Black Adam Review

Black Adam has been a project in the making for about fifteen years now. Dwayne Johnson was a fan of the DCEU and DC comics in general but he wanted to see a different area of the universe explored as in The Justice Society of America and not Superman and Batman. So he was interested in the whole Black Adam story not to mention he kind of looks like him as well. That’s the birth of this film that is now out in cinemas worldwide. It’s been a long road to get here for Dwayne Johnson but I’m sure it was worth the wait.

In Kahndaq 2600 BC a slave, Teth Adam (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), discovers the power of the Gods after his family has been persecuted. He was chosen to be the hero of this country but the power went to his head and he was imprisoned for using the power in the wrong way. Some 5,000 years later he was accidentally released by a woman who is trying to help her son. He becomes friends with the woman, Isis (Sarah Shahi), and her son and helps them fight their war on Inter Gang, a group of zealots who have taken over their country. Releasing him has raised the eye of an old superhero group known as The Justice Society. Led by Carter Hall/Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) He assembles a few others to go on a mission to confront Teth Adam/Black Adam Kent Nelson/Doctor. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) This mission is harder than they think. Black Adam isn’t an easy man to take down.

Black Adam is known as an antihero, a man who plays by his own rules. He also has his own code based on his belief system which is a plot of revenge because of being imprisoned all these years before. Until things become confusing because of The Justice Society. The modern-day heroes try to get through to him but he’s not having any of it. This is where the writing of the movie comes in. The script is very good at showing the mindset and motivations behind characters’ decisions, especially of Black Atom. This film is named after him so his mindset and how he thinks are the main focus of the plot. And as fans know this story can only go in one direction. It does have a few twists and turns along the way.

Jaume Collet Serra has worked with Dwayne Johnson before on his last movie Jungle Cruise. So they already have a shorthand relationship with each other. This makes this film easier to see from this perspective. Dwayne Johnson plays this character differently than other roles he has played. He has been using his comedy chops lately but he tends to be serious and hard in this film. It’s still an action film though and all the action is pretty amazing. The fight scenes are awesome. Sierra created a cool way of filming these and how they unfold on screen is great. I couldn’t have seen anyone else in this role or film as this character. He perfect!

Along with the action sequences in the film also go the cinematography. They go hand in hand in this particular instance. There are great visual sequences by Lawrence Sher that incorporate the visual effects and the action scenes together. These sequences throughout the film were incredible. The DCEU has always had its own flare and look about how its movies are filmed but this one was a cut above the rest in its style from these perspectives. It’s some of the best action/visuals I’ve seen all year. They literally took my breath away at various moments in the film. The DC movies this year have been the best superhero films so far with one more to go, Wakanda Forever.

Besides Dwayne Johnson being all stoic and serious, the other actors in Black Adam were pretty good. Noticeably Pierce Brosnan. He was given a lot of tough dialogue and interesting aspects to his character, similar to Doctor Strange in the MCU. He makes the most of what he is given even though a lot of his character is shrouded in visual effects. He has funny banter with Hodge’s Hawkman and a few one-liners to boot. The other newer actors I didn’t know before this film were also pretty good. Everybody fit in nicely to what and who their characters were. Also, there was a bit of levity which helped break up all the serious story beats. Which benefited the movie more. 

Black Adam was a change of pace from the other films in the DCEU. It wasn’t a dark and brooding film even though it focused on a dark and brooding character. Johnson put away his comedy chops for this darker more serious character. This served the movie better overall. That look I was talking about was also pretty cool. The cinematographer Sher used the brightness of the desert landscape to give the film a lighter look. Which in turn worked hand in hand with the visual effects and fight scenes. The fight choreography was pretty awesome with the visual effects added in. The overall story of the movie could have been a bit tighter but otherwise than that this was an enjoyable experience. Johnson’s long journey to get this film made was worth the wait. And with this character’s connection with Shazam, who knows where it could go in the future?

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The Good Nurse Review

Jessica Chastain is coming off a Best Actress win for her role as Tammy Faye Baker at the Academy Awards last March. So all eyes are going to be on her for what roles she chooses or has come up with since then. Eddie Redmayne is another Oscar winner, for The Theory of Everything where he played Stephen Hawking, so this combination of Academy Award winners is quite the prolific pair to be starring in The Good Nurse. A new Netflix film based on a true story.

Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) is a single mother with two rambunctious kids. She is a full-time nurse working in a hospital in New Jersey.  While working one night she gets a new shift mate Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne) He helps her get through long nights and becomes more of a friend and father figure to her kids. Little does she know he is doing some unscrupulous work at the hospital that causes the deaths of some patients. 

There have been a lot of television shows about hospitals and not as many films about them. With this being a true story it is a movie that is sure to hit an emotional chord with hospital workers and audiences that may have had a bad experience at a hospital. With less time to tell its story, the film has to get right into it. It doesn’t have a lot of time to develop its characters but does just enough to show Chastain’s struggle taking care of herself and her kids. How Redmayne’s character steps in makes sense. His character is left a little underdeveloped for a reason. He needed to be a closed book so what he was doing didn’t get exposed too soon.

The filmmaker Tobias Lindholm didn’t have a lot to work with regarding the script by Krysty Wilson Cairns.  There wasn’t a lot of meat on the bone with this story. It was pretty straightforward for him and he got the most out of his two stars as well as the rest of the cast. Kim Dickens plays a hospital executive who has some of her own ideas about what’s going on and she keeps her opinions on this to herself. Two detectives, Danny Baldwin and Tim Braun (Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich) who are investigating the deaths are very good in these roles. They bring a quiet intensity to their roles. They are very good at picking the bear in the right places.

I can see how this film could rub some people the wrong way. It’s not for the fainthearted. This subject matter is something that is a concern these days with hospital workers being under so much pressure, especially during the covid-19 pandemic.  This film does a good job of putting the viewer in the shoes of the actors and putting them into the mindset of how these people look at all of this wrongdoing. It could definitely hit home for some who have had bad dealings like this with hospitals and medical facilities. Money can play into the decisions people make regarding patients and so forth. This world has become a dicey industry and it’s not always about the person who is sick and dying.

Tobias Lindholm takes a risk on the material. He goes to work with a good cast which helps him take a subpar script and elevate it to a higher level. This cast is led by two Academy Award winners and they anchor a difficult story. The meat and potatoes of the story is the investigative work by the detectives and that is what drew me to the film besides Chastain and Redmayne. I can see how this story is a bit too close to home for some but these stories of malfeasance and illegal activity by medical employees should be told so they don’t happen again. This story needed to be told and the filmmaker made good decisions with the film from the cast and plot/story perspective.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The School For Good and Evil Review

Paul Feig is an established director and producer of such films as Bridesmaids, Spy,  and A Simple Favor. He has made films in the action genre, romantic comedy genre, and sci-fi genre. Now he ventures into the family/ fantasy genre with his latest film The School For Good and Evil. Also known as the young adult genre because it’s based on a book series. Three genres he has little experience with, but three if done right can lead to a huge groundswell from fans of a property. This IP may be just what the doctor ordered. It’s based on a popular book series by Soman Chainani. 

Sophie and Agatha (Sophia Anne Caruso and Sophia Wylie) are two young women who live in a small town called Gavaldon. They are best friends but to most, they are outcasts in this community. After a letter and a with Sophie and Agatha are wished away by a giant vulture-like creature to a far off land where there are two castles. One grand and beautiful and the murky and dark. This is known as The School For Good and Evil. These two young ladies were selected for this school with a bunch of other kids their age. The problem is that they each may have been put in the wrong school. And they aim to prove that to everyone and anyone at the school.

Fieg has surrounded the film with big-name stars in the roles of the teachers and headmaster of the school. That balances out the fact that the kids are played by nobody I have ever heard of until now. Charlie Theron, Kerry Underwood, Michelle Yeoh, and Laurence Fishbourne are having a blast in this movie as these characters who are either good or evil. They all have done a lot of serious dramatic roles in the past so it’s nice to see them ham it up in this family/fantasy young adult film. The two leads Caruso and Wylie do a very good job as well in what is probably their first big role. I was a little enamored with Kit Young as Rafal, the villain of the film. He was pretty cool to follow along with from the beginning to the end of the movie.

This film has a lot of production value to it and the cinematography is pretty beautiful as well. It’s a good-looking film to look at in general. The visual effects in the movie are very good. The colors jump off of the screen when characters such as Young’s character uses his powers. When anyone in the film uses their powers it looks pretty cool. Along with the look of the film also is the costumes and make-up and hairstyling departments. These are first-rate in this movie. There are a lot of costume changes by everyone involved, especially the two leads. But everyone involved in the film looks exquisite in all the costumes. This will surely gather some awards attention come next year in at least two categories. Costumes and hair styling and make-up.

The School For Good and Evil has a message it wants to convey to those that watch it. And that message is that good and evil don’t look the way we have come to think of them as looking. People can come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. And just because you are labeled a witch doesn’t mean you’re evil and just because you have blonde hair and wish to be a princess doesn’t mean that’s your lot in life. People aren’t always put into the same groups as they are labeled to be in. There is a lot that goes into that besides looks though. People’s personalities play a big part in that. I can see why this book series interested Feig and company. It has a great message. Kids and adults alike should be able to watch this film and believe in this message. 

The School For Good and Evil is a delightful little film. Not since the Harry Potter films was I so enamored with a family/fantasy film such as this one. Or young adult films either. This movie snuck up on me. I wasn’t expecting much but when it was over I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. It had fun performances by the all-star cast and newcomers alike. The two leads were fantastic. The technical departments as well as the costumes and makeup and hairstyling departments were spot on and deserve awards consideration. This was a fun movie based on an IP I wasn’t familiar with and that was good to see. I hope to see some sequels to this book series if this one does well.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Ticket to Paradise Review

The years of good or even great rom-coms have gone the way of the doh-doh bird. They are almost extinct. Occasionally we may get one here or there that isn’t dumb or contrived or use toilet humor to get laughs at the expense of the plot/story or direction. Ticket to Paradise isn’t one of those films. It has two established stars who know their way around a good or even great rom-com and those are George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Combined they have starred in a lot of films and have been mainstays in the rom-com genre. Let’s see if their streak continues.

David and Georgia Cotton (George Clooney and Julia Roberts) are a divorced couple that is forced to be around one another due to their daughter Lily Cotton (Kaitlyn Dever) They go to her college graduation and they can’t stop arguing with one another the whole time. After college, their daughter goes to Bali on vacation and desires to stay and get married to a local seaweed farmer. When her parents hear about this via email they make a b-line to the first flight to Bali to try and stop the marriage. This is easier said than done.

Clooney and Roberts are like peanut butter and jelly or cookies and milk. They are just an amazing combination of two actors that work together so well. It seems effortless to them to do these types of films. They are so used to being in rom-coms that it just comes naturally to them. Their banter is fantastic. They know how to say the right thing to get the other one to bicker back at them. This is the rare duo these days that are perfect together on screen. This material is as easy as riding a bicycle for them. They never forget how to do it.

This movie could be your average run-of-the-mill rom-com but it’s not. It has a lot to say about marriage and attachment to someone. Also, it is a very good example of a divorced couple who hate each other but are forced to be together because of a child they had. The trip to Bali changes everything for this couple. This place brings them to a mental and physical state that makes them have a different view on life and their own so-called mistakes which resulted in their daughter. They are desperate to not see their daughter end up like them. It’s a tightrope of not being too overbearing and letting their daughter be her own woman.

One of the things that make this movie stand out to me as not an average rom-com is the cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland. It is some of the best I’ve seen this year. The sunsets and sunrises of Bali help make this film breathtaking to look at more often than not. The mountains and ocean scenes are more beautiful scenes in the movie. This was like making a movie literally in paradise so the name of the film was quite apropos. People who go to see this movie are getting a literal ticket to paradise. The filmmakers couldn’t have named it any better. 

Kaitlyn Dever is one of the best young actresses alive right now. She has been doing award-worthy work for years now in shows like Dope Sick, Unbelievable, and Justified. She knows how to give an emotionally charged performance. She even has done some lighter fare like Rosaline for Hulu and Book Smart, the first directorial film for Olivia Wylde. She’s starting to become a fully-rounded actress. One that should be watched for the Academy Awards in the future. The Emmys have already come knocking. She is just so good at any role she takes, including the one in this movie.

Ticket to Paradise isn’t your average rom-com. It is a delightful surprise. A breath of fresh air. It has fantastic performances from Clooney and Roberts who are consummate pros and can do this kind of work in their sleep. They are amazing together once again. Ol Parker the director has put the right pieces in place including the cinematographer and Dever which makes this movie come alive. In the Halloween season, this might be a shining light in the dark. Or something of a change of pace for people looking to see something different. I hope this movie gets the audience it deserves this holiday season.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Triangle of Sadness Review

Ruben Ostlund is a director that isn’t shy about putting controversial topics in his films. He has dealt with topics of marriage and relationships in Force Majeure and business and expressionism in The Square. Now he tackles the class system and excess in The Triangle of Sadness. One thing is for sure he doesn’t mess around when he has something to say he says it in his films and he has been rewarded for that with the Palme d’Or twice. The highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Carl and Yaya (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Deal Kriek) are a young couple who are living their best lives. One is an influencer and the other is a male model. They disagree at dinner one night and this may change their relationship forever. Next thing you know they are on a luxury cruise on a private yacht in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of stuck-up snobs who seem to have great lives of excess as well. When a storm hits this changes everything for the crew of the yacht and its passengers.

Ostlund pokes fun at the rich and those who don’t have a care in the world. The yacht specializes in giving its passengers everything they need and to the extent that one lady wants all the workers on board to go for a swim down a waterslide on board and so they do just to please this rich snobbish woman. It’s crazy the lengths Oslund goes to show these people’s excess. Even the food they eat is pretty far out. Like caviar and mollusks for dinner. That is except for the captain who gets a cheeseburger and fries for dinner. He got his own issues though, alcoholism.

The film has some crazy interesting characters besides the two young people. It has a couple of Russians who seem to like this life of excess. Ironically they made their money in manure. Another couple made their money in munitions and didn’t think twice about the repercussions of what they sold and who it hurt in the end. A few other odd people on board are deaf-mute and code creator for apps and video games. These may be two of the most normal people on board this yacht. These people are definitely an odd bunch of weirdos.

This movie takes a turn for the worse and Ostlund doesn’t mess around with his thoughts on the class system in the world and how these people respond to this bad situation. One woman, in particular a maid on board the yacht, decides to take things into her own hands and changes the dynamic of the film entirely. This is where the viewers watching get the full brunt of what Ostlund is trying to say about the world and excess. Those that have it flaunt it while they can because the tide may literally turn and it does in this movie.

There are some extremely difficult scenes to watch in this film in the middle and once again Ostlund is sticking his middle finger up in the air toward these people who are rich and have nothing better to do than stuff their faces with exotic food and drink which proves to be a detriment to them in the end. Because it comes back to them once the storm hits. This may be one of the most gross scenes I have ever seen in a movie ever. And I’ve watched a lot of gory bloody horror films in my day. This takes the cake though. I was prepared for it though.

Ostlund deals with a lot of terrific topics in this movie in the grossest ways possible but he also uses some cool technical aspects that make certain scenes very effective while watching them. These technical aspects worked perfectly in the context of the film. I would love to know how he did some of this stuff in a special feature on the Blu-ray in the future because these scenes were crazy in a good way. One scene, in particular, I wasn’t happy with was animal abuse even though it was barely shown. I could still imagine the scene in my head while watching it unfold. This wasn’t necessary. 

Triangle of Sadness was quite the exercise in brutality as far as what I was watching unfold on screen. It was a lot of excess at the expense of trying to show me and others watching what these types of people are like. It goes to great lengths to show that for sure. I think this was the only way to do this to get its full brunt of what Ostlund is trying to say. How things turn is also very interesting. The cast is good even though I hated half or more of their characters. The technical aspects worked perfectly. And I got the message of what is being said and depicted on screen loud and clear. I give Ostlund a round of applause for being so bold. 

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Raymond and Ray Review

Raymond and Ray mix two genres together to make a film that is basically a two-hander in the end. It’s a road trip film mixed with a mourning/funeral film. The draw for viewers to see this movie though is the two stars, Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke. They make the film enjoyable because of their chemistry together. Other than that it’s a pretty basic story.

Raymond and Ray (Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke) are two estranged brothers. When their abusive and not-very-good father dies they begrudgingly agree to take a trip together to where he has recently lived to settle their father’s estate and attend his unusual funeral. Once they get to town that’s when a lot of weird stuff comes to the surface involving their father and his past.

Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke are terrific opposite each other in this movie. They play off of each other’s characters perfectly. Hawke knows exactly what buttons to push that get MacGregor’s character all riled up. This causes their banter to turn into arguing. Some of this arguing can be funny and how they resolve it is always pretty good in the end. This is one of the best tandems I’ve seen this year. The film is not as good as the acting.

There have been a lot of films that deal with the death of a person or multiple people and there are funerals or mourning involved for these people or persons. Sometimes the films deal with these aspects very gracefully and professionally from the directorial standpoint. Other times these films make light of these types of circumstances in people’s lives. This movie is one of those that make light of the death of a character. It’s kind of ridiculous, to be honest. This story is a bit goofy considering the subject matter.

The cast besides McGregor and Hawke is filled with some good character actors and some relative newcomers. Todd Louiso is a funeral service operator, Vondie Curtis-Hall plays a pastor, Sophie Okonedo plays a nurse who attended to the decreased needs, and Maribel Verdu plays an explorer of the father who died. The latter two have a sexual interest in the two brothers which comes as a surprise to them both.

Raymond and Ray has some enjoyable aspects to it. Most notable are the two main actors McGregor and Hawke. If this film starred two other actors it may be a complete trainwreck. Instead, it’s a decent movie with a storyline that goes off of the rails in the end. The whole people having issues with their father’s story has been done to death before. It’s the whole funeral and burial segment of the movie that is goofy and ridiculous. This movie just loses its way by the end and that is pretty sad because these performances are wasted.

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The Watcher (Series) Review

Ryan Murphy is a producer of everything from the American Crime Story The People vs OJ Simpson to the many seasons of American Horror Story. Even though he has produced true stories and some comedies he mainly focuses on horror-related or thriller series and films. Most of his stuff has been on FX but of late he has branched out to Netflix with Ratched, Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story, and his new series The Watcher.

Dean and his wife Nora Brannock (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) live with their two kids, Carter and Ellie ( Luke David Blumm and Isabel Gravitt) in New York City. They seem like they are pretty happy in NYC, but they decide to move to the suburbs of New Jersey anyway. They fall in love with a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood. It’s their dream home but when they start to get threatening letters from someone calling themselves “The Watcher” they start to get worried that this may not be the house of their dreams after all.

The Watcher has a pretty good premise. There are a lot of suspects of who could be the culprit sending the letters to this nice family. There are a couple of sets of neighbors one played by Mia Farrow and her son Jasper (Terry Kinney) he likes to sneak around the house and ride the dumb waiter, a food elevator, and Mo and Mitch (Margo Martindale and Richard Kind) These two are just nosey neighbors. The real estate agent Karen Calhoun (Jennifer Coolidge) Emmy Winner for The White Lotus Season 2 has an interest in the house all on her own, with nothing to do with the letters. A security camera installer (H Hunter Hall) has an interest in the daughter of the family who is a little bit young for him. The list goes on and on but you get the drift of where this is going. This is a very extensive cast of characters.

The series has a very good idea behind it but it gets lost along the way. Maybe it should have been one episode shorter, who knows? I just felt the twists and turns within the story and show were pretty good until the last episode where it stretches its premise too thin. The writers, Ian Brennan, and others, as well as the directors, Paris Barcley and Rebecca Lynch and others, have a great idea. They just don’t know how to end it and along the way it gets convoluted. Sure having all the different suspects is good for the viewers watching but it gets bogged down in all the confusion from episode to episode.

The cast, most notably Bobby Cannavale, is pretty great. They all do their best to create doubt in the viewer’s eyes and that makes for a great thriller. The story goes in so many directions it was a little hard to pay attention to all the moving pieces. The multiple plot lines kept things moving forward and tied up nicely in the end. There was one running thread I was a little sick of by that last episode though and that is where my thought of one episode too long comes in. I can see fans liking it though.

The Watcher starts out very well and it moves relatively fast from episode to episode. The story beats kept me interested most of the way through. There were a lot of characters to follow along with but Cannavale kept me interested in the series most of the time. The cast was pretty good I must say. The show falls in anything that plagues these types of series. It doesn’t know when you end and it goes on a little too long. That being said, it is not a bad show. I think Netflix invested well in Murphy who’s cranking these types of series and films out a lot. This will be another success for him and Netflix.

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The Curse of Bridge Hollow Review

Netflix likes to release some horror movies and shows in the lead-up to the holiday. Some of them are serious like Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, and others are more comedic like Hubie Halloween. The Curse of Bridge Hollow is one of the more comedic films. This is the kind of family Halloween movie that kids and their parents can watch together to enjoy the holiday.

A father (Marlon Wayans), his wife Emily (Kelly Rowland), and their daughter Sydney (Priah Ferguson) move to a new town in New England called Bridge Hollow. They didn’t know until they got there that everybody in the town likes to celebrate Halloween. They all put up decorations and have gatherings at a local festival and the high school in town. After Sydney and her friends inadvertently release a curse on the townsfolk she has to rely on her fraidy-cat father notoriously afraid of this holiday to help her get rid of the town’s holiday decorations that come to life.

Stingy Jack is the name of the demon he reappears and he wants to find a way to put his head with his body so he can live forever. With the help of Madame Hawthorne, a ghost Wayans, Ferguson, and her friends including the high school principal, (John Michael Higgins) the Town Mayor Tammy (Lauren Lapkus), and the local Sheriff (Rob Riggle) they fight Jack and his decorations that come to life and try to kill everyone in town.

Jeff Wadlow is no stranger to scary films, he doesn’t make a seriously scary film this time out. He is intentionally making a comedic movie. The props are so fake looking and the main bad guy Stingy Jack is almost laughable to look at. The action is very funny and pretty goofy. Wayans and company know they are in a comedy and they don’t break down while playing their characters. It would have been easy to throw in the towel but they don’t. The campiness of the film overall is on a perfect note.

Even though I know what I am watching and I should give it the benefit of the doubt I just can’t. Just like Hubie Halloween. It is just not good enough to give it a pass. It’s more like a guilty pleasure film one could watch with their friends or like I said earlier their families. I needed something with more substance. This just wasn’t my cup of tea. Even though it seemed like everyone involved we’re having a good time. I wasn’t! It’s sad because I don’t mind a good Halloween comedy once in a while.

1 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Halloween Ends Review

Halloween Ends is the end of the David Gordon Green Trilogy. It is supposed to serve as the end of this franchise forever. So it needs to have a conclusion that satisfies everybody, hardcore fans, and critics alike. As a big fan of this franchise myself, I can say this film is the conclusion I’ve been waiting for ever since this franchise was rebooted. It’s everything I could have wanted in a Halloween film and film in general. Who knew a Halloween film could be smart and use themes that are so prevalent in society today?

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is living a good life in Haddonfield four years after Michael Myers came back to torment the citizens of this small-town community. She is writing a book about her experiences. She’s living with her granddaughter Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak) After a teen, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) is accused of the murder of a small boy and tormented by the townspeople she decides to befriend him and help him reacclimate into society. IIts harder than they think. This helps to reignite some underlying issues that are still permeating the surface in Haddonfield.

David Gordan Green infuses this final installment in the Halloween franchise with a sense of psychological trauma that is an overlying story beat. This causes a lot of the final sequences in the movie to be as definitive as they ended up being. Which makes it all the better. These characters get through their trauma together and the viewers should be satisfied by how this all plays out. 

Along with the dramatic beats of the film, there is an underlying layer of humor that creeps its head up once in a while. Without giving anything away fans were laughing at key moments in the movie because things were said at the exact right moment to get those reactions. This is a fans fan film despite being a horror film and a Halloween film. There are other awkward sequences with Curtis’s character and Will Patton’s character that are humorous as well. The mix of humor and dramatic sequences worked well together.

One of the things that make the Halloween films great are the kills. And this film has some great kills. Without spoiling them there are some classic kills by several characters and then there are a few brutal kills that are pretty crazy. If you torment the wrong person in this movie you better look out because you’re going to get your comeuppance. A weird thing is that a group of band kids are bullies in the film and that is a little different than usual. Don’t worry though, they get punished. Anybody who’s anybody in this cast that says anything or does anything to the wrong person might get whacked. It’s just par for the course in these types of films.

The three films in this franchise are distinctly different from one another in unique ways and that’s what makes each of them their own entity within this trilogy. This one has an empathy for the pain and suffering of a specific character that helps determine the outcome of a lot of people in the movie. Caring is something that is a gift from God but it doesn’t mean you stop understanding and or thinking either. One character, in particular, has to differentiate from the empathy she has if this person she cares about has actually gone over the edge entirely. The audience is with her on these types of decisions and the reactions prove that if it is wrong or right.

Part of what makes the Halloween franchise great is the score by John Carpenter. Way back when he first made this movie he did the score as well. This score has become one of the most iconic film scores in history. When people hear that music they instantly know it’s from Halloween. This new film in the franchise uses the iconic score but also uses other sounds of beating drums and more ominous sounds in the score that differentiate it from the original but also show love for the music of this franchise. 

Obviously, a film series about a serial killer shouldn’t be something that people emulate with but in a way, I feel sorry for some of the characters in the movie. Bullying is a real thing in the country and the world and it isn’t going anywhere. I’m not saying bullying justifies murder or anything like that but it is a concern. I think like the granddaughter character we need to show more empathy for those in dire circumstances or who have gone through a traumatic experience. Caring is sharing and that should be a motto we all live by. At the very least this film shows that. 

Halloween Ends is the perfect conclusion to the David Gordon Green Trilogy of films. It has an intelligent thought-provoking story despite having to be about a serial killer. Michael Myers is used in perfect moderation where he isn’t overdone but is very effective when he is used in the film. The other storyline in the movie is more about how this mindset can consume anyone with the right push. As Curtiss’s Strode says at the end of the film “Evil is everywhere it just has to take the right shape” That to me is the perfect conclusion to this franchise, trilogy, and film. As a fan of these films, I was blown away by this movie. I applaud the filmmakers and writers for going in this direction with it. 

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Till Review

The story of Emmett Till has been well documented in the annals of time. Whether it be on the news or in the history books this was a story that moved a nation to change. How and why Chinonye Chukwu decided to tell this story is the reason I’m here writing this review. She decided to tell this story from the perspective of his mother which is very powerful. That one decision proved to be very good because this film is one of the best of the year thus far.

Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) is a single mother working in an office where she’s the only Black woman in Chicago, Illinois in 1955. She has a son Emmett or “Bo Bo” Till (Jalyn Hall) as he’s called. He is the light of her life. Everything she does is to try to give him a better life. So when her son goes to Mississippi to visit his cousins for a few weeks she is concerned. His personality shows out and he can’t help being who he is. That true nature is what ends up getting him killed. But that’s just the beginning of this tragic story.

Danielle Deadwyler strips down her performance to the bone. She goes to places as this woman grieving for her son rarely seen by any actress all year or before this. The emotions she goes through and the tears she lets fall down her face are like waterfalls flowing down a cliffside. She puts it all out there and she has now put herself in the conversation for Best Actress at next year’s Academy Awards. What she did with this performance shows how important this role was to her. She will elicit this response from those watching the film as well.

Besides the great performance by Deadwyler, the director Chukwu had gotten some other talented people to work on this film and make it distinctly her own vision of this family’s story. The cinematography of Bobby Bukowsky is brilliant. He has chosen a vibrant color palette where the dresses worn by Deadwyler are pink and lime green. when the film takes place in Chicago. All around the city and people within it are very colorful. And when the movie goes to the south of Money, Mississippi the colors are more tans and browns and after the tragic death of Till, there are a lot of Blacks and Greys showing the gravity of what happened. The colors definitely show how this film changed from behind to end.

Another aspect of the movie that makes it great is the overall camera work by the filmmaker. Her choices of how she zooms in and out in various moments where specific moments are very dramatic and filled with gravity. The way during certain situations the camera moves from one side to the other and or up and down shows in these moments how important they are in regards to the audience watching. She wanted to show that these moments were important and that showed. The technical aspects of the movie are incredible.

Along with the look of the film also comes the sound of the movie. The score by Abel Korzeniowski is by far one of if not the best of the year so far. There are many moments in the film where violins are heard and these parts are very dramatic and difficult to watch. The stringed instruments are just amazing throughout the entire movie. This score is almost overpowering where it’s not too much but just enough to where it is very noticeable. I don’t think I’ve heard a score this good all year. Even though there are a lot of films I have yet to see, I don’t think I’ll hear a score this good. This may be the best of the year come awards season. Time will only tell.

The cast of the movie isn’t just about Deadwyler and Hall though. Chuku has assembled a fantastic can’t of Black and white actors who round out this movie. People like Academy Award Winner Whoopi Goldberg the mother of Deadwyler’s character, Jamie Lawson as Medger Evers’s wife and friend to Deadwyler’s character, Tosin Cole as Medger Evers, and in a turn down the dark side Haley Bennett as Carolyn Bryant the woman who started this tragedy to unfold. She gives a nasty performance. The faces she makes in court show the true nature of who she is. This is an amazing cast that compliments nicely Deadwyler’s awards-worthy performance.

The story of Emmett Till is a story that obviously resonates with a major portion of this country. I am not one of those people but I am a film fan and I have to review this film and I can honestly say this is one of the best films of the year. It has very emotional moments of Deadwyler baring her soul on screen for the whole world to see. It has a look that becomes distinctly different during the second half of the film. The camera work and cinematography are brilliant and I rarely use that word. The score is beautiful yet painful in a good way to listen to throughout the movie. Till is clearly one of the best movies of the year and the way the filmmaker has chosen to create this story for the first time on film is indicative of how important it was. This movie made me an emotional wreck and I do not doubt that audiences will leave theaters in the same state I was. Wow just wow!

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen