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Man oh man do I love this movie!!!
Halloween is one of the best and most intense horror films of all time, and it took me way too long to realize that. I first watched it ten years ago and enjoyed it, but I'd also been watching all the other slasher flicks and this one felt generic. But I revisited it recently to show it to my sister, and suddenly, all of the hype was very warranted.
I don't care that this was more or less the "first slasher." The fact that it was made on a shoestring budget is cool, but doesn't affect my rating of the film itself. What makes this film special is that it has the one thing that every single slasher after it has been lacking; Halloween has heart. It has REAL characters in a REAL place. The fact that Haddonfield is a lot like my own hometown, and the characters in the film are all like people I went to high school with makes this film hit very close to home and feel extremely genuine. Carpenter doesn't rely on gore or jump scares or special effects to scare you. He uses film techniques to create this feeling of suspense and pure terror.
What makes this movie a classic is that Carpenter uses music and actual performance and a sense of realism to convey what he wants the film to convey. He gives the town some heart and he makes us understand why we should feel fear. Michael himself doesn't look any more terrifying than Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorheis. What makes him scary is that he hits close to home.
I love this film. It holds a special place in my heart, and is always worth a watch around Halloween.
Storytelling is not about telling a new story...
It's great if you can tell a fresh story every time, but most of the stories that haven't yet been told aren't that great. This film has come under a lot of criticism by people who fundamentally don't understand storytelling. One of the biggest critiques is that it's just a rehash of A New Hope. And that's true. It's the exact same story. But told better.
It's a better introduction to the universe. While the originals all hold a special place in my heart, they aren't friendly to new viewers. You have to be trained to love Star Wars from very young with these older films, because they really don't withstand the test of time. However, this installment does. Because all of the characters are so enjoyable, Han's death is sadder, Rey's victory is sweeter, and Finn's injury is more tense. In New Hope, I didn't find myself caring so much about the characters, and while probably very intense for its time, the dry performances now make it a lot less high stakes. The Force Awakens is the kind of movie that will have you on the edge of your seat; none of the other movies really are.
Ultimately, this movie is A New Hope, indeed, but on crack. Humor that doesn't fall flat, likable characters, and of course, Daisy Ridley, the most beautiful woman in the galaxy. It reintroduces some of our favorite characters in clever and nostalgic ways, and ultimately, that makes this a nearly perfect introduction to a larger universe. It's not too out there. There isn't anything too new and weird (that comes in the next movie), it's just a good old story that's told better the second time.
A Non-Dramatic Review of Star Wars 8
The other reviews on this page really do seem dramatic, with such low ratings and claims like "Disney ruined my childhood" and whatnot. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it seems many reviewers are focusing only on the bad of the movie. So in this brief review, I will discuss in detail a few elements I liked and some that I didn't.
What I liked:
The direction in this film is wonderful. Ryan Johnson does absolutely everything that he can to make the script come to life, and I feel that he really utilizes his resources well. Every shot feels important and vibrant. While the rest of the Star Wars movies are primarily story based with generic direction, this was the first in the series that had a beautiful cinematic aspect to it. Colorful images and beautiful landscapes kept my eyes entertained and took me back to the wonder that I first experienced when watching Star Wars in my childhood.
Rey is wonderful in this film. Daisy Ridley is the most beautiful woman on the planet, I'm convinced, and MAN can she act! In this installment, we see a lot more of her struggle with the dark side of the force and her character flaw is put into full light; she is naive. Ridley pulls off this character, who is barely learning that everything she thought she knew needs to be questioned, and it's absolutely enthralling to watch. For those who felt she was a "Mary-Sue" after TFA, Disney heard your criticisms. There were points where it genuinely felt like she would give in to the temptation to join the dark side, and you could really feel the confusion along with her. The narrative of Rey is by far the best thing about this film.
Aside from that, as always, the saga continues to handle death perfectly. Each death of major characters throughout the series has been hard hitting, and the deaths of Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke absolutely lived up to the standard. Very intense and emotional deaths, respectively.
There are some weird things in this installment, and some of those things really work. For instance, the use of flashbacks is not cheesy or gimmicky at all, which is what I expected when I heard this device would be used. Rather, they are packed with intensity, and it's actually a great storytelling device that's used properly here.
Ultimately, we see characters rise into who they really are. Luke finishes his life a good guy, like he's always been (though he lost himself). Rey ultimately chooses the light side, showing her true colors. Kylo Ren shapes into the full evil that he is, proving that he cannot be turned anymore. Finn overcomes his cowardice. And so on. There is very little wrong with the character development or their portrayals.
What I didn't like: Like I said earlier, there was some weird crap in this movie, and while some of it really worked, most of it didn't. The scene where Leia uses the force to make her way back onto the ship, specifically, is absolutely ridiculous. Cheesy in every sense of the word. Yoda's appearance was another weird element. Although I'd always had questions about the ghosts, I guess I wasn't prepared to have them answered and I really didn't like how they were. Especially because the actual appearance wasn't super... good. I mean, Yoda says some stuff that I really can't remember, burns down a tree, and doesn't really do much else. It felt like some fan service thrown in at the last minute. Everything about Snoke (except his death) was weird. Man was it weird. He shows up for maybe 5 minutes of screen time, tries to convince Rey to join the dark side, then dies. It's not even like he's convincing, either. He just comes off as arrogant, and obviously Kylo is more of a factor in Rey's potential conversion. Nothing about him is explained; how did he entice Ben to join the dark side? Where is he from? How did he rise to power? It's like Disney said "Screw it, let's just kill him." The musical direction in this installment, too, was terrible. The score itself is fine, but it's so underused! In every other chapter, the music conveys serious emotion and has always been one of my favorite elements. Here, not so much. I'm thinking specifically of the scene where Luke dies. Why was there no memorable music? It was painful to see how generic the score was, especially as it is generally one of the strongest elements in the films. Finally, my last gripe, and the biggest one for sure. The merchandising is a disease. You have all these new "cute" creatures, which all look like dogs (or porgs), who are only there for the purpose of selling toys to kids. But Disney forgot to make these creatures enjoyable. The porgs are annoying, and all of the other animals are just cringe worthy. I didn't ever mind the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, but I felt like Disney was holding a knife to my throat and forcing me to buy all of their dumb little toys. It was painful to see the franchise sell out again, after so many years of doing well.
The verdict: There's a lot of good in this movie. The relationships between the characters, the new uses of devices for storytelling, and the development of the overall plot. It really does inspire hope, despite all the defeat, and it makes us feel that everyone in the resistance is part of something bigger. But it's ultimately much flatter than The Force Awakens, and the lack of any sort of score makes it a rather forgettable installment. The weird and risky scenes mostly fall flat, despite the lovely visuals. Enjoyable if you don't expect perfection.
The Great Wall (2016)
It's no Good Will Hunting, but it's good!
I'm a big fan of Matt Damon. While this isn't his best performance, it certainly isn't his worst either. This is not an academy award winner, but it's still a lot of fun to watch. The visual effects are cheesy, but beautiful, and the same can be said about everything in this film. The plot is simple, and it's great to just hear a story be told, without trying to connect it to several other films within the same universe, or a band of sequel. It's just a simple, cliché movie with some good performances. It's entertaining, not too complex, and overall just very interesting. If you rarely watch movies, watch La La Land or Kong: Skull Island instead. If you are an avid moviegoer, however, or are just looking for a light viewing, I cannot recommend this one enough! Generic, but still good!