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“Mortal Kombat” (2021) Review: An Appreciative Look

Seeing Mortal Kombat on screen is nothing new due to the franchise being a video game as well as a filmed cinematic experience back in 1995. Kids as young as 8-12 years old were playing the video games. Surprisingly though, it was because of the portrayed violence that gave the franchise its appeal to all audiences who came in contact with it.

The latest addition to the Mortal Kombat universe is the new 2021 movie directed by Simon McQuoid. The film takes audiences back to witness the endless fight between the fighters of “Outworld” and the fighters from “Earth Realm”, as the respect McQuoid had for the franchise is easily seen.

Mortal Kombat has not been seen on the big screen since the two installments back in the mid 90’s. Teenagers who played the games as kids were able to see some of their favorite characters in live action for the first time. The films at the time, though cheesy in some sense, were great with their interpretation, and none would deny having heard an unforgettable music score.

Seeing the characters in this year’s much anticipated film gave an air of mixed emotions. Maybe the making of another movie took too long? Maybe the previous movies were satisfactory enough and needed no further expansion of the universe? Still the revamped characters and some additional ones brought some fresh excitement and new possibilities never experienced before.

For those familiar with the franchise, it is a safe bet they were quoting lines from the old movies and hoping to hear them again from the actors they knew so well. The nostalgia some fans were seeking from the old films did not seem to be present, but every character gets a poster worthy epic entrance which they own with ease.

In this new film there are some martial artists among the actors, such as Joe Taslim from Sumatera, Indonesia who has won gold medals from 1997-2009 in Asian and National Championships in Judo. He has trained in Wushu, Judo and Taekwondo. 

Another martial artist in the film includes Max Huang who is part of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and has won gold at the German Wushu Nationals in 2009. There is also Hiroyuki Sanada, of Japanese descent, who is no stranger to the action genre and has trained in Shorinji Kempo and Kyokushin Karate.

All of these true martial artists show off the skills they have honed over their fighting and acting careers and step into the shoes of some of the most iconic characters ever imagined. Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Raiden, Kano, Sonia Blade and Kung Lao are some of the original fan favorites who fill the fight card, the film rounding out a few other surprise characters as well.

One wonders the difficulty it would take to perform a fatality in a live action sequence, but with the help of modern computer graphic imaging, it could be considered a FLAWLESS VICTORY! (pun intended). No film is perfect, but the expectations for a movie like this one is to honor the games as much as possible, and it delivered.      

Some complaints about the movie could be that the backstory to some of the character’s motivations are a little vague or just do not make sense in the larger scope of things. The issue is the characters are so memorable that anyone who has followed their journeys in the games have witnessed them evolve into something more than when they started.

Today’s average movie buff wants story driven drama and action, yet that is not what Mortal Kombat is about. Mortal Kombat is about just that, mortal combat between two fighters; meaning a fight to a sometimes-gruesome death, and that is exactly what the audience receives from the movie.

Difficult as it may seem to step into the roles of fighters, all the actors did their best to bring the characters some new life and even some unexpected hilarious moments. For those seeking to just sit and enjoy a modern somewhat cheesy martial arts movie with awesome fighting sequences, CGI and “R” rated brutality like the games, this is the one for you.

Godzilla vs. King Kong Review: An Appreciative Look

Slight Spoilers Ahead


We have had “The Thrilla in Manila,” “The Rumble in the Jungle,” “The Brawl in Montreal” and now we have what I’m calling “King of Titans” in “Godzilla vs Kong”!

The fourth installment in the MonsterVerse franchise directed by Adam Wingard packs a titanically large punch (pun intended) when these two giant monsters collide to see who bows to who. Whether you are a fan of Godzilla or Kong entering this film for the first time does not matter. The film will leave you wanting more of each respected titan and will bring a new level of appreciation for them.

From the opening credits of the film the viewer can see the breakdown of the monsterverse, and each fight leading up to Godzilla and Kong facing off for the first time in the franchise. Godzilla is not new to brawling with various other monsters with unique abilities and strengths, but he soon finds out Kong is in a different class all his own.

The experience of such a monumental fight was very nostalgic for me. I can remember being 10-12 years old and loving to see monsters clash with one another. I remember not being able to decide which was my favorite of all the creatures ever imagined, but my top two were definitely Godzilla and Kong.

Before viewing the film, I admit to not having any expectations for it being more than another monster film. That quickly turned once Godzilla was on the screen. 

Even if you have seen the previous movies from the monsterverse, there is something about Godzilla that draws the kid out of you. Seeing him makes you remember his classic roar and his dragon breath and gives you the feeling that Kong will have no chance in this fight since he is known more for defeating titans.

Our favorite titans have to share screen time in this one and could not hog all the glory from the film even though they are the main event. The cast was well rounded but did not give enough of a lift to the film to make it a perfect monster movie.

The classic conspiracy theorists join together to provide some comical relief between what everyone tuned into watch. The film did have a classic villain plotting some secret scheme for the world. Although considering monsters were destroying cities with their earth-shattering fights, I cannot say I blame him for trying to find a way to overpower them and put humanity on top again.

Sadly, this is one thing in the movie I could have done without. I caught myself thinking many times through the film that I could do without the people in it. Unfortunately, that would only make it a 40-minute movie and not a full-length feature.

The story that was built around the fight was a sci-fi adventure which had holes with no explanations. I do want to be fair and say that perfect science was not the main focus and dealing with sci-fi is not always the easiest thing. Still the ideas for the origins of the titans was given a good effort.

Overall the film is worth watching due to its epic battle scenes. The movie moves from fight to fight like a boxing event. Each fight is a round on its own and you can never really tell who will win in the end. You could say you have ringside seats to one of the most action-packed fights of all time. You will find yourself cheering for both combatants and not wanting either to lose because of the heart they both show. 

Social-distancing safe activities to participate in for 2021

The new year is here but the pandemic still remains. So before we all start making resolutions to travel more or visit with friends and family this year, let’s continue practicing some good social distancing habits such as keeping our gatherings virtual. Of course, this is all easier said than done; so if you’re struggling to keep your quarantine campaigns interesting, look no further. The following list has everything covered from movie nights to meal prepping.


 

Throw a Netflix Party

 

Ciara williams

There’s no doubt you’ve probably been staring at a screen for a majority of the pandemic, but with the Netflix Party chrome extension, you can enjoy all your favorite shows and movies with the added commentary of your friends and family. The History of Swear Words is one fine example of a new Netflix original, and with its host being Nicholas Cage and featuring several iconic guest stars such as Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman, it makes for the perfect show to help you stay inside and destress.

Those looking to download the extension can do so here.

Have a game night

 

 

In the digital age of the 21st century, many games are being enjoyed on both console and computer, and the great thing about this is that there’s something for everybody to enjoy! If you’re looking to stick to the classics, board games like Uno, Monopoly, and Life all have their own digital counterparts that can be played at home with others or far apart on multiplayer. 

For the ones who enjoy a little more competition, the Nintendo Switch has games like Smash Bros and Mario Kart, the former of which having frequent updates and several ways to spice up your challenges to keep things interesting. PC users have a variety of co-op games ranging from thrilling ghost hunting simulators such as Phasmophobia to the stress-relieving farm simulators like Stardew Valley.

Host a virtual book club

 

If you’re looking for a way to stay entertained without looking at a screen then now might be the perfect time to get back into reading. With genres ranging from thrillers to romances, it’s easy to get immersed in a different time and place while stuck at home. By using a book club you can bond with your friends over your favorite characters and make predictions on future chapters. For fans of the mystery/thriller genre, Taylor Adams’s novel “No Exit” is an excellent story that I picked up over quarantine.

Try out some new recipes

 

Whether you’re flying solo in the kitchen or having a cooking contest with friends via Zoom, cooking is an activity that can be both fun and rewarding. If you cook regularly you might like trying your hand at something you haven’t made yet; the cooking website Tastesofhome happens to have a whole list for the occasion. You don’t have to excel at cooking to make delicious food either; plenty of restaurants have started selling meal kits since the pandemic began so you can make your favorite dine-out meals at home with only some assembly required!

Experience nature at a local wildlife refuge

 

If you’re running out of ideas while indoors and you’re tired of taking walks around your neighborhood you may be interested in knowing that several of Washington’s wildlife refuges such as The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge have updated their health guidelines to continue allowing visitors into their parks during the pandemic. Of course, this means you’ll have to bring a mask and stay six-feet apart from anyone not in your group, but you’ll get to stretch your legs and take in some of Washington’s beautiful flora and fauna.


Until all our favorite shops and restaurants can open their doors again and we can walk side by side with our friends, let’s put the technology of Zoom meetings, Skype calls, and Discord chats to use so that no matter where we are we can still be together with those we love.

“Outbreak” Review

Photofest / Courtesy Photo
Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in 1995’s ‘Outbreak’.

A look back at 1995’s “Outbreak”, amidst the COVID-19 quarantine.

During these quiet, yet rather suspenseful times, many people may be finding that they’re running out of things to do while sitting at home. While it is more than likely that most have had more than their fair share of TV and Netflix, one classic movie stands out in light of its relevancy to today’s events. 1995’s “Outbreak”, available to stream on Netflix, wonders, “What would happen if a deadly virus took the world by storm?” 

This virus in particular is named ‘Motaba’, where the recipients of which break out into nasty open sores. The makeup in the movie is quite realistic, as expected of a feature film; but nevertheless, if blood makes one squeamish, this may not be the film for them. 

As far as factual accuracy is concerned, Outbreak, being set mainly in the United States, uses correct medical and governmental terminology. The main protagonists associate with real organizations such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. 

The movie has a very well planned and moderate pace, rarely being too slow, yet not skimming over any important details or scenes for the sake of time. 

For those looking for comic relief in this rather dark story, there are several light jokes throughout between leading roles which helps viewers connect to the characters, making the movie all the better. Not to worry for those who find that humor ruins a good plot however, as there is still plenty of solemnness and blood to go around. 

This being said, the semi-intense graphics of the disease are not the only reason this movie is rated R. While there is no questionable or sexual content throughout the movie, the main characters swear frequently enough that one may want to reconsider before watching this movie with children. 

Overall, Outbreak is a well-orchestrated film that will capture the attention of a viewer throughout, with the perfect mix of both suspenseful and heartwarming moments. Especially considering the events that have been happening around the world recently, this movie is certainly worth a watch for anyone with a Netflix subscription.

Kickin it with Q – Bloodshot movie review

Quintin gives a review of Bloodshot.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Logo: Jesus Contreras

“Klaus” blesses the season with traditional animation

Netflix / Courtesy Photo
This animated holiday movie is set in a surreally gruesome place, filled with surreally gruesome people.

With the holidays right around the corner, Netflix has gifted viewers with a new 2D animated Christmas movie, Klaus. Even for viewers who don’t celebrate Christmas, it is well worth the watch. The movie perfectly captures the true spirit of the holidays with beautiful traditional animation

The movie pulls us into an adventure with Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a self-centered postman, who is forced by his father to work in a chaotic town called Smeerensburg. Jesper must mail enough letters to go back home. This proves difficult when all of the citizens only want to fight each other.

Jesper learns to work with an old toymaker, Klaus (J. K. Simmons), in the woods to help him achieve his goal of getting out of there. With Christmas approaching, Jesper takes advantage of the holidays to encourage the children to write lots of letters to Santa. Klaus and Jesper must work together to respond to these children’s wishes. In the meantime, he learns about the origin of Smeerensburg and the tales of local citizens while he struggles to make it as a successful postman.

The plot travels along at a steady pace, comedically tying in the original stories and traditions of how Santa Claus came to be. The humor is full of sarcasm and witty comebacks which make the movie an enjoyable watch for audiences of all ages. It doesn’t feel as though there is a dull moment in the dialogue between characters.

Netflix / Courtesy Photo

For older viewers, “Klaus” unexpectedly carries subtle, dark tones which involve violence, breaking and entering, and gloom. These dark themes tend to stick out the most in comparison to the rest of the film for those that recognize it. The audience may be shocked at some of the humor which will hint at something darker than a children’s movie.

At times, some of the characters’ stories can be a little too serious, reminding the audience of the heartaches life has to offer. “Klaus” is slightly reminiscent of the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as dark themes stay consistent nearly all the way to the end of the movie. manages to make it feel less like an overall Christmas film.

With 2D animation making a successful comeback in “Klaus,” they take it a step further by adding organic lighting to make objects appear visually textured. The scenes are visually appealing all throughout without feeling clunky like some 3D animations. The audience should watch to appreciate the use of traditional animation, if not for a refreshingly new Christmas plot.

As a great addition to Christmas movies, “Klaus” has a solid storyline and successfully captures the essence of a kind heart. A lesson can be learned about the gift of giving and how small good deeds can influence others in big ways. If anyone wants a humorous Christmas story with emotion, “Klaus” is definitely a movie to watch over the holidays.

Holiday Movies Review – Q.T. Pie

Quintin and Tyler debate which holiday movies are the best.

Hosted by: Quintin Mattson-Hayward and Tyler Grover

Edited by: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

 

“Dark Phoenix” ends “X-Men” series on mediocre note

Twentieth Century Fox / Courtesy Photo
Sophie Turner — the immortal Sansa Stark from ‘Game of Thrones’ — showing enormous potential as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix.’

“X-men” is no stranger to moviegoers and comic book fanatics. Ever since the first movie in 2000, the franchise has acquired a loyal fanbase and spawned some great films. The notable ones are “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Logan” and “Deadpool.” Along with that, it has also produced some stinkers. With this, the supposed last installment to the series with the old gang “Dark Phoenix” has a lot of weight on its shoulders as it concludes the story.

“Dark Phoenix” follows the story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) a mutant whose power is becoming harder to control as she turns into the infamous “Dark Phoenix.” In order to save her and the world from such aggressive power, the “X-Men” now have to fight with one of their own, while tensions arise within the group.

After the Game of Thrones finale, Sophie Turner returns in “Dark Phoenix” with a good performance. Her American accent is believable, and she portrays the pain that the character experiences with skill and finesse. A dialogue of her with Magneto (Michael Fasbender) shows her range in acting with believable artistry and panache.

James McAvoy is amazing as ever as he again portrays Charles Xavior or Professor X. Though definitely not a villain, he is somewhat responsible for the current combative situation. The movie tells the viewers the reason why he did something in the past that might be responsible for Jean’s anger towards the group.

Twentieth Century Fox / Courtesy Photo
Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique in the movie “Dark Phoenix.” 

The CGI (computer generated imagery) is decent but definitely could be better. In a shot that involves floating guns, viewers can tell that the weapons look a little “plasticky.” Also, the way the character Hank (Nicholas Hoult) transform into his Beast form has a cheap effect. However, the make-up artistry for him as well as the characters, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is done masterfully.

The movie is not as action heavy as fans might want it to be. There are some fight scenes but they are infrequent, leaving room for the story. Even still, the battles are not as hard-hitting as the other Marvel action scenes. The altercation on a train at the end is easily the best one in the movie, boasting some great choreography and illustrating how the powers come in handy for these mutants.

The group of aliens who are led by Smith (Jessica Chastain) feels almost unnecessary; they are not as intimidating as the villain Apocalypse in the last “X-Men” movie. Chastain is great, but the writing for her character is dull. When the movie cuts to the aliens, audiences may be bored and yearn to be back with the mutants.

“X-Men” is a series that involves a lot of time travel. Therefore, people might think that they need to “catch up” with the lore before watching the movie. With “Dark Phoenix,” it is not the case. The movie provides the audience with enough substantial information to familiarize new viewers to the “X-Men” universe.

While “Avengers: Endgame” ended a series with a bang, “Dark Phoenix” has trouble closing the chronicle. Long-time frequenters can pick out a handful of better films in the franchise. It is still an entertaining movie, but certainly does not conclude the X-Men series in the best way.

“Ma” is entertaining yet lacks substance

Anna Kooris / Universal Pictures
From Left: Maggie (Diana Silvers), Erica (Juliette Lewis, back to camera) and Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) in ‘Ma.’

Marge Simpson, Peggy Hill, Kitty Forman… are some of the most known on-screen mothers of our time. But, as amazing as being a mother is, filmmakers are always looking for ways to put a new spin on it. The new thriller “Ma” which recently arrived at theaters mixes the loving mother figure with a disturbing tale. Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures,…) is an actress who is usually cast for roles with brighter and more innocent personalities. With “Ma,” Spencer sheds the usual wholesome personalities that she always plays and explores a darker side.

The film centers around a group of high school rebels. In an attempt to get alcohol, they meet Sue Ann (Spencer) a seemingly sweet woman, who after some hesitation, buys them liquor. She then invites them to a party at her house, and they gladly accept. In a short time, her basement becomes the best party place in town. However, as the group gets to know her, they start to uncover a more sinister side. Now, she thirsts for revenge to right the wrongs from her past.

Actress Octavia Spencer puts on a disturbing performance in “Ma.” People who are usually acquainted with her more “innocent” roles may be shock as she progressively becomes creepier in every scene. Every time she is on screen, audiences can sense that something is “off” with her. Her subtle facial expressions and ominous delivery adds to the foreboding ambiance of the film. The actress carries the entire movie with her disarming presence.

Anna Kooris / Universal Pictures
McKaley Miller as Haley (Left) and Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann (Right).

Though “Ma” is more of a thriller than a full fledged horror movie, it features gore that might make some moviegoers cringe. The whole film is creepy in nature, and the blood is the “cherry on top.” The filmmakers put in a handful of tension building moments, and the movie does not shy away from getting “suggestive.” One scene in particular has the potential to make people uncomfortable with what it shows. Though one could argue that it was done for “shock value,” it is still quite effective.

The dynamics between the teenagers are also well-established. Despite not being on par with the main star, the young actors put on a good show. They are believable as a group of high school students as they try to find fun in the more “naughty” activities such as drinking. What they do and what they say are realistic for the most part. This gives audience members a break from the more tense scenes.

With that being said, the group is quite generic in terms of character tropes. There is the “sexy blonde chick,” the “wide-eyed innocent” and everything else in the book. As good as these people are, it still feels wooden in the use of slang and sometimes sounds forced.

The movie explores the character of Sue Ann’s past with the use of flashbacks. This provides audiences with information about her early days. Even though her childhood is made clear by the end of the film, it is still vague on how she could have started her ominous revenge plan. Besides that, the ending is also bland and somewhat predictable.

Overall, “Ma” is certainly no bad movie, but it is not a “must-see.” The intrigue of Octavio Spencer as a psychopath may make viewers enjoy the film. However, they might look back and think that “Ma” is rather basic. With such a skillful actress, the movie should have been better and more satisfying.

 

What to watch out for in June

Ciara Williams / Staff Illustration

Summer movies are often known for high octane and thrilling spirits. This season, studios are bringing the excitement in a variety of ways, from a musical legend story to big-budget monsters. Here are six that viewers can put on their must-watch list.

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” 

May  31,  2019

In 2014, Warner Bros. studio blew audience away with its electrifying reboot of the famous Japanese monster “Godzilla”. Now, the beloved creature is back, and is expected to destroy cities and people once again in the sequel. 

According to Comicbook.com, movie studios Legendary and Warner Bros. said that Godzilla is part of a universe which also features King Kong. Called the “MonsterVerse”, it is Warner Bros.’ answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The movie uses the latest computer-generated technology and showcases a lineup of the expected powerful creatures such as Mothra and Ghidorah. 

The cast stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Rocketman” 

May  31,  2019

Movies about musicians were big last year. with “Bohemian Rhapsody” taking home an Oscar for Best Actor, and “A Star is Born” receiving nominations in a variety of categories therefore, makes sense for a movie about the life story of Elton John to come out. Rami Malek did a wonderful job portraying Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and now Taron Egerton (Kingsmen: The Secret Service) will take the role of Elton John. 

Fans of the musician can expect Egerton to give an entertaining performance as well as focusing more on Elton John as a troubled soul. Where “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed mostly true to Freddie Mercury, “Rocketman” takes side trips into “what-if” story lines. Aside from Egerton, the movie features Richard Madden (Bodyguard), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World). 

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

June  7,  2019

While the prequel of “The Secret Life of Pets” rehashed the basic “Toy Story” idea, the movie got mostly positive reviews, as seen on Rotten Tomatoes. Louis C.K. is not returning for the sequel, so Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) is the voice of the main character, Max the dog. The terrier is back, this time introduced to another family member a young boy named Liam who Max has sworn to protect. 

Max has to learn to overcome his protectiveness, and let the kid have his freedom. The first movie was simple, straight-forward and did the job well, but fell into the hole of gimmicks.

 Additionally, like the original film, there is a chance that the humor content may be inappropriate for younger kids. Other returning characters are Snowball, (Kevin Hart), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and Gidget (Jenny Slate)

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Dark Phoenix”  

June 7,  2019

The sequel train continues with Dark Phoenix, the newest installment to Marvel’s X-Men franchise. While the franchise has gone through some ups and downs, it has attracted a loyal fan base. 

In the movie, the main character Jean Grey has to suppress her power, which is becoming unstable, That leads her to spiral out of control, and now the X-Men have to battle Dark Phoenix, Jean’s mutant self. 

The writer of the previous “X-Men” films “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Simon Kinberg, is in charge of directing the movie. This installment features Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame as the title role along with the familiar cast of James McAvoy (Split), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Toy Story 4” 

June 21,  2019

The first “Toy Story” movie came out in 1995, and it changed the landscape of animated movies forever, with its unprecedented 3-D animation technology. Fifteen years later, “Toy Story 3” was released, perfectly wrapping up the storyline in a trilogy. However, in recent years, Disney announced the next installment to the seemingly complete franchise. 

The new movie can go either way in terms of quality. Regardless, fans of Woody and Buzz Lightyear will get a chance to visit these lovable characters once again. 

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are reprising their roles of Woody and Buzz, along with Annie Potts (Ghostbusters 1984) Keanu Reeves (John Wick) Jordan Peele (Key and Peele) and Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Annabelle Comes Home” 

June 26, 2019

Summer is not only for big budget action movies but also horror movies as well. Annabelle is back with “Annabelle Comes Home,” a new movie in the Conjuring Universe, the horror counterpart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Annabelle, the doll, first appeared in “The Conjuring”, then became the main character in her own movie and the sequel. 

After being locked in the artifacts room by two paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, Annabelle start reigning terror on their daughter with other evil spirits. 

The terrifying universe has been hit and miss, “Annabelle: Creation” got a 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The main cast includes Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring).

“Rocketman” launches with energy

CreditDavid Appleby / Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Photo
Jamie Bell, left, and Taron Egerton as Taupin and John in “Rocketman.”

Biographical renditions (biopics) are ways for filmmakers to tell stories about significant figures throughout history with film. This year with “Bohemian Rhapsody” being awarded Best Actor with Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, it seems like musical biopics are becoming more mainstream. Studios appear like they are interested in films involving musicians. After exploring the story behind the group Queen, audiences now get to see the life of Elton John. The singer and composer is a household name that was responsible for some of the most popular tunes of all time. People around the world have fallen in love with his tracks such as “Tiny Dancer” or “Circle of Life” and the affinity for them has no end in sight. Therefore, it makes sense for a movie like “Rocketman” to be made.

“Rocketman” is the life story of Elton John (Taron Edgerton) from his early days of a musical prodigy to then selling out arenas. The film shines a light on the aspects of John’s career that fans did not get to see, including some of his highest and lowest points. In the process, it tells one of the most fascinating rise-to-fame stories of our time.

Taron Edgerton has tremendous pressure on him portraying the legendary musician, especially after Rami Malek’s incredible performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Despite all of that, he puts on possibly his best show of his burgeoning career. This casting choice might seem “out of nowhere” at first, but the movie shows that he is the perfect candidate for the role. His mannerisms, and the way he performs the songs, charmingly resembles John.

It is worth noting is that Edgerton does most of the singing in the movie, according to Bustle.com. His vocals are impressive, especially for people who are only familiar to him as Eggsy in the “Kingsman” series. The songs do not sound exactly like the Elton John versions, which helps the movie avoid sounding like a music video playlist.

Paramount Pictures / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy / Courtesy Photo
Taron Egerton as Elton John in a scene from from “Rocketman,” directed by Dexter Fletcher.

It is important to know that this movie closely resembles a musical in a lot of ways, which may annoy some people. “Rocketman” is dream-like, and this is established from the get-go. For example, time slows down or freezes, and Elton John is put in a trance. Characters often break out into songs and numbers. This makes the film surprisingly refreshing. It also dials up the energy level up a notch with montages of Elton John’s career, which are also done like a stage musical.

In the film, Elton John’s music is used as a way to show various points in his career. His fans can easily figure out which phase he was in just by the songs. The filmmakers also recreate some of his most iconic costumes. Whether it’s the sparkly baseball jersey or the colorful headdresses, the visual representations display the different landmarks of his life.

There is always a sense of liveliness in every scene, even in the more somber ones. Although the movie is 2 hours in length, the passion and fire of the film easily entrances the audience. Despite that, when “Rocketman” wants to make people feel empathy for the musician, it does the job really well.

As much as there are many great details about this movie, it suffers from some flaws. Though it is engaging, it has almost the same beats as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Even a montage which involves newspaper headlines look extremely similar to the one in the Queen biopic.

“Rocketman” is a tribute to Elton John, and it is perfect for his fans to enjoy. However, it can also entertain people who are simply looking for a great movie. It is a story that sings and returns people to a timeless era of music.

 

“Booksmart” lives up to its title

AnnaPurna Pictures / Courtesy Photo
Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart

High school can be the best of times or vice versa. It is a time where people start to find their identity as well as planning for another chapter of life. The high school spirit has been captured in so many movies like “Mean Girls,” “High School Musical,” and “The Breakfast Club” just to name a few. Moving forward a few decades, 2018’s “Love, Simon” continues the love training, putting audience in the shoes of a gay high schooler. This year, “Booksmart” brings to the table teenage angst through a pair of best friends, who are trying to find their place.

“Booksmart” is a story of two high school bright bookworms, Amy (played by Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein,) trying to navigate their way through high school. After hearing that a graduation party has been planned, they decide to attend to experience the high school vibe that they missed out on and in order to show people their “fun side.” To add to the mix, Amy and Molly both have their own romantic interests and are on the mission to find love.

If there is one word to describe this movie, it would be “youthful.” The beauty of teenagehood is painted in a simple yet uplifting way. However, one perk that “Booksmart” possesses is the maturity. It does not shy away from the realistic vulgar teenage talk. One might think that this is done for shock value, but it comes off as authentic. Both Dever and Feldstein put on incredible performances, and the chemistry between Amy and Molly drives this coming-of-age story well. The choice of making the character of Amy, a lesbian, offers a new perspective to audience members who are tired of the same old motifs.

Annapurna / Courtesy Photo
Beanie Feldstein as Molly (left) and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy.

While the movie is charming, the trailer can mislead the audience into thinking that this is a laugh-out-loud comedy. The movie definitely has quite a lot of humor, but a large portion of it is in the first half. The rest is more dedicated to the hormonal interactions of high schoolers and character progressions. It is a great quality, though it can drag on for people who are simply looking for laughs. When viewed under a comedic lense, “Booksmart” might not be satisfying, but when looked at as a film, it works wonders.

The movie is “R-rated,” which means this is no “High School Musical.” The humor can be viewed as offensive, and some of the ways teenage affection is depicted may make people uncomfortable. It is important that viewers go into this movie knowing that for the most part, it does not pull any punches to preserve authenticity. When “Booksmart” needs to get graphic, it does.

When it comes to flaws, there are a few minor ones. In some scenes, the references of teen lingos and memes can easily conveys that an adult is obviously writing the script. Also, near the end, there is a plot point that can scream “too convenient” to viewers. It sticks out, especially when most of the film feels so real.

To sum up, “Booksmart” is a teenage polaroid. Adult viewers can watch this movie and reminisce memories of a younger time, while the younger viewers can identify with the story. It does not try to be a masterpiece, and yet, it succeeds in many ways.

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