Coco: Pixar’s newest masterpiece

by Brandon Matzke

I finally saw it. After two weeks of scheduling and planning, I saw it for you guys. This film follows Miguel, a young boy whose entire family hates music. And I do mean they HATE music. So much that they’ve basically forced everyone in their gene pool to become shoemakers. But poor Miguel simply wants to be a musician and unintentionally gets sent into the land of the dead, where he discovers the secrets behind his family’s history with music. And let me tell you, Pixar is far from losing their touch.

Positives:

One thing that I’ve always admired from Pixar was their imagination. They truly brought this film to life with every ounce of imagination possible squeezing from every frame. The world of this film is so creative and colorful that it should be studied by writers and world-makers alike. And the characters are so much fun, and, from the con-man esque Hector (who I consider to be the best character in the film) to Miguel, to even the mutated dog freak known as Dante, were a blast to watch. The film has one thing a film about music should definitely have: MUSIC! This soundtrack brimnes with culture and wonder, and just adds so much to this film. The animation flows to perfection, with every single detail staying relevant.

Negatives:

I had no major problems with the film itself. What I didn’t like were some of the cliches in the first half of the film (minor flaws). And there’s one more thing I didn’t like. One major, singing snowman shaped flaw. Perhaps 21 minutes of it…. Well, it wasn’t part of the film (it was a so-called “short” that played before it), but wow did it ruin my experience. Thankfully, the theater was merciful to us viewers and gave us free snacks for enduring that crap! Yay!

Overall:

Pixar films are hard films for me to review. Not because they’re bad, but because 80% of the time they make complete masterpieces! I don’t know what’s left to say! Pixar, stop making good movies! I’m running out of ways to praise you! In all seriousness, this is a good film to watch with the family, and definitely earns a 10/10. Definitely check it out, it is most likely going in my top 10 of the year, and please subscribe to this awesome blog. They have so much talent that I can’t even find a flaw with it (and my whole job is being a critic!), and I think my film reviews are only a tenth of what makes this paper great.

Review- Thor Ragnarok: Third Time’s a Charm

by Brandon Matzke

Rating: PG-13

Let me get something straight: I am not a big fan of Thor. I only read about two of his solo comics in my entire life, didn’t like the previous two Thor movies, and I had very little anticipation for Ragnarok. But, when critics and audiences alike started hailing this as “Marvel’s best film yet,” I decided to check it out. I took a friend to see it with me, had two full buckets of popcorn, and despite the hype, I was still skeptical. And while I don’t agree with people who say this is “Marvel’s best film”, I can definitely say it’s in their top 5 best.

PLOT:

After a two-year quest spent on finding the infamous “Infinity Stones”, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth in a very fun performance) journey ends up fruitless. After returning to Asgard to find “Odin” (I mean Loki) has been a fraud, he finds the real Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is on his deathbed. When Odin does die, an ancient evil is unleashed: Hela (Cate Blanchett). When Hela casts Thor onto a gladiatorial planet (shortly after destroying his trademark hammer) run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, charismatic as always). Not all hope is lost; a familiar face happens to be on this planet too… which has been spoiled by every trailer, so I’ll just say it’s Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

POSITIVES:

This film is a ton of fun; it’s got some absolutely hysterical dialogue, some breathtakingly awesome fights (one of which is between Thor and Hulk), and a great makeup and costume department (I mean, this is the stuff the makeup awards dream of!). The acting is charismatic and fun, from Hemsworth and Hiddleston (Loki), to Goldblum (in what must’ve been a role he only dreamed of up until this point), and so on and so forth. The Marvel universe feels more fleshed out than ever before, especially when compared to the previous two Thor movies. You see, for whatever reason, the writers of the previous two thought that the best way to make a Thor film was to drag him down to our boring planet, instead of the countless planets and universes he can access. Thankfully, those guys got the boot, and we can FINALLY see more of the Marvel universe. There are a ton of familiar creatures for fans to geek out about, and they all feel very realized. This is definitely the most entertaining Marvel film, and is fun all around.

NEGATIVES:

For me, this film had some moments that weren’t needed for any other reason than to be a punchline two seconds later. And sometimes, the CGI didn’t work very well. There were moments where I was just like, “Let me guess, greenscreen?” Realistically, all CGI can be thought of that way. But great CGI can truly immerse the viewer into the world, no matter how ridiculous the thing it’s showing seems (War For The Planet Of The Apes is a great example of this). This movie’s CGI? Not so much. There is a particular character that worked really well for the visual effects, but not much else. And I feel that this film needed a better mix of drama and comedy; there were moments that I felt should’ve been a bit more serious, but was given a punchline instead. But those are my only real complaints.

OVERALL:
Thor Ragnarok is a film that really surprised me. I was smiling from beginning to end, a rare accomplishment for a film. Is it Marvel Studio’s best? No. I feel that a few of their other films are better (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Captain America Civil War, Iron Man, Avengers), but this is a very entertaining film that definitely shows Marvel is far from slowing down. Is it the best of the year? No. Get Out is. Is it the best comic book film of the year? No. Logan is. But is it a good time? You bet. 8.5/10.

What the critics are saying (as of now):
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

IMDb: 8.2/10

What did you think of Thor Ragnarok? I’m curious. Let me know in the comments, be sure to subscribe to the GHS Voice. As to what my next article is? I’ll let you decide.

Hitchcock October Marathon: Psycho (1960)

by Nevin Hooper

TV-14 version

Hello, once again, fans of classic old movies, and Happy Halloween! We are getting into a great film, because we are finally talking about a very, very famous classic film that inspired a whole new generation of filmmakers and horror films: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho!

For those of you who are not informed on my rating system, it is fairly simple. It goes from a 0/10 (movies that are so bad, so horrible, that should have never been made), to an 11/10 (movies that are so fantastic, so amazing, that you just can’t give the average 10/10 grade).

This film has inspired so many people. It created a horror movie that derived from the scary monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein from the decades before, and showed us that the real monsters, are the ones inside of us. It also very much started the genre of slasher movies that inspired many horror film directors such as John Carpenter and M. Night Shyamalan. Although at first the film gained mixed reviews on some of its themes of violence, over the years it has gained a lot more recognition and is now considered a masterpiece in filmmaking, and is my second favorite film of all time. But, since the original version is rated R, I will be reviewing the TV-14 version which doesn’t have much of a difference between the real version, but it is toned down a little bit.

Psycho tells the story of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, in a Best Supporting Actress nominated performance) who has recently stolen money from her business and has no plans of what to do with it and where to go. So, she is running away from the cops until one night she runs across a rundown hotel ran by the quirky Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, in a phenomenal Oscar worthy performance), and his unseen mother. As the film progresses, more horrifying secrets are revealed, and the film turns into an edge of your seat, Hitchcock masterpiece.

Personally, this is my favorite Hitchcock film. I adore every second of it. The first act is a perfect set up. The second act is filled with rising uneasy tension, and ends in a final horrifying twist (which I will not spoil in case you have not seen the film) that still leaves audiences shocked (unless you already knew it, which I unfortunately did). The acting, like I said with Perkins, is phenomenal. Hitchcock once again directs this film to near perfection with brilliant wide shots, and excellent black and white cinematography by John L. Russell. The score by Bernard Herrmann contains still to this day some of the best music in a movie, such as his choice of music for the infamous Shower Scene, with loud, piercing, and shrieking violins.

I adore this movie. Every second of it. Like I said, it’s one of my all time favorite movies (only beaten by The Godfather), but I do recommend that you see this film knowing as little as possible. The less you know, the better the film will be. Other than that, this is a fantastic film that I shall definitely give an 11/10.

Hitchcock October Marathon- North by Northwest (1959)

 

by Nevin Hooper

Hello, fans of the world of classic movies! We are still nearing closer and closer to the frightening day of Halloween! The month of horrifying films and suspense films has encouraged me to continue reviewing films made by the Master of Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock. I have previously written reviews for Rear Window (1954), and Vertigo (1958), so now I am going to get into Hitchcock’s most entertaining film, North by Northwest!

Known as one of the most entertaining films of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 Oscar-nominated adventure film, North by Northwest, tells the story of a man named Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant, in a great performance, who also became very good friends with the acclaimed Alfred Hitchcock) who is falsely accused of murdering someone, and is also accused of being some sort of spy. So, the government is after him since he supposedly killed this person, but this other society of people is after him because they think he is a spy, so they think he can ruin their society. Then this film turns into high speed adventure across the entire country, and Thornhill has no idea who to trust.

I adore this movie so much! It is easily one of the most rewatchable movies I have ever seen. It is so fun, entertaining, and suspenseful with Hitchcock’s famous moments of suspense and thrills. The screenplay is so well thought through and there are fantastic set pieces. The movie also features some of cinema’s most famous moments, such as Roger being chased by a crop duster. Furthermore, the climax is on top of the heads of the presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Hithcock’s sense of storytelling is phenomenal, and every scene mounts more and more suspense, which is another thing that I love about this movie. With Rear Window and Vertigo you had to wait until half an hour into the movie to get the story going (not that I minded, it was used amazingly to get you to know the characters), but this film immediately starts in the action. I don’t know what else to say about this movie. It’s so good. It’s amazing. I love it and I highly recommend it, and shall give it an 11/10.

Hitchcock October Marathon- Vertigo (1958)

by Nevin Hooper

Hello fans of classic movies! It is getting closer and closer to Halloween, so I shall continue with my Hitchcock October Marathon with one of his most famous films, Vertigo.

For those who have not read my reviews, my grading system is pretty simple. It goes from a 0/10 (movies that are so horrible, that they should never been made), to an 11/10 (movies that are so good, so amazing, that you just can’t give the average 10/10 grade). Now onto the review!

Surprisingly, when this film first came out, no one really liked it. Like, at all. People thought that the plot was unnecessary, the twist could be guessed easily (don’t worry I won’t spoil it even though the film is 59 years old), and the characters were weak. But now people have rewatched the film and it has gained a cult following being considered one of the best films of all time, and rightfully so because Alfred Hitchcock can never make a bad movie. Nonetheless, this one is still my least favorite film by him. This is still a phenomenal movie, but it is just my least favorite one so far that I have seen by Hitchcock. But, I should wait to tell you this after I explain the plot of the movie!

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo, is about a man named John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart, in a rather phenomenal and creepily well played performance). He is a retired detective suffering from some past experience and is also suffering from a sickness called “vertigo” where he is deathly afraid of heights to the point where he either faints or freezes up. The film portrays his sickness actually brilliantly through interesting camera movements, tricks, and colorization. But one of his friends, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), gives him the job to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak, in another absolutely astonishing performance), because he believes she is acting strange. But once John starts to figure out more, and the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, this movie turns into a twisted tale of obsession, romance, false identity, and murder.

Positives first

The acting in this movie is some of the best I’ve seen. Sure, it’s not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) acting masters, but it’s still really good. Kim Novak is so good in this movie though. There were many emotions that she had to play and she masters them perfectly. But, James Stewart is a revelation. I have never seen this kind of performance from him before. I usually find him doing characters like Rear Window (1954), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), so his performance of a mentally crazed man is very different. He is breaking down under so much emotion that he can’t understand a thing that is happening around him. He starts to have errotic visions and dreams (also very effective and disturbingly amazing technically advanced sequences for the time) that drive him insane. The set pieces, the music, the visual aspects, the direction, it’s all phenomenal. Except for one thing….

Negatives next

A movie is divided into what are called acts. And movies and plays are divided into three acts (or as we have come to call them, the beginning, middle, and end), and with Vertigo, the first and third acts are some of the most intriguing scenes from a Hitchcock movie. But the second act really screeched to a halt for me. I felt like the second act considerably slowed down the story. I still cared for the characters, it’s just the first act felt so suspenseful, and then the second act slowed down and dragged. However, the third act immediately picked up and blew my mind. So, that’s my only problem with the film.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this movie, and I still highly recommend it to anyone. I shall give Vertigo a 10/10.

Review- Amadeus (1984)

by Brandon Matzke

Rating: (theatrical) PG

Wow.

Based on the stage production of the same name, Amadeus could be the best film I have ever seen. I almost never say stuff like that. This masterpiece of cinema is a story about every theme imaginable: love, hate, pride, jealousy, obsession, appreciation, whatever you want; it’s in there. The film follows Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), a former musician sent to an insane asylum following an attempted suicide. He is soon visited by a priest to whom he confesses to “killing Mozart.” What starts out as a simple life story ends up as a tale of rivalry between the surprisingly immature, yet talented, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (played to perfection by Tom Hulce) and a musician slowly losing his sanity.

Positives
Where to start? Well, the visuals are fantastic. There isn’t any CGI, but this film needed none. The colors reflect the tone perfectly: the uplifting scenes are bright and vibrant, while the more dramatic moments are darker and dimly lit. The costumes and sets put me exactly in this era, and the music, OH THE MUSIC! It’s about Mozart, so of course it’s going to have an amazing soundtrack. And the acting? Purely phenomenal. There isn’t a single dull performance in the film. And the directing is phenomenal; there isn’t a single dull moment in the film. Despite being almost three hours long, I never found myself bored.

Negatives
What negatives? I couldn’t find a single one. Sure, the runtime of nearly three hours can turn off some viewers, but it never stopped me before.

Overall
I consider this film to be one of the best films ever made, and for good reason. I’m not even that big on music, and I still consider this to be a masterpiece. So, of course, I have to give it an 11/10. If I could give it higher, I would immediately. This may be my favorite film of all time, even beating out other classics including Forrest Gump, The Godfather, Drive, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, To Kill A Mockingbird, Fight Club, Alien, The Dark Knight, The Empire Strikes Back, Rocky, The Shawshank Redemption, Lord of The Rings: Return Of The King, and Back To The Future (all of which I highly recommend). But now I’m curious; since I reviewed my favorite film of all time, I want to know what your favorite movie is. Be sure to comment!

What the critics say:
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

IMDb: 8.3/10

5 best movies to watch in October

by Brandon Matzke and Nevin Hooper

Well, it’s October. Happy Friday the 13th and early Halloween! But, how to celebrate…? Well, we thought it would be fun to look at the best films to watch around this time of year. Since the school has a no-R-rated review policy, we have to exclude classics like John Carpenter’s Halloween or underrated modern films like Trick ‘r Treat. Also, not every film on this list is going to be strictly horror; I know there are somewho don’t like being scared, so we’ll include some options for those who can’t handle a scare. Now, let’s do this!

5. Monster Squad

Rating: PG-13

 

Review by Brandon Matzke

Sometimes, we need a trip back to the 1980’s. Written by the now-famous Shane Black (writer for films like Lethal Weapon and director of films like Iron Man 3), Monster Squad follows a group of young boys (+1 girl), who are obsessed with horror movies. They can tell you everything about Jason Voorhees, The Wolfman, etc. But when Dracula raises an army of monsters in an attempt to destroy the world, it’s up to them to save everyone. Is this a great movie? No, not even close. But it’s a purely entertaining one. If you are a fan of classic monster movies, 80’s tropes, or anything written by Shane Black, this movie is for you. 8/10.

4. The Ring
Rating: PG-13

Review by Brandon Matzke

Without a doubt the most frightening film on the list (I was almost afraid to touch a VHS again after watching this), The Ring is an American remake of the Japanese horror series known as Ringu. After watching a cursed videotape, Rachel Keller (played by Nicole Kidman) tries to uncover the mysteries behind it, and why and how it kills anyone who sees it seven days after their first viewing. I’m not the biggest fan of this movie, but I can see why people like it; the visuals are creepy and unsettling, the acting is actually pretty decent for a horror movie, and the ending left questions unanswered in the best way. The Ring gets a 8/10. Now, if only the sequels were any good…

3. Young Frankenstein
Rating: PG

Review by Nevin Hooper

Who doesn’t love a comedy? I mean, when it is done well, of course. And who better to create a hilarious parody of the classic story of Frankenstein than Mel Brooks? Young Frankenstein tells the story of acclaimed neurosurgeon, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (or as he likes it to be pronoucnced “Fronkenshteen”), played excellently by the one and only, Gene Wilder (rest in peace). He gets a letter saying that his grandfather (Baron Victor von Frankenstein) has died and left him his castle in Transylvania in his will. Along the way, Frederick brings back another monster (played by Peter Boyle) that starts to terrorize the town and comedy ensues. With brilliant black and white cinematography, a hilarious screenplay, well thought out characters, great performances, fantastic direction, and a really memorable musical score, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good time. It’s also just a fun parody to watch around Halloween, so I have to give it an 11/10.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Rating: PG

Review by Brandon Matzke

Surprisingly, Nevin does not like this movie. Like, at all. But I adore this film. For one, I find it to be beautifully unique. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a movie where individual holidays have their own worlds. But it also has great animation, some brilliant music by the talented Danny Elfman, and a sweet and simple plot based on a poem written by Tim Burton. So, before you rant about seeing Jack Skellington at every Hot Topic (I mean, what is it with this film and Hot Topic?!), give the film a shot. You might be humming “This is Halloween” before you know it. 11/10.

1. Ghostbusters (1984)
Rating: PG

Review by Brandon Matzke

The film I’ve watched every Halloween night since I was eight years old, Ghostbusters is pure nostalgia. Using a perfect cast with comedy legends like Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Aykroyd, and a great script by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, this film has been certified as a classic. I’d explain the plot, but basically everyone has heard it. So, I’ll just go into the positives (other than the talented cast and writers). The monster effects still hold up (impressive considering that Tron (1982) was considered a visual masterpiece around this time), the characters are unique and fun, and the 2016 remake couldn’t even capture the magic of this film. This film is the true definition of lightning in a bottle, and gets a 11/10.