Jojo Rabbit Review

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film directed by Taika Watiti, and starring Roman Griffin Davis and Taika Watiti. It follows a young boy growing up in nazi Germany with his imaginary friend, Hitler.

This film follows Jojo, a 10 year old hitler youth who is obsessed with the nazi cause, to the point where his imaginary best friend is Hitler. Ironically though, everyone around him is disillusioned with the war and against it. This includes Sam Rockwell as a gay nazi officer, and Scarlet Johansson as his mother who begins to hide a Jewish girl in her house. It’s this relationship that Jojo has with the Jewish girl Elsa that begins to rock his stalwart faith in the nazi cause.

This movie is very funny, sweet, and heartfelt. Taika Watiti is hilarious at times as Hitler, particularly with his line “you’re 10, start acting like it.” When discussing Jojo turning in the Jewish girl. Scarlet Johansen as Jojo’s mom is surprisingly great. She and Jojo have many heartfelt moments together, and their relationship feels very real. Additionally, Sam Rockwell as Captain K was perhaps my favorite part of the movie. He’s absolutely hilarious with both his negligence of Hitler youth under his care, as well as his gay relationship with Allie Allen’s character. His death is very emotional, and an amazing scene.

Jojo Rabbit also uses very smart quotes and music. Musicians I love like Ray Orbison and David Bowie have German versions of their songs heard throughout the film. Also, Taika uses quotes by the famed German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (who I’m actually named after,) to describe the relationship between Jojo and Elsa.

Jojo Rabbit however, can feel a bit manipulative and ponderous at times. I don’t mean that it has a bunch of long arduous dumb monologues like stalker, or stupid lines about society like Swiss Army Man. What I mean is that this movie tries to be about a lot of things. Brainwashing, children saving the world, and being antifascist are just the start of the themes exhibited in this film. And because Jojo Rabbit is so ambitious and goes in a lot of directions, it consequently doesn’t really get across any theme particularly well. In essence, it’s a master of none.

Despite it’s ambition with it’s over abundance and ambiguity of themes, Jojo Rabbit is still a very good film. It’s got great characters, it’s hilarious, and at times it’s very sweet. This film however, is polarizing, and those who aren’t familiar with Taika Watiti’s style of directing will certainly find this film bizarre. That being said, it deserves a watch, as it really is a special film.

Whiplash Review

Whiplash is a 2014 film directed by Damien Chazelle, and starring J.K Simmons and Miles Teller. It follows an aspiring young drummer who’s worked to the extreme by his abusi e band conductor. This movie is incredibly intense, and also an an excellent film.

Whiplash focuses around Andrew Neiman, a freshmen drummer at the Schaffer Conservatory for music. There, he is invited into the extremely selective and prized studio band, led by the intense and famed conductor, Terrence Fletcher. Over time, Fletcher abuses Andrew so much that drumming essentially consumes his life, and it results in some dire consequences.

Overall, the best aspect about this movie is the acting. None of the characters are written to be very likable, even Andrew himself is an arrogant self-righteous idiot. But the acting by both Miles Teller and J.K Simmons makes the audience care about the characters. J.K Simmons especially is absolutely amazing. He manages to go from 0-100 in a split second, and can transition from being incredibly scary to being very likable on a dime. It’s no wonder he won an academy award for his performance in this movie. Miles Teller is good, and he works just fine for the role. But, he isn’t given as many opportunities in the script to really shine as much as Simmons does. That being said, he displays a wide range of believable emotions, and he deserves commendation not only for that, but also the fact that he apparently had to practice 4 hours a day, three times a week to play drums in this movie, and he’s been playing drums since he was 15. Additionally, he was fully committed even behind the scenes, Teller was often actually bleeding while playing drums, and in the famous “slap” scene, J.K Simmons genuinely slapped him.

However, not all things in whiplash are intense and amazing. It can feel a little half-baked at times. Particularly within the relationships between characters. No one is really given enough time on screen for them to develop a visible relationship for the audience. The only chemistry within this movie is that of Fletcher abusing Andrew, beyond that there’s really nothing. And that means that once you get over the initial shock and awe of the drums and brutality the film presents, you notice there really isn’t anything backing it up.

Overall, despite feeling a little half-baked with it’s character relationships, whiplash is absolutely a great film. It has some truly incredible, and truly scary sequences, and it undoubtedly deserves a watch.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Review

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was originally an animated series that came out in 2008. It was highly regarded, but sadly it was cancelled in 2013 before it could have a true ending. Finally, after 7 years, Disney released the final season of the show, and it absolutely lives up to the hype.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars bridges the gap between the second and third Star Wars movies, with the seventh season happening at the same time as the events of the third movie. This was a show made for Star Wars fans, not just kids. Although it’s a cartoon, there are some violent moments, and intense themes such as morality in war, and even parallels to European colonialism. However, this ultimately is a show meant for Star Wars fans, and if you haven’t seen the Star Wars movies, you won’t get the full experience.

The Seventh season picks up right before Revenge of the Sith. It mostly follows an ex-Jedi named Ashoka as she tries to figure out the plot to destroy the republic. The earlier half of the season splits focus between Ashoka trying to escape a crime syndicate, and a mutant clone squad called the “Bad Batch” trying to rescue captured Clone.The earlier half of the season is incredibly weak. The side characters who are imprisoned along with Ashoka, Trace and Rafa Martez, are frankly just annoying. One behaves like a child while the other feels like a whiny emo teenager. They’re unlikable, and the story between the three is simply just boring. The Bad Batch story is slightly more bearable, mostly because it features good characters from the show’s other seasons like Anakin and Captain Rex. Still, similar to Trace and Rafa, the new Bad Batch soldiers are again, annoying, and feel like childish caricatures. Their story arc itself is much better than Ashoka’s however, and it follows them trying to rescue a clone from a science facility.

The second half of the season however, is quite possibly some of the best Star Wars entertainment ever. It follows Ashoka attempting to lay siege to the planet Mandalore and apprehend Darth Maul. This part actually takes place concurrently during Revenge of the Sith. This section is absolutely amazing, and it features great fights, great stories, and an incredibly heartbreaking moment in the second to last episode. Ultimately, the ending portion of season 7 absolutely makes this show, and it flashes out the Star Wars universe immensely.

Despite it’s poor beginning, the ending episodes of Star Wars: the Clone Wars Season 7 is ultimately a fitting end to a beloved tv show. Ashoka completes her character arc, and all characters are tied up where they need to be by the start of Revenge of the Sith. Simply put, it’s great, and all Star Wars fans should watch it.

Dallas Buyers Club Review

Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 film directed by Jean-Marc Valee and starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. It follows the story of a real person named Ron Woodroof, who after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS decided to fight the FDA and the harmful medicine they were using. This movie really is quite amazing. The acting is absolutely fantastic, and the characters feel very realistic and well written.

Dallas Buyers Club is based off the story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986. He was given 30 days to live, but instead managed to survive 7 years. After meeting a transgender man named Rayon, he sets up a “Buyers Club” for people living with AIDS to get actual medicine, instead of the harmful drugs the FDA was distributing.

The best thing about this movie is the acting. Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won academy awards for their roles as Ron and Rayon respectively. There are some moments in this movie that can arguably be considered some of the best acting in history, particularly from McConaughey. He completely carries the weight of this film, and thankfully he succeeds. Ron is a very interesting character, who feels very realistic thanks to a multi-faceted personality. He’s extremely rough and crass some times, yet at others he behaves like a perfect gentlemen. And the scene where he cries in the car while pondering suicide, is simply incredible. Rayon on the other hand, doesn’t have as many scenes or amazing moments as Ron, but still has one very memorable, where she says, bluntly, “I don’t wanna die.”

Something I found weird about Dallas Buyer’s Club is the relationships between characters. It almost feels like some crucial scenes between Rayon and Ron were cut, as the relationship goes from Ron slinging homophobic slurs at Rayon in one scene, to him defending her in the next. It feels very weird in the sense that although the chemistry between them is pretty good, we really never saw them becoming friends. Additionally, the romantic subplot between Ron and his Doctor, Eve, seems to go nowhere. They go on dates, and flirt with each other, but the movie never does anything with that. They don’t kiss, their relationship really is never tested too much, and overall it seems pointless. I suppose they did it so that Ron could have a confession scene where he says what his hopes and dreams were, like saying he wants kids. (Ironically, the real Ron Woodroof was divorced and had a son at this time.)

Overall, despite it’s wonky relationships between characters, Dallas Buyers Club is an excellent film. It easily deserves the academy awards it has, and it will probably go down in acting history for McConaughey’s absolutely stunning performance. Please, go watch this film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse Review

Spider-Mam: Into the Spiderverse is a 2018 film directed by Peter Ramsey, and starring Shameik Moore, Hailey Steinfield, and Jake Johnson. It takes place in an alternate dimension, in which the usual Spider Man named Peter Parker has died, and his protege Miles Morales must stop a dimensional rift from tearing apart Brooklyn, with the help of Spider-men from different dimensions. This is honestly one of the best superhero movies ever made, up there with the likes of Superman from 1978, the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man, and the original avengers. Spiderverse is seriously that good.

The film takes place In an alternate dimension of our world, complete with a different, younger version of peter Parker as Spider-Man, and a newly bitten teenager named Miles Morales, who’s just discovering his powers. However, when one of his villains, the Kingpin, builds a machine that can bring people from other dimensions, that dimensions Spider-Man is killed, and various other Spider-people are brought in from other dimensions, including a different, and older version of Peter Parker. It’s then up to the rookie Spider-Man Miles Morales and his spider friends to stop Kingpin from destroying Brooklyn by creating a black hole.

This movie is great. It’s incredibly funny, it’s got great characters, animation is simply gorgeous. The main character, Miles Morales, is very relatable and funny. He’s an awkward nerdy teenager who reacts similarly to how all of us would if we were suddenly spider-man. He doesn’t have a single defining character trait, but that’s ok, because he feels almost like an amalgamation of the average human. He works, and the audience loves him and roots for him the whole time. He also has a great character arc, starting as this kid who just wants to be normal, and accepting the fact that he’s Spider-Man by the end of the movie. The other main character is Peter B. Parker. This is an older, more realistic version of the Peter Parker from Mile’s universe. He’s undergoing both a divorce with Mary-Jane, and a mid life crisis in his universe. His arc centers around his fear of the unknown and new. He’s perfect as a mentor to Miles, and he’s a hilarious and interesting character even on his own. The other Spider-people are all varied, albeit not as characterized as Peter and Miles. There’s a “noir” Spider-Man voiced by Nicholas Cage, and even a superhero called “Spider-Ham” voice by John Mulaney. Most of the other heroes beyond the main two are relegated to only a couple of funny scenes however. Still, they’re all varied and hilarious.

Perhaps the biggest draw this movie has is it’s amazing animation. It’s supposed to look like a comic book, and it resale shines. It’s incredibly unique, and it characters and places seriously look like they’re right out of a comic book page. They even use comic panels to transition scenes. It took 800 people 4 years to animate, and it really paid off.

There seriously aren’t many problems with this film. The only gripes I have are mild things, some scenes go on for too long and the tension between Miles and his Dad feels out of nowhere and misplaced. These really don’t detract much, if at all from the experience of watching the movie as a whole.

Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is just plain great, It’s animation is a work of art, it has great characters, and it’s incredibly fun to watch. This movie can be enjoyed by all ages, and it’s worth your time.

Hidden Figures Review

Hidden Figures is a 2017 film directed by Theodore Melfi, and starring Taraji Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer. It follows the relatively unknown African American women who worked at NASA during the 60s. Hidden Figures has some very interesting and factual material to work with, and kudos to it for bringing some of the achievement’s of these women to light. However, the main character is very bland when not interacting with her two companions.

Hidden Figures follows the true story of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn, three women who did calculations for NASA on the John Glenn mission. However, this movie mainly focuses on Katherine Johnson, who did calculations for the trajectory of re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere

The chemistry between these three is great. It feels very natural and real. All three actors do great in their roles around each other, as well as their solo scenes. The rest of the acting in this movie is so-so. Mahershala Ali is very likable as Katherine’s love interest Jim, and their relationship throughout the movie feels sweet, if a bit rushed. But on the opposite side of the spectrum, Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons are simply boring and do virtually nothing with their roles.

The biggest problem with hidden figures is that the leading character is incredibly boring. The main character, Katherine, when not with her other two halves is simply uninteresting, and it’s in no way the fault of the actress, it’s simply how she was written. She has one good monologue that ends up being a great scene, but for the rest of the movie she’s flat. There’s virtually no interesting character traits about her. And it’s a shame, because both Mary and Dorothy shine when on their own, and both have definable traits and characteristics. If they had the written the main character like they did her friends, this movie would be much better.

Hidden Figure’s has it’s heart in the right place. It sets out to tell a story about crucial unknown people that were instrumental in getting man to space. The movie itself however, is simply boring and at times cliche. Still, it deserves to be watched, if for nothing else, simply because these women deserve recognition.

The Invisible Man Review

The Invisible Man is a 2020 horror film directed by Leigh Whannell starring Elizabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson Cohen. It follows a woman named Cecilia, who after leaving an abusive relationship with a genius scientist, believes her dead ex is stalking her with an invisible suit. Unlike a lot of modern horror movies, this film doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares. Instead, it builds tension through smart camera angles and lighting to make the audience think there’s an invisible man stalking them. However, the movie does have a boring protagonist, and the ending feels a little wrong.

The Invisible Man centers around Cecilia, an architect, and former girlfriend of a brilliant ocular scientist named Adrian. However, after Cecilia escapes their abusive relationship, Adrian kills himself. Cecilia then believes that he is stalking her using the experimental technology he created. Later, Adrian convinces everyone Cecilia is crazy by seemingly implicating her in various crimes. It’s then up to Cecilia to prove she’s sane and stop Adrian from hurting any more of her friends.

This movie’s main draw, for me at least, is the very interesting premise it presents. Having an invisible man stalking you is incredibly scary, and the movie does a lot with that scenario. Scenes shot on carpets or in the rain partially expose Adrian, and the idea that he’s potentially always watching is terrifying. In fact, this movie is surprisingly scary, and thankfully they don’t rely on modern fear tropes, but instead stoke horror through a buildup of tension. The Invisible Man often uses rotating hallway shots set in very dark areas to keep the audience on their toes and never let them recover. I personally really enjoyed this, as in a genre oversaturated by dumb The Conjuring clones, this movie feels very unique.

One thing that wasn’t good about this movie is the protagonist. Elizabeth Moss is fine, and is good in the role, but Cecilia as herself is very underdeveloped. The only unique thing about her is that she’s an architect. I can’t tell if she’s funny, or strict, or literally anything about her personality. Normally in horror movies, this wouldn’t be a problem. But The Invisible Man clearly wants the audience to root for Cecilia and like her as a protagonist, particularly at the end. I found it hard to do that, because there was virtually nothing done with her character. She seems to be only a plot device, with little to make the audience sympathetic towards her. This is very ironic, although this is a movie which is trying to uplift women in abusive relationships, it spends no time trying to characterize the woman it’s portraying. The other thing I found odd about this movie, and I might be alone on this one, is the ending. Spoilers, but at the end, Cecilia kills Adrian using one of his invisible suits after he manipulates everyone into thinking his brother was guilty. Cecilia’s actions come out of nowhere. It makes for a cool twist, but the audience was never shown that she was a particularly apathetic or ruthless, in fact, it was seemingly the opposite. Whenever the invisible man tried to threaten one of her friends she immediately leapt to their defense. For her to go on the offensive like that at the end, it just seems wrong and feels weird.

Regardless, I enjoyed the Invisible Man. It’s a smart and scary movie with an interesting premise and a cool villain. I’d definitely recommend this movie, and I really liked it.

The Mandalorian Review

The Mandalorian is a 2019 Star Wars show directed by Jon Favreau and starring Pedro Pascal. It follows a bounty hunter trying to protect a child against the remnants of an evil empire. This show takes place within the Star Wars universe, and as such is heavily reliant upon the audience at least viewing the original trilogy. Because of that, this review may contain some terms not all readers may know if they haven’t seen the Star Wars movies.

The Mandalorian follows a bounty hunter, simply named Mando. He is originally hired to kill a bounty, however, after finding out the bounty is actually a child, he decides against it and takes in the child as his own, while fending off other bounty hunters along the way. This show is very fun to watch, and it’s been a while since we’ve gotten good Star Wars media like this. However, it can feel extremely awkward at times with it’s dialogue.

The Mandalorian is a typical space western, similar to my favorite tv show, Firefly. There’s some cliche western episode arcs, such as an episode that essentially is the Magnificent Seven set in space. However, the main reason this show feels new and unique, is the Star Wars elements involved. There’s no Jedi, or lightsabers, however the child Mando saves can use the force, and there are stormtroopers and references to the movies. These elements really make the show, and without them it probably wouldn’t be as good as it is.

The Main character in this show, and it’s namesake, is an unnamed Mandalorian mercenary, often just referred to as “Mando.” He falls into the typical “man with no name” stereotype, and his past and face are a mystery for most of the show. The Mandalorian religion however, is explored in this show through Mando, and this was actually very interesting. They’re forbidden from removing their helmets, and weapons are seen as being part of their religion. Scenes like this are fascinating, and really well done. Quotes like, “this is the way,” also make for very memorable lines.

The biggest problem with this show is that at times, it can feel extremely awkward. I can’t put my finger on why. But the dialogue and interaction between characters, particularly in the earlier episodes, can come off as extremely artificial and plain weird. It isn’t too much of a detraction from the show as a whole, but still, it’s worth mentioning as the show early on can feel incredibly awkward.

Overall, the Mandalorian, despite it’s awkward and off-putting dialogue in the earlier episodes, is a good show. The action is entertaining, and it features a cool main character. Sadly, this is a show that can really only be enjoyed by Star Wars fans, or at least those who have seen the movies. It’s s good show, even if it has a bit of a niche audience. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, definitely check out this show.

The King Of Staten Island Review

The King of Staten Island is a 2020 film directed by Judd Apatow starring Pete Davidson and Bill Burr. It follows a high school dropout who eventually learns to believe in himself and work hard.

This film centers around Scott, a 24 year old loser who still lives with his widowed mother. After he accidentally tattoos a nine year old, his mother meets a firefighter named Ray, who eventually acts like a surrogate father to Scott, and mentors him into becoming a better person. This movie doesn’t have a very conventional plot, and feels instead more like real life, and this both helps and hinders the movie greatly.

This movie is extremely uncompromising. What I mean is that, most movie’s compress their story. They don’t show the main character doing everything, because that would lead to too many needless scenes. This movie tends to feel extremely grounded and focused around real life. Character’s talk very realistically, and the events that happen in the movie, although unlikely and strange, still feel real, as often, our reality is stranger than our fiction. However, the trade off to this grounded realism feeling, is that the movie is way too long. It compresses virtually nothing, and too many scenes are pointless. They’re admittedly funny scenes, but ultimately they don’t help with anything. There’s unnecessary sub-plots like Scott’s restaurant having a fight club to see who gets tips, or Scott and his friends robbing a pharmacy and getting shot at. These scenes are absolutely entertaining, but they’re completely unnecessary and serve no purpose.

The absolute biggest problem with this movie however, is that there’s no pivot. In similar films to this, where it’s about a character’s redemption, there’s one moment the audience can point to and relate as being the main character’s pivot, or the moment where he changes to become a better human being. An example is in the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character finally manages to get his fellow newscaster to love him. The King of Staten Island completely lacks a moment like this. It shows Scott working in the firehouse, and becoming somewhat of a better tattoo artist, but there’s no one moment the audience can point to as being the climax. The intended moment might’ve been when he saves a man who was shot from dying, but that doesn’t fit with his character arc. His flaw is being lazy and lacking self esteem, not being a nihilist or a horrible person. At the start of the film he still would’ve saved that person, so having that as the climax makes no sense and feels wrong.

However, this movie is still fun to watch. At first I didn’t like Pete Davidson’s character, but he grew on me, and by the end of the film I was rooting for him. Bill Burr is hilarious as Ray, and he has some incredibly funny lines. There are some good moments in this film, and some heartfelt ones, like when the firemen are discussing Scott’s father, and telling crazy stories about him. Moments like these are what this movie should’ve focused on, instead of dumb scenes about stoners robbing people.

All in all, despite it’s flaws, ultimately this is a good movie. It’s one that people should make their own judgements about, as this is a very polarizing film. Still, I enjoyed it, and it’s a fun film.

Baby Driver Review

Baby Driver is a 2017 movi directed by Edgar Wright and starring Ansel Elgort and Lily James. Baby Driver looks like a typical crime movie on the surface, however, upon closer inspection and viewing, it really is quite special and unique. It follows a getaway driver, named Baby, who must escape from both cops and members of his former crew after a heist gone radically wrong.

The main thing that makes this movie so special is the incredibly interesting protagonist. Baby suffers from a condition called tinnitus after a childhood car accident. Tinnitus is real, and my father actually has it. It causes one to hear a high pitched ringing all the time, and can drive people insane. To cope with this, Baby constantly listens to music, and tries to avoid talking with people as much as he can. This makes a unique and entertaining protagonist, and despite the fact that he doesn’t talk much, his dialogue is funny and very well written.

The other excellent aspect about this movie is the soundtrack. I personally didn’t really know any of the songs they featured, however, they all worked and really enhance this film. Standout ones were Bellbottoms, Hocus Pocus, and Radar Love. The movie matches all the incredible action happening onscreen to the beat of the song as well, be it driving, gunshots, or parkour. It makes all the action scenes, which are already exhilarating, even better. Additionally, there are little touches with the music as Easter eggs for the audience. For example one is that when there’s no music playing, a very faint ring can be heard in the background, representing Baby’s tinnitus. Another, is that in certain scenes where one of Baby’s earbuds come out, the music can only be heard on the side with the earbud still in. Little details like these really enhance the film and sell it.

Baby Driver is a great movie. It has all the necessary parts to a good crime film, but it elevates itself to another level due to the protagonist and soundtrack. It’s an incredibly fun film, and one well worth seeing.