Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

Everest (2015) Movie Review

 

In 1996, a pair of commercial expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest went terribly wrong. Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) both lead competing commercial expedition companies. They decide, due to overcrowding of climbers attempting the voyage up on the same day, decide to work together to reach the summit.

 

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The dramatics are set up early on, as we see Continue reading Everest (2015) Movie Review

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Willow Creek (2014) Movie Review

 

Caution: minor plot spoilers ahead

 

Indie found footage horror flick Willow Creek cold opens on nothing. Darkness all around as the camera sits idle in a patch of grass blowing lazily in the breeze. We sit in this moment for a tad too long, then the sound crescendos into the title card.

 

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Next, we are in a car with a couple. Jim (Bryce Johnson) is testing out the sound equipment, goading his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) to speak into the microphone while she drives. She recites lines from a feminine hygiene product commercial that she failed to book. They joke about the Continue reading Willow Creek (2014) Movie Review

Goldfinger (1964) Movie Review

 

The cold open of Goldfinger has in it seemingly every James Bond trope. Bond (Sean Connery) sneaks and fights his way into a guarded facility. He uses a gadget to blow something up (for God knows what reason). Then, he strips down to a white suit and diffuses into the social world, where he rendezvouses with another agent. There’s also an attractive woman dancing, just for good measure. A woman Bond then attempts to bed, only to be approached from behind by an armed assailant. And, as always, the altercation ends in a one-liner.

 

It is James Bond in a nutshell.

 

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Following this cold open, we get one of the better Bond opening title sequences. A stark black background and projected film footage casts gold-painted women in shadows. All the while, Shirley Bassey’s voice erupts above the stagnant visuals. It isn’t hard to see Continue reading Goldfinger (1964) Movie Review

From Russia With Love (1963) Movie Review

 

From Russia With Love, the second film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s work to depict MI6 agent James Bond, cold opens on a cat and mouse chase at night. Bond (Sean Connery) steps out of the shadows and moves silently across the grassy landscape, knowing that he is being tailed. The assailant (Robert Shaw), stalks Bond, then retreats to the cover of a nearby bush to wait for the perfect moment to strike. Surprisingly, he gets that perfect moment. Bond goes down, choked by wire at the hands of the assassin. The super spy is bested.

 

Or is he.

 

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Lights go up, and an army of men are revealed. The event was a training exercise and Bond: a grunt in a Connery mask. Someone is out to get Bond. Someone very powerful.

Continue reading From Russia With Love (1963) Movie Review

Dr. No (1962) Movie Review

 

1962’s Dr. No is the first adaptation of Ian Fleming’s work, bringing to the screen his iconic super spy character James Bond. The first time we see Bond (Sean Connery) in this film, the stage is already set for Connery to set the precedent for how the spy is meant to look and act on screen. He puffs casually at a cigarette as he gambles and flirts with his female competitor (Eunice Gayson). His look is suave, his mannerisms subtle and laid back. Connery immediately embodies Fleming’s sharp-witted and womanizing Bond.

 

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The film is littered with retrospective moments in which we can see precedents being set for the franchise. The iconic score blares in right off the bat, as we stare down the barrel of a gun. This theme repeats itself many times throughout the film. Bond and M (Bernard Lee) discuss Continue reading Dr. No (1962) Movie Review

Black Mass (2015) Movie Review

 

Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is the story of crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) told from the eyes of his criminal underlings as they speak out against him to the FBI.

 

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Bulger, after serving a nine-year stint in Alcatraz prison, straddles together a working crime business in southern Boston in the 1970s. FBI agent and childhood friend of Bulger John Connelly (Joel Edgerton) approaches Bulger with an offer to Continue reading Black Mass (2015) Movie Review

The Visit (2015) Movie Review

 

A divorced mother of two (Kathryn Hahn) hasn’t seen or talked to her parents in 15 years. After all this time, they contact her online asking to see their grandchildren (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould), whom they have never met. She reluctantly agrees on her children’s insistence.

 

Her children are a cute sibling pair, natural and appropriately childish. Tyler is charismatic and naive, free style rapping with a train conductor and purporting to “sext” with classmates. He desperately wants to live up to a masculine stereotype that he does not truly embody.

 

Becca is verbose and dramatic with her words as she narrates her way through exposition like a quick knife-stroke through butter. She has recently armed herself with cameras, hoping to tape their week-long visit in a style as close to a professional documentary as she can muster.

 

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Shymalan channels an inexperienced auteur in Becca. Early interactions are light and bubbly as she sets the scene for her “documentary.” It also serves a meta purpose in its intended humor. She explains that with a camera you need to build tension and make people want to imagine what is lingering just beyond the frame. It sounds very much like Shymalan is Continue reading The Visit (2015) Movie Review