Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020)

Originally released on February 7th 2020

If you haven’t had the chance to watch this one, you may not want to read this one since it will be containing a plethora of spoilers.

Originally named Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emanicipation of One Harley Quinn), the title was changed to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Taking place some time after the events of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is narrating what has brought her to the present. The Joker kicked her out, which caused her to have a break down, cutting her hair and even adopting a spotted hyena. When she hears her friends talking about how Harley will get back with the Joker or anyone who comes along because she can’t stand on her own, she makes a dangerous statement. By blowing up Ace Chemicals, she tells all of Gotham that she and the Joker broke up, subsequently becoming fair game for anyone to try and settle scores.

One person who wants to kill her, ends up being Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) also known as Black Mask, a man with the affinity for peeling faces off of live victims. He is after the Bertinelli Diamond, a gem with account numbers embedded into it’s structure. Unfortunately, that gem ends up in the intestinal tract of Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a pick-pocket who Harley gets a soft spot for. They form a bond that is endearing, but when too many people with too many offers pay a visit to Doc (Dana Lee), the grandpa-like figure that took in Harley when she needed a place to stay, ends up selling her out, she is hurt and in turn–plans to betray Cassandra in order to save herself.

As all of this is happening, we learn about Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the sole survivor of the Bertinelli massacre. She returns to Gotham, calling herself Huntress while everyone else calls her Crossbow Killer, and begins picking off the people responsible for the death of her entire family. Then there’s Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), a cop whose entire career has been overshadowed by the men in the force taking the credit for her achievements. This movie also featured one of my favorite characters in the DC universe, Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) also known as the Black Canary, is a singer at Sionis’ night club, until he realizes she can also fight, then she becomes his personal driver. However, she cannot stand by when they go after Cassandra.

In the end, the women all team up unwillingly because Sionis goes after all of them, and not just Cassandra. They end up being a really good team, with the fighting scenes being really well done, and entertaining to watch. It is a job well done when I cringe at the scenes because bones are breaking due to the usage of brutal force.

I’d like to highlight Margot Robbie’s performance in this film. There are scenes where we are able to see the nuances in her emotions–the first one coming to mind being the scene where she cuts her hair after her break up with the Joker. You’re able to see her go through the different emotions–from determination, to sadness, to anger. Another scene that comes to mind is when she realizes that Doc has sold her out. The changes in her facial expression are a lot more subtle, but we can still see her go from shock, to sadness, to resignation.

Overall, I love the expansion of the character Harley Quinn, into so much more than simply Joker’s girlfriend. We get more of her history, how she was raised by nuns that didn’t seem to have bedside manners, but despite this still became academically successful as she became a psychiatrist. We know this is how she ends up meeting the Joker.

With a majority female-only cast, this movie is important. Just as with Wonder Woman, these movies change the mold of comic book movies by not being centered on male characters. While I enjoyed this movie immensely, I know that there needs to be more movies like this one for the majority of fans to start to take them seriously. To show the audiences that women can star in movies without giving up dramatic stunts and action sequences.

Have you guys seen this one? What did you think of it?

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Originally released on October 11th, 1974

Overview

As the story goes, a group of friends consisting of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Kirk (William Vail), Pam (Teri McMinn) and Jerry (Allen Danziger) are all traveling to check on Sally and Franklin’s grandfather’s grave to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. They come upon a gas station that unfortunately had no gas, and they are forced to go to the grandfather’s house without refueling. Upon arrival, Pam and Kirk quickly venture off by themselves in search of a swimming hole, but inside they come upon a house that has a working generator–which leads them to want to ask the owner if they could buy some gasoline. This is where they meet Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who wastes no time in killing the two of them, and butchering their bodies. Curious as to why their friends haven’t returned, Jerry follows their same path and inevitably meets their same demise.

Left alone, the two siblings Sally and Franklin argue about whether it is smarter to go and search for their friends or to try and find gasoline. Franklin, who is bound to a wheelchair, is all about trying to find gasoline until he realizes that they do not have the keys. Refusing to let Sally go by herself, he joins her and the two of them are subsequently caught by Leatherface, who kills Franklin first before chasing after Sally for what felt like forever. She ends up fleeing to the nearby gas station, only to find out that the owner, Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) is actually apart of the same cannibalistic family as Leatherface, because he brings her back to the house where the hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) from earlier in the movie is also living. We find out that they all make up a family of insane cannibals. The last thirty minutes or so of this film is just Sally screaming and fighting for her life but she ends up escaping by climbing into the back of a pick up truck, leaving Leatherface to raise his chainsaw in anger as she gets away.

My thoughts

Even for a 70’s slasher flick, I think there was a lot of screaming. To the point that it was like nails on a chalkboard, it lasted so long. I’ve heard that this movie was terrifying, practically all of my life. To the point, that I put it aside for so long out of fear. When I finally chose to watch it, I had hyped it up so high that I gave myself no other choice than to end up disappointed. The parts where Leatherface is butchering the individuals were undeniably chilling, but they were no more scary than other movies. There lies my final conclusions about this film; what made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) so scary wasn’t the chainsaw wielding cannibal, but in fact, the existence of his insane cannibalistic relatives. The hitchhiker being the creepiest one, Edwin Neal really did an amazing job making me uncomfortable anytime he was on the screen. He made it scary, with his unflinching portrayal of a deranged man who had no qualms about killing Sally, even mocking her the entire time she is understandably terrified.

It is undeniable that this film is a classic, and while on the surface it can seem like nothing more than your run of the mill slasher flick, I strongly believe that the horror lies in the family dynamics of the Sawyers.

What did you guys think of this one? Have you seen it, and if not, why?

The Turning (2020)

Originally released January 24th 2020

Overview

Kate (Mackenzie Davis) becomes the governess for a young girl named Flora (Brooklyn Prince), who despite her young age, has been dealt her fair share of traumas. She witnessed the death of her parents in an accident just beyond the front gate of the property, and then after growing close with her live-in tutor Miss Jessel (Denna Thomson) she too leaves without saying goodbye to the young girl. Upon her first night staying in the house, Kate hears noises coming from the East Wing of the house, and upon investigating it, she meets Miles (Finn Wolfhard).

Miles was expelled from his school due to attacking another student, and he and Kate’s relationship becomes strained at best. He begins to act more and more like the deceased Quint (Niall Greig Fulton) as time goes on, and the longer Kate stays in the house, she begins to experience nightmares and witnessing the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint. Despite the toll all of the experiences are having on her, she refuses to leave due to a promise she made to Flora when she first arrived. In the end, we are left to wonder whether Kate herself has lost her grip on her sanity, just as her mother appeared to, or if the events that have unfolded around her were in fact true.

My thoughts

This movie doesn’t end with a concrete conclusion, one that the audience could walk away with, content that they know how it all ends. In fact, it is the opposite. We are left not knowing whether any of it was real, and if it was, if the lives of those in the house are doomed or not. We don’t know if in the end, when Kate is shown to be in the mental institution whether she is seeing her mother, or a reflection of herself. We are left not knowing very much at all. That can be very frustrating for people, because it definitely was for me. I haven’t read the source material, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but I’ve looked into and it seems as though it was already a confusing story, one that didn’t end in a concise way.

Finn Wolfhard has made a name for himself, starring in Stranger Things, It (2017), It Chapter Two (2019) and the The Addams Family (2019), among others, and I really think he made this film as creepy as it was. There’s something about his presence in a scene where his character is making dark remarks that really adds to the atmosphere of the entire film. Another name from this film that really shaped the entire experience is Mackenzie Davis, who played Kate. Throughout the film we got to witness her descent into madness, whether it be due to genetic factors, or as a result of supernatural entities. She takes up a lot of screen time, as we watch her either be tormented by the living, breathing, Miles or by the seemingly long-dead ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint.

It was actually surprising for me to learn that on Cinemascore, it received a rare F rating. You know what else has earned an F rating this year? The Grudge (2020). This rating, I can agree with but I have to dispute the rating for The Turning (2020). While the ending was confusing, and that is enough to make people dislike a movie, it wasn’t a disappointment just as The Grudge (2020) was. I say more people need to watch the film, in order to really see for themselves.

Have any of you watched it? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments.

Dolittle (2020)

Originally released January 17 2020

overview

The doctor is in and he can talk to animals. He’s led an adventurous life but he calls an end to all adventures when his wife dies in a shipwreck. In order to avoid losing anyone else, he stops all contact with humans. Living his life within his sanctuary with his animals and no one else. That is, until the Queen (Jessie Buckley) herself falls gravely ill and she needs Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) to help her. He takes on an apprentice, Stubbins (Harry Collett), and the humans along with an ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani), a polar bear (John Cena), a gorilla (Rami Malek), a macaw (Emma Thompson), and a few other animals set off on a trip to find a tree that no one believes exist, on an island no one has been able to find.

my thoughts

I loved Dr. Dolittle (1998) with Eddie Murphy, so when it was announced that the story would be returning to the screen, re-envisioned and with Robert Downey Jr. playing the titular role, I was intrigued. However, when I say re-envision, I really mean it. In this version, Dr. Dolittle does not have any children, and his wife has died in a shipwreck. It is also based somewhere between 1837 and 1901, since Queen Victoria is the one who calls upon Dr. Dolittle, and she reigned during these years. The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts by Hugh Lofting was originally published in 1920 and while the stories aren’t the same, it isn’t hard to assume that the story takes place during similar years.

This being said, I think the movie was entertaining. It was the first role I’ve seen Robert Downey Jr. in since his iconic portrayal of Iron Man, and I think he did a really good job. The movie was funny, it was sentimental, it was serious and it was suspenseful. It told a tale that we’ve heard before, following a pattern we’ve come to know. The main character is broken when we meet him, choosing to isolate himself from any other humans because he lost the love of his life and is terrified of experiencing that kind of pain again. Then he is introduced to someone a lot younger than he, someone who can remind him of the good that life can bring. There’s a call to duty, one he almost ignored until he learned that it would mean he would lose his animal sanctuary. There’s a villain that we the audience learn is the villain pretty early on, who is fueled by jealousy and the need to be better than our protagonist. Despite following a similar path as many stories before them, I didn’t feel bored. The world that we were able to step into through this film was really beautiful.

The one character that surprised me was Rassouli, the king of pirates, played by Antonio Banderas. He was Lily’s father, and for this, he resents Dolittle for the death of his daughter. I’ve liked Banderas ever since his role in Spy Kids, so it is always a nice when he pops up in new movies. All in all, I enjoyed this movie and that’s always a goal when I watch a new movie. However, I don’t think it will leave a lasting mark and I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this year, many forget that it happened. This has little to do with the individual movie but more about the amount of movies that come out every year. It is taking a lot more for movies to stand out to an average moviegoer. With a constant stream of new movies every week, it is no wonder when December comes around and people find themselves stunned when recalling movies that came out that same year.

Have you guys seen Dolittle? What did you think of it?

Fantastic Four (2005)

Originally released on July 8, 2005

Overview

Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) believes that evolution came as a result of a cloud of cosmic energy in space, and he goes to Dr. Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) to ask for permission to use his private space station in order to study his theory. It is there that he runs into his ex-girlfriend from MIT, the chief genetic’s research, Susan Storm (Jessica Alba). All three of them are joined on the space station by Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis). While in space, Reed figures out that the cloud is actually a lot closer than he realized and all of them were in a lot of danger. Ben is out in space when it hits, and Reed, Susan and Johnny are out of the protective shields in order to help but Doom closed the shields behind them. They are all exposed to cosmic energy and they end up getting powers as a result.

Reed gets the power of elasticity, becoming known as Mr. Fantastic. Susan gets the power of invisibility and the ability to create force fields, becoming known as the Invisible Woman. Johnny can engulf himself in flames and can actually fly using his powers, becoming known as the Human Torch. Ben becomes known as The Thing, transforming into a rock-like creature with superhuman strength and durability. Unbeknownst to them until it seems too late, Victor also gained powers–the ability to produce bolts of electricity as his body is transforming into an organic metal.

My thoughts

My immediate thought upon meeting Victor Doom, was ‘of course he is the villain, his name is literally Dr. Doom.” So when this becomes true and he tries to kill the entire team at the end of the film, I wasn’t surprised. He’s also just gross, he and Susan were never even together and yet he felt it was only right to propose to her. It’s a weird scene that just made him seem increasingly vile. Also, this guy is almost always exclusively hidden in the shadows of any scene that he is in. Cinematically, this acted as foreshadowing to the nefarious character hiding underneath the surface.

Someone who isn’t the villain but is definitely still a really bad person? Debbie. Ben’s fiancee who breaks up with him when he comes back and looks different. Even if it wasn’t his fault, she doesn’t even give him time to explain or talks to him again. Acting in fear when he tries to approach her, only adding salt to his wounds since he was already feeling upset about the way he looked. She never deserved him.

Reed is a really cool character because he is someone I can relate to. He doesn’t do anything without looking at the situation from all angles, always thinking very analytically but he grows a lot throughout the movie. He eventually proposes to Susan, showing that he was ready to act on his feelings without stressing about all the variables. I’ve always enjoyed the stories of the Fantastic Four, and I do plan on watching the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Have you guys watched any of the Fantastic Four movies? What did you think of them? I’ve been noticing a lot of support recently on my posts but I’m hoping more people begin interacting in the comments. I want to hear YOUR thoughts. Let’s have a conversation.

Delirium (2018)

Originally released in 2018

Overview

A psychological thriller produced by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jason Blum, directed by Dennis Iliadis, starring Topher Grace as Tom Walker. It’s a story about a man who inherits his family’s mansion after his father commits suicide. Released from a mental institute and put under the supervision of parole officer Brody (Patricia Clarkson), Tom begins to suspect that his family home is haunted after strange occurrences start happening around him. He’s been told to have trust in his mind, and not his eyes but when he’s seeing the truth around him, he assumes it isn’t real. Along the way he meets Lynn (Genesis Rodriguez), a clerk at the market that takes a liking to him for being ‘interesting and weird.’

my thoughts

Let’s talk about what landed Tom in the institute. When he was a lot younger, still a child, his brother handcuffed him to a pole and forced him to watch as he drowned a girl. After being threatened not to tell anyone, his older brother Alex (Callan Mulvey) killed another girl and when the authorities connect the dots, the two brothers are sent away. Alex, to a life in prison and Tom, to the institute. It’s a messed up origin story, one that makes you feel immediately sympathetic towards Tom. Especially because when he is telling this story, we have already encountered Alex, but we aren’t sure if he is actually there or if he is an hallucination.

The parole officer isn’t a great person, in fact, she’s really unethical. Believing Tom to be coming onto her, she kisses him and when he declines her offer, she takes his med as punishment for seemingly embarrassing her. When she shows up later to a trashed house, presumably due to a mental breakdown, she offers to return later with his meds. When she does however, she comes in to see Tom carrying an unconscious and bleeding Lynn in his arms. She asks him whether he hurt Lynn because of what happened to his brother–he presumably died in a prison fire but when Tom asks her “Are you positive that he is dead?” Alex shows up and kills her. He claims that he is only doing what Tom cannot.

The remainder of the movie comes at you really fast and a lot of stories come to light. Their mother left their father many years prior and had completely abandoned the two boys–or so they thought. In reality, their sadistic father had kept her underground in a cell because she had begun to talk back to him. In the end, Alex and his mother drown in the cell as Tom and Lynn are able to escape due to his mother’s sacrifice, ensuring that Alex would not get away.

I really liked this movie. This was the first thing I’ve seen Topher Grace do since his time on That 70’s Show and I was surprised to see him pull off the horror genre so well. There were moments where I was genuinely afraid and I was pleasantly surprised that the movie found a good balance between jumpscares and atmosphere. If you can recall, when I was talking about The Grudge, I explained that I think a horror movie shouldn’t solely rely on jumpscares but rather the environment plays an important role. Delirium is a good example of that.

Have any of you seen Delirium? Are there any films in particular you’d like me to review? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Frozen 2 (2019)

Originally released November 22nd, 2019

Overview

The world of Frozen expanded in this film, introducing the people of Northuldra. People who lived in the forest, working in harmony with the spirits of the elements in order to live a simple life. In a flashback, we watch as King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) is telling a story to his young daughters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) about an event that took place when he was a boy. His father, King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto) and the leader of the Northuldra people, have made a treaty through the construction of the dam. As the story goes, Northuldra betrayed Arendelle which results in a fight that costs King Runeard his life. Enraged, the spirits create an impenetrable mist that traps those within the forest. King Agnarr manages to escape through the help of a stranger.

The second film takes place three years after the events of the first movie. Elsa begins hearing a strange noise, one that only she can hear and it is calling to her. Unable to resist the temptation, she awakens the spirits and the people of Arendelle are forced to seek refuge on higher grounds. In order to save their people, Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven all go into the forest hoping to find the answers and fix everything. Without revealing any spoilers since the movie is still fairly new (when are spoilers allowed? Three months?) the movie takes us on a journey that diverges from the simple story of the first film.

My thoughts

Having little sisters mean that I’ve seen the first Frozen movie more times than I can count. The songs were good enough to be loved by the children but they didn’t grab my attention more than any other catchy song would. I never listened to any of them on my own volition, unless they were in a playlist with other Disney songs. The plot itself was different from the classic formula for a Disney princess movie, focusing on the relationship between two sisters and having romantic relationships take the backseat. However, the second movie takes that same foundation and built on it, making the final product remarkable.

All of the characters have depth to them, depth that isn’t expected from a children’s movie. Elsa is the Queen but she doesn’t feel like she belongs. Anna will follow her sister anywhere, there is a fierce loyalty to her that knows no bounds. Kristoff is unabashedly sensitive, a characteristic not often found in male characters because it is no secret that boys are taught that having feelings is a ‘girl trait.’ By seeing Kristoff, a guy who loves Anna wholeheartedly, who has his own power ballad about his feelings, it can teach boys that they can talk about how they are feeling without the fear of judgement. They can learn that having feelings is okay rather than growing up to be emotionally constipated.

The songs in this film are a lot better in this film. My favorite being a toss up between ‘Into the Unknown’ and ‘Show Yourself’. But in truth, all of the songs are really well done. Each one having a role to play in telling the story, even Olaf’s song titled ‘When I am Older.’ While to the adults, it can seem as though he really has no idea what is going on and that doesn’t seem like something that will change. But for the kids, they can relate to it because as a child, we always believe that things will get better when we get older. That we will be independent and the world will be open to us. The message behind the song resonates with the kids.

I really enjoyed this movie, I actually watched it twice. I do wonder if a sequel is in the cards, but if not, I feel as though the story reached a good conclusion.

Have you guys watched this film? What did you guys think of it? Feel free to leave comments to let me know what you thought of Frozen 2.

I’ve noticed an influx of visitors and followers recently, thank you so much!