The Darkest Minds Trailer Review

Just came back from a one week holiday, and saw the trailer for The Darkest Minds. The book by Alexandra Bracken was one of the YA series I had followed when I was younger, so I went into this with a definite level of anticipation.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look too good.

Quick thoughts:

  1. I think Amanda Stenberg is a good actress and a good choice for YA type movies (I liked her in Everything, Everything and of course The Hunger Games.) She seems to be a pretty competent lead here, one of the few good things I’d gleaned from the trailer.
  2. The supporting cast doesn’t seem particularly strong; not unlike those in underwhelming YA films such as The Fifth Wave and Divergent.
  3. Dialogue seems pretty questionable already… and it’s just the trailer.
  4. The set pieces/visual effects seem to be fringing on TV movie type effects; even down to the font used.
  5. Not one moment was particularly inspiring/impactful at all
  6. There is diversity; interesting to see how young actress Miya Cech will carry her role.

For now, this seems like it’ll probably go the way of underwhelming films such as The Fifth Wave.

 

Sight Unseen: A Quiet Place

As of writing, A Quiet Place holds a 100% Fresh Rating on Rottentomatoes with 26 reviews so far, certainly a positive sign of things to come as far as critics consensus on the film goes.

2017 was the year of Get Out, a film that expanded on the horror genre to include biting social commentary. Director and star of A Quiet Place John Krasinski has mentioned that he’s added a definite amount social commentary into the film, with Get Out being one of the inspirations for the film. 

Critics seem to agree that it’s a thrilling film with a warm heart at its core, and one that needs to be experienced in cinemas. If audiences agree with them, I think A Quiet Place could definitely be 2018’s Get Out.

As we know, Get Out was a major Oscar contender in 2017, and while it’s too early to call (also because I haven’t actually seen the film), I wonder if it may gain heat in categories such as Best Actress/Supporting Actress for Emily Blunt, who over the years has come close to a nod in films like The Girl on the Train and The Devil Wears Prada, and from the trailers, definitely seems to give a powerful performance. If it hits the right notes, it could well be a contender for its screenplay too, which offers a rather unique plot involving a deaf family. 

I ultimately hope to be thrilled by this movie when I see it in cinemas, and I do foresee myself being scared out of my pants. I also hope the social commentary is naturally imbued into the film and can be gleaned clearly through deeper analysis; analyzing the finer details of Get Out was one of the most revelatory follow-up experiences I’ve had with a film! 

Prediction: 8.5/10

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Melissa McCarthy’s Second Oscar Nod?

Melissa McCarthy introduced herself to Oscar voters in 2011 with Bridesmaids, garnering a supporting actress nomination for her hilarious performance. Since then, I’ve mostly seen her in similar slapstick-type comedy films, some of which have certainly both been box office successes and testament to her prowess as a leading lady in comedy films. However, it’s clear to see that she’s mostly taken on roles as ‘that funny, fat lady’, in films such as Spy and Tammy. (Spy was definitely one of the funniest movies I caught in 2015, by the way), which haven’t captured the same Oscar attention her turn in Bridesmaids did.

In the first trailer for Can You Ever Forgive Me however, McCarthy looks to be showing some of her dramatic flair. She shone quietly before in films such as 2013’s St. Vincent, where she played a divorced mum, and I think she may finally be noticed again by the Oscars this year. Playing forger Lee Israel, her role looks to be a complex one thick with emotional meat, and the trailer definitely pushes it from this angle. It looks to have its share of brittle humour, not the type where you’d laugh at the person, and not even laugh with the person, but the type to elicit chuckles amidst more dramatic scenes. I think Melissa McCarthy is the type of actress would could certainly pull off this perfect blend of dramatic flair and brittle comedy, one not dissimilar to performances such as Frances McDormand’s and Margot Robbie’s from this year’s Oscars.

A lot will come down to how the film is received as a whole, and whether she’ll indeed have the meaty scenes that the trailer promises, but if she can pull this off, I think she may have her second Oscar nom in sight.

I’ve updated my Oscars sidebar to include her for now.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer: immediate thoughts 

The first Fantastic Beasts movie was by no means bad, but didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, the admittedly rather untoppable Harry Potter series. 

The first trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped about 2 days ago, and here are my immediate thoughts:

1. Jude Law as Dumbledore: Maybe its a physical resemblance thing, but I just didn’t see Jude Law as Dumbledore, I kind of saw Jude Law as Jude Law. Or perhaps it’s the grin that introduces us to him; I don’t think I’ve seen old Dumbledore ever break a smile like that before.

2. Beasts feature heavily: I guess true to the name of the series, the trailer features shots of many different beasts, some that we haven’t seen yet. Not sure if this is necessarily a good thing; I thought the scenes involving the tracking down of the different beasts in the first movie were actually the lackluster ones.

3. Grindelwald appears only briefly: For a film entitled Crimes of Grindelwald, you’d think they showcase the villain more in the trailer. I wonder if it’s got to do with the accusations against Johnny Depp in his personal life right now.

4. What was the last scene? Slamming their wands into the ground to cast a spell better not become a thing… it feels so wrong! 

5. Balance between supporting cast: I wonder big a role the supporting cast of the first film will have given the many new additions; having Jude Law as Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as Grindelwald tells me that they’re probably going to have meaty roles. While Porpentina and Jacob do appear in the trailer briefly, with Jacob having a nice scene to himself, Queenie doesn’t really seem to appear at all, and there’s still a whole group of new cast members including one played by Zoe Kravitz. Will the original supporting cast begin to fade into unimportance as the Dumbledore/Grindelwald story takes centre stage? Curious to see how things play out. 

Overall I thought the trailer was a nice introduction to the second film of the Fantastic Beasts series.

Sight Unseen: Pacific Rim Uprising

One franchise that the Pacific Rim one brings to mind is the Transformers series, and not just because both involve giant robots in fights aplenty with explosions. 

From the Pacific Uprising trailers, I’m already drawing many similarities between the two; whereas the first had decent storytelling and a more solemn tone to ground the film, the second looks to be an explosion-fest of robot battles with a constant upbeat tone to match. While this may be the winning recipe for the average movie goer, I think it may still fail if 1. the characters are either too unrelatable or underdeveloped, which may be the case seeing how all the characters appear to be the typical hero/anti-hero types, or 2. if the scenes lack enough intensity to make them thrilling. As cool as it is seeing a giant robot beating up some monster, it’ll certainly grow stale if that’s all that happens for 1-2 hours. I think the film make lack the intensity of the first here given how much smaller both the monsters and the robots seem; I thought the first film did an incredible job in bringing out the sheer scale of these battles, which definitely added to the intensity. From the trailers of this second film however, they somehow felt rather Transformers-like, in other words, big but nowhere near the imposing size felt in the first.

I think John Boyega would be good as the lead – he definitely has charisma, but I wonder if he can carry the film, especially if his character doesn’t grow much beyond the typical anti-hero plot line that seems set out for him, along with the already cliche-sounding dialogue from the trailer.

I should note that I think it’s nice how the plot hasn’t been betrayed by the trailers; the introduction of ‘rogue’ robots could create an interesting story arc. 

I foresee the plot to follow the line of the rogue robot/organization re-opening the portal to our world, a series of lost battles ensue followed by victorious ones after the obligatory motivational speech as well as the various characters coming to terms with themselves, resulting ultimately in the defeat of the monsters. Basically, predictable stuff. The whole rogue robot thing does make me wonder if we’ll be surprised by a nice plot twist though.

Prediction: 4/10

Sight Unseen: Ready Player One

There are some reviews of Ready Player One out already, and my general sensing is that this seems to be a pretty good movie overall, but I’ll go through some of my thoughts on the film anyway before I see it.

When a film is directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, I know I’m not alone in saying that expectations are bound to be heightened. Based on the trailers that have been released, I think the director’s keen attention to detail comes out very clearly, with crisp and detailed-looking environments and clean-looking action sequences. I think it has an interesting premise to boot; it’s one you’d expect of a video game (hence the name), with a literal (?) easter egg hunt at its core that would grant the winner all the riches in the world and control over the virtual world in the film.

The widely publicised, but also somewhat criticised 80s inspired posters definitely tell me that this film is bound to be chock-full with references from the 80s, which makes me wonder whether they’d be a hindrance to 90s kids like me, let alone millennials. It also makes me wonder if non video game fans will be left even more in the dark, and whether these references would actually cause confusion for people like me rather than excitement and I suppose nostalgia.

Still, the visuals look incredible, and I think the filmmakers would be discerning enough to make this accessible to everyone (even though some will clearly be more thrilled than others re: 80s references) I do think the plot seems somewhat predictable at this point, and not just because it’s based on a book; protagonist fights his way through various trials in the virtual world, teamed up with others against some corporation that is after the same easter egg. He wins, and all becomes good. I don’t think this necessarily means the film will be uninteresting, though it’d be on the filmmakers to really dazzle us with hopefully innovative visual work.

Prediction: 7.5/10

 

Tomb Raider (2018) : A decent revitalisation of the Lara Croft franchise (spoilers)

I went into Tomb Raider with low expectations, and I suppose I came out still with mixed feelings. But if anything, Tomb Raider was an improvement over the past films in terms of its plot and its portrayal of Lara Croft.

I thought the action scenes in general were ok; it did feel like we were just moving from one set piece to another, but I guess that sort of mirrors the Tomb Raider games, where we traverse from one obstacle to another. As a film however, these actions scenes sometimes delivered, but were also sometimes bland. I think it’s inevitable, given that pretty much the entire movie, or at least the last two-thirds of the movie, is one giant action sequence. In general though, I preferred the ones after they’d descended into the tomb, though I guess that’s to be expected.

I thought the twist at the end was nice; one I actually didn’t anticipate. I always love a good movie plot twist so that definitely redeemed some of the more questionable plot lines from earlier, such as when Lara runs off all of a sudden, equipped with only a bow, back to the place she’d just escaped from, which I found rather abrupt and devoid of strategy. I suppose the filmmakers wanted to make time for the most important scenes though, in the tomb.

I think a lot of credit also has to be given to Alicia Vikander for her portrayal of Lara. She certainly feels a lot more grounded than Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft; from the genuine looks of fear and pain in her eyes during the action sequences to her clear physical fitness that made the scenes more believable. I also liked how her character never exploits her sex appeal explicitly, nor is it a key aspect of her character at all, which I feel really helped keep me immersed in her character’s experience. I think usually, when films try to exploit a character’s sex appeal, especially in these blockbuster type films, it draws you away from that character’s individual experience because you know the film intends for you to look at them explicitly from the outside, and not the inside.

Also, the rendering of the father-daughter relationship was perhaps a little too sentimental and thus predictable, and I think the actions scenes didn’t quite have the intensity that you’d witness in the best action movies; she never really sheds the ‘invincible action hero’ thing entirely, making the stakes seem lower than they appear to be onscreen.

Rating: 6/10