February Blind Spot Review: Atonement (2007)

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“I don’t know how I could’ve been so ignorant about myself… so… so stupid. And you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? You knew before I did.”
– Cecilia Tallis

SYNOPSIS: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5I have been meaning to watch Atonement for years, and for all sorts of reasons, I never got to it, hence I thought it would be a great addition to my 2017 Blind Spot list. Man, oh man, this movie. My heart! Goodness, there is so much to talk about it, so I suppose I best order my thoughts and try to convey what I felt about this in some form of coherent review. That, and a gif overload. I can’t help it, the movie was beautiful to look at.

James McAvoy is an actor I would watch in anything, and not just for science. The man is ridiculously talented, and this was just another example of how phenomenal he is when he sets his mind to something. I was so taken with his character Robbie. I adored him. I mean wow. Then, opposite him, is Keira Knightley. She is one of those actresses that irrationally annoy the crap out of me (again, thanks for that one Abbi). I don’t know – she’s not a bad actress, but she grates on my last nerve every single time, without fail. Not in Atonement. In fact, I thought she was very well suited to the role.  Knightley and McAvoy have great chemistry and fit together really well, and you are drawn in from the off to see if class was going to be set aside for them to be together. Just watching them was an experience on its own!

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The rest of the cast was incredibly good, too. Saoirse Ronan was excellent as the young Briony Tallis, and demonstrated that even as a young actress, she is a gifted, capable performer. I thought her subsequent counterparts to depict her while ageing were great, as both Ramola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave convincingly looked like her. Benedict Cumberbatch, another actor I adore, made my stomach turn completely here. I mean ick, ick, ick. I knew he was up to no good, but holy crapsticks, you nasty, despicable man! I found it pretty creepy that Juno Temple again played a character that got some nasties done to her by an older man (hem hem Killer Joe).

Anyway, Atonement was truly a heartbreaking story. I felt like the entire world was dark and doomed by the end of it, but I liked it. It was a bit predictable – I wasn’t ever actually shocked, but I was so invested in the outcome, even when I knew how it was supposed to go. The pacing is great because it gets you, and it gets you quickly. Then this story unfolds, flicking between the observations of a child who does not understand what she is seeing, to the actual events taking place. The difference between the two is amazing, and was used perfectly to point out that you don’t always know what you are looking at, and shouldn’t  jump to conclusions.

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I thought that visually, the movie was simply stunning. My word, it was shot well, and was a feast for the eyes, pretty much from the opening scene. So many things came together, and besides the performances and score, you could not overlook the specific shots that came together throughout the movie. There were so many scenes that captured such beauty, but I will just show a few here.

Let’s start with Robbie in the flower fields, it was so peaceful and serene.

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There was the scene with the water bursting into the tunnels, with everything breaking and the newspaper flying out.

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I was particularly fond of the ferris wheel. Everything about this scene just worked, especially with the sun shining through, the bandstand with the soldiers singing, and the smoke rising in the background. So much just came together to give us this.

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Another aspect that just worked was the score. The music set the tone, it did, and I particularly enjoyed the sound of the typewriter keys thwacking away being used to create a score, too. It was original, and so suited for the movie. It was great.

Anyway, as I am sure you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Atonement, and did not feel that the predictability of it hurt it at all. A visual feast to behold, with a love story that will make your heart ache and amazing chemistry between Robbie and Cecilia, I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Just know that it is a heavy watch, but worth every moment of your time, even if it feels like the world is never really going to be okay again.

Review: Lights Out (2016)

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“We’re living with a dead woman!”
– Rebecca

SYNOPSIS: When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie. – via IMDB

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GRADE 2I didn’t expect much, but I didn’t expect it to suck quite this much. RIDICULOUS. I watched the short when that came out, and it was pretty good. Then someone had the real bright spark idea of stretching that short into a feature length film. A sloppy feature length film. Eighty minutes of film time, to be precise, which felt like the longest movie I had ever had the misfortune of watching. It felt like we were nearing the end, and I saw we were twenty minutes in. From that moment, I knew I was doomed to suffer through to the end. Every minute the movie progressed, it got cornier, cheesier, and more terrible. I cringed a few times. That someone actually put this in a movie… that someone actually wrote this script. Like when we got the explanation for Sophie? You can’t be serious! That’s what it was about? That?! Horrible, horrible, and so silly.

The story was beyond weak and flimsy, and the longer the movie went on, the more obvious this became. I didn’t like any of the characters, either, except maybe the boyfriend, Bret. The logic was totally broken, too, and not in the acceptable way of most horrors. This movie relied heavily on jump scares, too, which were just cheap. There was like no finesse to this whatsoever. There was nothing to redeem this. There was also so much stupid stuff going on the whole time. For instance, let’s also not forget the part where they armed themselves with a black light and a flash as a weapon. I actually scoffed. Very reminiscent of the trident flashlight in Under The Bed.

I can keep talking about this, but it won’t be pretty, and I just don’t have the energy to expend on such a useless experience. Meh. There is pretty much nothing going for this movie – it is messy, boring, way too long, sloppily written and badly executed, and I would highly recommend staying away from this one.

Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

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“Bless me father, for I have sinned. It’s been a year since my last confession. I’ve never told anyone about this. Not my mom, not the police, or not even my friends, except for the ones who were there, well, they’re not around anymore. You see I, I killed a man, but it was an accident.”
– Julie James

SYNOPSIS: Ever since killing the Fisherman one year ago, Julie James is still haunted by images of him after her, causes her relationship with Ray Bronson to suffer further. When her best friend Karla Wilson wins free tickets to the Bahamas, Julie finds this a perfect opportunity to finally relax. But someone is waiting for her. Someone who she thought was dead. Someone who is out again for revenge. – via IMDB

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GRADE 1Goodness. If you thought the last one was bad, then there is this one. Makes the last one look absolutely freaking phenomenal. This one is so cheesy, too much for me to even handle. The dialogue is so bad is made me cringe over and over. The whole concept was a mess, too. This girl winning a random Fourth of July trip to the Bahamas? Uhm, sure then. It was implemented terribly.

Let’s not forget the awful relationship between Ray and Julie. After the super soppy conclusion of the last one, you would think they are in heaven? Hells no! That would be too easy. Let them fight and argue all the time, make Ray out to be the tool (pffffffff – typical), and throw in Julie’s best friend, constantly telling Julie she should drop Ray (!!!!!) for Will. What a stand up friend! The characters overall were just awful. I think the most offensive one was Tyrell – what a sex crazed douche man.

Okay, back to the atrocious movie. So these friends go to the Bahamas, which is naturally deserted. You need an empty island, man! Also, there was that stupid, perfunctory fight between Julie and Ray, so she is out with her three friends (one being the icky Will), and Ray has been attacked while on the way to make up for the stupid fight with Julie. Ugh, the dramatics and nasty plot devices man. How weak. Jack Black, too, was here, and you all know what a HUGE fan I am (please do not miss my sarcasm). That only caused for more irritation for me.

The logic is so broken, and the story is beyond ridiculous, and the movie is crammed with these lame ass attempted jump scares. The acting is awkward, too. I will always love the way that the bodies and blood in these movies magically disappear within moments, so that someone just looks mad? Ugh, as if this movie wasn’t offensive enough, it actually tried to bring in voodoo and an elaborate backstory, which was just outright embarrassing. The plot twist was also predictable to boot, and the movie was unnecessarily long. No, this isn’t even like a fun slasher or anything. It is bad. Skip the damn thing! If you must, watch the first, but not this.

Review: Swiss Army Man (2016)

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“If my best friend hides his farts from me then what else is he hiding from me, and why does that make me feel so alone?”
– Manny

SYNOPSIS: A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8I heard so much about this movie when it came out. Heck, everyone did. It was all over the internet. There was a lot of talk. I was interested in checking this out because, well, I quite enjoy Radcliffe. He’s really good. The trailers did not look like my cup of tea (fart jokes, etc. are just not me), so I sort of discarded it. The reviews came back with  mad love for it, which I did not expect. It seemed like the type of movie you either loved or hated. Now I just had to watch it, to see where I would fall on the spectrum. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, totally unexpectedly.

It opened with a fart joke. Seriously. It did. I rolled my eyes. Goodness, how on Earth was I going to make it through this whole thing? My husband looked at me curiously – me, watching something like this? What’s happening? But then the movie starts building, and against my better judgment, I was roped in. There was so much going on. I thought Hank had lost his marbles. What was with Radcliffe? Good Lord, the corpse is mumbling!

Before I knew it, I was actually having quite a few good laughs, and I was genuinely being engaged by the story. Surprisingly, Swiss Army Man actually has heart at the core of the story, and it works. The movie is quirky and is accompanied by a great score and absolutely awesome performances from both Radcliffe and Dano (the movie was essentially carried by just the two of them). The two worked together and came across as the greatest friends. I was impressed. Who knew? I certainly didn’t expect it from this movie. It contains a lot of themes, and they are executed rather beautifully. The movie is also shot really well, and looks really good. The scenes flow together seamlessly, and the pacing works, too. Never bland, never boring.

There was plenty awkward humour, humour that I normally absolutely cannot stand, but for some absurd reason, it suited the film. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely more fart/penis jokes than absolutely necessary, but there is actually more to this than that, and something you need to overlook to get to the rest of it. Swiss Army Man is, without a doubt, a bizarre watching experience, but one I certainly enjoyed more than I expected. It had heart, it had humour, it had depth, it made you laugh and it made you sad. I think it balanced a lot of themes incredibly well. I don’t know, this one just worked, in all its weirdness, and I thought it well worth my time.

Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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“We killed a man and ruined the lives of everyone he knew.”
– Julie James

SYNOPSIS: After an accident on a winding road, four teens make the fatal mistake of dumping their victim’s body into the sea. But exactly one year later, the dead man returns from his watery grave and he’s looking for more than an apology. – via IMDB

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GRADE 5This was big when I was a rugrat. I mean huge. This is something I saw quite a few times. I might not have loved the crap out of it then, but it was okay. Seeing it all these years later? Sheesh. There really were some bad flicks that came out in the nineties. It’s like… the film is actually pretty funny because it is so silly, but it tries to take itself too seriously, and that is what hurts it.

Anyway, I don’t have an awful lot to say. I can’t help but think that this film embodied the nineties in so many ways – I think the most obvious is the stars attached to it. Ryan Phillippe nails that rich, crazy, spoiled brat, and this was no exception. This was, however, one of the times I was not a big fan of him, and I usually enjoy him. I think it is more his character than him, but he was still just a meh character all round. The cast wasn’t actually bad. Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr, and Sarah Michelle Gellar? They all delivered their totally one dimensional characters just fine. Corny lines and all.

Anyway, the premise to this is actually so weak and over the top silly. I mean come on! These kids all look like they have been through the wringer, and nobody is wondering what the hell happened to this tight-knit group of elite friends to reduce them all to absolutely nothing? I don’t buy it. I really don’t. The movie was chock full of any type of horror cliché it could squeeze into it, and was predictable, but still relatively entertaining when all is said and done. It is fluffy and light and silly. The villain is actually so ridiculous, and that also really hurts the movie. The super sappy ending also didn’t help matters, either. My eyes went a-rolling.

Typical nineties teen slasher with a very recognizable cast, but ultimately is quite the flat, uninspired experience and doesn’t have much going for it. There are infinitely better popcorn entertainment horror/slasher movies out there to keep yourself busy with. I certainly won’t be rushing to rewatch this and its questionable content anytime soon.

Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

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“Spirit, can you hear me?”
– Alice Zander

SYNOPSIS: In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home. – via IMDB

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GRADE 5I must be very honest and open with the fact that I have not seen any other Ouija movies at all, but was interested in checking this out because of Mike Flanagan. I am really conflicted about his work because it can be really good, but it can also be really blandly normal, so I was interested to see where this would land.

Well, let’s start with I don’t get the high ratings this movie gets. I really, honestly don’t. The movie is a mess. Truly it is. Initially it starts and it is interesting and constructed pretty well, and it is engaging and has an interesting premise, what with a mother using her daughters to manipulate people about the great beyond. This is all good, and seems to be what you want. However, it swiftly moves in another direction, and it is not nice.

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The story is actually really weak, and the longer the movie goes on, the more terrible and soft it becomes. The movie putters along with ridiculous logic and all, but come the third act? It completely devolves. Moves from “okay” territory to “absolutely absurd”. Not a good thing, nope. Ugh, what a waste!

The performances were alright, but sometimes they were terribly unconvincing. I was pleased that the movie did not force the jump scares the whole time, and the movie was shot quite well, so it looked and sounded good. But yeah, it just falls apart. There are some decent things going for it, and then there are some major issues.

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a mixed bag all round. The story flimsy as hell, but it looks good, and is carried by performances that are alright, but not brilliant. It started with great atmosphere, then fell apart. There are worse movies to waste your time on (just look at the Chop and I soldiering through those Amityville movies), but this is not something I would highly recommend, or something I would be rushing to watch again.

Review: War Dogs (2016)

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“They called guys like us war dogs. Bottom feeders who make money off of war without ever stepping foot on the battlefield. It was supposed to be derogatory, but… we kind of liked it.”
– David Packouz

SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7You know, I didn’t really know what to expect of this movie going into it. I didn’t read an awful lot on it, or hear a lot about it. My yardstick was some friends of mine tellling me that it was worth a look see, and was pretty entertaining. I have to say that I agree, this was quite a good one.

Jonah Hill is excellent as Efraim Diveroli, what an absolute tosser. He really owned the role and got into it. Miles Teller is a good actor, and he’s a welcome addition to the cast for this. Hill and Teller work together excellently and effortlessly, and just make this a fun watch. That’s another thing; I appreciated how War Dogs gave you enough story for you to understand, but not so much that it becomes a heavy, full-fledged drama. This movie is ultimately quite fun, despite the subject matter it deals with. What a fantastically crazy story!

The pacing wasn’t bad in this movie – it was fast and told you the story at breakneck speed, to be sure, but you had a lot of fun along the way, and got to see enough of what was happening to appreciate and understand it all. I also liked the score for this. There were some issues – I know I say this is fun and all, and it is, but I would have liked a little bit more substance to the entire crazy deal these young men pulled together.

I am not totally sure about the accuracy of this story, and I am sure that tons of liberties were taken, too, but I had fun. It was not great, and there were legitimate issues that were littered across it with characters and events, but it is a light, entertaining watch, and that is all that I could ask for. This is not an area that most people have a lot of knowledge, so it was something new.

Anyway, silly, entertaining, a few truly funny moments, War Dogs is worth a look see, regardless of the actual story, or how this compares.