Tag Archives: 2017

The Fate of the Furious (2017) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as Tej Parker
Scott Eastwood as Eric Reisner/Little Nobody
Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey
Kurt Russell as Frank Petty/Mr Nobody
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Director: F. Gary Gray

With Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.

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I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about The Fate of the Furious. I liked all of the previous instalments of the Fast and the Furious franchise (haven’t seen the fourth though), especially the more entries in the series. However, the series has started to feel tired and forced, so I had no idea what I would think of the movie. Honestly, The Fate of the Furious surprised me, it’s one of the best movies in the series, with it being completely over the top, but also having a fitting story which tied everything together well.

What this movie did better than the past two Fast and Furious movies (which I still enjoy) is that it doesn’t focus unnecessary attention on other plot points. In Furious 7, while it’s a revenge story with Statham hunting down Diesel and his crew, it unnecessarily focussed on a pivotal device called ‘God’s Eye’, which it really didn’t need. Fate is a lot more straightforward and benefits a lot from that. I was never bored throughout the movie, the pacing of the movie was quite fast and at the same time it never felt rushed. As for the main plot point of the movie, the reason for Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto betraying his team (without spoiling anything), it is really well done and works for the movie. This movie does work on an emotional level surprisingly, it’s not just entertaining, there’s enough in this movie to actually care about what is going on. I was entertained from start to finish, Fate of the Furious was a very fun ride.

The acting is the same as it is in the other movies but some actual character development is here, meaning that these actors had more to work with than in other movies. Vin Diesel particularly is given quite a lot to work with emotionally and while he’s not that good as an actor, he did well enough in these certain scenes. The acting from the other cast works well enough (even though they aren’t great), there are some stand outs. Dwayne Johnson as usual brings his A-game and charisma, so entertaining to watch. I also really liked Jason Statham here, instead of serving as a villain like in the last movie, his character this time teams up with the main characters and it surprisingly works quite well. While I liked him in Furious 7, the film didn’t use him to his full potential. Here though he gets a lot to do. He is particularly fun in his scenes with Dwayne Johnson, those two verbally sparring were so entertaining to see. However the most stand out performance is Charlize Theron, who without a doubt plays the best villain in the franchise’s history. Not only is she smart, she is also very threatening and scary, making a real impression. Definitely an impressive character and performance for the franchise.

The action is even more over the top than the previous movies, and that’s saying a lot. All the action is completely entertaining. There were two stand out sequences to me, one of them was the Manhattan sequence, in which Theron’s character hacks cars. The other was pretty much the entire final act, which involves cars driving on ice as well as an submarine firing torpedoes at them, and its absolutely insane. It does go on for a little too long but I still enjoyed every moment of it. The laws of physics are defied completely, so of course do not go into this movie expecting any form of realism. If there’s any criticism I had, some of the fight scenes were filmed a little shakily but that is it.

If you don’t like any of the Fast of the Furious movies, you won’t like this movie. If you don’t like the recent movies in this series and prefer the street racer focussed movies, you won’t like this movie. However, if you enjoyed the movies 5-7, you will probably like this movie. It’s not a great movie but it knows what it is, and is endlessly entertaining. I do feel that it would be unnecessary to have more movies in this series, and Fate of the Furious would be a good way to end the main series, but I would like to see spin off movies, especially if its with Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, it has a lot of potential.

Life (2017) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as David Jordan
Rebecca Ferguson as Miranda North
Ryan Reynolds as Rory “Roy” Adams
Hiroyuki Sanada as Sho Murakami
Ariyon Bakare as Hugh Derry
Olga Dihovichnaya as Katerina Golovkina
Director: Daniel Espinosa

Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extra-terrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.

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Life was a movie I was curious about. This movie did seem very familiar and similar to other sci-fi horror movies, but because of the very talented cast involved, I was willing to check it out. I have to say, Life actually surprised me quite a bit. It’s nothing really that special and it is quite predictable. However, the film did carry out its story quite well, with its pretty good direction, great acting and actually some scary scenes.

The first act of the movie was rather slow and really didn’t interest me. As soon as the alien starts to attack, that’s when the movie started to really get my attention, that’s when the film really picked up. Most of the movie is fairly predictable, with the exception with something that happens at the end of the first act and the ending of the film, you can just tell what’s going to happen, though a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve seen so many of these types of movies, so we can usually tell what direction it’s going in. The film is quite effective with its scares (I’ll go into more detail later on). Overall the execution of this story is what makes this movie work so well.

This movie has a small but talented cast with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya. The characters they play aren’t really that interesting and due to the writing, there’s not much reason to care about them, aside from the fact that they are characters who are stuck in this situation. But the actors do a great job in their roles despite the lack of development in their characters.

This film is directed by Daniel Espinosa who has directed some movies which I haven’t seen but I’ve heard are ‘okay’ (Safe House, Child 44). I will say that with Life he did a really good job. This film is shot well, the CGI is used quite effectively. Direction-wise, the only issue I had was early in the movie, there is an unnecessary long take shot. These can be quite impressive but it wasn’t really needed at that moment, and it’s not even like the film featured these types of shots throughout, it was a one-off, and wasn’t needed. That’s really it though. This film handles its tension quite well, while the film does have it’s jumpscares, it wasn’t the majority of the scares, and the jumpscares never really felt forced or obnoxious. I found the most effective scares came from the alien itself. The alien itself is quite effective, the way it moved, the way it looked, the movie made it seem like an unstoppable and terrifying force. Plus, we don’t exactly know exactly what it is, the unknown element really helped with the horror.

Life is not one of the greatest sci-fi horror movies out there, it does take a lot from superior sci-fi horror movies like Alien and it is rather predictable throughout. However, if you do like these type of movies, I would recommend that you check out Life. The acting from its talented cast is good, the direction is solid but most of all, this movie is also actually scary, with a very dangerous and threatening antagonist.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Watson as Belle
Dan Stevens as The Prince/Beast
Luke Evans as Gaston
Kevin Kline as Maurice
Josh Gad as LeFou
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette
Director: Bill Condon

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

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Although Beauty and the Beast was on my most anticipated films of 2017 list, it was a movie I was feeling mixed about. It had a lot of potential with it having a good cast. At the same time though, it’s yet another live action adaptation of a Disney movie, which feels like just another cash grab. Overall that’s pretty much what this movie is, it’s not necessarily a bad movie though. On the contrary actually, it’s a pretty decent movie. The acting and most of the execution worked really well. However some of the directional decisions made were rather questionable and took me out of the movie.

The story was good overall, I had no real problems with it. With that said, from what I can tell, this story follows the original story quite closely. So, I don’t take much issue with the story itself, it was some of the decisions made in delivering that story that I felt a little mixed about. I personally liked the second act the most (though again that’s most likely due to the directional decisions being the best).

The acting was generally good all around. Emma Watson did a pretty good job as Belle, I still saw her as Hermoine Granger as Belle, but she did well in her role. Dan Stevens was also really good. Most of the time he is under a lot of makeup and costume but yet is able to convey emotion underneath all that. Luke Evans was great as Gaston, it was a larger than life performance, it was very over the top, which it did take me out of the movie. But from what I can tell it is still less over the top than other versions of Gaston. I will say that Evans fully embraced the role. The standouts to me were Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, they were voicing Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively and were quite entertaining.

I like most of the directional decisions made. The effects involving the Beast were very effective, I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to make it so that Stevens could be able to express his emotions through it. The costume design was great overall. The CGI was effective for the most part, although some of the CGI in the last act was a little fake. I liked most of the musical number. Despite many of the directional decisions I liked, there were some very over the top elements that took me out of the movie, such as the opening Belle song and the last act. Now I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t tell if some of the decisions were to pay homage to the original film. But either way with some I just couldn’t get into it.

Beauty and the Beast was a pretty good movie overall, with the acting and most of the directional decisions made being decent. I did however have a lot of issues with some of the directional ideas chosen, these ideas really took me out of the movie. As I said, it was not necessary for this movie to exist, it’s yet another okay enough live action Disney adaptation. But despite it being unnecessary, I still think that overall I think it’s a decent movie and if you are a fan of the original film and are interested in seeing this version, see it. You’ll most likely like it a lot.

The Discovery (2017) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Isla
Jason Segel as Will Harbor
Jesse Plemons as Toby Harbor
Riley Keough as Lacey
Robert Redford as Thomas Harbor
Director: Charlie McDowell

In the near future, due to a breakthrough scientific discovery by Dr. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), there is now definitive proof of an afterlife. While countless people have chosen suicide to reset their existence, others try to decide what it all means. Among them is Dr. Harbor’s son Will (Jason Segal), who has arrived at his father’s isolated compound with a mysterious young woman named Isla (Rooney Mara). There, they discover the strange acolytes who help Dr. Harbor with his experiments.

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The Discovery was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. With its talented cast, its very intriguing premise and trailer, it looked like an interesting and unique movie at the very least. After finally watched this movie, I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. The acting, direction and most of the story was great. There were a couple of aspects which didn’t work well but it’s not enough to affect the overall viewing experience in a major way.

The premise about the aftermath after the discovery of the afterlife is very interesting, and I was invested throughout the entire running time. I never felt bored or confused in the movie (I was however confused at the end but I’ll get to that later). Each twist and turn only increased my curiosity in what direction the film was going in next. For the most part this movie works very well. That’s not to say that everything was as good as it could’ve been. The film does rely on a lot of exposition and while I liked it, I felt like there was too much of it. And then there is the ending… I’m still not sure what I think about it. The ending does add yet another twist to the numerous other twists in the movie. It is such a big twist; however the film doesn’t really allow much time for this twist to play out before the movie ends. The twist itself is one that I’m a little confused about, and I wasn’t sure about what the ending meant. Overall, I guess I sort of liked the ending but I do think it should’ve been handled better.

The acting in this movie is great overall but Rooney Mara delivered the most stand out performance out of everyone. Rooney played her role incredibly well, she also had a lot of humorous moments and lines. Her character was the one I was most interested in throughout. She and Jason Segal played off each other and had great chemistry. Segal was pretty good, however he did feel like a weak link, I’m not sure why it feels that way. Possibly slightly miscast, but he wasn’t bad. Robert Redford is always great, and does have quite a presence here. Other actors like Jason Plemons and Riley Keough were good but they were underused.

The direction and cinematography were great, this film is visually beautiful, both in regard to the way that the film was shot as well as the locations chosen. This film also has this almost eerie feel to it, which is helped by it’s score. I don’t know why but this really made me even more invested and interested in the movie.

The Discovery is very intriguing and interesting throughout. The acting was great (especially from Rooney Mara), the direction by Charlie McDowell is really good, and the story was really riveting. There are some problems I have with the movie, especially with the way they handled the ending but what it gets right, it gets right so well. I definitely recommend giving it a view, it’s now on Netflix. Not everyone loves this movie, but it might just surprise you.

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard
John Goodman as William “Bill” Randa
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman
John Ortiz as Victor Nieves
Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks
Jason Mitchell as Glenn Mills
Shea Whigham as Earl Cole
Thomas Mann as Reg Slivko
Terry Notary as King Kong (motion capture performance)
John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

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Kong: Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. This film is also set in the same universe as Godzilla (a film that I liked) as the MonsterVerse is being created. Plus the cast and the trailers looked good, so I was definitely interested in checking it out. Although there are plenty of problems with this movie, Kong Skull Island is still a fun and solid movie, mostly due to the fantastic direction.

The story isn’t particularly special, above average, it’s serviceable for a Kong movie. The dialogue at times was hit or miss, some of it worked, some of it was cheesy and occasionally bad. Most of the comedy didn’t work, it only worked when it was delivered by John C. Reilly. One thing I will say though is that this movie definitely knows what it is. It knows its an over the top action movie and it delivers in that regard. Kong doesn’t show up a huge amount (like with Godzilla in his most recent film) but it doesn’t cut away from Kong just as he is about to do something awesome. He is in the movie in small enjoyable doses and was used very effectively, he was awesome when he was on screen. As for the last act… so fantastic.

Now this film has a lot of talented actors, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Toby Kebbell. Unfortunately the film kind of wastes them and they don’t get to do as much as you think they would. However, these actors do try as best as they can, they still were good enough, they just should’ve been given more to work with. The actor who steals the show is John C. Reilly. He is entertaining, and also the only source of comedy which actually works.

What makes this film work effectively despite its flaws is the direction. This film is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. This is his first ‘big’ film and I can say that he is a talented filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see more movies from him. The direction of this film is so great, on a technical level, everything is excellent. Something that was perfect was the cinematography, done by Larry Fong (Batman v Superman, Watchmen, 300). The film looks absolutely beautiful, not one shot felt out of place. The action is intense, the special effects looked great, there wasn’t a fake looking creature or effect. The film also does a good job at making it feel like its set in the 70s. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman also made things a lot more epic. The only criticism I have direction wise is some of the music choices and style felt out of place but that is it.

Kong: Skull Island definitely has some flaws with regards to its plot, characters and dialogue, but the overall direction boosts the film immensely, and almost makes me completely forget about all the problems. Overall I liked this movie about the same level as Godzilla, this film does some things better and some things worse. While the movie wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be, it was still quite a fun time. Also, make sure you stay after the credits, because there’s a post credits scene, and it’s well worth waiting to see it.

Logan (2017) Review

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logan

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast
Hugh Jackman as James “Logan” Howlett/Wolverine
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Richard E. Grant as Zander Rice
Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce
Stephen Merchant as Caliban
Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23
Director: James Mangold

In the near future, a weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant (Dafne Keen) arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

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Logan was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. At the same time though, I was incredibly nervous. This film was going to send off Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart as Wolverine and Professor X respectively. This film needed to be perfect, or at least perfect in the way that it ended their stories. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best comic book movies I’ve seen. I know that I say this with many comic book movies, but this is like top 5 level. Logan truly blew me away.

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Make no mistake, although Logan is set in the X-Men universe, tonally it doesn’t feel like the previous X-Men films, or really any other superhero movie you’ve ever seen. It’s quite bleak, dark and much more smaller and personal, it’s not an end of the world type of story. It actually does have many themes of a Western. Now this movie is R rated, and it’s not just for the violence (which I’ll get into later), it’s also so that it can allow the filmmakers to tell a darker story, and I’m glad they did that. Don’t also go into this movie expecting a comic accurate movie. I won’t spoil anything but there are some differences from the comics, I was completely fine with it but I just know that some people won’t be. Comic accuracy is not the most important thing everything however. I can’t really find a fault in the story. I guess the second act is slower (at least compared to the first and third act) but I still liked it, and it allowed for some more character developing moments. As for whether Logan and Professor X and sent off well, I’ll just say yes, they pulled it off. The ending of the movie was perfect.

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Both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give magnificent final performances as their iconic characters. Both characters have clearly been through a lot and aren’t as optimistic as they were in previous movies. Their arcs were done incredibly well, especially Logan’s, it was the perfect arc to end his story. There’s a great new addition to the X-Men series with X-23/Laura, played by Dafne Keen. She’s definitely a showstealer, just in the way she acts, looks at people (she doesn’t even need to say any lines and we can tell what she’s thinking), and of course the action scenes. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of her in future movies. This is a character driven movie, and these three characters are done so incredibly well. Boyd Holbrook plays one of the Reavers hunting Laura down. He is really effective and quite entertaining but as the film progresses he sort of gets pushed more into the background. Other supporting actors like Stephen Merchant and Richard E. Grant are also good in their roles.

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The action is brutal and unrelenting and it is excellent. While the violence is bloody, it never felt excessive, it felt appropriate for the story that was being told. Unlike most comic book movies, Logan tries to make it’s action as realistic and smaller as possible and it pays off, don’t expect big explosions or planes falling from the sky. In terms of the stand out action sequence, I’ll just say that it’s in the third act. The cinematography I also should mention was also beautiful.

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Logan is truly a magnificent movie. Along with the brutal action and the great performances, the story works so perfectly. I haven’t seen a comic book movie like this, one that is willing to risk everything and deciding to create this story. I’m being vague because I want you to experience this movie for yourself without knowing too much about it. So yes, definitely check it out. Even though I’m praising this highly (like everyone else), I must emplore you to lower your expectations (high expectations usually result in disappointment). I will say though that no matter what you think of the overall movie, there would be no denying that Wolverine was given a perfect sendoff.

Split (2017) Review

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split

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror and content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
Jessica Sula as Marcia
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Ana Taylor Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

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Split was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. M. Night Shyamalan has been starting to make a comeback with The Visit and from the trailers, Split looked like it has a lot of potential. James McAvoy particularly looks like he was going to give a tremendous performance. Having seen Split, I can say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back. This film was so great, with great acting, excellent direction and a mostly riveting story. Although it’s not quite the level of greatness of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Split comes very close. It has some issues but the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

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I will say that the first act of this movie is a little weak. It just didn’t really have me riveted all the time, the dialogue felt a little awkward at times and it was just okay overall, though McAvoy kept me interested enough. By the second act however, I was incredibly invested in what is going on. Shyamalan keeps everything riveting. Shyamalan in his films often makes the mistake of just having character spurt exposition, telling the audience information. Save for one scene with Betty Buckley in a Skype conversation, Shyamalan handles the information distribution a lot better, giving little tidbits of info, trusting the audience to follow along. This movie has a surprising amount of comedy, most of the time it works. A lot of it is about how odd and strange the situations are, which I like, Shyamalan knows that a lot of the film can be a little weird and he has fun with it. One other thing to note is that Anya Taylor Joy’s character does have some flashbacks to her past. While I understand the importance of them, I felt like they could’ve been done a little better. They felt mostly out of place and the choice of flashbacks could’ve been better. Now this film mostly is realistic but at a point it goes in a ‘different direction’. You really have to just go along with this direction, even if it feels jarring. The ending for me made this direction make sense. This ending of the movie is going to divide some people. I personally think it’s amazing. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Shyamalan’s earlier work, your mind will be blown. However it’s understandable that many people don’t understand the meaning of the ending. If you watch Split and don’t get understand it, just look it up.

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This is the best performance I’ve ever seen James McAvoy give. He had to portray 9 (of the 23) personalities, all with unique quirks, mannerisms and aspects to them. Not only that but he had to make it all feel real, not just cartoony and crazy. Sometimes during one shot he’d change from one to the other and you can really tell when this happens, all the personalities are very distinct. This couldn’t have been easy to pull off. There’s particularly one scene in the third act which really shows how fantastic of an actor he is. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. Anya Taylor Joy was also incredible as the main girl Casey. As previously stated, her character has a backstory, a pretty unfortunate backstory to say the least. Without revealing anything, Anya was very convincing as her and it was easy to follow her character. Betty Buckley plays Kevin’s psychiatrist and she was also great, especially in her scenes with McAvoy. If there’s any weak parts in terms of acting, it’s the other kidnapped girls. They weren’t horrendous but they are like typical horror movie girls, there wasn’t anything really to them.

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The cinematography is fantastic but that’s not surprising, since Shyamalan brought on the Cinematographer of It Follows. So naturally it looks great. The music by West Dylan Thordson was also really effective. Shyamalan really knows how to make situations creepy and unsettling, despite some issues in the story, I can’t really say at any point in the movie the direction faltered because it doesn’t really. This film has many legitimately scary moments, and went further than I thought it would.

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Now as I said this movie does have some problems with regards to its story really in the first act. However, all the positives of the film are so great that I almost forget about these issues. Everything from the acting, direction and most of the story made this such a surprising and great movie. And let’s just say that after the ending, I’m hyped for M. Night Shyamalan’s next project. However this movie is not really for everyone, just a heads up.