Welcome to my blog!

Yes, I’m an adolescent, but I’m definitely mature for my age. Hollywood always goes after my demographic by manufacturing crap after crap after crap and keep feasting on your money. Well I’m here to tell them that not everyone is so easily fooled. With my love of art and cinema I’ve decided to create a blog to share my reviews with you guys. I hope some of you can at least respect my opinions instead of ridicule them because I’m underage. So sit back and relax and enjoy my blog.

 

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Why I Hate Romance Movies

Happy Valentines Day! Time to celebrate a holiday that mostly exists so that corporations to squeeze money out of gullible women, and nothing to do with the horrible execution of a saint named Valentine. YOU’RE ALL SICK!!! This holiday is mostly associated with romance. Which is my most least favorite genre. Before you go “Oh, your just a boy. Romantic movies are meant for girls.”. Yeah, is if I don’t get it by now. Also, boys can enjoy romance too, you sexist hypocrites! My reasons for hating romance movies are not because of my gender, but because it’s the most cynical, pandering genre known to man. Every year, there has to be a million romance movies released. Each one of them as bad the next. Distributors like Hallmark and Lifetime own a monopoly on these films. It’s the same plot, same characters, and no originality. In my Review of Romance Comics (And Why do They Exist?) post, I broke down the repeated storyline with romance stories. It’s widely known as the Romeo and Juliet story. Two lovers overcoming class just to be together, but ends up going wrong in the end. The famous, Shakespeare tale is often considered the greatest love story ever told, so it’s no surprise many studios try to emulate the same formula. Though it’s probably one of the worst love stories ever told. Juliet wants to forever be with Romeo, so why does she take the advice of a crazy woman telling her to fake her death? Oh yeah, nothing will go wrong by doing that. Oops, I guess Romeo thought I was really dead and killed himself over grief. Guess it’s time to kill myself for real now. This is widely considered the greatest love story ever told? I’ve seen better love stories on DeviantART. Many of these romance movies repeat this story and are made cheap, fast, and with little effort. On every Valentines Day, a lot of women drag their men to see these terrible, terrible movies. You should be like me, never give in to corporate greed. Anyway, I’ve never seen a romance movie as something other than a cash grab. Don’t be one of the those assholes that says “Every movie is a cash grab”. Oh, I didn’t films are only distributed to make money. There’s a difference between a film that’s made with effort, and a film that’s made only for money. Most of these romance movies are are effortless, cash grabs. Once in a while you’ll get one that actually has passion in it. Classics like Gone with the Wind and Casablanca are great movies that are categorized as a romance. But even some of the most popular ones have major issues with them. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was considered a classic for years. Nowadays, it’s seem to have lost that reputation. Do you want to know why? Because of the racist character played by Mickey Rooney. Every time he appears on screen, it slaps the faces of many cultures. No surprise that now in the SJW age, that performance has gotten panned. Now the film is no longer considered a classic because of that one racist performance. That’s another trend in these bad romance movies. Usually our bland, main female character has a friend that’s only there for comic relief. For some reason, the character can’t be anything but an offensive stereotype. It has to be either a sassy, black woman or a feminine, gay guy. They shout catchphrases and tell obnoxious humor. Even in modern romance movies, they still have the stereotypical friend. Why is it so important to have a character that will make people angry than laugh? Another example would be James Cameron’s Titanic. When this film came out, everyone went nuts. It won oscars, made a star out of Leonardo DiCaprio, and became one of the highest grossing movies of all time. But I don’t think it should have deserved that much. I’m fond of the technical aspects of the film. The scene where the Titanic crashes into the iceberg and starts to sink is very well done. Halls are flooded, everyone is going berserk, the ship splits in half, people are killing each other to get on the lifeboats, all while our main couple is thrown into the mix. Cameron and his crew worked hard to make it all work, and it does pay off for an intense, edge-of-your-seat climax. Can’t say anything positive for the rest of the film. It’s the same Romeo and Juliet formula with a mustache-twirling villain, on-the-nose commentary, clunky dialogue, and an obnoxious song by Celine Dion. For those who weren’t born yet when this song came out like me, it was the equivalent to the song Let It Go from Frozen. Yeah, that’s how annoyingly popular it got. So the the Romeo and Juliet formula has been done til death, are there any modern romance movies with another type of plot? Yes, but it usually ends up being even worse. Now, we are entering the pretentious realm. The two films that I really don’t want to talk about, but I have to. First is, sigh, the Twilight saga.

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Originally a series of horrible teen novels written by possibly the greatest hack writer of all time, Stephenie Meyer, was turned into a series of even worse films. The characters are emotionless, uninteresting, blank slates; the story is god awful, the effects make fan videos on Youtube look amazing, and it’s one of the most cynical movie series’ I’ve ever seen. I hate every second of every film. What else can I say about this that everyone who’s not a dumb teenage girl or a lonely mother has said about it. Enough said. But what happens when crapy romance novels written by a hack gets fan fic by a overly obsessive woman? You get the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Yeah, for those who don’t know, these crap romance novels are based off of crap romance novels. Who would have thunk it? But then what happens when what some people consider the most sexiest books ever get adapted into what most people the least sexiest movies ever made? You get the film adaptations of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

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I know I’m not the first person to say that, but oh god is it ever so true. I recently read the text from the novels, and I can see why it’s popular. Just judging from these films with no prior knowledge of the books, you would be pondering the whole time about why people find the books hot. We focus on boring things throughout the film, then when there’s a sex scene it cuts away. With the recent installment in theaters recently, and judging from the abysmal reviews, there seems to be no improvement. Wow, I guess I’m basically done.

So that’s why I hate romance movies. Have any hate comments for me? Leave it in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed it and have a happy Spend Money Day, I mean Valentines Day. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

Review of Romance Comics (And Why do They Exist?)

With Valentines Day approaching, and my promise to do a comic book review once a month, I’m going to look at a comic genre that I’m pretty sure many of you didn’t even know existed, romance comics!  We know that comics usually borrow from genre’s like action, horror, mystery, but never romance. I was surprised to hear that comics like these existed. I was even more shocked to find out that these comics have been around for decades.  Originally, I thought this was an experiment during the silver age of comics to branch out to other demographics. But these began in the late 40’s and didn’t lose steam till the mid 70’s.  Were these actually popular enough to last that long? Were teenage girls just flocking to comic stores to read the same generic love story over and over again? Apparently yes, they did. Then again, I guess some people may argue it’s more hot to see what’s going on than just reading it and imagining what it looks like. Plus, you can’t deny there’s small elements of romance in most superhero comics. In most stories, a love interest is what keeps the hero fighting.  Like Superman and Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, and Spider-man and his many disposable girlfriends. So, what happens in these popular romance comics? Well, the stories are no different than any corporate pandering, romantic movie. The stories go something like this: the protagonist is a young, single woman who looks around her late 20’s or early 30’s. She usually wants one thing and one thing only, some hunky man she faints over. She wants to just die in his arms, but something is holding them back. Maybe it’s family issues, or class, or he’s in a relationship with a mean chick, or she’s just too nervous to express her feelings to him. In the end, she gets the man, and they live happily ever after. Then there will be a quote which is supposed to sound poetic, but sounds like a pretentious kid trying to sound deep. For the most part, that’s the majority of the stories. It follows the same Romeo and Juliet story with the same main character with the same dilemma. They may change her hair, features, or race, but when push comes to shove it’s the same exact character. Of course being a comic genre that dates back to the 1940’s, you get issues that now would be considered politically incorrect like this:

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Need I say more? Like I said earlier, romance comics faced a rapid decline in sales in the mid to late 70’s. At this time, the Sexual Revolution began. Pornography was shown in more theaters, premarital sex became more common, and abortion was legalized. Romance comics felt very outdated compared to what was going on in the world at that time. This resulted in many comic book companies stopping development of them. They faded away and were completely forgotten by the public. Then later in 2003, Marvel was scoping for new talent to write their material. They did this through their more mature Epic Comics imprint. Some of the Marvel executives thought it would be a great idea to revive the old romance comics. Except make them a lot more mature. To revive a comic book genre that has been widely forgotten by most people, you got to have the right author/illustrator team in order to make a great story that could sell to a big audience. So, who they get? None other than the writer of the mean spirited Kick-Ass, Mark Miller! That’s right, for those of you that know Miller’s work (which is god awful) then you know how bad this comic is. So Miller was a bad choice, but did they get the right illustrator? Well, they did get Terry Dodson, whose artwork is mostly comprised of over sexualized versions of beloved, female superheroes. Now you have a comic that’s geared towards girls written by a violent hack and drawn by a pervert. What do you get? A whole lot of trouble from a comic that’s actually named, Trouble. 

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The story is god awful, I’m serious. It’s about a group of obnoxious teenagers working at a resort run by snooty no-it-alls. Along the the way they get into several dirty hijinks that would even make the writer of Porky’s blush. You get cringey dialogue, bad artwork, and forced in plot lines like one character getting pregnant. I want to take a moment to talk about how terrible the artwork is. There’s panels where characters look wonky. They sometimes look like their bones are bent out of shape and their faces are like poorly made dummies. It’s so bad that it wasn’t even on the covers. It would show something that was never in the actual comic, like this one with a photo of girls in bikinis: Marvel_Trouble_1

That isn’t even the worst thing about the comic. Apparently, the character’s names are May, Ben, Mary, and Richard. That’s right, they’re Spider-Man’s parents, as well as his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. I’m not kidding, this is really true! But wait, it gets even worse. Later in the novel May gets pregnant. She tells Ben about this and is afraid of her dad finding out about her pregnancy. May eventually gives birth to the baby and gives it to Mary and Richard so they can start a family. That baby’s name, Peter. If your a comic book fan with no prior knowledge of this novel, then you must be pissed right now. It’s bad enough to put Uncle Ben and Aunt May in situations like this, then you add a twist where it’s revealed that May is Spider-Man’s real, biological mother! Whatever, I’m done talking about this dumpster fire. And what an appropriate name for it because it flopped, only lasting 5 issues as well as killing Epic Comics entirely. The revival failed, and romance comics are now as obscure as an old radio show from the 30’s. The main question about romance comics is why did they exist? Do you want to know why? Because teenage girls are stupid and will fall for any generic love story no matter what. Okay, maybe that’s a little too hypocritical, I know not all teenage girls fall for this crap, but they are the main target. And it did last for three and a half decades, so I guess that’s true.

So that’s my review of romance comics. Sorry if I turned this into a mini review of a crappy comic book, but I basically summarized all of them. Plus, I got one more thing planned for Valentine’s Day, so still be on the lookout! Hope you enjoyed it and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

 

2017 Leftovers/Update

So I’ve been on a huge hiatus recently and I wanted to make a new post to update you guys on what’s going on. The reason I haven’t made a whole lot of posts recently is because I’ve been catching up on films I missed in 2017. Plus, I got stuff planned for Valentine’s Day, so I decided to quickly go over films from 2017 that I’m just now seeing. Without further a due, here are leftover 2017 films that I’ve just seen in 2018.

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The Post

Yeah, I’m talking about another Spielberg flick, get over it! The film tells the story of when  top secret U.S. government files on the Vietnam War were revealed to the public by the New York Times in 1971. When the government stops the New York Times from publishing more secrets, the files then end up in the hands of the then struggling news company, the Washington Post. There’s a huge debate over if they will publish the files and face imprisonment, or still keep it secret from the public eye. This is a tough decision for the company’s owner, Kay Graham (played by Meryl Streep), as she gets peer pressured by both sides. The film’s production was rushed, due to Steven Spielberg’s involvement on Ready Player One. Actually Spielberg had the script for years but didn’t know when to start production. Then Donald Trump started yelling “Fake news!” at the press, and he decided to finally put the film out. Obviously there’s a lot of talk in the film about free press and the first amendment of the Constitution . For a film that was rushed, it doesn’t feel that way at all. Spielberg clearly wanted to put as much passion in this as possible. There is some good tension in this movie. For example, Streep’s character wants to publish the files because she wants the public to know about their contents, but she’s friends with many people in the White House, and she doesn’t want to lose them.  Being a person who’s interested in history, it is shocking to know that many presidents knew the Vietnam War was a lost cause, they still sent young men to die there.  The acting’s great, especially by Streep and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee. There’s good camerawork and lots of heart put into this movie. I’d say check it out if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.

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A Ghost Story

You may not know it but I’m a big fan of Red Letter Media. I think they’re hilarious and  influenced me to start this blog.  When Mike Stoklasa said, ”  A Ghost Story was the best film of 2017″,  I decided to check it out. When I first sat down to watch it, I didn’t like the beginning.   It was very slow moving and would hang on shots for what felt like an eternity.  We hold on this one shot of Affleck’s widow eating pie while he stares at her in the corner as a ghost. Just cut already! I was getting worried that it’s gonna be like The Florida Project where everyone loves it, but it’s really pretentious garbage.  Thankfully, the film got better as it went on. There isn’t a lot of dialogue used in the majority of the movie.  Instead it relies on visuals and actions more than words. It pays off for the most part. The plot is about Casey Affleck’s character dying in a car accident and forced to roam his house as a spirit. He sees life quickly go by.  Watching his widow fall apart, then find someone else, a Latino family move in the house but get scared away by his temper tantrums, then he watches his house get demolished and turned into a high rise building.  I like the way the film portrays the passage of time.  Affleck walks into one room and sees the Latino family settling in, then walks into the next room and sees it’s Christmas. There’s a lot of neat visuals and interesting things to keep your attention. We find out that there’s another ghost in Affleck’s next door house who can’t remember who they were and what they were doing.  Just to show you how much it sucks being undead. Overall the film’s pretty good, despite the beginning.  Many people are turned off by how hipster the film looks. While there are hipster elements in there, it isn’t enough to keep the film down. Go watch it, but beware of the annoying holding shots.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Here’s a film that I thought wouldn’t get attention from mainstream audiences but somehow did. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film that deserves attention. The characters have depth, the acting is good, and it’s really non-conventional. A woman named Mildred (played by Frances McDormand) is enraged by the fact that her daughter was raped and murdered and the Ebbing police force haven’t done a lot on the case. She buys three rotting billboards outside of town and posts comments on them taunting the police of their neglect on her daughter’s case. This proves to be effective because the town of Ebbing, Missouri begins debating about the three billboards. Chief Willoughby (played by Woody Harrelson) is plunged right into this dispute as he’s dying of cancer. There’s also Officer Dixon (played by Sam Rockwell) who often chooses violence over more peaceful techniques when it comes to police work.  When I went to go see this movie on Saturday night, the theater was crowded. I wondered if there was a new movie out that everyone wanted to see, but then I find out that all the seats for the movie were full. Why was this small indy movie getting huge numbers? Maybe because the way it was advertised it attracted the anti-police crowd?  But even then it was misleading for that matter. Sure the cops, for the most part, could be considered the antagonists of the film, but not many of them are bad people. Even our main character has big problems of her own. I decided to try seeing this film again the next day, which lucky for me was Super Bowl Sunday. Not many people were at the theater so it was easy to get in. However, I did hear an old man tap his leathery boot constantly throughout the film. So there’s something.  Back to the movie.  Peter Dinklage is a minor character in this movie who completely disappears. When he shows back up again it’s like “Oh yeah, he’s in this movie”.  Sometimes the film takes on the appearance of a dark comedy, but it’s mostly a sad drama. The performances by McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell are all terrific. It’s got emotion and always keeps your attention.  I’d say go see it, just hope you don’t run into crowds of annoying people like I did.

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Godzilla: Planet of Monsters

As you know I’m a huge fan of Godzilla. When I heard there was gonna be a Godzilla anime on Netflix, I didn’t know what to feel. I’ve never been a huge fan of anime. There’s some stuff I like, but I don’t like it too much. Maybe because the Weeaboo culture has completely ruined the experience to outsiders like me. I felt I had to watch this at some point, so I did. Like every other G fan, I thought it was “ehh”.  I do like how this is the only Godzilla movie that makes the monsters win and forces the humans to leave Earth, but that’s about it for the originality. I started to get flashbacks to Aliens when our characters go back to Earth. I mean these space soldiers land on a planet with hostile creatures and get into a war with all the creatures  except with Godzilla. Speaking of the big G, I don’t really like the look of Godzilla in this movie. It’s trying to look too much like the 2014 Godzilla, which I didn’t like either. Godzilla looks like a sad, old man just lumbering around, constantly drowsy and waiting to die. The combat scenes are nothing special. They attack him in their fighter ship-thingies and get struck down. Then they send another wave after him which also fails. Then they send another and another until they decide to just bomb him. Which, guess what, doesn’t work either. The animation is good. Yeah, that’s about all I can say about this one. There’s supposed to be a part two, but I may or may not see it. Seeing how this is a film I probably won’t watch again. That’s all.

So those are my 2017 leftovers. I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I got two things coming for Valentine’s Day so look out for those. Hope you enjoyed it and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

 

V For Vendetta Review

Time to venture into the world of Alan Moore with V For Vendetta. This is a #10 issue graphic novel from the 80s. This is another one of my favorite comics. The story, characters, artwork, almost everything about it is good. So let’s dive in. Instead of the 90s being a time of Furbies, grunge rock, Reebok Pumps, Beanie Babies, and bleached hair, it’s a dystopia with a corrupt government that became of a nuclear war. Did I mention this was written in the 1980s, when everyone was crapping their pants over the Cold War. I’m getting sidetracked. In this dystopian future, which is in London, we have a girl named Evey who’s a teenage prostitute. Lovely! While on the streets, she gets caught by a policeman who wants to rape and kill her as punishment. Once again, lovely! Before that can happen, Evey is saved by a terrorist named V. V then invites her to see the destruction of the House of Parliament. V takes her in and hopes to convert her to anarchistic ways, believed that if converted one person is succesful, he can convert a whole nation. There’s that and tons of sub plots and characters as well. I first should talk about our two main characters, V and Evey. Both are good characters that make interesting leads. When Evey was a child, she witnessed her mother and father be captured by the government for reasons. She grows up in this fascist world she lives in and eventually becomes a prostitute at age 16. Of course she’s taken under V’s wing where she’s slowly being converted to anarchy. There is point in the comic where she’s put in a prison where she finally is persuaded, but we’ll get to that later. Then you have the mysterious V. V’s early life is kept secret and never revealed throughout the story. We do know that he is an escaped convict that holds a grudge against the new government, called Norsefire, and is determined to take them down. Dawning a Guy Fawkes mask, he roams the streets at night finding any opportunity to sabotage Norsefire. What makes V interesting is his unknown history. Because his past is kept a mystery, he becomes a lot more intriguing in his actions and why he does so. You never actually see his face because he either hides it in a Guy Fawkes or Punch and Judy mask. Most likely because his escape plan ended up in him getting his skin burned. Apparently he use a bunch of substances which he used to set the prison a blaze. Besides V and Evey, we have a lot of side characters. Like Detective Eric Finch. Finch is a veteran detective who is put in charge of the V case. He constantly struggles to take V down until he finds out V used to be a prisoner at Larkhill. He then visits Larkhill, which is now abandoned, and takes LSD to conjure up being an inmate to figure out more about V. There’s also the leader of Norsefire, Adam Susan. Susan is the one that founded Norsefire and lead it to be England’s new system of government. He’s also in love with a super computer named Fate. Yeah it’s kind of weird. Later V hacks into it and tricks Susan in believing that it actually loves him. Helen Heyer, a woman who wants absolute power of Norsefire by using sex to keep officials under her thumb. Rose Almond, a widow who’s husband was killed by V. The death of her husband, Derek, sends her into a depression and causes her to become a striper in order to get money. Lewis Prothero, a radio personality on a propaganda station called The Voice of Fate. Prothero was once a guard at Larkhill that tortured V a lot. V gets revenge by abducting him and showing him a recreation of how they sentenced inmates to be burned to death at Larkhill using his doll collection. The shock of seeing his prized collection be destroyed makes him mentally deranged. He stays that way throughout the rest of the series. Was you can see this comic is very dark and depressing. Alan Moore has dabbled stuff like this, it’s what he’s most good at. The graphic novels that he has written like this and Watchmen focus on the characters with struggles rather than being superheroes punching bad guys. The story is huge metaphor for the Margaret Thatcher Foundation which Moore has strong beliefs against. Like the over security, news propaganda, etc. Plus the elements of anarchy taking over. The funny thing that this dystopian future caused by nuclear war is kind of believable. The comic portrays the world in a serious light with realistic characters, besides some having bizarre traits like Adam Susan. Sometimes the series points a finger at the people for knowing something is wrong with the government but never doing anything about it, which is where V steps in. This fictionalized world is very similar to our own. That’s the whole point of the comic itself. I should also talk about the artwork by David Lloyd. Compared to the past two comics I’ve reviewed, it’s nothing special. Sometimes it looks a little rushed and unfinished. When it does look good, it can look a lot better. It has it’s own style to it that I feel would make it better if there was more time put into it. That ends the non-spoiler section of my review. If you want to read the book for yourself, which I highly recommend, then I advise not to read any further til you have read the comic. Now here’s the spoiler section. After Evey is stopped from assassination attempt, she’s put in a prison. While in there, she receives letters from the cell next to her’s. They’re from a lesbian actress named Valerie Page, who was imprisoned because of her sexuality. Her letters tell her life story, like her parents throwing her out, her becoming an actress, meeting her lover on set of a film, and how they separated from each other by  the government. Valerie’s words inspire Evey as she refuses to collaborate with Norsefire. She expects to be executed, but is instead freed. She wanders out of the prison to be revealed that it was all and elaborate scheme by V to make her experience what he went through at Larkhill. She’s rightfully mad at first but then mood swings once V explains himself. She forgives him and learns to embrace anarchy. Meanwhile, Helen Heyer’s husband finds out about her affair with an official named Alistair Harper and proceeds to kills him. Adam Susan finds out that V has hacked into Fate and is fooling him into thinking that it loves him, which leaves him heartbroken. Finch, after taking LSD, finally deduces V’s secret hideout and goes there with the intent to kill. He manages to get into the lair, which is under Victoria Station, and gets into a confrontation with V. V wounds him, but Finch is able to get a clean shot at V. V dies in Evey’s arms, telling her to carry on his role as a terrorist. She decides exactly that as she dawns his signature outfit. Then you have poor Rose Almond, who (thanks to V) manages to get past security cameras to purchase a gun. Surely enough, Susan is meeting with the public one day and right when he steps out of his car, Rose shoots him dead. Due to Susan’s assassination, London is plunged into chaos as Evey, who now takes on the persona of V, tells the people of London to choose their own path and tells of the destruction of 10 Downing Street. Evey abducts an assistant of Finch named Dominic Stone, restarting the story of the terrorist training a young person to be their successor. We end with Finch leaving Helen Heyer to a gang of rapists as we see our last panel of Finch walking down a dark, empty highway. The ending can be seen as contrast to more romanticized endings. Here, instead of our hero walking into the sunset, we have a character walking into blackness. Just to cap off the comic’s depressing tone. It works as an ending to what transpired. Now’s the part where I compare the story to the movie.

 

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In 2006, the Wachowski siblings produced a film adaptation of the graphic novel starring Natalie Portman as Evey and Hugo Weaving as V. The movie is definitely a more Hollywood approach to the subject matter. Not to say that it’s bad, it’s a good movie but it’s very different in contrast to Moore’s original story. Instead of being centered on the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, it focuses more on George W. Bush’s Patriot Act. They also change a lot of the characters. Finch never takes LSD, Susan isn’t in love with a computer (in fact it never shows up in the movie), Helen Heyer and Rose Almond never show up either, and Lewis Prothero is a TV news caster and dies from lethal injection instead of becoming mentally deranged. Also the ending is more brighter than the one in the comic, but like I said it’s Hollywood. I mostly separate them from each other as different interpretations of the story. Overall the novel is really good. The characters are great, the story is great, it’s one of Moore’s best work and I’d recommend you check it out if you’re interested. So that’s my review of V for Vendetta! What do you think of the graphic novel. Let me know in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

Downsizing (2017) Review

Since were in January, a month tainted with terrible movies, I decided to go back to 2017 and review Alexander Payne’s latest film, Downsizing. When I saw the trailers for the film, I though it had an interesting and unique concept. When scientists figure out how to shrink people down to five inches, they introduce this new breakthrough to the public as a way of slowing down overpopulation. Paul (played by Matt Damon) decides to abandon his life of disappointments to go get downsized with his wife, Audrey (played by Kristen Wiig). Something goes wrong and only Paul gets downsized while Audrey leaves him behind. The rest of the film is Paul trying to move on in his new life while coming across a bunch of other characters along the way. That’s just basic plot, because the film becomes such a mess. You think later in the film Paul’s going to get back together with Audrey. But no, she just leaves the film when it’s revealed she didn’t get downsized. So you build up the plot about Paul and Audrey moving to a new life, when you just abandon it not half way through the movie. Then we switch to plot number 2 about Paul trying to move on and adapt to his new life while living with his partying neighbor, Dusan (played by Christoph Waltz). Then switch again to plot number 3 with Paul helping an amputated, Vietnamese lady named Ngoc Lan Tran who was a prisoner in Vietnam who Paul saw on the news once. Then comes plot number 4 about Paul and the gang traveling to Norway and learning that the Polar Ice Caps have melted and people are saying it’s the end of the world and just choose one plot already! Yeah, the film gets very jumbled which can distract from better things the film offers. Even though the overall plot is a mess, I still think the concept is creative. It’s combining sci fi elements with modern day global issues. The reasoning for downsizing slowing down overpopulation is a logical explanation for why they’re doing something like this. I first thought it was just a reasonable explanation for the existence of downsizing and the rest of the film would follow Paul adapting to his new environment, but then it comes back into the movie towards the end in a more serious note. When the scientist who perfected downsizing, Dr. Jorgen Asbjornsen, reveals that methane gas has completely melted the Polar Ice Caps, it comes right out of nowhere. Then he says human life will be wiped off this planet as we know it. So the first downsized colony in Norway decides to transfer themselves underground to start over again. Then at the end when Paul and the gang go back to the U.S., everything is fine. The film makes such a big deal about it and it ends up in our characters saying “Whatever!”. Is it making fun of global warming believers? Tell us, Payne! Let’s look on the bright side for a little bit. The film has some comedic moments with its premise. Like “Yeah, we deal with global issues, but we’re still about people being shrunk to the size of mice”. So you get scenes where tiny people interact with normal sized people and get comedic visuals. Like how they’re carried around in boxes, or when Jason Sudeikis’s character is just talking to Paul, he’s sitting on a cardboard box while Paul is standing up. Little touches like that make the film kinda entertaining. The acting is pretty good too. Damon gives a good performance as Paul, despite the jumbled plot around him. There’s a running gag throughout the film where people keep getting his last name wrong. It’s the same lame gag in Godzilla ’98 with Matthew Broderick’s character, every time it happens the less funny it gets. Kristen Wiig did good with what she was given, despite the fact that she was ejected from the film completely through one third of the run time. Christoph Waltz was probably the most entertaining character. When he first shows up in the film, I’m pretty sure he was doing some sort of accent. I thought “Oh God, is he going to do this throughout the whole movie?”, but then he uses his actual voice through the rest of the film. Why did he do that? Was that an outtake that they forgot to edit out? Then there’s Ngoc Lan Tran (aka Paul’s second love interest). Her dialogue mostly consists of humor. It can get kind of annoying sometimes when it feels like that every scene with her has to have a joke, though it’s not the actress’s fault. Then you get strange cameos. Jason Sudeikis is there for a brief while, but he is the one that inspires Paul to get downsized. But you get cameos from Laura Dern, Neil Patrick Harris, and even James Van Der Beak. There all random and make you wonder why are they in this movie. The effects, for the most part, are ehh. The effect for making downsized people be next to normal sized people is very basic. It’s not terrible, but it’s not groundbreaking either. Even some of the backgrounds look kinda fake. As expected, there’s a lot of social commentary. In one scene they’re at a bar celebrating the fact that they’re getting downsized and a drunk guy over hears what Paul and Audrey are doing then scolds them. He does make valuable points about how people pay a lot of taxes for the downsized folk and they don’t have to, but the film portrays him as an ass. Then it makes fun of political news and gets very on the nose. They also put the first half in the setting of Nebraska, probably Payne’s way of telling the audience that he also directed the film, Nebraska. Or maybe it’s because he grew up in Nebraska and is proud to be native. He even showed at the premier at the new Dundee Theater, not to far from where he shot the film. I know this because I’m also a Nebraska native and saw the movie at the Dundee Theater too. My review of the place, it’s good. Overall, the film has it’s ups, but they’re sadly overweighed by it’s downs. I also heard this filmed bombed on it’s opening on Christmas Weekend along with The Greatest Showman. Which, as you all know, I regarded as a flawless musical with no generic pop songs, no forgettable characters, and no historical inaccuracies whatsoever. This isn’t a film I’ll probably view a second time and will most likely forget after a month. So that’s my review of Downsized! What do you think of this movie? Let me know in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed it and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

Top 5 Best Films I’ve Seen in 2017

While Hollywood may differ, I think most critics can agree that 2017 was a good year for movies. Many indy films have gotten more attention from the public, and all the terrible popcorn flicks bombed. If you want to know the worst films I’ve seen in 2017, then read my list on that here: Top 5 Worst Films I’ve Seen in 2017. Like that list, I’ll list films I’ve reviewed and films I’ve never got to. With that said, here we go.

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5) Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

I’ve noticed that a lot of best films lists usually miss documentaries. So, for my first best films list, I decided to give the number 5 spot to a great documentary. This is about the behind the scenes footage of Jim Carrey method acting as Andy Kaufman for Man on the Moon. The footage has never been released to the public until now. The film interviews Carrey and he talks about how far he took his acting. He also goes his inspiration from Kaufman and is career back in the 90s. It’s very well made documentary with a pretty interesting subject. I did a whole review on this here: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017) Review. If you want to get into some great documentaries, I’d say check out this one.

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4) Get Out

You knew I couldn’t do this list without involving a horror movie. When I first saw the trailer to this movie, I thought it was gonna suck. It’s gonna be that whole “white people are evil” plot and the guy from Key and Peele, this is gonna be terrible. Surprisingly, it was actually really good. It has great acting, a foreboding atmosphere, and some pretty good tension. I thought the twist was gonna be that the white family believes in slavery and all that stuff, but apparently they’re not racist but really love black people. They want to be them because of old family history. So it’s kind of a jealousy thing more than racism. That’s an interesting approach that separates from more conventional works. I’m pretty sure director Jordan Peele has some explanation about how it ties in more to racism, but I already like the film as it is. Besides some forced in jump scares, the film is really good and I’d highly recommend it for you horror lovers out there.

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3) Baby Driver

Coming in at number 3 is Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. I consider this to be one of the best action movies of the decade. It’s fun, has great characters, good acting, cool stunt work, and an awesome soundtrack. The premise is creative, apparently Wright wrote the film around the soundtrack. It’s sync with the music whether it would be gun shots, car honks, etc. Even the title is taken from the famous Simon & Garfunkel tune of the same name. Most of the actors do a terrific job with what they’re doing. Ansel Elgort is great as the lead, Baby, John Hamm is perfect as Buddy, Lily James is a likable love interest, and…uhh…Kevin Spacey is good too. Yeah, I can’t really talk about him without mentioning the recent sexual allegations against him, but I think that shouldn’t distract from how good his performance is. It’s not different from most of his performances but is fine nonetheless. The only actor I didn’t like was Jamie Foxx. He’s not god awful, but his performance doesn’t quite match the character the film’s trying to portray. Another thing is the car stunt work. Little to no CG and green screens are used and the film relies on stunts and real locations. Every time there’s a car crash, you can feel the weight of it, instead of feeling like it’s not really happening. Of course being an Edgar Wright movie there’s some comedy, and it all hits bullseyes. It’s a fun action flick that’s definitely worth checking out.

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2) The Shape of Water

Guillermo Del Toro has made some very good artsy and imaginative works, and this is no exception. For a film about a woman falling in love with a fish man, it’s great. Has some good camerawork, effects, acting, and story. This could easily be awkward and terrible, but it’s wonderfully executed. The relationship between Eliza and the Amphibian Man is greatly developed and kinda charming. The supporting actors like Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are also good characters and are likable. The villain can be a little cheesy and Michael Shannon’s performance can get a little goofy at times, but it’s still okay. I also did a full review on this which you can check out here: The Shape of Water (2017) Review. This is a great movie and my favorite indy film of the year.

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1) Logan

The best film I’ve seen this year is the first one I reviewed on this blog. The film is Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine and probably his best performance as the character. Based on the comic book series Old Man Logan, the movie follows a journey with an old, beaten up Wolverine and his clone daughter, Laura. The relationship between Logan and Laura is built perfectly and is sometimes pretty tear jerking. Patrick Stewart is also playing his character, Professor X, for the last time. Besides some scenes where he is supposed to be acting crazy is a little funny, but his overall performance is good. Jackman does a great job portraying Wolverine for one last time, and the girl who plays Laura is great too. The villains could be a little bit more developed, but they’re fine as they are. The reason why I like this movie is because it’s darker and more gritty, plus finally showing Wolverine slicing people apart like in the comics. Sometimes the film has western like feel to it that fits the tone perfectly. If you want to know more of my thoughts about the movie, you can see my full review here: Logan (2017) Review. It’s an emotional thrill ride that needs to be ridden, and probably the greatest comic book movie of all time.

So those are the best films that I’ve seen in 2017. There are a lot of great movies that came out this year that I’ve missed. So I want you to tell me some of the best films you’ve seen in 2017 in the comments below. This isn’t probably my last Films 2017 post. I recently saw Alexander Payne’s Downsizing which I’ll release a review of soon. Plus suggestions from you guys reading this right now. Hope you enjoyed this and have a Happy New Year! This is the Adolescent Critic signing out of 2017.

 

 

 

Top 5 Worst Films I’ve Seen in 2017

If you were to ask a Hollywood executive how 2017 was, his/her response would probably be “Oh God, it was terrible for me!”. 2017 has been a pretty bad year for Hollywood. Many films have bombed, opening weekends were underwhelming, and many cinemas haven’t a whole lot of profits. Today, we’re gonna shame for the pieces of crap they put out this year. I’ll be listing movies that I’ve already reviewed, and some stuff I never got to. Here we go!

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5) The Florida Project

Every year there’s that one film that everyone loves but I find terrible. This year’s equivalent would be this garbage. Everyone has been praising this movie as genius and groundbreaking, while I think it’s pretentious, annoying, and so long. A lot of people love it because of it’s realism, okay, but you still have to have characters and some sort of a plot to go with it. I don’t care about these characters and I don’t care what happens to them. Since it has no plot, it just stretches itself so long. It drags on so much that when I saw it, I think I went to the restroom twice. That’s how long it is. If you’re going to be that long, you better have something interesting happening. Barely anything happens, but it just keeps going. There’s no goal or anything, just keeps pushing forward. At least we got a good performance from Willem Dafoe, who is kind of likable. I did a whole review on this movie and you can check it out here: The Florida Project (2017) Review. But I’ll take pretentious garbage over our next entries.

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4) Beauty and the Beast (the remake)

I have never seen a film so manipulative, so corporate, and so desperate to be a hit as Disney’s blatant rehash of Beauty and the Beast. This is in a line of recent live action remakes of animated Disney classics. It first it seemed they’re doing these to update them for modern times. Though films like Cinderella and The Jungle Book are considered classics, they are a bit dated. But the original 1991 Beauty and the Beast is fine as it is, why remake it? Because money, that’s why! So get some big celebrities, obvious CG, and less effort. The actors they chose pale in comparison to the original. Paige O’Hara’s Belle sounded a lot more angelic when she sang with the bright visuals, Emma Watson’s Belle sounds like a robot with dull visuals. The Beast looks like CG vomit, Luke Evans’s Gaston is forgettable, and they casted Josh Gad as LeFou because he played Olaf from Frozen and remember Frozen kids, buy our products! The side characters like Lumiere and Cogsworth are also forgettable and the voices of the celebrities coming out of them are so distracting. There’s autotune and some of the most manipulative tactics ever shown on film. In order to trick the audiences that it’s something than a fantasy flick, it shows stuff like diversity (that is so unfitting with the 19th century France setting) and LeFou being gay. The audience I was with applauded the scene when it’s revealed LeFou is gay because it’s new and supports LGBT rights! When in reality it’s simple tactic to manipulate gullible, modern audiences. Plus, I like it how the film builds Belle as a strong, female character, but they show a scene of her using an invention of hers which is, are you ready for this, a washing machine. Way to play to the Feminist crowd, Disney! I can go on, but I have to move on. Instead of watching this, I’ll just dig up my old VHS of 1991 animated version and watch that instead.

 

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3) Alien: Covenant

After the disaster that was Alien 3, 20th Century Fox has kept trying and failing to bring a new light to the Alien franchise. So why are they still making these movies. Our latest entry to the long line of Alien failures is Alien: Covenant. As you know, I love the first two Alien movies. They’re very well done and are classic sci fi flicks. This film tried so hard to please audiences after Prometheus, that it failed so hard and fell flat on its face. At least Prometheus had some interesting ideas and great cinematography, this film barely has anything. The visual effects are lack luster, many characters are just here to die, the story can become very predictable, and it creates so many holes in the franchise. Michael Fassbender is okay, his performance isn’t as good and memorable as other performances he has done. Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride are good as their roles, but are still pretty forgettable. Then you get stereotypes like the cranky, uptight leader that has no point in being like that. The most pointless character out of all of them is James Franco’s character, who literally dies at the beginning of the movie. Why is he here, what’s the point of getting Franco to play this pointless character? Usually I’d be happy when the Xenomorphs show up, but they feel so tact on. That’s bad when the star of your franchise is tact on. When it feels like the film should end, there’s another climax with a Xenomorph killing crew members on the ship. Really, this again? This completely gets in the way of another plot point with the Fassbender clone dilemma. Fassbender plays two androids named Walter (the good one) and David (the bad one). They get into which you don’t see the ending and just see one come out alive. The film wants us to believe it’s Walter to surprise the audience when it’s revealed that it’s really David. But this is cliche that’s so overused that it wasn’t surprising when it happened. Then there’s whole David inventing Xenomorphs thing that creates so many holes in the franchise. Director Ridley Scott is clearly too hold to be handling this stuff. Sure he invented the franchise, but he clearly doesn’t know how to handle it nowadays. Please Fox, stop making these movies!

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2) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The fifth and hopefully last entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the worst one of these terrible sequels. The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie is stupid, yet very fun. The sequels on the other hand are stupid, and very dreadful to sit through. Oh boy is this one bad. At this point in the series, who cares? This film brings nothing new to the table, so why should we care if we know what’s going to happen? There’s another supernatural bad guy who wants to rule the seas, Johnny Depp acts goofy as Jack Sparrow, there’s a bland couple, Geoffrey Rush , yada yada yada. Depp is still the same, goofy Jack Sparrow, Rush is still there for a paycheck, the new couple is as interesting as dishrags, and even Javier Bardem isn’t a good villain. Plus there’s a bunch of forced in cameos from old cast members and even the famous Beatle, Paul McCartney. WHY PAUL!!! I also did a whole review on this one which you can check out here: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Review. I really don’t care, neither do the filmmakers so let’s just move on.

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1) Tom Cruise’s The Mummy 

I am big fan of the original 1932 The Mummy with Boris Karloff. I also like the 1959 Hammer remake with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Hell, I can even see why many people enjoy the 1999 remake with Brendan Fraser. But I honestly can’t see anyone enjoying this rotting piece of crap at all. It’s so bad, so desperate, and so insulting to fans like me who want to see the classic Universal Monsters updated for modern times. Did anyone care about this movie, was anyone really anticipating this movie from the very start? The reason why I call it Tom Cruise’s The Mummy instead of The Mummy (2017) is because Universal completely left the film in the hands of Tom Cruise. Not only was he the main star and got the top building, but he also made changes to the script and heavily edited the final project. I don’t hate Cruise, I mean I liked him in other movies, but he’s unbearable in this. At some points in the movie, it feels just like he’s phoning it in. Then you get Russel Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, who serves as the Nick Fury of this Dark Universe. Mr. Hyde looks lame, I want him to look grotesque or something, but this one just as yellow eyes and is more veiny. Then there’s a blonde lady who’s just there for scale. I’m opened to the idea of a Female Mummy, but Sofia Boutella’s performance is so bland and forgettable that it doesn’t compare to the original rose gallery of Universal Monsters. I kinda root for her, not because I like her character the most, but because I don’t care about the main characters and want to see her kill them to get the film over with. This film tries so desperately to be like the Marvel movies, that it completely fails at story or likable characters. Because the film has nothing going for it, it heavily rips off better horror films like An American Werewolf in London and Lifeforce. Even the video game is just a ripoff of Metroid. I did another whole review on this one which you can check out here: The Mummy (2017) Review, as well as my opinions on the classic Universal Monsters which you can check out here: Opinions on Classic Universal Horror.  I can safely say that this is a tomb that you shouldn’t grave rob.

So thats the top 5 worst films I’ve seen in 2017. I know there’s a lot of bad movies I had the pleasure of not seeing this year, but I know there’s more to come in 2018. I want you to tell me some of the worst films you’ve seen this year in the comments below. If you want to know the best films I’ve seen this year, tune in later today for that list. For now, this is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

The Greatest Showman (2017) Review

Well here’s a film I was not looking forward to but saw anyway, The Great Showman. As some of you probably know, I’ve talking a lot of trash lately about this one. I honestly thought it was going to be bomb that everyone would forget after a month. So far, I’m kinda right. Apparently 20th Century Fox decide to release The Post, a Spielberg film no less, in a whopping 9 theaters, and give this crap the deluxe treatment. Come on, you’re going up against a Star Wars movie, what else do you think would happen? However, when I went to go see this movie, it was a packed house. I was like “Wow, this film must not be so unpopular as I thought”. Then I realized it was a discount day, so maybe I’m still right. Let’s get to the plot. The film is, loosely, based on the life of circus owner PT Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman). Instead of focussing on the real PT Barnum, who was a racist and exploited freaks for a living, we are given a fictionalized Barnum who’s a plays up the hero aspect by treating all freaks equally and having no resemblance to the real Barnum besides the name. Plus there’s a bunch of one note characters, a relationship between Zendaya’s and Zac Efron’s characters, and well choreographed dance numbers mixed with bad pop songs. There’s been some controversy over the romanticizing of PT Barnum. Yeah we know he wasn’t as heroic and likable in real life, yeah he used to perform most of his shows in blackface, and yeah this portrayal of him is kind of offensive to people with disfigurements, but it’s Hollywood. They’ve been romanticizing history since the 30s. In fact, this isn’t the first time they’ve romanticized Barnum and his circus. This is no different from other biographies they’ve done. Ignoring facts, white washing historically black characters, and the film’s hero being a white man. I can go on for hours about how historically inaccurate the film is, but that would take all day, so we’ll skip it. I must mention that this is a musical, which is a genre I’m not a big fan of. There are some musicals I like, but overall I think there just excuses to make a slapped together soundtrack to squeeze more money out of gullible people, and not engage the story in any way. I can see the film’s soundtrack being more successful than the actual film itself. Why, because it’s now different from songs you’d hear on modern radio, for those who still listen of course. Probably because it copies from a lot of mainstream song. When I heard the very first song I thought to myself “Wait, haven’t I heard this a thousand times before?”. The answer is yes, it’s seems to follow the pattern of being generic and formulated that the majority of the music industry follows nowadays. Why be creative when you can just change some lyrics and end up on the Billboard Hot 100? Can we talk about that opening sequence real quick? We quickly go through Barnum’s life from boyhood to manhood. As expected, he starts out as a young boy, then becomes a teenager, then finally becomes 50 year old Hugh Jackman. What happened in all the time we skipped? Oh, are we supposed to believe that he’s somewhere in his 20s or 30s? Come on Hollywood, you can’t think we’re this gullible? Don’t get me wrong, Jackman is a good actor and singer, but if you want us to believe your character is young, then don’t give the part to middle aged man. Oh wait, they need a big celebrity to star in this movie to the all that sweet, sweet doe. Even though it has clearly been shown not to work. Anyway, a lot of the songs have bad lyrics and borrow heavily from other songs. So you get your generic power ballad, your generic fun song, your generic love song, and many more. They get broadway singers to perform for them, but still have to autotune their voices? Is it not good enough for ya? The one song they used to sell this movie, This Is Me, is supposed to the big power ballad that empowers our outcasts and teaches kids to be stand up and be proud of themselves. Except in the film it comes right the hell out of nowhere. A drunk Barnum shuns the freaks from a party he’s attended and then the bearded lady starts to sing about the oppression against people like her. I know they’ve been outcasts their whole lives, but when the guy who gave them careers bands them from attending one party, that gives them an excuse to sing a power ballad? Even in that one moment where a person they trusted shuns them, wouldn’t somebody think “Well he’s at a party with a lot of alcohol, so he’s probably intoxicated and not acting like himself right now”? Or can you at least show more scenes of Barnum being an ass before you have that big song number. I mean give some sense to your movie if you want us to like it. I suppose now would be the time to talk about the characters. Hugh Jackman’s performance as PT Barnum is good. When the film needs him to be upbeat, he can really be upbeat. It’s still a huge departure from the real Pt Barnum, but whatever. We also have his wife and kids who are in the film a lot but never have much development. Another historical inaccuracy is the absence of Barnum’s third daughter for no reason, but this already detached enough from history. There’s the bearded lady who I mentioned earlier. The actress they chose has a very good voice (though they autotune over it), but the prob beard she wore throughout this movie looked so fake. Every scene she was in, that obviously fake beard is so distracting. I just couldn’t get over it, it was that bad. The rest of the freak characters are surprisingly one note. There’s a dwarf who wants to be a soldier, a half man/half dog person, a really tall dude, a really overweight dude, and others who I can’t really remember. For a film that tries to embrace people with disfigurements, is doesn’t really focus on the too much. Then there’s Barnum’s assistant (played by Zac Efron) who’s with a trapeze artist (played by Zendaya). They have a relationship throughout the film despite the fact that fact that they have little to no chemistry. They just stare at each other and, boom, they’re in love. Zendaya’s character gets disrespected a lot in the movie. I’m pretty sure it’s because she’s an African American in the 19th Century, but you can’t mention racism in a kids movie. Keep it PG! But they do not compare to my absolute favorite character, the critic. Oh yeah, it’s one of those Hollywood movies where the critic is portrayed as a snobby douche who know doesn’t for the poor freaks who just want to be excepted as people. Oh, the torment! This is Hollywood trying to convince people that critics are evil and that they’re just trying to make the world happy. They don’t only cast good looking people or are only interested in money, they’re good people. Remember kids, critics aren’t criticizing in order to help you see your flaws so you can get better, no, they’re just haters who only care about themselves and not you. Did M Night Shyamalan take over the writing chair? Now this is some good old, Hollywood propaganda. One more thing I have to talk about is the gang of anti-freaks who go into the circus and burn their building down. When they refuse to get out, shouldn’t Efron’s character be like “Uh, if you don’t get out I’ll have to get the police”? You know, instead of engaging in physical fighting. Just saying. Overall the film is a mess, the characters are pretty one note, and the songs are badly written. Once in a while you’ll get some good choreography, okay visuals, and good acting, but it isn’t to keep the film floating. If you want to see better films about oppression towards human disfigurements, I’d say watch films like Tod Browning’s Freaks or David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. I wouldn’t recommend this film that much. One more thing, so this film has come out in 2017, obviously. But this year also marks the end of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. I just thought that’d be funny to mention. So that’s my review of The Greatest Showman! What do you think about this movie? Let me know in the comments below! Hope you enjoyed it and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.

The Shape of Water (2017) Review

Feeling some post Christmas blues? Well I have a great movie that will get your mind off of Christmas and think more about the stuff around it. Most of the indy films I was looking forward to seeing this year fell under my expectations. The Florida Project was a pretentious piece of crap, The Disaster Artist was okay but was very underwhelming. So I hoped that this film would be better and actually be fantastic. It’s not spectacular, but it is great. The film was directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who is one of my favorite directors. He has directed such works as Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak which are very stylish and creative. For you mainstream audiences out there, you may notice him for directing Pacific Rim and the two Hellboy movies. As well as produced some crappy animated film. But let’s talk about this one. The plot is about a mute woman named Eliza (played by Sally Hawkins) who works at a government research facility in Baltimore, Maryland in 1962. She lives in an apartments with her friend Giles (played by Richard Jenkins) and is a janitor at the research facility with her other friend, Zelda (played by Octavia Spencer). While cleaning one day, she sees an experimented creature called, according to IMDb, the Amphibian Man (played by Doug Jones). Eliza feels bad for the Amphibian Man because he’s often tortured and beaten nearly to death by the head of the facility, Richard Strickland (played by Michael Shannon). Eliza and the Amphibian Man grow a relationship over time, up to the point where Eliza tries to smuggle him out of the facility. Along the way we come across a Communist spy, named Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, who’s trying to get America’s secrets on the Amphibian Man, tributes to 60s culture, and a strange premise that actually kind of works. A lot of you fellow horror fans  know that the Amphibian Man is heavily inspired by the monster Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon. The makeup effects for the creature are really good. Sure there’s some digital cleanup, but it’s mostly comprised of makeup. It’s just as convincing as the original Gillman. Del Toro fans may notice the actor, Doug Jones, playing the similar character of Abe Sapien from the Hellboy movies. The character of the Amphibian Man is a sympathetic type. You feel bad that he was taken out of his environment and put into this lab where he’s tortured by horrible people. Sure he has his primitive moments where he acts like an animal, but that’s just how he is. In the end, you feel good that it all worked out for him. But he isn’t the main focus of the movie, the real focus is on Sally Hawkins’s character, Eliza. She’s always been mute and is very shy. There’s some foreshadowing where the film reveals her having three big cuts on both sides of her neck which are supposed to resemble gills. Plus the brief backstory she’s given that says that she was found by a river as a child. At first she’s very shy and just follows orders given to her. When she starts to fall in love with the Amphibian Man, it kind of boosts her confidence a little bit, so much so that she says f*# you to her boss, in sign language of course. Speaking of which, let’s talk about her boss, Strickhand. Strickhand is the typical evil government person who cares nothing for the poor, innocent creature he’s torturing. He’s a huge douche, racist, and is played by Michael Shannon. Shannon is an actor that is along the same lines as Christopher Walken. He has a lot of goofy moments in his movies, especially when he played General Zod in Man of Steel. Here, of course playing a cheesy character, he has fair amount of cheese. Like when he starts to swear over defending the candy he eats. What are you, 5? However, there are some moments where he can be a little intimidating. One interesting thing that they did with his character is the symbolism of his rotting fingers. While torturing the Amphibian Man one night, the creature fights back and bites two of his fingers off. They’re stitched back on, but continue to rot throughout the film to where they don’t match the color of his own skin. This could mean two things. One: establishing his prejudice towards African Americans, which would explain why constantly tries to tear them off his hand. Two: a contrast to how the Amphibian Man can give life back, like how he grows back some of Giles’s hair back and heal severe wounds. This contrasts with how we see Strickhand, the villain, deteriorate as the film goes on. He gets sicker and the whole finger thing. The character of Giles is another sympathetic person. He wants to help Eliza, but he also keeps getting screwed by his boss and is thrown out of his favorite restaurant because he’s gay. Octavia Spencer’s character, Zelda, is a good contrast to Eliza. Eliza’s obviously shy and quiet, but Zelda is very talkative and isn’t as shy. It’s like a relationship you see in a buddy cop, except not as cliche. There’s also the Communist spy, Dr. Hoffdstetler, who betrays his own party to save the Amphibian Man, and he’s good too. Enough about the characters, let’s talk about  something else. Another thing I like about this movie is it’s love for the 60s. It really takes advantage of the decade it was in. From the music, scenery, products, and the shows watched on TV. You just see this and say “60s, what else could it be?”. Eliza and Giles love to watch old song and dance numbers on the TV all the time. So in one scene where she fantasizes about the Amphibian Man, she imagines them ballroom dancing while she sings a tune next to an orchestra in black and white. Is it kind of a pointless detour, yes, but it’s so well done that you actually kind of ignore it. Plus a lot of the visuals and camerawork is pretty good too. The last shot of the movie, which is the cover of the poster, is a very well done shot. The last thing I want to talk about is the premise. I know some of you are turned off by the fact that the film is about a woman falling in love with a fish man, but it’s actually not that bad. For such a weird premise like that, which could easily be disgusting and awkward, the film manages to actually make it a little charming.  I’m pretty sure there are some religious groups that will think of this as blasphemous, but for what we got, it’s not that bad. Boy, this is the second review I’ve done this year that brings up beastiality, hmm. Overall, the film is really good and I would prefer you to check it out if you’re in the mood for a good indy movie. So that’s my review of The Shape of Water! Is Guillermo Del Toro one of your favorite directors too? Let me know in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed and follow me on Snapchat at bensuey3. This the Adolescent Critic signing out.

A Christmas Story (1983) Review

Merry Christmas everyone! Such a happy day it is. Kids are opening presents, decorations that you’ll immediately take down after a month are up, people are struggling to get the big Christmas feast ready, and all while you’re stuck with your obnoxious in-laws. Okay, maybe it’s not too pleasant, but the Christmas movies sure are.  You got your animated ones like How the Grinch Stole Christmas or any of the Charlie Brown ones. You also have your horror ones like Joe Dante’s Gremlins. Don’t forget your comedies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Plus the pandering crap Hallmark puts out every year. And of course, Die Hard! Yeah it’s not that Christmas like but it’s awesome and so many people associate it with the holidays so bite me! Anyway, the one I’ve chosen for today is my favorite, A Christmas Story. We aren’t talking about Fox’s recent live effort that one half focuses on a pedo Matthew Broderick looking at kids, and the other being ad space for The Greatest Showman. No, we’re talking about the original 1983 classic that TV channels play 24 hours on Christmas Day in order to stay relevant. Now you might be thinking “Of course A Christmas Story is your favorite Christmas movie, who’s isn’t?”. I know commercialism has tried so desperately to kill this movie these past couple decades, but I think that shouldn’t distract from how good of a movie this is. That’s what we’re going over today. What’s the plot? We follow the life of a young boy named Ralphie. At this time it’s Christmas and Ralphie wants a popular air rifle called Red Ryder Air Rifle. However everyone tells he’ll shoot his eye out. The rest of the film goes through his young life around Christmas. The film is funny, emotional, and quotable. Stuff like “Fragile”, “Oh Fudge”, and “You’ll shoot your eye out”, is memorable as hell. The film is directed by Bob Clark who also directed to Christmas horror film, Black Christmas. So you know he loves the holiday season to death…sorry. The main reason why love this movie is it’s realism, especially with the child characters. I know I said in my review of The Florida Project (link here: The Florida Project Review) that there’s a contrast between using realism to put sense into your movie and having too much of it where nothing interesting is happening. This film uses realism the right way. No surprise, the film mostly follows kids as supposed to adults. In many movies that follow children usually have them saying forced puns and being all cute and precious and all that lovey dovey bull. Here, it actually feels like kids are talking to each other instead of looking like kids reading lines of dialogue. I also really enjoy the character of Ralphie. Like I said, he isn’t an annoying pun-dispenser, he’s just a normal kid with normal kid desires. The fantasies he has are also very realistic, yet very funny. Children always imagine life as a more cinematic and over the top way like they see in cartoons or other media. Ralphie’s are no exception. Like when he thinks about having a Red Ryder Air Rifle and he imagines himself as a cowboy fighting robbers of his property. Or how about when he turns his his paper and imagines the teacher loving it so much that she gives the whole class an A+. Probably the best is when he’s punished for swearing and his parents make him eat soap, he then imagines his punishment backfiring and becoming blind from soap poisoning. He then imagines results his parents crying like babies because of their mistake. It’s so over the top, but most kids imagined things like that, even I did at one point. That’s how great the film portrays children. The other character I love is the father. For such a scummy person, they actually made him likable. I love it when Ralphie describes his father as “The greatest furnace fighter in Michigan” . Just cracks me up every time. You see, their house has a terrible furnace that keeps breaking down and the father constantly has to wrestle with it. I can see a character like this being completely unlikable, yet the film portrays him in a way where you actually find yourself liking him in the end. Sure he has a huge temper and yells a lot, but he’s very funny and always a joy to watch none the less. I must admit some of the the characters are stereotypes like the bully, Scut Farkus. Sure the whole bully character is cliche, but the actor is clearly having so much fun that you just kind of ignore it. The scene where Ralphie fights back against him is a very good scene. After he kicks his ass, he doesn’t end up saying a punchline or everyone huddling around him and cheering, instead his mom goes over to him and he starts crying. He feels bad for pummeling someone, even though it they’re mean, and just wants to be a nice kid. This film of iconic scenes and images. Like when Flick gets his tongue stuck to the frozen flagpole. Ralphie dressed up in a stupid bunny outfit that his aunt gave to him. But the most iconic has to be, hands down, the leg lamp. This is the image that has become the number 1 Christmas decoration for years. In the film, the father gets a lamp shaped like sexualized lady leg. He grows such an obsession with it, that when the mother purposefully breaks it, he buries it in the backyard instead of throwing it away. Also the mother is great too. My favorite scene is probably the one where Ralphie visits Santa Clause. Instead of being nice and jolly, this Santa is a grumpy asshole who just wants a paycheck. We’ve seen the whole bad Santa thing been done before, but this is probably the greatest portrayal of that trope. They legitimately make him look so mean and slimy. It also gives us good wide angle lens shots of all time, when Ralphie still wants to talk to Santa and ends up getting a boot in his face and kicked down the slide. One scene in the movie that I think can get a little racist is when the family has their Christmas feast at a Chinese restaurant, where the foreign employees can’t sing Christmas carols correctly. But the rest of the film is so good that it gets a pass. The other thing I like is the film’s portrayal of the 40s. The cars, sets, the products, the kids listening to action/adventure stories on the radio, all that good stuff. Overall this film is great and is a Christmas classic. It sucks that such a simple film as gained a ton of obnoxious merchandising. It started out so small and simple, but gained so much publicity that corporations have tried to take advantage of people’s love for it. I think we should just all ignore it and remember how good of a movie this is. The acting, dialogue, characters, sets, and tone is all great. This is definitely a film I look forward to watching every holiday season. So that’s my review of A Christmas Story! Is this also your favorite Christmas flick? Let me know in the comments below! Hope you enjoyed it and have a Merry Christmas! This is the Adolescent Critic signing out.