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Rating History

The Fate of the Furious
7 days ago via Flixster

Not the best of the series, but it just might be the most crazy and, as one reviewer said, the most bonkers. It's through and through Furious style, but it takes it to another level. And it has all of the humanity that breathed heart into Furious 5-7... it's all about family. Only here, family seems pitted against each other.

So much fun. See it on the big screen while you have the chance. This is where it is meant to be seen.

Beauty and the Beast
7 days ago via Flixster

There is so much to love about this live action re-make. The original animated film remains an interesting discussion in itself, a discussion that this new version helps to shed light on. I think where it is at its strongest is when it is sort of reimagining the stories sentimentality. While it definitely takes great care to recreate the animated version shot for shot (in moments), it breathes new life into the familiarity in some subtle but important ways. For example, the way it brings in the library (and the Beast's gift of the library) is shifted in such a way as to become a part of the "growing" love store rather than an expression of the love story itself. The Beast as a whole is given a few more layers to his character, including a brooding sense of humour, and the scene with the library is a great example of this. Here we see the Beast's desperation but also his conviction. As the story flows out of this moment we get the sense that the Beast is not holding this girl captive in order to make her fall in love with him. The beast is acting on what he perceived to be an injustice, and the girl has simply chosen to take the place of her father in the Beasts choice to give justice where he believe it is due. But when the Beast begins to confront the tension of his need to find love, which is really acceptance, we find him wrestling with what to do in a very human way. Although he realizes that he is running out of time, and that love is the only power that will be able to free him, in this scene in the library we see him wiling to give himself over to his prison rather than do something he feels is wrong (wrongfully hold the girl prisoner for something she did not do). Thus, the girl is free long before she actually leaves the Beast's premises, something that contrasts with the Beast's own imprisonment in a body not his own.

Another subtle but significant moment is when the girl is given a chance by the Beast to travel in the book. The book was both a gift and a curse to the Beast, and it becomes this same thing for the girl as she comes to use it to expose a piece of her own past. It is in this moment that the Beast and the girl truly begin to share a bond, something that grows into love by the end of the film.

The film does add some scenes (it is a good deal longer than the animated version) and some songs. But it does so to add these kind of subtleties to the story, which really does add to the film as a whole. The animated, one could argue, was a bit anti-climatic in its finish (does Belle fall in love with the Beast or the handomse prince behind the Beast?). There is something odd about the transformation, and the fact that Belle is dancing with someone who she did not fall in love with. The film does give a nod and a wink to this confusion at least, but it is the stuff that comes before this, the heart of the story, that gains the most from this remake.

And the songs. Probably the most popular thing about the original. They gain a big screen treatment here, with big sound, big set pieces, and bigger production (the affects at bringing the different characters to life was amazing to watch). And it is really is a joy to watch from start to finish. The film as a whole does tend to be rather dark, but it is dark in a sweet way.

One can wonder about whether we needed such a remake, but I think the numbers prove that the spectacle won people over and proved why it needed to be made. And hopefully it brings a whole new generation to appreciate what is a charming, old fashioned fairy tale story.

Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak (2015)
22 days ago via Flixster

An interesting throwback to some of del Toro's influences, Crimson Peak can probably be described as less horror and more shock and goth (my own term, I know). He utilizes some stellar cinematography to help create a rather strange period piece, and the colour and the darkness bring to life the spiritual nuances that he seems intent on exploring through the images of the clay.

Having recently returned from seeing an exhibit on del Toro, this film really does fit well with what I have come to know about the director himself, and for as strange as the story is, he weaves some interesting perspective that sees both life and death being formed out of the red clay. The story follows a young woman who falls in love with a man that sweeps her away to this mysterious mansion that sits atop a mountain of red clay. As the mystery unfolds, things become more and more bizarre and disturbing, and the darkness becomes more and more contrasting with the brightness of the clay. And it is this contrast that begins to layer the characters dance between passion and fear, life and death. It is this dance that becomes the true monster in this film, never knowing which direction the characters are going to turn in a given moment.

The movie is rather ambitious, almost in an experimental fashion. And so it might not be for everyone. But for fans of del Toro, I think there is a ton here in this very atmospheric film to kind of sit on and enjoy.

Saban's Power Rangers
22 days ago via Flixster

Not as bad as I expected it to be. About three quarters of the film is about introducing the characters, and director Israelite gives this section a slightly more mature vibe. The last quarter of film moves us into full on Power Rangers mode, and for those who happen to be a fan of the small screen series, the final section is essentially a bigger version of that familiar setting.

Israelite is forced to travel a line between both of these worlds, trying to give us a somewhat intelligent film (otherwise known as darker) while also catering to the cheesiness of the source material (which, in all honesty, is a big part of the fun of watching Power Rangers to begin with). At times it all works. The camera work that puts us in the front seat of the truck in the opening sequence was quite well done, as were the crash scenes (one which caused me to jump out of my seat). And the characters themselves manage to be slightly more than simple caricatures (there is a commentary here on the power of diversity). But the two sections do end up feeling slightly disjointed, with the actual Power Ranger stuff even feeling a bit rushed in the end (a complaint that I have seen floating around with some Power Ranger fans).

If I was (much) younger, I could see myself really digging this one. Being older now, there were moments of looking back on my childhood that I enjoyed (I think if you were a fan of the show, you should have no problem finding some things to enjoy here), and some elements of the filmmaking that I could appreciate, even if I won't remember much about it by the time tomorrow rolls around.

Certain Women
Certain Women (2016)
31 days ago via Flixster

A touching and poignant tale about three different women trying to find their way in a world where examples of sexism still represent a wall in which they must learn to climb over. The narrative unfolds in such a way that all three stories intersect, with each intersection providing a window into the individual struggles, joys and fears that their stories embody. My understanding is that the film actually fuses three different source stories, and so it is interesting to watch the way in which they connect. It's a quiet movie, perhaps too quiet for some, but there is a certain beauty to be found in the silence, and the performances each give themselves to unwrapping this beauty in an emotional and patient manner.