN-DOWN: The Merc with a mouth is back! Wade Wilson (Deadpool, aka Ryan Reynolds) is faced with the challenge of keeping a young, angry teen mutant, Russell, safe or so it seems. When Cable appears, played by the Mad Titan Josh Brolin himself, Deadpool has to form a renegade team of mutants — Domino, Bedlam, Shatterstar, and Peter (I had to mention him!) — to protect Russell from Cable.

The “Super Duper Cut” DVD is out this week! Features include: 

  • Audio Commentary by Ryan Reynolds, David Leitch, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Theatrical Version Only)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Deadpool’s Lips are Sealed: Secrets and Easter Eggs
  • Until Your Face Hurts: Alt Takes
  • Roll with the Punches: Action and Stunts
  • David Leitch Not Lynch: Directing DP2
  • The Most Important X-Force Member
  • Deadpool Family Values: Cast of Characters
  • The Deadpool Prison Experiment
  • Chess with Omega Red
  • Deadpool’s Fun Sack 2
  • Stills (28 Images)

REVIEW: The first 10 minutes of this movie picks up where the last movie ended incredibly well. We find Deadpool winding up a Logan music toy from when Wolverine sadly died in his solo movie, followed by the Merc causing himself to explode. This opening scene of Deadpool killing a number of mob bosses and then faced with the death of Vanessa could be perceived as arguably the most important one in terms of its message — family.

It develops Deadpool/Wade Wilson from an emotional standpoint. His character became real with him considering settling down with Vanessa, but when she dies, he now has motivation to avenge her death that fuels his action throughout the film (or, in this case, the DVD).

DEADPOOL 2

Someone give Deadpool a hug!

I thought the scenes where Deadpool tracked down all of the gangster mob bosses was positive because it delves into the heart of his character.

The first Deadpool movie is renowned for its comedy and incredibly witty, 4th-wall breaking humour and the sequel does not disappoint (most of the time). Throughout much of the movie, the jokes tended to slightly drop off in terms of its quality and laughs; I found a couple of jokes, two in particular, quite outdated and just overused.

The first joke was easily the Martha line at the start when Vanessa asks Wade where he was, this joke was funny in 2016, even 2017, but when it’s said in the sequel –that’s when it kind of sucks the life and humour out of the joke. The other one was the Dubstep joke. For me, this one is really, really old and stuck in the past.

The post-credits scenes, I think, is where the Deadpool 2 crew and cast throw any and every joke at the wall and sees what sticks. The first credits scene sees the characters (Negasonic, Yukio and yep…you guessed it, Deadpool) interact and what happens here sets up what happens in the next scene. Simply, Negasonic Teenage Warhead is doing some tinkering with Cable’s time travel device while Deadpool interrupts and is given the device by Negasonic. It’s pretty simple but where the post-credits really take off and what I describe it as “The Roast of Ryan Reynolds comic-book movie career.” It is absolutely fantastic.

Deadpool uses the time travelling device to do a few things:

  1. Save Vanessa.
  2. Save Peter. YES! Peter spin-off movie confirmed?
  3. He goes back further in time to, get this…kill Deadpool in X-Men: Origins Wolverine and finally…
  4. He goes back again further in time to kill Ryan Reynolds as he finished a script for Green Lantern.

Remember, the really bad Green Lantern movie in 2011? What makes the last two so great, for me, is the fact that Reynolds is obviously acknowledging the fact that they were two really, REALLY bad career choices. Those final two post-credits snippets proved to be major hits, unlike 2011’s Green Lantern movie and what they did with Deadpool in X-Men: Origins Wolverine.

I think if I were to nit-pick Deadpool 2,  then I would probably say that the movie was slightly overstuffed. There was so much going on in this movie that didn’t give you time to think about what you just saw and that, unfortunately, was what let the movie down.

In the space of 2 hours, this movie: set-up X-Force, killed off X-Force, introduced Cable, introduced Juggernaut (as a villain?). offered an X-Men cameo, had a prison fight. There was just too much movie in this movie.

Another nit-pick I have for Deadpool 2 (specifically the trailers) was that it placed the villain tag on Cable as the person that would be the enemy of the movie whereas in the actual movie, the REAL villain was Juggernaut or Firefist (aka Russell). From my point of view, the villain of the movie was unclear and I did wanted to know who Deadpool was up against. I was like: “Was it Cable? No, wait, was it Juggernaut?”

REFLECTION: Deadpool 2 is a great movie. The jokes were more hit than miss, it is surprisingly heartfelt and there are some surprise cameos (see if you can spot them) and the end-credits are sure to get laughing. This sequel reached the heights of the first one and is a solid follow-up.

Will-Watch Rating: 85%

Will Watch | Avengers: Infinity War Review

avengers fireWARNING: If you haven’t seen the movie yet for one reason or another (I don’t know why because the movie has been out for a good couple of months), do it, come back and read this review. Please. This review breaks the silence on a number of different spoilers so there is no #ThanosDemandsYourSilence. This is a SPOILER review. 

“Run from it. Dread it. Destiny still arrives.” “The end is near.” “It’s the end of the path I started us on.” “Together.” “We’ll lose.” “Then we’ll do that together too.”

Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has built the past decade. Marvel has introduced 18 movies, developed countless superheroes, and created 10 years worth of storytelling that have all led to this ambitious crossover comic-book movie, arguably the best of all-time.

RUN-DOWN: Earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy, face their toughest test yet. The Mad Titan, Thanos, is on the hunt to collect all six Infinity stones, and once he does, he can wipe out half of humanity with one fatal snap and become the most powerful being in the universe.

REVIEW: One of the most important things to take from any movie in general, especially Infinity War, is its direction. The Russo Brothers have done incredibly well to direct and meet fan expectations here given the amount of justified hype and surpassing expectation surrounding this movie.

I think, also given the celebration of their previously directed Marvel movies (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), the Russo brothers showed they were up to the task of directing a ‘big’ Marvel movie. Clearly, the direction Anthony and Joe Russo took this movie is far beyond what they have previously done. Infinity War, in some aspects, is clearly taken from the Infinity Gauntlet comic book and the Infinity graphic novel.

The opening scene of Infinity War is great; it sets the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the movie, introduces characters that we’ve never seen before on-screen, and gave us character deaths we never thought we would see at all.

loki

In this scene, we see the Asgardian ship (from Thor:Ragnarok’s post-credits scene) in up in flames presumably 20 minutes after the first post-credits scene in the aforementioned film. What happens? Loki gives Thanos the Tesseract/Space stone, Hulk fights Thanos and most importantly, we witness Loki’s (and Heimdall’s) death.

Loki’s death is the most important thing from the first few minutes of the movie. Throughout the MCU, we don’t know whether Loki is the good guy or the bad guy and this scene proves that Loki is a good guy.

Even though he secretly had the Tesseract and gave Thanos the space stone, Loki actually tried to kill Thanos until he was strangled to death. Before he died, we catch Loki whispering “You will never be a God.” This shows Loki’s admiration in his brother, as if he was saying to Thanosm\, “You will never be Thor, you will be nowhere near as powerful as my brother.”

I think Loki’s attempt to stab Thanos and the way his death played out was really important to his character. Another thing I took from the opening few minutes of Infinity War was the Thanos-Hulk fight.

For me, that whole fight was fantastic because not only did it show Thanos’ fighting skills but it showed how much Thanos was to be feared, which was why we didn’t see much of the green raging monster as we had anticipated. There is also a shot of Hulk’s facial expression of complete shock when Thanos caught his punch. Hulk always thought he was indestructible and that no one would match his strength, but when that happened it showed there will be lasting ramifications on Hulk and anyone who tries to match strength with the Mad Titan.

sorry

Another scene I enjoyed in the movie, which is arguably up there in terms of the top three over the course of the movie, is the Soul Stone scene.

Throughout this part of the story, we see Thanos getting the fourth stone by sacrificing his favourite daughter Gamora. We were also treated to a surprise appearance from the villain of the first Captain America movie, Red Skull.

For me, this is where the cinematography shines in the movie; it reminds me of that scene in GOTG 2 where we see Gamora on Ego’s planet in the middle of nowhere. It’s so simplistic. This whole scene (excluding Gamora’s shocking death) is so beautiful and deep to the father-daughter relationship between Thanos and Gamora. The Mad Titan really does love and care about her to a point that he’s heartbroken to sacrifice Gamora in order to fulfill his motivation, a soul for a soul.

Finally, Red Skull’s appearance is one that shocked me (and most of us). At first, I thought it was Mistress given the cloak and the ominous appearance. I mean, the whole scene talks about loved ones and sacrifice. And when Red Skull’s face appeared, I was gobsmacked. I think the entire Soul Stone scene is one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a movie this year, and one of the most in-depth and insightful scenes in the MCU. Ever.

iw wakandaThirdly, the final fight scene of Infinity War involved some of the biggest characters on Wakanda. It’s up there with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in terms of the best endings in the MCU canon.

This entire scene (from the snap, the characters being erased form existence and Thanos looking out into the sunset) felt like it was completely ripped out of the Infinity Gauntlet comic book. It was perfect — the acting, the cinematography, and the tone of it all. In addition, Tom Holland’s acting (when Spider-Man/Peter Parker is disappearing) is phenomenal. Peter Parker isn’t older than 17, and when Holland delivers the lines “Mr Stark, I don’t feel so good” and “I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go” to Tony… well, it was fantastic.

We felt his fear and terror that he was about to disappear. Tom Holland recently said in an interview that he actually improvised that scene. Incredible!

IMHO: I believe the heroes that disappeared and were erased from existence are still alive. Surely, you can’t think Disney just killed billions of dollars worth of movies with one snap?! It’ll be like the boldest movie in film of all-time.

The ending is a perfect way to conclude one half of a movie because it left me (and probably most people) wanting more. It was a cliffhanger with Thanos looking towards a sunset and what’s to come on the horizon. This scene is so reminiscent of the ending to The Empire Strikes Back but this time, it’s the villain that is looking into the distance.

Avengers: Infinity War is Thanos’ movie. Period.

The story was told from the villain’s perspective. The flashback scene proves that, it shows why Thanos wants to wipe out half of the population and especially from the line that Thanos (Josh Brolin) says “Perfectly balanced…as all things should be.” He also talks about his motivations toward Doctor Strange in a speech that perfectly shows in Thanos’ gaze of the sunset.

Some of Brolin’s deliveries in some lines were absolutely perfect. “All that for a drop of blood” shows he believes in his power to acquire all the stones. “I hope they remember you” is said shortly after the line I just discussed. This is because not only is he being sympathetic (something you wouldn’t normally associate with a villain), but also is grieving for when he is about to kill Tony Stark…until Doctor Strange gives up the Time stone to Thanos in order to save Stark’s life.

“You aren’t the only one cursed with knowledge” to Stark is telling about his struggles throughout the movie. Thanos is arguably the best villain in the MCU and possibly up there as one of the greatest villains in CBM history. Brolin did an amazing job as Thanos, making the Mad Titan the best Marvel villain that I’ve seen on the big screen.

REFLECTION: Avengers: Infinity War is a true movie spectacle and one that delivers on the hype and excitement that has surrounded it for months. It’s emotional, at times jaw-dropping, and epic. With its fantastic storytelling, Infinity War is both absolutely incredible and is by far the BEST MCU movie to date.

Will-Watch Rating: 93%

(NOTE: Images courtesy of Marvel Entertainment)

And the Winner of the Best Popular Picture is No One!

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, or more notably known as ‘The Academy’) have always summarized a year of movies among the glitz and glamour, pomp and circumstance, and the sundry booshie hipster.

There are even Oscar-watching parties where folk even dress up, as if TMZ is hiding in their bushes trapping a moment in time of those disheveled outfits put together from Old Navy and some shoes found among someone’s frenetic garage sale.

Lately, even the hype to fight through four hours of hot-button political rhetoric and awkward interruptions of musical chords hasn’t been enough to keep the attention of the random viewer. Why struggle when we can see who won the notable “Best” awards on some entertainment website or the evening news?

Besides, who in the world has even seen those hoity-toity movies that were released two weeks before New Years Day?! No one. That’s why last year’s Academy Awards hit a historic thud in the bottom of the ratings cellar. Following that broadcasting debacle, those aforementioned snobs got together and talked about pandering to nerds… eh, attracting new people.

It’s all about the Benjamins

JimCarrey_TheMask
Courtesy: “The Mask,” New Line Cinema, 1994

That uptight parvenu Oscar began sifting through his highbrow friends for better ratings in 2001. You see, people love Ogres. And Shrek made a truckload of cash ($485 million on a $60 million budget) at the box office. It was easily one of the most successful movies that year but it didn’t sniff a ‘Best Picture’ nomination.

Why? Because computers.

Much to the huzzah of Hollywood, Oscar determined this would be a good time to create the ballyhooed Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was Oscar’s first attempt to dig into our wallets and for better ratings. If kids wanted to watch the ‘Who are you wearing’ show, parents would too, right?

It worked, but just for a while.

What’s next, Oscar? In 2009, he stepped out of his Maybach long enough to realize five best pictures were not enough to muster interest in the beleagured award show. He expanded the Best selections to 10, in hopes to capture a few more eyeballs when the show comes on. Didn’t matter because it was just five more movies only a few heard of, with the exception of a couple of buzzworthy flicks that may make Oscar a little more relevant.

What happened in 2009? The Dark Knight. 

You know the story. Heath Ledger transformed into the Joker before the world’s eyes and was given a posthumous Best Supporting Actor for his work (and yes, CBMers, he deserved it). For the first time, Oscar began appealing to nerd nation.

Since then, there have been plenty of nerd movies to come out and bupkus. Why? Maybe because if an actor isn’t in a period piece, they can’t be taken seriously? If there are more than one ‘Michael Bay-sized’ explosions in a movie, it can’t possibly be respected by Oscar’s well-to-do pals.

So, after the cable bill came due in 2018, Oscar decided the animated picture thing worked before, so time to do it again. And that’s why we will finally see a Marvel picture win an Oscar of any substance.

Does it really matter?

superhero oscar
Courtesy: ScreenRant, January 2017

In a word, no. 

Box office success is often a negative when Oscar asks those highbrow fools what they think about the upcoming Bests. Sure, Titanic slayed the box office but look who was in it. Avatar had the same director and even outperformed the little tugboat that couldn’t, but Oscar finally came to his senses and sent James Cameron’s 3D fest to the technology awards that — wait for it — usually, the nerds only care to watch.

In 2018, those nerds did two things Oscar never thought possible.

They spent close to $3 billion on movies. Black Panther was the only the third film in history to gross $700 million domestically. Then T’Challa’s purple people eater showed up and earned more than $2 billion globally.

The movies were amazing. The Incredibles sequel was great. So was Ready Player One. And then there’s Mission Impossible: Fallout. It has been a dynamic year for action moviemaking and The Academy just couldn’t take another bath, like that handsy monster in The Shape of Water. 

Oscar is back trying to be relevant while maintaining his fru-fru status, so he sends all those cash register singing “popular” movies to the “animated” table in the other room for TV dinners and punch while all his friends stay at the dining table eating fois gras and Pinot Noir.

For 90 years, Oscar and his ilk hasn’t cared one second about the geek community and our unrefined cinematic proclivities. They have been more concerned about method acting and #OscarsSoWhite than a movie that most people see and enjoy.

“Some will complain that adding such a category cheapens the prestige of the Oscars, making it more like the People’s Choice Awards or MTV Movie & TV Awards, but that is old-world thinking. More than the length of the telecast or the name of the host, Oscar ratings have been shown to correlate with the popularity of the nominated films among the general public. And the gulf between what the public buys tickets to see and what the Academy nominates and awards has never been greater.” ~Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter

And who is at the epicenter of that chasm? Nerds. See how important you are? Watch the Oscars. They’re fun, but realize when Black Panther wins the gold-plated eunuch (and it will because of how impactful the story was), the celebration will be in the kid’s room down the hall.

It will be fun but when we cheer loudly, Oscar’s fan club will be sitting there, nodding in certainty because they knew you would do that. Guilty much?

Maybe a Time Stone form Thanos’ gauntlet will help turn back the pages and remind you what you are really watching.

 

It Took An ‘Infinity’ to Find the Best CBM in the Universe

Marvel has placed our world into a marvelous journey (pun intended) through a mystical universe of superheroes, royalty, villains, and the powers of darkness. To date, that extraterrestrial voyage has involved 10 years, 14 directors, and 17 movies all for one majestic culmination – Thanos eradicating half of the populace everywhere.

How was the payoff for you? For the open cash registers at Marvel Studios, it has been fruitful, to say the least. In the first three days of its international release, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ has earned more than $178 million, according to a fiscally overwhelming article by The Hollywood Reporter.

Nonetheless, as the headline reads, “It took an Infinity to find the best (comic book movie) in the universe,” and you know what? It is not the one everyone is regaling today.

That title still goes to the Academy Award-winning mezzo motion picture “The Dark Knight.”

Notwithstanding ‘Infinity War’ just broke a record that stood since 2008 – the record for the biggest Thursday night opening of a CBM. Marvel pulled in $39 million last Thursday night. Back in 2008, ‘The Dark Knight’ raked in $30.6 million on a dusky-hued Thursday evening.

“It made so much more money! Of course, it’s better.” Well, just like your mama told you, “Money ain’t everything baby. (Now go shut up.)”

Make no mistake: What the Russo brothers achieved with Thanos was a masterpiece. His cosmological vengeance was the result of a decade-long strategic chess match that surgically connected movies to movies, characters to characters, and post-credit scenes to post-credit scenes.

Every hero was a part of a recipe that would make Gordon Ramsay curse in his kitchen because he knows he could never cook that well. The trek through the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a wild, wonderful, and wealthy journey that was so worth the wait.

But, as a single movie, it still wasn’t more powerful than Christopher Nolan’s dystopian vantage point into the soul of a hero, the mania of a villain, and the plight of man.

Think about the most iconic films, TV shows, or books ever written. The quotable sources. The memorable scenes. The unforgettable moments in time. Why do people hearken back to the things they have seen and read over-and-over again? The story.

Whether the gifted soul who takes a comic book story and makes it into a script is responsible for the adapted screenplay, the cinematography, the VFX, the overall direction – they all have the same things in common.

These people are fastidious wunderkinds who take into consideration more than just good background material in comics to create a dozen Easter eggs. They are passionate about the material – and the people within those pages. And then, as if their knowledge about the characters’ origin and pathos wasn’t enough, they remain wide open to ideas to make their final work more fluid.

A true story teller understands if the only two eyes used to view a apologue belong to him or her, it will not resonate to the other million pair of eyes who will see the words on paper or the narrative on screen.

Most Marvel directors have been the perfect fit for their movies, but the stories that come to life through their vision have been a subjective development (apart from the brilliant sociometry of ‘Black Panther’ and Ryan Coogler). Their insight has been paramount to the development of these movies, but that’s the thing – fans leave clearly understanding they are movies, stories about a world that while appears to be in your backyard, isn’t.

Think about ‘The Dark Knight’. The antipathy of the city Heath Ledger masterfully provides. The internal conflict Christian Bale portrays. There is a consistent torrent of emotion in this movie that is only reflective in the life it involves. It feels real. Sure, the odds of a plaque-faced criminal with henchmen who could have left their day job at McDonalds are highly unlikely, but.

And it’s that brief moment where you catch yourself watching that story thinking about the pain, the torture, the melancholy, believing all the Hollywood pomp and circumstance may not be necessary. You are there, in Gotham, with your feelings, if even for a while.

No time travel. No stones. No galactic battle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, somewhere in this world of ours could be a region stricken by mirth with someone cackling in the midst. Why? Because the world has its jokers, not a Thanos.

And it just took a snap for this comic book fan to figure that one out.