Review: Detroit

Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s newest picture, or should I dub it a docudrama, is a hard-hitting take on the events that transpired in the Motor City in 1967. Detroit follows the individuals and actions that lead to the horrible shootout that took place at the Algiers Motel, where the police shot and killed three African-American boys suspected of firing shots at National Guardsman and the aftermath of their actions.

detroit_xlg

Image by Annapurna Pictures

Detroit is a culmination of three subplots carried by a security guard named Melvin Dismukes, a Detroit police officer named Krauss and an aspiring Motown lead singer named Larry and his friend Fred. Each of them are eventually drawn to the Algiers where bedlam, fear and senseless violence take place after the police arrive and take drastic and dangerous steps to determine who fired the suspected gun.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have worked together to deliver two of the hardest hitting dramas echoing current cultural and societal issues. Detroit is no exception to the standard as it definitely packs an impact upon viewing it, but unlike The Hurt Locker and unlike Zero Dark Thirty, I found Detroit a mess.

I couldn’t get past the constant shaky Steadicam work. The cinematography of Barry Ackroyd was very unsteady to watch; I get that Bigelow wanted to go for authenticity and I respect for that but the camerawork was so over the top, I couldn’t find a way to settle.

I also found flaws in how this was written. Mark Boal is talented but I can’t help but think that he may have overdone it; especially after the film concluded and Bigelow wrote in a statement stating that a lot of the information about the events of this movie was incomplete. I understand how filmmakers can take certain liberties to enhance the appeal of a film, especially if they are based on true events but it just raises the questions how much of this film was influenced by the modern day news stories about black men killed by police for little to no reason at all.

Also I found that the script left some things unresolved by some of their characters like Dismukes, Krauss, Greene and whoever else was involved in this ordeal and managed to survive; this movie, felt incomplete primarily because of how it was written.

Bigelow made her intentions clear in Detroit and I can definitely see why she was drawn to make this movie; the problems relating to race and police violence are just as relevant and important today as they were back then and the system has not made a difference. The problem is that this film has problems and those problems dragged this film down; the writing muddles the impact and the camerawork hinders the editing of William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon, which felt very sloppy transitioning between Dismukes, Krauss, Larry and the guests at the hotel for a while.

What I can’t say is that the cast and the acting were not a problem. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Nathan Davis Jr., Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever and Jason Mitchell all do a fine job with their roles.

James Newton Howard’s music was fine, Jeremy Hindle’s production design was bold, the set decoration by Dennis Colvin and Kathy Lucas was sharp, the art direction by Greg Barry and Jim Wallis was good, the make-up and sound effects was top notch and the costume design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck was very precise.

There were times where I tried to force myself to pay attention to this movie and that has never happened to me before with a Kathryn Bigelow movie. Detroit is an impactful film, it is, and it is worth seeing because it has relevance but it also has problems that are difficult to ignore and ultimately, it is disappointing.

Advertisements

Movie of the Week: Detroit

The tandem of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have delivered compelling cinema over the past few years. The Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker was an intense examination of how war can be addictive to man. Zero Dark Thirty was a relentless depiction on the manhunt for the world’s most infamous terrorist and now the two are ready to take audiences back in time to one of the most recent darkest chapters in American history. In 1967, one of America’s most prominent cities was ready to explode due to racial tensions and hostilities toward the police and the incidents which occurred at the Algiers Motel, may as well lit the fuse on those tensions. It’s time to go to Detroit.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenwriter: Mark Boal

Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Lattimore, John Krasinski, Kaitlyn Dever and Hannah Murray.

What am I expecting to see?: From what I’ve heard going in, this movie is very polarizing; either people will enjoy it or people will see it as a mess, which is strange considering Bigelow and Boal crafted it. The subject itself is tantalizing considering how societally relevant it seems but even the great ones can make mistakes. I’m looking forward to being enlighted, educated and entertained by Detroit considering how much I enjoyed Bigelow’s last two features but I’m bracing myself for the worst all the same.

Review: Kong: Skull Island

For the fourth time in the history of American filmmaking, one of the all time great movie monsters bows into theaters to pound his chest, roar and reign supreme over an island not meant for man to tread. It’s director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to give life to a beast some have dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World in Kong: Skull Island.

new-kong-skull-island-poster-16291

Image by Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.

Fair warning: the plot for the film will be familiar if one is familiar with the mythos of Kong from the past. In in the early 1970s, a scientific expedition to an uncharted island in the South Pacific goes horribly awry, when a team led by Colonel Preston Packard, decommissioned SAS Captain James Conrad and researcher Bill Randa run afoul of Kong, the mammoth ape protector of Skull Island. Their first encounter with the beast results in seven soldiers dead and the research team separated and every single soul on the island is in grave peril, but not from Kong; the truth is that Kong is the island’s deterrent to creatures far more frightening.

I won’t go out of my way to tell you that Kong: Skull Island is a blockbuster worthy of a king or it should be rightfully crowned. I found the picture rather tame with a few original twists but I suppose I was just unsatisfied with the final result.

If Kong: Skull Island had any selling points, it would be that I thought Vogt-Roberts and the writing team of Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly did a nice job in adhering to Kong’s origins and island life/persona: a fearsome protector to those in need, always ready to aid a damsel, worshipped as a god on Skull Island. I felt that they recognized the scope and grandeur of the title character and did what they could to make him as big as possible but the film itself just couldn’t measure up to the enormity of Kong’s reputation. Seriously, take the giant ape out of the picture and what are you left with?

For starters you have a movie that is weighed down to the anchored to the homages paid to Apocalypse Now, which is excessive to the point of over-the-top. This movie could have occurred in any time period so, why at the end of the Vietnam War?

You also have a movie that simply wastes a lot of star power. Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Tian Jing, Thomas Mann, Will Britain, Richard Jenkins; there are many good actors in this movie and this cast tries to deliver good performances where they can but like Godzilla, they’re not why audiences show up! Whatever contributions they do make, go to waste because the material they are working with is shallow and the visual effects steals the show.

Larry Fong’s cinematography aims to be strong but reeks of inconsistency and the editing Richard Pearson follows suit, which is unfortunate. Stefan DeChant’s production design is striking, the art direction is commendable, the set decoration by Cynthia La Jeunesse is fine, Mary E. Vogt’s costumes aimed for authenticity; technically there was a lot to respect with this film and what did you didn’t like, you forgot.

Maybe I subconsciously compared Kong: Skull Island to its 2005 predecessor by Peter Jackson, even though I didn’t want to, but ultimately I couldn’t help but notice that Jackson’s Kong had the girth and dimensions to bring Kong to its Kingly status while this film felt cartoonish. Kong: Skull Island is fun, in it’s own way, but lacking.

Movie of the Week: Kong: Skull Island

2017 will mark the fourth year in which one of the most famous movie monsters of all time has ever graced the silver screen. In 1933, 1975 and 2005, audiences the world over has seen different takes of the enormously proportioned primate who reigned supreme over his domain only to be captured and felled in the domain of man. This weekend marks Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ turn to bring the giant ape to the big screen as a team of explorers ventures out into uncharted territory teeming with danger and atop the pyramid of Skull Island is a king whose reign about to be challenged by an unforeseen enemy: modern day man. Kong: Skull Island bows into theaters this week.

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Screenwriters: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connelly

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John Ortiz and Toby Kebbell

What am I expecting to see?: The producers behind this movie have big plans for this film and I hope that this movie does enough to see these plans come to fruition. I want this movie to honor the Kong movies that came before it while doing everything it can to make a proper mark for itself. I don’t expect it to reach the epic levels that Peter Jackson’s King Kong reached in 2005 but I for one hope that Kong: Skull Island has its fun.

The King of Skull Island! Teaser Trailer

It is not wise to walk into another’s house and start a fight. That’s just extremely bad manners. It’s all the more unwise to venture into a monarch’s kingdom and drop bombs. That’s literally a declaration of war! A team of explorers and scientists embark upon an excursion onto a mythic island, where creatures never seen before call home and in their pursuit to study the island, they incur the wrath of the island’s protector! This team is caught in a maelstrom of chaos as they navigate uncharted terrain, evade exotic beasts and face unknown fears as they are in the grand presence of the King of Skull Island: KONG!

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy, Kong: Skull Island stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Tian Jing and Jason Mitchell. Treading upon Skull Island is forbidden but an excursion will take place on March 10, 2017.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!

My Number 4 Movie of 2015 is:

Image by Universal

I described this film as a “loud and pulsing hip-hop history lesson” when I saw it months ago and I am proud to acknowledge this film as #4 on my best films of 2015 list. Straight Outta Compton should be showered in accolades and praised for it’s outstanding construction chronicling the rise of music’s most dangerous group.

Synopsis: Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella are N.W.A., the group that gave hip-hop an identity and shook the world to its core with anthems such as F*** the Police. Straight Outta Compton followed the members of N.W.A. from the beginning to the end to the aftermath.

Director: F. Gary Gray

Screenwriter: Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman

Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti, R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp

Crew: Matthew Libatique (cinematography), Billy Fox and Michael Tronick (editing), Joseph Trapanese (music), Shane Valentino (production design), Christopher Brown (art direction),