WEIRD But Still Good. Sandman Brief Lives (1994) Review

I’ve been finding Sandman more and more difficult to review with every volume. In my review of Fables and Reflections I confessed that I didn’t fully understand the stories because they had historical contexts that I was oblivious to. I’ve never mentioned this in previous reviews but a lot of the Sandman stories are full of weird, fantastical, bizarre scenes. Now, since I’m a big fan of cult horror and sci-fi films I appreciated these scenes.

There were parts in Brief Lives however that I just couldn’t get my head around.

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My thoughts were violently provoked…

The seventh volume in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman saga takes the form of an overarching narrative, similar to Doll’s House and A Game of You. Destruction has left his realm and three hundred years later Delirium wants to find him. She persuades Dream to help her and together they embark on an inter-dimensional journey to find their lost brother.

One thing that immediately confused me was the titles of the issues. They seem to compile of particular lines of dialogue from the issue. For example, the title of the first issue is “Blossom for a Lady – Rain in the Doorway – Not her Sister – Want/Not Want – The view from the backs of mirrors – journal of the plague year – “the number you have dialled…””

It’s a quirky choice, taking lines from your story and putting them together to make a big, long title but I have no idea what the point of it is. If anyone knows, feel free to tell me in the comment box.

Another thing that confused me was a character known as ‘The Alder Man’, who appears in the fourth issue. Basically, he is a man in the forest who takes off his clothes, urinates a circle around him and turns into a bear, yet still has the shadow of a man. Despite my bewilderment I let the scene slide. However, the Alder Man is brought up several more times in the volume so he seems to be of some importance. Is this a reference to an ancient myth or folktale? Once again if you know, feel free to enlighten me.

Now despite these confusing scenes, as an overall story I very much liked Brief Lives.

The characters are the stars of the show; Morpheus goes on quite a journey in the book. He experiences many emotional dilemmas such as recovering from a lost love, having to live with the child-like Delirium and confronting his son. It’s fascinating and kind of heart-breaking at times to see Morpheus in these situations, considering how cold and intellectual he is. I personally felt that I saw some sides of Morpheus I hadn’t seen before.

From what I can remember Delirium has only been a supporting character in the series so far, so it’s great to see her as the protagonist of Brief Lives. She is lovably innocent and child-like. We get glimpses of her past and see how she ended up the way she is now. This was another part I couldn’t get my head round. Delirium appeared to be even more innocent and child-like in the past, but why she was like that and how she changed I couldn’t understand. This may be explored further in future volumes but in Brief Lives I was left confused.

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Merv Pumpkinhead

A new character is introduced in this volume, a cigar-smoking pumpkin headed janitor called Merv Pumpkinhead. He has to be my favourite character in Sandman so far. His simplicity is his beauty. Merv is just a grumpy, sassy, New York average Joe and that’s why I love him.

The book’s structure is similar to that of A Game of You; it’s a quest narrative that starts at one place, goes to some other places and then finishes at another clear, pre-determined place. It’s a structure that’s as old as our species so it’s pretty hard to get wrong. However, if the story has good unique characters (and with the intellectual Morpheus and the childish Delirium, Brief Lives certainly has) a stronger story can be made, which overall, I think this volume is.

Despite a few confusing moments, I think Brief Lives is another good volume in the Sandman series. It’s a journey narrative, we get to learn more about Delirium and we get to see Morpheus in many challenging scenarios, forcing him to expose qualities we’ve never seen.

I give Brief Lives a strong 7 out of 10.

An Observation: Dead Man Walking (1995)

This piece contains spoilers regarding the plot and ending of the film Dead Man Walking.

I was expecting the climax of Dead Man Walking, where Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is executed via lethal injection for taking part in the murder and rape of a young couple, to be emotional. We were watching this criminal who we’d come to understand and sympathise with, approach his inescapable death. However, the scene went against my expectations. It wasn’t tragic like I anticipated, it was something very different in terms of tone.

I don’t usually write posts like this but I was so challenged by this scene that I had to write about it and after some reflection I’ve come up with a theory on what I think the climax means.

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Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) and Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon). 

I think ethically most stories present a black and white view of people. In stories like Harry Potter, It’s A Wonderful Life and Batman we are told that there are two types of people in the world; people who consciously protect others (heroes) and people who consciously harm others (villains). The latter tend to be presented as inhuman, unsympathetic, merciless monsters. We’re happy when we see Voldemort or the Joker die because we feel that they deserve it.

While we enjoy watching villains die in the imaginary world, I think we all know that in the real-world people just aren’t that simple.

No one’s completely good or evil and I think that’s what the execution scene in Dead Man Walking was trying to convey.

After his lawyers fail to pardon Poncelet’s execution the film focuses on Sister Helen’s (Susan Sarandon) struggle to persuade Poncelet to admit his crimes. When he does confess Sister Helen helps him seek spiritual redemption but whether this makes Poncelet undeserving of the death penalty or not, the film remains neutral.

This neutrality is expressed heavily in the execution scene. While Poncelet lays on the stretcher, looking at Sister Helen through the glass as the drugs travel into his body, the film cuts to flashbacks of Poncelet and his partner brutally raping a young woman. We’ve seen short glimpses of this scene throughout the film but here we get to see all of it, in disturbing detail. All the while Poncelet, a flawed character we’ve come to empathize with, is slowly dying. The same man who is performing these horrific crimes in the flashbacks.

By showing these contradicting sequences featuring the same character, I think the scene tells us that Matthew Poncelet is not a good-hearted hero who made a devastating mistake or an aggressive villain who got what he deserved. Rather it says that he is simply a man. An individual who is capable of both caring honesty and mindless brutality. We are not told how we should feel about him like we are with Harry Potter or Voldemort.

This theme reaches fruition at the end of the scene, where we see Poncelet laying dead through the window and the deceased young couple standing eerily in the glass’s reflection. His dead body shows us who Matthew Poncelet is and the ghostly couple in the glass show us what he has done.

As a film, I’d highly recommend Dead Man Walking because compared to most pieces I’ve seen with their black and white ideologies, this scene stuck out to me as an honest and balanced representation of human nature and I think that’s something many artists don’t usually present.

Better Than Godzilla. Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Kong: Skull Island is a fun, original monster film and is vastly superior to 2014’s Godzilla.

This re-imagining of King Kong takes place in 1973 during the Vietnam War, focusing on a group of soldiers and scientists exploring an uncharted isle known as ‘Skull Island’. There they discover the great Kong and soon the group are pulled into a vicious battle between Kong and the other inhabitants of the island.

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Compared to previous Kong films and monster films in general Skull Island is very unique aesthetically. The Vietnam War setting makes Kong reminiscent of American films made during the period, most notably Apocalypse Now.

What the narrative says in regards to the Vietnam conflict I’m not sure but using the setting for a monster film, with 70s music, fashion and technology makes Kong: Skull Island an original contribution to the monster genre in my view.

The highlight of the film of course is Kong himself. His updated look and design is very menacing, making him appear quite scary at some points.

The other creatures are also well done. I thought the Skull Crawlers were good opponents for Kong physically but visually they reminded me of so many aliens from recent sci-fi films, particularly the creatures from Riddick.

I was more impressed with the crustacean spider creature that impaled people with its legs. It’s an effective design and makes for a pretty intense scene.

The increase in monster action makes Skull Island an obvious improvement compared to Godzilla, however the film is also superior in terms of character.

I thought the characters in Godzilla were way too bland for the screen time they received. Now I’m not saying the characters in Skull Island are completely three-dimensional but they at least fit the basic universal archetypes in storytelling, which makes them a lot more fun and relatable.

James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) are courageous heroes, Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is a brutal villain and Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) is the comic relief.

With an original aesthetic, great monsters and good characters Kong: Skull Island is a solid monster film and I recommend it.

I give Kong: Skull Island a strong 8 out of 10.

UPDATE: It feels like I’ve written this update over a hundred times but sorry for the absence! Uni and Life are once again the culprits. The good news is that I do have some new upcoming content planned, including another article for MoviePilot and some videos.

Just in case you’re new, keep any eye on my Facebook Page and Twitter for more regular updates.

Hope everyone’s having a good 2017 so far!

 

This was tricky. Sandman Fables and Reflections (1993) Review

Happy New Year everyone!

I put off reviewing Sandman Fables and Reflections for a while because I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Its length was intimidating, this collection of standalone stories contains not four, not five but nine stories!

Also, some of the stories are heavily based on certain myths and historical contexts. Since I knew very little about most of the histories conceiving a review was difficult.

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The struggle was real.

So, despite my historical ignorance and the book’s length I am going to review Fables and Reflections, presenting little mini-reviews of each story and making a conclusion based on the number of stories I liked and didn’t like.

Let’s start with the first and shortest story in the volume, Fear of Falling.

I liked this one. It was simple and concise. The protagonist starts out acting unwisely and making bad decisions, so when a paranormal entity (Morpheus) shows him the errors of his ways, he changes and becomes prosperous. It’s a simple but effective little tale.

Three Septembers and a January – This is probably my second favorite story out of the whole volume, it was emotionally and philosophically uplifting. In a series of scenes taking place years apart the story shows how a man, with a delusional but comforting belief, can live a great life. It’s a touching fable.

Thermidor – This was an interesting story. I thought the protagonist was a little bland hence I found parts of the story a bit boring. The ending was good; the protagonist’s mission was wrapped up nicely and the antagonist’s demise was quite satisfying but overall, it was just decent.

The Hunt – I liked the framing device with the old man trying to tell his sassy granddaughter the story but I didn’t get a lot out of the story itself. It seemed like a basic medieval fairy-tale; it had most of the motifs like castles, forests, witches, a princess and a quest. The twist at the very end was a nice little surprise but I thought the story as a whole just wasn’t that interesting.

August – This was decent, it was a bit heavy on dialogue for me but still a decent story. It’s essentially about Julius Caesar pretending to be a beggar for a day with a dwarf actor. The conversations are too long and at times they feel pointless. However, as they talk through the day you get little hints of Caesar’s past and his motivations behind his strange act. Not great but you can’t put it down.

Soft Places – This is probably my least favorite story out of the whole volume. For me there were too many captions describing the scene and too much dialogue. Some of the dialogue between Marco and Rustichello was amusing and it was nice to see Fiddler’s Green again but a lot of the story seemed pointless. Marco is really inactive; his desire is to find his father and uncle but he doesn’t really do anything to find them. He just hears some stories, meets Morpheus and then gets sent back to his father and uncle. Maybe if I knew more about Marco Polo I would’ve gotten more out of it but reading it as it is with my current knowledge it didn’t impress me.

Orpheus – This is honestly the best Sandman story I’ve read. Like Fear of Falling it’s simple but effective; we meet Orpheus, we understand his great love for his fiancée and his great pain when his love dies on their wedding night. You feel Orpheus’ despair as he tries everything, even going down to the underworld to get his fiancée back. With a heart-breaking ending, I think Orpheus is an unpredictable and emotionally blunt story and the best of Gaiman’s work I’ve seen.

The Parliament of Rooks – This was another good one. It doesn’t really have a plot, it’s essentially a bunch of characters telling each other stories but we do get insights into the characters’ backstories (including Morpheus). It shows more of Morpheus’ world, showing his minions together in their spare time and how Cain and Abel became a part of the realm. It’s an easy little story told in the dark, fantastical Sandman style.

Ramadan – This was another ‘interesting’ one. Most of the story is told through captions similar to Soft Places so we don’t really get up close to the characters but I don’t think you’re supposed to. It explores the origin of Ramadan, an Islamic holiday, so the story is entirely based on Islamic mythology. As someone who is unfamiliar with those myths I did get something out of Ramadan on an intellectual level. It’s a fascinating tale about a king who summons Morpheus to help him preserve the beauty of his kingdom. Not much emotional value but still a good, engaging story.

In conclusion, out of the whole volume there was one story I didn’t like, five stories I did like and three I thought were just ok. I’d say that Fables and Reflections is definitely worth reading for those golden five, four of them aren’t great but it’s still worth the read.

I give Fables and Reflections a strong 7 out of 10.

One More Thing Before 2017

2016 has been an interesting year.

For cinema it’s been a mixed bag; I saw some decent pieces including Civil War and Star Trek Beyond and some real gems like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Anomalisa. I of course saw some slightly mediocre films like Dr Strange and Rogue One and a few terrible pieces such as Batman V Superman and Ghostbusters.

Politically it’s been depressing; Brexit and the US election has caused so much division and confusion. While I was against Brexit and Trump I hope the damages are minimal and that things get better.

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Creatively it’s been fantastic; I’ve been running this blog for over a year, I joined MoviePilot, I got back into drawing and made some good YouTube videos (Mupple Film 3 and Guilt – Counsellor 6 are my personal favorites).

Anyone who’s read my blog since the beginning will know that I never mention my personal life. Talking about Uni is probably the most personal I ever get on here but now I’m going to make an exception.

I had a bit of an existential crisis in 2016; I started to question why I write, draw, act, edit etc. I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed creating, this impacted the frequency of my output. I never had a schedule but I tended to get something out at least every two weeks or so. Towards the end of the year however entire months went by where I hadn’t posted anything. Even though in the last month or so I have released some content I’m still unsure about my position on creating. Sometimes I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of it while other times it can be a chore.

I don’t know what 2017 will be like for me creatively so for those who are interested I suggest you follow my Facebook Page and Twitter as I do post on those platforms regularly.

I thank you all for your patience when I don’t put something up and your enthusiasm when I do put something up. It is very much appreciated.

At the moment I see nothing but possibilities in 2017.

For cinema it looks like it’s going to be exciting with some pretty good-looking films like Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant and Star Wars Episode VIII. There’re some films I’m not looking forward to like Justice League, Wonder Woman and the Beauty and the Beast remake but for me there’re more films to anticipate than dread so I’m happy.

Creatively it looks good; I’ve got some ideas for videos I want to make, I’m hoping to crank out some more articles for Moviepilot and I’d like to do some more drawing.

I thank you all for staying with me on this blog and I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take part in a personal New Year’s Eve tradition of mine. I’m going to watch Adaptation. It’s got nothing to do with New Year’s Eve but it’s a beautiful little film written by Charlie Kaufman that’s always left me with a feeling of replenishment and hope.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

The Best and Worst of 2016

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Since 2017 is only a few days away I thought it would be appropriate to list the best and worst films I’ve seen in 2016. I’ll be listing three films that I thought were great and really stood out and another three that I thought were weak and very underwhelming.

Let’s start with the three best films of 2016.

  1. Deadpool

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It’s not Citizen Kane but I can’t deny that Deadpool is one of the wittiest films to come out in a while.

The film’s sassy satire of superhero tropes and clichés is hard not to like. Its pop culture references may damage its posterity but Deadpool isn’t supposed to be a timeless classic, it’s a cinematic piss-take for today’s generation.

For me Deadpool is one of the best films of 2016 because of its humour and its courageous originality.

  1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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The setting may be limited but with understandable, empathetic characters and a plot that doesn’t stop twisting, 10 Cloverfield Lane is incredible. The film had me engaged in a way that all the big-budget, Sci-Fi, Superhero, Fantasy epics couldn’t.

Despite the far-fetched climax 10 Cloverfield Lane produced an intense experience with minimal characters and a single setting and for that it’s my second best film of the year.

  1. Anomalisa

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This film is unlike anything I’ve seen, that’s the primary reason Anomalisa is the best film of 2016 for me (it technically came out in 2015 but it didn’t get to the UK until 2016).

It tells a strange and disturbing story about a man with a depressing view of the people around him. With beautiful stop-motion animation the film shows his psychological condition, how it changes and how he struggles against it as it grows stronger.

Out of all the films in 2016 Anomalisa stuck out the most hence it was my immediate choice for best of the year.

Now let’s get onto the three worst films of 2016.

  1. Suicide Squad

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I thought this film was a mess. It had too many characters and subplots, some of which I liked to be fair such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn’s backstory.

I think Suicide Squad lacked focus; there was no protagonist or any principle characters. Everyone, even the most minor characters, gets a scene or two.

The overabundance of characters and backstories was so great it was impossible for me to get invested in the story. It’s cluttered and boring, which is why it’s my third worst film of the year.

  1. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

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2016 hasn’t been a good year for the DC Extended Universe.

Batman V Superman basically has the same problems as Suicide Squad but worse. Suicide Squad at least had a clear, defined ending. The whole film was leading to the squad defeating the enchantress.

Batman V Superman has a lot more unnecessary subplots, many of which don’t need to be in the film. Wonder Woman, Doomsday and even Lex Luthor could’ve been cut out.

The film felt more cluttered and more boring than Suicide Squad hence it’s my second worst film of 2016.

  1. Ghostbusters

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If this was more of a paranormal, Sci-Fi film with more action and less comedy I don’t think I would’ve disliked it as much. However, since Ghostbusters is a full-blown comedy I was a little appalled by it.

The plot is slow and forgettable and the comedy consists of pop culture references and ad-libbed banter. On top of that, there are some depressing cameos from the cast of the original.

It’s one of the worst comedies I’ve ever seen and when reflecting on all the films I saw in 2016 Ghostbusters seemed the perfect candidate for the number one worst film of the year.

 

So those are my picks of the best and worst films of 2016. As the New Year draws closer there doesn’t seem to be anything else to do apart from sit back, relax and await the cinematic marvels and atrocities of 2017.

Reference Overdose! Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

After seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story my initial reaction was positive; I enjoyed it. However, as I reflected on the experience I discovered many significant flaws. In terms of world building the film is brilliant, but I thought the story and characters (the most vital elements of any piece) could’ve been a lot stronger.

Rogue One is essentially a prequel to A New Hope; it tells the story of Jyn Erso, a young woman who joins a group of resistance fighters to steal the Death Star plans for the Rebel Alliance.

It was obvious to me that the Original Trilogy was just a single story out of thousands in a shared world. Even though we only see the Galactic Civil War from the perspective of several characters, it’s clear that the Empire is ruling and oppressing hundreds of other worlds.

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Tastes like raw chicken…..

Rogue One shows us some of those worlds such as Jedha. This desert world is shown in the trailers so I’m not spoiling anything by examining it.

With a Star Destroyer always hovering over the capital city and Stormtroopers constantly stopping and searching civilians, the film visualises the fascist regime the Empire has established more clearly than the previous films. Throughout the sequence in the Jedha city there’re always little visuals reminding you of the Empire’s presence, even something as minor as Stormtroopers in the background.

The characters are quite weak, we don’t get to know their desires or backstories. They’re pretty vague hence difficult to empathize with.

Jyn Erso’s character however has the most development. Parts of her history are a bit unclear but we know that her father, who she hasn’t seen since she was a child, is a lead engineer on the Death Star. Jyn wants to track him down both for the weapon’s weakness and a reunion with her parent.

This plotline could’ve been stronger but Rogue One deserves credit for implementing such an emotionally engaging subplot in a story with an action-orientated premise.

The referencing is very gratuitous. Some of it is appropriate such as the appearances of Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, however there are many references that feel forced. They are very distracting and makes Rouge One feel artificial.

In conclusion, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story presents an amazing view of the Star Wars universe but with weak characterizations its certainly not one of the best entries in the series.

I give Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a decent 6 out of 10.

UPDATE: Sorry for the lack of content recently, Uni and life are to blame but I haven’t got nothing, I have put some new stuff out there for you guys.

I’ve got a new article up on MoviePilot about ‘Enemy Mine’, one of my favorite films so go ahead and check that out. Also look on my Facebook Page for some illustrations I’ve posted, let me know what you think. Should I get a Deviantart account?

Unfortunately I haven’t had the time do any stuff for YouTube this Christmas but feel free to check out the little special I did last year.

Anyways, there should be more to come in this last week or so, so keep a look out. Hope you’re all having a Merry Christmas!

Thanks,

Luke

Meh, It Does Its Job. Doctor Strange (2016) Review

Dr Strange is an engaging superhero film with a unique world and mythology, however in terms of story it conforms to the effective but predictable origin story.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a surgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Seeking for a cure he joins an enclave in Nepal but he discovers that the group is an army of sorcerers, preparing to battle a dark force bent on destroying reality.

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PFFFT.

Stephen pretty much goes through the same arc as Tony Stark did in the first Iron Man film. He starts as an annoying egotist and by the end is an empathetic savior. Unlike Tony who was in love with indulgence, Stephen is in love with his work. He just wants to fix his hands so he can be a surgeon again. He’s a well written character.

The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) is also pretty well written. She’s Strange’s teacher and you’d think she’d be the stereotypical film mentor who is all wise with no personal flaws. Not in this film. I won’t spoil anything but I will state that her past actions viciously contradict the code of the enclave. She’s an original take on the mentor archetype.

The other characters however are your standard archetypes. They’re a bit two-dimensional but I don’t think they’re supposed to be anything more considering how minor their roles are. There’s the love interest (Rachel McAdams), the comic relief (Benedict Wong) and the monstrous villain (Mads Mikkelsen).

As someone who’s unfamiliar with the comics I liked the film’s mythology. It showed a world where magic is a practical, scientific ability that has to be taught and practiced. I appreciated how unique the world was especially in the age of Harry Potter, those books and films had a major influence on how worlds of sorcery are constructed.

The main issue I had with Dr Strange was how similar it was to previous Marvel films. The structure was so familiar the film became predictable. For example, the opening scene shows the villain breaking into a compound and stealing the McGuffin of the film. Avengers, Captain America, Ant-Man and Thor: The Dark World pretty much all have the exact same opening.

Despite the recycled plot Dr Strange does bring some good characters and unique concepts to the table and is a must see if you want to keep up to date on the MCU. I recommend it.

I give Dr Strange a good 7 out of 10.

UPDATE: Sorry about the lack of content over the last few weeks, been busy with Uni as usual. In case you didn’t see them I put up a new article on MoviePilot, it’s a list of 3 actors who’d be better playing Captain Planet than Don Cheadle.

I also managed to crank out a Metalico Halloween video, I know it’s November but I’d appreciate it if you all checked it out.

Hope you’re all having a good 2016. -Luke

 

There’re Some Positives…SOME. Blair Witch (2016) Review

I understand the large negative response Blair Witch has received with its unoriginal plot, cliché characterizations and cheap scares. However, I don’t think the film is as awful as everyone says it is. For the most part it’s an above-average horror film but it does have some good elements that deserve to be recognized.

This sequel to the 1999 original is about a student leading a group of his friends into the woods hoping to find his sister (Heather from the first film). As they get deeper into the forest time distorts and all hell breaks loose as the legend herself attacks.

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Right, positives first. The film features some unique and truly disturbing ideas, the best being one of the students getting a wound in her foot that widens and cuts deeper by itself. This makes for some graphic scenes that I thought were genuinely cringe worthy.

While many people have criticized Blair Witch’s lack of subtly I actually appreciated it. The thing I love (and hate to an extent) about films like Donnie Darko, Cloverfield and the Five Nights At Freddy’s games is the thirst for answers they leave me with. The Blair Witch Project is another example. I wanted to know what made those sounds in the woods, I wanted to know if the witch was real.

Blair Witch provides answers but also leaves some mystery. We learn more about the blair witch mythology, see how time is distorted and, without giving too much away, get a glimpse at what could be the witch herself. I know a lot of people feel this film ruined the mystery of the original but I wanted answers and I praise Blair Witch for being creative and providing those answers.

Now onto the negatives. I think most of the characters are boring. I wasn’t expecting them to have fully fleshed out personalities but I thought they should’ve felt like real, everyday students like in the original.

James, the student looking for his sister, is obviously a horror film everyman like Ben in Night of the Living Dead or Billy in Gremlins. He leads the group and unsurprisingly survives most of the film. His character feels very inappropriate for the realistic blair witch aesthetic. Peter is the comic relief. He presents a confident and jokey persona, which makes him feel even more out of place than James.

The film features an annoyingly large amount of fake jump scares. Every time someone comes back to the camp or walks into shot there’s a jump scare. I personally thought this technique lost its effect years ago. Everyone knows about it now. I think modern horror audiences are too advanced to be scared by it, yet in Blair Witch there are countless fake jump scares.

Overall despite the unique ideas and revelations I think the film’s negatives outweigh the positives. If you’re a fan of the original and want to see more of the mythology I’d recommend it but if you’re looking for something as good as the original I’d avoid it.

I give Blair Witch a mediocre 4 out of 10.

UPDATE: I’ve got another new article up on MoviePilot. This one’s about Babylon 5, a space opera from the 90s I’m really into, you can see it right here.

BEAUTIFUL!!! Anomalisa (2016) Review

Like Motivational Growth, I think Anomalisa is something you witness rather than experience. The film won’t have you shedding tears at any point however the themes and ideas will stick with you for days. I wasn’t sure if I liked Anomalisa when I first saw it but that was nearly a week ago and after some reflection, I think it’s quite magical.

This stop-motion drama directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson tells the story of Michael Stone, an inspirational speaker who lives in a dull reality where everyone has the same face. While staying at a hotel he meets Lisa, a quirky young woman with a unique appearance and voice. Michael immediately falls in love with her but as he spends time with Lisa he begins to make some unflattering discoveries.

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Couldn’t get a good quality pic of the poster so I thought I’d just use a still. 

Michael isn’t a likeable character. He’s cynical and a bit antisocial. The first half of the film is all about establishing the world. Through that we begin to understand Michael and the state he’s in. The world bores him. He feels guilty about ending a good relationship for reasons he’s unsure of. We feel empathy for him rather than sympathy, this makes his scenes with Lisa very engaging.

When Lisa enters the story we get an engaging but slightly concerning insight of Michael’s true character. She turns Michael’s world upside down, he’s absolutely mesmerized by her. At this point we see a different side of Michael. He’s polite to Lisa most of the time but occasionally comes across as controlling and even creepy. He eventually forms a decent relationship with Lisa.

The rest of the film expands on Michael’s issues and leads to a haunting conclusion. I won’t spoil it but I will say that it suggests that Michael may somehow be responsible for the mundane world he sees every day.

I think Anomalisa is uniquely mesmerizing; it has an empathetic protagonist who we’re constantly fascinated with and a fantastic surreal world. I highly recommend it for everyone.

I give Anomalisa an incredible 10 out of 10.