Storks Film Review

We have seen our fair share of animated bird movies. Some were good; some were bad. Storks attempts to fly high.

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From the director of the Neighbors franchise (Nicholas Stoller) and one of the animators of Pixar films (Doug Sweetland), Storks stars Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, and Kelsey Grammer in a film that is centered in the old answer to the old question “Where do babies come from?”

18 years since the Stork company shut down its baby making factory, CEO Hunter (Grammer) asks the assistance of Junior (Samberg), the top delivery clerk, to fire the company’s only human employee, Tulip (Crown). Taking pity on Tulip, Junior reassigned her in the mail department. Meanwhile, Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman), who does not know that the Storks only deliver packages now, writes a letter to the Storks to request a baby brother. Receiving the mail, Tulip placed the letter in a slot in a room outside the mail department. The slot turns out to be the baby making machine. To hide the big mistake he made, Junior reluctantly helps Tulip deliver the baby to the Gardners.

The best thing about Storks is the sub-plot of the Gardners. The story was more engaging and more relatable to the audience. Nate’s need for a younger brother was the catalyst of both the build the house and deliver the baby narratives.

It was honestly a wasted potential not to focus more on the Gardners. The baby delivery of Tulip and Junior seems to be the prolonged sub-plot of the film. It was not engaging enough for someone to invest much his time.

The film’s humor was definitely for kids. Much of the humor comes from scenes similar to those random scenes in Family Guy. Some fall flat; some were laugh out loud funny. Alpha and Beta (Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele) stole the show with their pack’s insane physics defying maneuvers.

Hunter (Grammer) was an antagonist for the sake of the film to have one. His motivations for his actions were not explored enough (though he is right in a business standpoint).

The last scene, however, was a bit of a mystery. Are those same-sex couples featured in the storks deliver the babies montage? If yes, props to the animation studio.

Storks has its hits and a lot of misses. Due to inconsistent humor and a wrongly prioritized narrative, this film is only…

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The Magnificent Seven Film Review

The second western adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai hits theaters with a bang!

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A remake has 50% chance of it being a good one; the success for a remake of a remake is much less so (just ask 2016’s Ben-Hur). But director Antoine Fuqua accepted the challenge to remake the 1954 Japanese classic. With an ensemble cast of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio, 2016’s The Magnificent Seven aims to be … magnificent.

The plot is very simple. In the 1870s, a local town continues to suffer from the tyranny of an industrialist named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). After witnessing her husband killed, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) hires bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) to protect the town from Bogue’s hundreds of men. To give the town a fighting chance, Chisolm asks the assistance of gambler Josh Faraday (Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), and Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).

When people watch a movie about a group or a team of individuals, one of the biggest things they look for is chemistry. Magnificent Seven showed a lot of chemistry among the cast. This is to be expected since a lot of them have worked together before (eg. Pratt/D’Onofrio in Jurassic World). It was such an amazing sight to see Hawke and Washington together in a scene 15 years after 2001’s Training Day.

The action sequences are well-choreographed. The introduction of Chisolm’s skills and the first fight of the Seven were beautifully made. It was like watching a violent version of ballet. The last stand of the Seven against Bogue’s 200 men (yep… 200) was very entertaining to watch. Bandits drop on the floor like flies.

It was also a nice touch to give the Seven a more rounded line-up. And in its own way, it felt like a western Avengers. Each member has their own specialty which was showcased well, but the film opted for some form of realism. Lee’s Billy Rocks is a knife wielding assassin, but he uses pistols once the going gets tough. D’Onofrio’s Horne is a man-bear who uses his huge physique to gain the upper hand, but once the enemies start to pile up he uses pistols (and a cannon at one point).

The biggest issue of the film, however, is the threat of the bandits. It was natural for Bogue to have scenes where he can show his evil nature, but the rest of his enforcers/lieutenants were not explored much. For example, one of Bogue’s enforcers, Denali, was another Comanche character in the film. His motive for joining Bogue was not explore or even mentioned. He was just… there. And (mini SPOILER ALERT) his fight with Red Harvest was disappointingly quick.

The Magnificent Seven is an entertaining film filled with guns, bullets, and explosions. Despite the issues in its antagonists, this film gave so much fun and delight. Because of this, The Magnificent Seven is…

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Don’t Breathe Film Review

The eleventh commandment: Never break into blind Stephen Lang’s house.

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Some critics did not like the blood and gore of director Fede Alvarez’ 2013 Evil Dead. Naturally, Alvarez’ answer is to remove all the gore and give us this year’s Don’t Breathe, a horror movie in which a blind man is the killer… Wait what???

The movie is about three delinquents Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto). After hearing that a Blind Man (Stephen Lang) has a $300 000 settlement from the family of his daughter’s killer, the three decided to rob him. Unknown to them, the Blind Man was a Gulf War Veteran and a total badass.

Stephen Lang kills it as the Blind Man (pardon the pun). He was so good as this intimidating killer. The fact that he was mostly mute in the movie gave his performance a more chilling feel to it.

The three delinquents were also effective in their performance, especially Levy’s. However, this is that rare time when the audience are more on the side of the antagonist. C’mon! They’re trying to rob an old blind man. They got what they deserve. Go Blind Man!

The second act of the film was so effective. Alvarez was able to make the audience act like the teenagers in the movie. Everytime the Blind Man was on screen, I can feel myself breathing very slowly as to not give him a signal I am there. It makes the viewers feel like they’re in the movie.

However, the third act of the movie was a bit of a letdown. I wish THAT part of the narrative was not included at all. It felt so sudden and unnecessary, and the logic behind it was WTH.

Don’t Breathe is another horror film that showed us that our basic fears is, in its own way, more frightening than ghouls and demons. Due to Stephen Lang’s performance, its amazing 2nd act, and its added sub-plot in the third act, this film is…

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Train to Busan Film Review

Incredible pacing, great characterization, and a simple plot makes Train to Busan a thrilling ride!

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Another zombie movie? After almost 80 years of zombie movies, it can be said that people have seen it all. Then director Yeon Sang-ho brings us Train to Busan. Starring Gong Yoo and Kim Su-an, this film brings something new to zombie movies.

Fund manager Seok-Woo (Yoo) reluctantly agrees to accompany her daughter Su-an (Su-an) to visit his ex-wife in Busan. In the train, they meet Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-Seok), his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi), a  bus company COO Yong-suk (Kim Eui-sung), and a group of college baseball players. Chaos came when an infected woman enters the train…much to the horror of the passengers.

The characters in this film are different from characters in your average zombie movie… They are human beings. The film expertly showed character motivations. You really want these people to succeed and reach Busan before it’s too late (except for one guy), which is kinda ironically rare in a zombie movie. The big brawler portrayed by Ma Dong-Seuk surprisingly provided most of the humor in the movie, and I definitely like his character. Incredible acting all through out. Tears were shed that night.*

The zombies, as well, were great in this movie. The way they move and react gives chill and thrill to the viewers. There were a lot of edge of your seat scenes in the movie. World War Z zombies might be faster and more rabid… But there’s something special in seeing REAL zombies, not CGIs.

The pacing of the film is superb!  There were no idle moments at all! Everything was a thrill ride from start to finish.

Train to Busan is all hits and no misses. Ticket price is worth it. I was honored to watch this movie with a pack of moviegoers who were as invested in this film as I am. Because of that, this film is definitely…

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The Last of Us is not the only emotional zombie fiction anymore.