Category Archives: Review

The Square: Strange, But “It’s Art”

A ‘performance art piece’ in which a man acts like an ape at a fancy dinner party

If a self-proclaimed lover of the arts doesn’t acknowledge how pretentious the world of art can be, they just might be a total hack. As the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, the event’s highest honor, Ruben Ӧstlund’s The Square is a dissection of the human conscience, served with a dose of mockery directed at the pompous attitudes of the artistic world.

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Black Dynamite: Explosively Ridiculous

The titular Black Dynamite, bringing a Kung Fu beat down on a local gang

As contradictory as it sounds, it’s difficult to make a film bad on purpose for the sake of parody. On top of needing to be cheesy and ironically bad, such a film needs to be genuinely well-made and well-written to boot. Films such as Airplane! (1981), This is Spinal Tap (1984), and Hot Fuzz (2007) are prime examples of a movie that’s made hokey and awkward on purpose. Similar to these films, Scott Sanders’ Black Dynamite (2009) is a parody of both action movies and the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, which is not only completely self-aware in its ridiculousness, but has the quality to back it up.

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Geostorm, naturally a disaster

Image result for geostorm movie

For a disaster movie that shows very few disasters, Dean Devlin’s Geostorm (2017) might be bad, but not a total nightmare of a movie. Gerard Butler plays Jake, the leading man and creator of “Dutch Boy”, a set of satellites designed to control earth’s climate. After a series of technical malfunctions, his brother Max, who now has been given control over the satellite operation, quickly discovers that the errors in the system are not a complete accident. With Jake sent to the space station that runs “Dutch Boy”, the two brothers work together in attempt to prevent a massive Geostorm. Continue reading Geostorm, naturally a disaster

Jigsaw: Laughably Put Together

One of the Jigsaw Killer’s more creative traps, a collar equipped with literal surgical lasers

Many would agree that on a fundamental level, any film worth watching should be one of the following: a well-made film, or fun to watch – though preferably it should be both. Jigsaw (2017) is the sequel to Saw VII, aka Saw 3D, aka Saw: The Final Chapter (2010), and despite it being a continuation of a series even fans wanted to stay dead and buried, the film is both a significant improvement over the later entries of the series, and it’s such a laughably dumb movie that I honestly didn’t want the film to end.

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The Snowman: Melting Incompetence into Monotony

A victim of The Snowman, who is totally the scariest and most compelling fictitious serial killer of all time

A crime-mystery thriller based on a bestselling novel about a detective hunting down Norway’s first serial killer sounds like an excellent film on paper. Adapting a novel that acts as an entry in a long-standing series of stories that’ve been described as “page-turning narratives featuring Norway’s own Sherlock Holmes” should be simple and straightforward. You’d think it’d be easy for a talented cast and crew featuring Martin Scorsese, Tomas Alfredson, and Michael Fassbender, among many others, to subvert the clichés of the crime-mystery genre and produce a competent and enjoyable film at the very least.

But they didn’t.

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Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner Takes Us by Surprise

Jackie Chan speaks at an early screening of his film, The Foreigner

There are times you see a trailer for a film like Martin Cambell’s The Foreigner (2017), and feel you’ve seen it once before. However, seeing such a film being produced feels like a return to normalcy in a cinematic market that attempts to pump out more blockbusters than low-budget films. Some of us here at the Film Studies Program, myself included, were lucky enough to watch The Foreigner a day in advance, and with the film’s star Jackie Chan making an appearance to discuss the film. After confirming Rush Hour 4, Jackie Chan discussed how he produced the film after watching the Taken series with Liam Neeson, wishing he could’ve been in those movies. Jackie Chan also discussed his hope that the role he plays in this film would show that he’s more than just a great martial artist and stuntman, but also a good actor.

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The Magic of The Dark Crystal

The Skeksis sap energy from The Dark Crystal

Jim Henson is one of the great creative visionaries of the past century. From the long-standing, highly praised educational program Sesame Street, to the wonderful Labyrinth starring the late David Bowie, to the charming cast of The Muppets, who blur the line between fictitious character and real-world celebrity, Jim Henson’s career is truly underappreciated. Though among his body of work, few of his projects are as unique as his 1982 fantasy film, The Dark Crystal, which Jim Henson himself has called the hardest project he ever worked on. Despite being among the least well-known of the Jim Henson properties, the world of The Dark Crystal has inspired a huge cult following, spawning spin-off novels, comic books, and soon a Netflix prequel series. With this much buzz around the film, and a 35th anniversary screening coming to the O Cinema theater in Wynwood later this month, it’s difficult not to be intrigued by an 80s family film deemed ‘too scary for kids’.

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