It’s no secret that one of Hollywood’s favorite things to do is adapt a critically acclaimed piece of young adult literature onto the big screen. Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon follows high school senior Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) as he wrestles with living out a typical teenage life and coming out to his family and friends. At first glance, Love, Simon appears to be next in line in an assembly line of young adult novel adaptations that are doomed for mediocrity, but it very quickly becomes apparent that there’s some depth to the titular lead. The film is often funny and heartfelt, with some truly touching moments that evoke some feel-good Hughes-ian vibes for more contemporary audiences.
Bring on more of the gigantic monster-fighting robots! Pacific Rim: Uprising is the anticipated sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 Pacific Rim. Part of the reason the first film gained popularity when it was released was the vibrant inventiveness with which it hit audiences. Del Toro directed the first film and created with it a journey into the conflicted world which pits humanity against the monstrous Kaiju using the giant robots called Jaegers. It was a fun and action-packed adventure film which broke up the continuous flow of overdone narratives in action films at the time. Pacific Rim: Uprising unfortunately falls into the category of movie sequels which destroy the possibilities for a great franchise.
Films released in the first quarter of the year are known for ranging from passable to dreadful. With these low expectations in mind, Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane (2018) still manages to disappoint with its predictable story, messy structure, and generally unimpressive cinematic style.
As the forty minute mark approached during my screening of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time (2018), I struggled with a simple question: Is it possible to review a film you walked out on? When I write about a film, I try to deliver more than a recommendation or a warning. A review should cast a spotlight on an aspect of filmmaking or storytelling that audiences and creators alike should treasure – unless the product is so bad, it should be obliterated for the cathartic entertainment of others. However, there’s a rare exception to my line of thought, where a product becomes a vehicle for a valuable lesson in the creative process. In the case of A Wrinkle in Time, while the fact that I walked out of the theater should be an indication of the film’s quality, it should mostly be a display of the importance of keeping your audience invested through compelling story elements.
As one of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Film, Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman covers a sensitive issue well, delivering a powerful film worthy of its Oscar nod. A Fantastic Woman follows aspiring singer Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega) through her experiences as a transgender woman who wants nothing more than to fulfill her life goals. Unfortunately, when her boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes) suddenly dies, Marina finds herself unable to properly mourn, as Orlando’s family are quick to throw suspicion and scorn towards our protagonist when they discover her gender identity.