By Khaleel Herbert
A group of characters, an isolated location and, of course, the monster that attempts to kill all the characters are the key flavors of a horror film, right? Life follows this recipe and tastes stale.
Life begins in medias res with five scientists in outer space retrieving a satellite with samples from Mars. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) is the first scientist to get one-on-one time with an organism containing nerves and a nucleus. The organism moves and Hugh says that this is a discovery of life beyond Earth.
Each scientist has his/her own job on this intergalactic adventure. Roy Adams (Ryan Reynolds) is the repairman. Kat (Olga Dihovichnaya) is a doctor that tends to the other scientists. Sho Kendo (Hiroyuki Sanada) tends to the core parts of the ship, and David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a man who’s been in space for over 400 days and doesn’t want to return to Earth.
For 25 days, Hugh watches over the creature that soon grows into a sperm-like specimen. It responds to him and Hugh starts getting attached to the creature, calling him Calvin (a name coined by an elementary schoolgirl). One day, while shocking Calvin, it takes hold of Hugh’s hand. The grip is cute at first, but gets tighter and mangles his hand!
Roy and the other scientists save him. Calvin breaks out of its glass cage and runs loose on the ship, becoming an octopus. As Calvin grows, this space trip becomes a constant struggle for survival as the scientists try to kill it before it reaches Earth.
I haven’t seen a lot of horror films, but Life is a predictable horror film. Just as you think the characters escape the monster; it comes back with a vengeance. Certain scenes made me jump, but overall it was the same mediocre horror film. The only difference was that instead of taking place in a laboratory or haunted house, it happens in space. The scientists couldn’t even defend themselves.
Even the ending was predictable!
There was a lack of character development. Some scenes revealed things about the characters, but we didn’t know how they were chosen to go into space. The beginning should have showed them all leaving their families, getting on the spacecraft and blasting off into space.
Some visuals of the spacecraft and Earth in space were beautiful. Reynolds gave his comedic performance similar to Deadpool. As an R-rated movie, I felt there should have been more blood and gore. Life should’ve taken notes on Logan and Underworld: Blood Wars.
People may adore Life if it’s their first horror film. Otherwise, it’s just a repeat of horror films that take place on Earth.
Beauty and the Beast
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Sprinkled with music, romance, stunning scenery, sentiment and comedy, this nostalgic tale is certainly one worth retelling.
Directed by Dreamgirls, helmer Bill Condon and based on Disney’s Oscar-nominated 1991 film Beauty and the Beast, it’s a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic about a young woman who warms the icy heart of a beastly Prince.
The story remains rather faithful to the original narrative and stars Emma Watson as Belle, a bookish young woman from the small village of Villeneuve, whose father (Kevin Kline) is locked up in a lavish, remote castle by a heinous Beast (Dan Stevens), after he’s caught stealing a rose. A former Prince, the Beast has been cursed and condemned to a decaying castle where he and his staff have been transformed into furniture. When Belle discovers her father has been held captive, she offers herself in his place, which delights the castle’s magical inhabitants – including Lumiere the candlestick (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellen), Mrs Potts the teapot (Emma Thompson) and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a maid turned elegant feather duster. Given Beast and Belle’s conflicted relationship, which is rife with animosity and resentment, romance appears out of the question, but Belle inspires him to become a better person and despite the chaos that ensures when Gaston (Luke Evans), a shallow and arrogant villager intent on marrying Belle shows up, everything works out and everyone ends up living happily ever after.
Josh Gad plays Gaston’s trusty assistant LeFou amusingly well and the rapport between the pair deliver the film’s comic relief. There’s awesome mountain scenery of Watson singing, which is reminiscent of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, and this version offers a glimpse into the Prince’s life before he became the Beast and also expands on Belle’s life before she goes to the castle and meets the Beast. It has enduring charm and its empowering message that true beauty comes from within is firmly still in place. The musical numbers from the animated film are there, plus new Alan Menken and Tim Rice songs added to the original Menken and Howard Ashman animated film score.
Appealing to the whole family, it gives the cast a chance to sing and perform charmingly, adding the direction is excellent, as Condon, a fan of musical theater who is familiar with the songs and musical references, keeps his cast on the move throughout the slightly less than two and half hour performance. If there’s one drawback here, it’s the running time and the film would benefit by being 45 minutes shorter.
Kong: Skull Island
By Jon Rutledge
This is less a reboot of the King Kong story and more a launching off spot for a shared Kaiju (giant monsters) franchise. This is a great start to the MonsterVerse there are hits we can expect to see more. This film brought me right back to being a kid watching on Saturday morning creature feature. It has fun, great characters as well as being balanced in story and plot. The effects surrounding making giant monsters fight alongside live actors is seamlessly done. I loved it.
In 1973 an organization known as Monarch asks the government for support in exploring a new island with a military escort. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Cory Hawkins) head the expedition with Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), a photo journalist, and James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a survival expert and former member of the SAS. They get support from Lieutenant Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his team to get them to and from the island after doing a survey of the land. In their adventure on the island they run into Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) who crashed on the island during WWII and survived.
In the classic films the good ones had a lesson about man grappling with humanity while giant monsters did battle on the screen. I am glad they kept this same format we see two different kinds of people dealing with this unusual situation. We have the military minded person who sees Kong as an enemy to kill and we have the scientists who see him as something to study. They fight for control as they also struggle to survive in an environment where they have more than just Kong to worry about.
Samuel L. Jackson plays a military man who uses his fight with Kong as a method of working out some internal strife with his work in the military overall. Jackson embodies the metaphorical fight with Kong being a fight for his own self-worth. His death wish and drive for revenge blind him to the fact that they are the intruders on the island and Kong is defending his home. The other great character was John C. Reilly. He absolutely steals every scene he is in. The touches of crazy that show through his performance are excellent. Reilly does fun and quirky crazy really well.
The setting is the 70’s so we see the struggle between the two cultures the peace loving counter culture and the military establishment. Lt. Col Packard’s military mindset and inflexibility stand perfectly against the more open and flexible view of the Weave the photo journalist. Jackson and Larson become avatars for each side of the social struggle played out not only in the war but also on this struggle on the island.
What Iron Man did to herald in the Marvel Universe, Kong: Skull Island does for the Monstervers. It will be nice to see a solid set of films that are made by people who understand all of the nuances of these kinds of films. It’s not just monsters fighting the screen it’s much larger than that. This franchise is going to be big especially if they keep producing quality films that teach as well as entertain. You might even say they are going to be gigantic?
By Khaleel Herbert
Hugh Jackman unsheathes his claws for the final time in Logan.
It’s 2029 and Logan a.k.a. Wolverine (Jackman) works as a limo chauffeur. While sleeping in the backseat of his limo, he’s awakened by Mexican thugs trying to steal his tires. He politely asks them to back off, but they shoot him. Uh-oh! Angry Logan slices, dices and dismembers them.
While attending a funeral, Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) a Mexican nurse, asks for the Wolverine’s help. Logan shrugs her off and heads to a desert area near the Mexican border where an old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and ex-mutant hunter Caliban (Stephen Merchant) reside.
Xavier has Alzheimer’s and occasional epileptic seizures that cause earthquakes. Logan is also sick on the inside. The adamantium in his body is slowly deteriorating his healing powers and immortality. He unwillingly helps Gabriela and her patient, Laura (Dafne Keen), a child who is a lot like him in demeanor. She even comes with her own set of metal claws.
When Gabriela is murdered by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a lackey for a government agency that wants to exterminate mutants, Logan, Laura and Xavier hit the road. Destination: Eden in North Dakota, a place rumored to have more mutants like Laura.
Jackman gives his all as the rugged don’t-f-with-me mutant. He delivers a brooding Wolverine, similar to his performance in The Wolverine, when he battled his guilt of killing Jean Grey. Thanks to Marvel making Logan rated-R, Wolverine’s filter is off the hinges, allowing him to drop f-bombs anytime he wants. F-bombs are completely natural for Wolverine.
Keen gives a superb performance as Laura. She’s as ruthless as Logan in battle, repeatedly stabbing and flipping baddies over with her legs wrapped around their necks. She stayed silent for half the movie. She should’ve kept quiet until the scene where she calls Logan, “Daddy,” which would have made the scene more emotional.
Some holes in the film appear. How did Xavier get Alzheimer’s? Where did Caliban come from? Another issue was Laura and other characters speaking Spanish without subtitles. That’s a bit cumbersome for non-Spanish speakers.
Logan, is a movie for all the adult Wolverine and X-Men fans. Like Deadpool, it doesn’t disappoint in delivering sweet bloody violence. Hugh Jackman hanging up his claws for good is as sad as when Tobey Maguire hung up his Spidey-suit. But Jackman shall sit in the Marvel superhero movie hall of fame next to Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr.