READY PLAYER ONE- Review

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Level One: Background

BRANDON: I have a serious confession here: you’d think that a self-proclaimed film critic would have seen more Spielberg films in theaters, but the tragic truth is that I haven’t seen a Spielberg movie since 2008, thanks to the infamous Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. But I decided late was better than never, so I hopped into the theater for Ready Player One, preparing to get my mind blown thanks to the masterful director’s talent, the original world crafted by nerd culture legend Ernest Cline, and the much-awaited return of the Iron Giant. So, how was the film overall? Well…

Level Two: Plot
This film takes place in a world overrun by corporations and overpopulation; the world sucks, so the only way most people can manage their lives is by entering the Oasis. The creator of which has died years ago, leaving behind an Easter Egg. This Easter Egg, when discovered, will grant the finder possession of the Oasis, trillions of dollars, and the world’s favorite hobby. When the youthful Wyatt Watts finds it, he finds himself on a quest for the way his world lives.

Level Three: Positives

This movie looks Incredible. It felt great enough seeing beloved characters introduced into a dystopian classic for this era, but when they look like the entirety of Pixar worked on every single character. And the main characters are likeable too, feeling like they’re ordinary people escaping into this wonderful world. And the action: where else can you watch the Iron Giant fighting a giant Star Wars lookalike mech, while all of the Ninja Turtles aid the Halo crew with taking out a dystopian army, with that not even being the most of the focus?

+10 points

Level Four: Negatives

The film has a problem; for its focus on the importance of reality along with fantasy, the reality part is rather dull. Maybe anything feels dull when it’s being measured against King Kong chasing the DeLorean, but it still felt like an afterthought. And the villains were extremely one dimensional too; we get it! Corporations can be evil; just watch the news. Give them some form of watchability, and we’ll be fine.

-2

Final Boss: OVERALL

Ready Player One may be far from perfect, but it still is a marvel to watch on the big screen. It was a celebration of nerd culture showing the things we love and why we love them perfectly. However, the many breaks from the wonderful world of the Oasis felt rather dull, and the villains were just groan-worthy to sit through.

RATING:

8.9/10 (B+)

King Kong (1933) Anniversary Review

By Brandon Matzke

Usually Nevin is the one who reviews these classic films, but seeing as he has never seen this film, and that it’s the film’s 85th anniversary, I decided to review it for him. Now, I have to get this out of the way, I absolutely adore this film. I consider it to be a classic, and one of the greatest “monster movies” ever, if not, the greatest “monster movie” ever. But what is it about? For you five people who have never heard of this legendary film, I’ll explain the plot.

Plot

The film takes place in the 1930s (obviously, as it was made in ‘33), and follows the fateful crew of one of the biggest risks in Hollywood history; filming an entire movie on an island nobody’s ever stepped foot on, known only as Skull Island. As they soon find out, there was a reason for that. Right when they get the right idea to leave, their leading lady (Ann Darrow, played by Fay Wray) gets kidnapped by the 25-foot hulking beast known as King Kong. Soon, it’s up to the cast and crew of this fated picture to save Ann, fighting monsters of mythical proportions along the way.

Positives

This film captures one thing perfectly; adventure. It feels like this entire film is a journey, and it’s exciting from beginning to end. And the creature effects are great too. Sure, they don’t look realistic (at all), but you can appreciate them in the sort of way you’d appreciate a stop-motion film. And the way they blend with the live-action actors is incredible too; again, not realistic, but still a wonder for the eyes. In fact, this film was the reason we have the best visual effects award at the Oscars, since they were so incredibly blown away by this film’s stop-motion techniques. And the effects aren’t the only crowning jewel; the acting is actually really good, something that isn’t seen much in effects-driven films. And the pacing is downright perfect; the film goes through it’s beginning, middle, and end seamlessly. This is something very few films have replicated, including this film’s eventual remakes and sequels. I could honestly praise this film forever, but I will admit that there is a slight problem I have with it.

Negatives

As great as the film is, I do sort of wish we got to know more about Kong himself. Sure, the 2005 version did this perfectly fine, but that film has a terrible problem with it’s pacing, and a very miscast Jack Black, so it does fail to compare with this film. But if you want the definitive Kong experience, I still recommend this classic.

Overall

For an effects-driven monster movie, King Kong is still a masterpiece. I absolutely adore this movie, (I even have a metallic poster of it (hard find)), So of course, I have to give this an 11/10. I highly recommend it, and I wish it was regarded as less of a dumb monster movie.

Double Decker Movie Reviews: Jumanji and The Greatest Showman

By Brandon Matzke and Nevin Hooper

Hello there! It is I, Brandon, here with a new concept for film reviews (at least in this school blog): double decker movie reviews. See, Nevin and I had both seen movies that are currently in theaters: Nevin saw The Greatest Showman and I saw Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. And to prevent us wasting too much of your time, here’s our thoughts on the films in one article. Ready? Let’s go!

The Greatest Showman

by Nevin Hooper

I saw it. The Greatest Showman. I was Continue reading →

Review- The Last Jedi

by Brandon Matzke

Well, Star Wars has been around for a long time. And it definitely doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop soon. This is the eight film in the main Star Wars series (excluding the 999,999+ spin-offs and fan movies) and takes place after the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey finding Luke (only for him to be a man of lost faith) and the rebellion fleeing from the infamous First Order. Sounds familiar? Well, there’s more. Rey and Kylo have a strange link in the force, secrets get revealed, and there’s space horses. Lots of them too.

Positives:

The characters are still the same we love: despite being the “wise old master,” Luke is still the teenager from Tatooine we all love. He had his humor, but also had a tragic history since Return Of The Jedi that made me still care about him. The newer characters felt expanded too, and the even newer characters felt interesting and fresh (just like how they should’ve been). I found a really interesting aspect of the film to be the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren; it almost felt like a friendship at times, making some decisions made later in the film feel much more tragic. Rian Johnson’s direction is truly awesome, feeling just like a classic Star Wars film at times, but with a welcome modern touch (I said welcome, unlike the Special Editions). The visuals look great, combining CGI and puppets in the way The Force Awakens had introduced. The music is great, too: the familiar tunes are there, along with newer sounds. And the action is just so well executed, especially the finale. Plus, (no spoilers) a familiar face makes an awesome return.

Negatives

Some characters felt very underused, like Princess Leia, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and Poe Dameron. I know Carrie Fisher sadly passed during the making of the film, but her character could’ve been used for more than a deus ex-machina moment. Poe just felt one-dimensional: he’s a rebel, so your liking him seems to be the focus with him. And the two most iconic robots in Star Wars barely got to do anything. Some moments in the finale just dragged for me. Some reveals I thought were kinda cool, but disappointed many viewers (and I can see why).

Overall

The Last Jedi is proof that Star Wars is very far from ending, thanks to the talents and characters involved in this fantastic world. Is it flawed? Yeah, it has it’s issues. But it does have some heartfelt moments, and appears to be saying that the empire Lucas built is far from collapsing.

Well, you just finished reading my last review for 2017. I had fun this year: met a lot of great people (including really cool fans), saw some great flicks (and some bad, obviously), and got to enjoy my first year writing for this excellent school’s blog. I hope you enjoyed my first year (I promise to return if possible in 2018), and I suggest you follow us at the GHS Voice.

Top ten films of 2017

by Brandon Matzke

Well, the year is wrapping up. It’s both a blessing and a curse; blessing because it means that we can see what 2018 holds in store or us, but also a curse because it means that we’re all another year closer to the apocalypse. Just kidding… I hope. But this year had some excellent films, so I’m going to celebrate those. Now, keep in mind I couldn’t include every film I saw on this list, so I’ll include a honorable mentions list: Split, Wonder Woman, Spiderman Homecoming, The Lego Batman Movie, John Wick: Chapter 2, and American Made. I know, there was a ton of superhero movies, but some were legitimately good films. And I also didn’t see everything that came out this year, I missed out on so many great films (Wind River, Lady Bird, Big Sick, etc). So, without further ado, here’s my top 10 favorite films of the year!

10. Thor: Ragnarok

This film is far from the best of the year, but it still is fun. I already covered this film, so I’ll make it quick: Chris Hemsworth plays Thor in a charismatic and fun performance, the dialogue is a ton of fun to hear, the film is probably Marvel’s most humorous film yet, and one I definitely recommend for fans of comics. The action is breathtakingly awesome, and the soundtrack is both epic and entertaining. Here’s to more great MCU films to come.

9. It (2017)

Finally! Another good Stephen King horror film! Based on the 1986 novel of the same name, this It is dark, brutal, scary, and even funny and heartwarming at times. Let’s start with the clown on everyone’s mind: Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. This guy blew it out of the water. He’s easily one of the scariest monsters in cinema history, and truly unsettled me on several occasions. But he’s not the only good part; the cinematography and score are awesome, along with the young actors involved. The two everyone thinks of when someone mentions the Loser’s Club in this film are Sophia Lillis (Beverly) and Finn Wolfhard (as easily the intentionally funniest character in a Stephen King movie, Ritchie). This film isn’t perfect; some characters feel extremely overshadowed (particularly Stan and Mike), one scene feels extremely out of place, and sometimes it goes a little too far with the 80’s references. But other than those, it’s a great adaptation of Stephen King’s work, miles better than the famous 90’s miniseries, and 100% worth watching.

8. Coco

Hey, a Pixar film is on my top 10! This hasn’t happened since 2015 with Inside Out, but it feels good to acknowledge these people’s genius. Pixar, how do you do it? They made some stinkers (Cars 2 and The Good Dinosaur in particular), but made at least 5 masterpieces for every one of their bad films! And Coco is only a continuation of their greatness, bringing their signature charm and imagination into the world of the Mexican afterlife. This film managed to be fun and emotional exactly when needed, and had one of the most memorable characters of the year (in the form of Hector.) This skeleton ironically brought so much more life and heart into the film, and he’s a con man character. I have a weird obsession with con men in movies…..

7. Logan

In my opinion, this is the best comic book film of the year. Maybe even the best since The Avengers. But it’s also one of the bleakest. This film contains very little joy, is extremely brutal in both its depictions of violence and emotions, yet is the best way to end the legacy of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Hugh Jackman gives a downright oscar-worthy performance as a broken down, beaten Wolverine. And Patrick Stewart as the elderly and sick Professor X is maybe the performance of his career, but we’re forgetting Dafne Keen as X-23 (aka Laura), who definitely deserves her own film. The script and directing give this film almost a sci-fi western feel, and it definitely benefits from it. This film made me care about a drunk X-man and his old man mentor saving a little girl. So, well done, Fox. Well done.

6. The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi taught me two things: one, Star Wars is still good. And two, it’s gonna be around for a long, long time. I don’t want to get into too much, since I have to write the review for it (which is coming soon). I promise not to spoil it, but it does have some moments that I think will be iconic in Star Wars history.

5. Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan; I adore this guy. I love his films, from Memento to The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, this man 110% knows his craft. And Dunkirk is no exception. True, we never really get to know these characters too well, but what it lacks in character it makes up for in suspense. This is easily the most suspenseful film of 2017, and for good reason too. I was on the edge of my seat for a majority of the film, from the opening battle to the end. The scope of this film is incredible; you feel like you’re on this island with these soldiers, and at times I forgot I was even watching a movie. Dunkirk isn’t just a film; it’s an experience. And one I highly recommend.

4. Blade Runner 2049

I love the final cut of Blade Runner. I consider it to be a science fiction masterpiece, and I think it’s one of the best films ever made. And this sequel, rather than hindering it (like most sequels) expands on it. This film is a modern masterpiece; it makes you really think about the world it’s in, along with several of the questions it raises. Is he even human? Is she the right person? Things like that are something modern Hollywood desperately needs. The performances are phenomenal across the board; Ryan Gosling gives a surprisingly human show as K, a replicant struggling to find his place in this world. And Harrison Ford definitely deserves an oscar for his role; he’s not your “life’s a party” Harrison Ford; he’s the “I’ve seen the worst this world has to offer” Harrison Ford. This man has been through so much pain and suffering that you can almost smell it, and just nails one of his most iconic roles. While this film was marketed as an action film, it’s much more of a philosophical sci-fi film, and one not to miss. Please, if you missed out on this in theaters, watch it ASAP (legally of course). It’s a film that deserves support.

3. Baby Driver

I am convinced that Edgar Wright has some sort of magic. He has never made a legitimately bad movie, and even his “weakest” film (The World’s End) was in my top 2 of 2013! How does he do it?! Well, his awesome train is continuing with this year’s Baby Driver. Wow did this film blow me away: the action, the script, the comedy, the drama, the acting, the music, the directing, even the editing, EVERYTHING! Edgar Wright just keeps making great movies. Please continue!

2. War For The Planet Of The Apes

Hey! I already reviewed this one! Well, I’ll talk about it some more. Again, Andy Serkis as Caesar was one of the best performances of the year, both heartbreaking and inspirational. For a film about talking apes, this was a surprisingly bleak and even brutal film. There were scenes where I seriously wondered how this got a PG-13 rating. The visual effects definitely deserve an oscar; bringing these apes to life in such detail that you can see the snow in their fur, or the irises of their eyes (even from a far distance), this is an excellent conclusion to one of the finest trilogies in modern cinema. Don’t look at this as a “dumb nerd film”. Look at it as a film Hollywood desperately needs: one that can make you excited. One that can make you cry. And especially, one that will make you cheer at the end.

1. Get Out

If you had told 2016 me that a horror film (one that came out in February, nonetheless) would top my favorite films of 2017, I would’ve cracked up. Yet, this managed to be my favorite film of the year. This film is both smart and terrifying, and one never outweighs the other. The smartness adds to the horror, and the horror only makes it smarter. This film is the closest to Hitchcockian that any film of this decade has been (in my opinion); the thrills are so tense I felt myself being as unsettled as the main lead. And sometimes, even the quieter moments are terrifying: a look can be as scary as a knife, thanks to the excellent directing by Jordan Peele. And the writing is amazing, definitely oscar-worthy. If you pay close attention, seemingly ordinary quotes can be as horrifying as the scares in the latter half of the film. The acting, too, is extraordinary, especially from Allison Williams (who is downright Oscar-worthy) and Daniel Kaluuya. This is a film that I plan to be watching for decades, and I won’t complain whenever I see it’s on.

Top 5 Martin Scorsese films

by Brandon Matzke and Nevin Hooper

Last Friday, Martin Scorsese turned 75. For 58 years, this masterful director has been gracing us with masterpiece after masterpiece. And to celebrate, we’re looking at his 5 best films. But, I haven’t seen that many of his films. Thankfully, I know someone who has: Nevin Hooper! Together we’re covering his best films. Just keep in mind there’s some we haven’t seen (Silence, The Wolf of Wall Street), and even if we did see those, we couldn’t exactly talk about them on the school blog. Now, let’s get into Marty’s best, starting with an honorable mention.

Honorable Mention:

Hugo: Based on the bestselling children’s novel, Hugo is without a doubt Scorsese’s most family friendly film. It has a sense of wonder and whimsy within every frame, and has a great performance by Ben Kingsley. The reason why it’s not on the list is because I honestly could not care about some of the characters in this film. Some of them just felt like straight up cartoon characters! But other than that, Hugo is a film that’s fun for the whole family, and is definitely a better film to introduce the family to Scorsese than, say, The Wolf of Wall Street.

5. Casino (1995)

by Nevin Hooper

TV version

Although not as good as the other films on this list, and I also felt that this film copied off Goodfellas (1990) a little too much, this is still extremely entertaining. “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) will do anything to keep his casino in Las Vegas running, available to anyone, and impossible to win. The film follows his hysteria that comes from him trying to keep up with everything happening in his personal life, competition with Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a Mafia crime boss, and others around him. The film contains Scorsese’s masterful direction, great performances from all, especially De Niro, and a great soundtrack, mood, and pacing. Like I said, not Martin Scorsese’s best, but one that you should definitely check out.

4. Taxi Driver (1976)

by Nevin Hooper

TV version

Taxi Driver was Martin Scorsese’s most controversial film at the time of it’s release in 1976, but over the years has gained a reputation as one of cinema’s greatest films of all time. Troubled taxi cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is disgusted by the city of New York in which he lives. He believes everyone around him is scum and dirt on the streets and plans to end that, or “clean it up” as he says. His decision is to turn against society by trying to get back into it by trying to fall in love, assassinate a presidential candidate, and save a young girl from an abusive life. This film has an excellent performance from De Niro, an excellent performance from a 12-year-old Jodie Foster, phenomenal cinematography, and a jazzy music score, giving the film an almost noirish feel. It is a very thought provoking film to watch, and has many deep themes about our society and what it can do to us. It is worth the watch because, duh, it’s Scorsese. Everything Scorsese directs is fantastic, and this film is no exception.

3. The Departed (2006)

by Brandon Matzke

TV version

Personally, this is my favorite Scorsese flick. A remake of the Chinese film series Internal Affairs, The Departed is a film that manages to be a masterpiece of crime cinema without even trying. This film is gritty and brutal, yet manages to have an utterly irresistible charm. The writing is truly amazing (especially for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character), the cast is so filled with talent that it manages to leak through the screen (the biggest show-stealer for me is Jack Nicholson, who seriously brings his all into this film), the directing is phenomenal, the emotion is surprisingly real, I could just talk about this movie for hours on end. It’s just a film that needs to be seen to believe.

2. Raging Bull (1980)

by Nevin Hooper

TV version

Also based on a true story, Raging Bull follows the rise and fall of fame for boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro, who gives one of the best performances I have ever seen) from his complications with his wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty) and brother Joey (Joe Pesci) to him losing his hold as Heavyweight Champion to other younger and more experienced boxers. This film is phenomenal with it’s excellent acting, astonishing black and white cinematography, smooth and seamless direction from Scorsese, and amazing screenplay. The whole atmosphere of this film is amazing. The whole film is phenomenal and is one of my favorite films of all time. Not Scorsese’s best, but really close.

1. Goodfellas (1990)

by Nevin Hooper

TV version

Not only is this a perfect film about life in the Mafia, but this is a perfect film in general. I highly recommend seeing this film (although maybe you should watch the TV version first). It tells the true story of Henry Hill who joins in the Mafia as a teenager and follows his rise in power to an adult, where he is then played by the exotic Ray Liotta. But, you can’t talk about this movie without taking note of his two friends, Jimmy “the Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro), and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci, in a fantastic performance that won him the only Oscar for the film for Best Supporting Actor). The relationship between these three is extraordinary to watch. This whole film could just be these guys talking to each other and I would be fine, because their performances and screenplay are absolutely phenomenal. Although, Scorsese’s direction is fantastic, with long takes and lots of movement in the camera, his whole directorial style is something I very much admire. I love this movie, and I do believe that it is Martin Scorsese’s best film.

30th Anniversary Review of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

by Nevin Hooper

TV version

Hello, once again, fans of classic cinema, and today, since it is nearing Thanksgiving, I thought, why not review one of the best Thanksgiving films of all time, John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Since the film is nearing its thirtieth anniversary, it felt necessary to review it.

If you are new to my film reviews, I have a grading system that goes like this: I grade films on a scale of 0/10 (films that are so horrible that they should have never been made), to an 11/10 (films that are so fantastic, so amazing, that you just can’t give the average 10/10 grade). Now, onto the review!

Workaholic Neal Page (Steve Martin, in one of his best performances) is desperate to get home to his family for Thanksgiving, but his plane to Chicago gets rerouted to Kansas because of a monstrous snow storm. He meets up with the extremely talkative Del Griffith (John Candy, in another lovable performance, rest in peace), who offers to find a way to get him to Chicago in time to see his family, so they have to overcome their numerous problems with each other to get Neal back home.

John Hughes has always been a favorite director/screenwriter of mine. With some of my favorite films of his being The Breakfast Club (1985), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), I immediately raced to see this film and loved it. Hughes uses his brilliant writing skills to create a hilarious, yet at times extremely heartfelt, atmosphere with excellent dialogue and chemistry between Martin and Candy who give some of the best scenes in the entire movie.

Another thing that I appreciated was the music in the film. Some may like it, some may not, but I thought the music in the film was great for the mood and tone of the story. The only very minor negative that I see with this film, that doesn’t even affect my grade as it just bothered me a little bit, are a few times in the film where they have an argument and they threaten to separate, but then they stay together. Since this happened multiple times, I was like “Just stop arguing and make up your mind! Leave or stay, it’s your choice!” But, that is only very minor for me, so I still have to give this film an 11/10. It is a great film to watch around Thanksgiving.

So, have any of you guys seen this film? If so, what did you think of it, because, as you can tell, I loved this movie. Not my favorite Hughes film, but still pretty good. Tell me what you think in the comments, or what is your favorite film to watch around Thanksgiving. I will be back soon writing more reviews!