Here’s a look at some of the most notable films that came out in the past month
By Jimmy Fortuna-Peak
This unique murder mystery provides an intriguing story that gives light to some of the forgotten social issues plaguing America today. Wind River follows Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a veterantracker, as he investigates the murder of a young Native American girl in a Wyoming Indian reservation. Make no mistake, this is a dark film. Both the script and cinematography contribute to the terror and discomfort of this realistic situation. Jeremy Renner is stellar as the main protagonist, and gives one of the best performances of his career. The true star of the film, however, is the script, which could be looking at a Best Original Screenplay nomination at the Oscars next year. The social injustice the Native American community goes through on a daily basis is touched upon as well, shedding light on an otherwise overlooked issue. Wind River is, unfortunately, very slow and it takes awhile for the story to fall into motion. Around 10 to 20 minutes of the film could have easily been cut to improve this. While in the midst of a very unoriginal year in film, Wind River provides a breath of fresh air and originality to the theater.
What promises to be an exciting survival thriller turns out to be a cheesy romance that has been seen a million times before. The Mountain Between Us tells the story of two plane crash survivors and the connection they form while trying to return to safety. The film stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as the main couple who give decent, but not stellar, performances. The trailer is very deceiving in that it makes you believe the main focus of the film is on two strangers attempting to survive in the wilderness, when in reality it’s about the relationship between the two. Because of this, the film feels less realistic and audiences will need to suspend their sense of disbelief for a few choice scenes. The film’s ending is also far too long and has one of the worst ending shots I have ever seen. Overall, The Mountain Between Us looked to be promising, but in the end is really just a boring and melodramatic romance.
This sci-fi epic is a beautiful and thoughtful sequel that provides a story as good as its predecessor’s. Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the original and follows Agent K, who is apart of a futuristic police force called Blade Runners. On his search to uncover a lost secret, Agent K comes into contact with the former Blade Runner and protagonist of the first film, Rick Deckard. Ryan Gosling has a stellar performance as Agent K, and the supporting cast members (Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista) give great performances as well. Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard in the film and perfectly brings back the gritty and serious tone of the character. The film looks beautiful and could possibly win an Oscar for Best Cinematography come 2018. The film falters most in its slow pacing with a run time of 2 hours and 47 minutes. This is very reminiscent of the original Blade Runner film, but could have been changed to be more palatable for modern day audiences. After coming off the successes of Arrival and Sicario, director Deni Villeneuve adds another amazing film to his already fantastic portfolio.
In the past, anime adaptations have rarely been able to be even remotely as good as their source material, and this straight-to-Netflix release is no exception. Death Note follows the adventures of high school student, Light Turner, after he discovers a notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages. Nat Wolfe does an okay job as Light, but the true star of the film is Willem Dafoe’s voice performance as Ryuk, the death god. The first act of the film is incredibly entertaining and provides great social commentary about our current justice system. The second and third acts completely fall, apart and turn into a repetitive cat and mouse chase. The character motives become incoherent and the tone and style changes repeatedly. The ending of the film is very cheesy and and leaves you wanting more when the credits start to roll. Death Note had an exciting and promising first act, but ultimately fails in what could have been a truly interesting study of morality and responsibility.
The newest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel follows a group of six young outcasts and the terror they encounter when a shapeshifting demon begins hunting the town’s children. The film is released 27 years after the 1990 TV miniseries (Coincidentally, the demon terrorizes the town once every 27 years), and is by far the superior adaptation. The film’s cast does a solid job in each of their roles, and prove themselves to be some of the best child actors of our time. Bill Skarsgärd excels as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and steals the show every time he appears on screen. The script was solid and provided some very loveable and relatable characters from all walks of life. The film’s fatal flaw is that it simply isn’t scary. Many of the scenes that were intended to be scary appeared as more over the top and laughable than frightening. Only a few choice scenes were actually able to achieve the intended scares. While not scary, It still provides a fun and adventurous story, interesting and complex characters, and an adaptation that does the original material justice.
Darren Aronofsky’s newest thriller, Mother!, is easily the oddest film of the year thus far. The story chronicles a secluded couple and the events that occur after uninvited guests come into their home. This is the plot at its most basic, as the film is actually an allegory for something much greater. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem provide excellent performances as the main couple, and add a very spiritual layer to the allegorical roles they are playing. The cinematography and constant closeups provide a feeling of uneasiness throughout the entire film. Mother!’s biggest flaw is its pacing in the first two acts. The final act is their polar opposite, in that it throws an excessive number of visual metaphors at the audience, completely convoluting the plot. Overall, the film feels pretentious, but provides a story that will keep people debating for years to come. This is not a horror-thriller like the trailer portrays, but I encourage everyone to go watch this film and form their own interpretations on the enigma that is Mother!
Coming off of the success of the first Kingsman film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle adds another fun and action-filled spy thriller to the franchise. The film follows secret agent Gary “Eggsy” Unwin and his attempts at reestablishing the Kingsmen, a privately-operated British spy agency, after a fatal terrorist attack nearly decimates the entire organization. Matthew Vaughn returns as the director for the sequel and does not disappoint. All the over the top action scenes from the first Kingsman film return with a extra flare to keep things interesting. However, bigger isn’t always better, and this film sometimes suffers from that. The villain of the film, Poppy (Julianne Moore), has great charisma but fails to give a very convincing performance as a villain. The Kingsman franchise falls into the comedy genre and The Golden Circle provides some of the funniest jokes of the year. Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a worthy sequel to the original. While not as good as its predecessor, the film provides some of the best action scenes of the year and a very enjoyable trip to the theater.
While The LEGO Ninjago Movie hoped to continue the momentum previous LEGO movies had created, it ultimately fails and gives audiences a bland father-son drama without previous LEGO Movie humor. This particular LEGO film follows Lloyd, a down-and-out teenager in high school, and his attempts at stopping his evil warlord father, Garmadon, from conquering the island of Ninjago. Ninjago fails to incorporate any strong or likable characters into the film and focuses so much on the main characters that the supporting cast is left in the dust. The plot is formulaic and generic with a predictable ending that can be be seen by the end of the first act. The frequent attempts at comedy failed to hit their marks, and some jokes were so flat that instead of laughter, the sound of crunching popcorn echoed in the theater. The only redeeming quality of the film is its cast, highlighted by Lloyd (Dave Franco), Master Woo (Jackie Chan), and Jay (Kumail Nanjiani). The LEGO Ninjago Movie is very disappointing.