Posts

Review: Her Smell (2018)

Image
Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom Commitment. If there was one word to describe Her Smell , it would be commitment. From the actors to the filmmakers, everyone commits to the concept and execution of this 90s alt rock drama. The film consists of five segments, each of which take place behind the scenes, before a performance. Between each segment is an era appropriate VHS flashback, setting the segment's thematic arc. The center of each segment is Becky Something, lead singer of Something She and unabashed train wreck. Addicted to drugs, alcohol and fame, Becky is the amalgamation of countless  Behind the Music  washouts. Her bandmates are exasperated as she fails to show up to the studio sober; her manager is driven to the brink of bankruptcy by breaches of contract; and family members have to cut ties after years of abuse. Spending most of the film's runtime as a danger to herself and others, Becky is more of a destructive force than a creative one. This

Review: The Predator (2018)

Image
Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom The Predator takes place on Halloween. This tells you everything you need to know about the picture's intentions. It's goofy, campy and hyper-violent. Generic gmen and nameless scientists scurry about to find out what threat the Predators pose after they land in Suburbia, USA. The film is an extended, irreverent riff on 1950s creature features, with the benefit of a major budget and studio backing. Because of this tongue-in-cheek tone, any plot point or joke that falls flat can be dismissed as parody. It's a clever trick by clever screenwriters, Shane Black and Fred Dekker. Black also directs the film, and starred in the 1987 original. Throughout the film a regular size predator is hunted down by one of the ultra-size predators from 2010's Predators . It seems the predator war from that entry is still ongoing. Carnage ensues. Caught in the middle are a group of soldiers who would seem more at home in a mental asyl

Review: First Reformed (2017)

Image
Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom First Reformed finds writer-director Paul Schrader revisiting his "man in the room" scenario. Films in this thematic collection feature lonely, alienated men narrating their life stories via diary entries. "Man in the room" films include Taxi Driver, Light Sleeper and The Walker . Here, the alienated man is a clergy member grieving over the loss of his son. Reverend Toller, played by Ethan Hawke, presides over the First Reformed Church, which is more of a historical landmark than an active faith community. It is only through the patronage of a nearby megachurch that the First Reformed remains open. Pastor Jeffers, portrayed in a stellar performance by Cedric "the Entertainer" Kyles, leads the megachurch. Jeffers encourages Toller to be more active in the "home church," rather than live like a self-exiled monk. The two men stand in stark contrast to each other. Toller seems to believe that s

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

Image
Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom Unlikable characters are a tricky thing to accomplish in cinema. Regardless if the unlikable character is the hero or a villain of the story, audiences want to see him get his comeuppance. And oh boy, does Alien: Covenant have one of cinema's all time "great" unlikable characters. I digress, Alien: Covenant is the 6th film in the main Alien franchise, and 8th overall if one includes the Alien vs. Predator films of the mid-00s. There have been dozens of comics, video games and even pinball machines made around the series. By now, one should know what to expect. Colonists find themselves on some remote world, and this remote world contains an alien with a crazy metabolism and a hunger for humans. Colonists make really dumb decisions. Androids have ambiguous motivations. A character's survival is directly related to how prominent her name appears in the promotional materials. Alien: Covenant  mashes up the best el

Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Image
GHOST IN THE SHELL VERSION: Theatrical, 2D DIRECTED BY: Rupert Sanders SCREENPLAY BY: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler & Ehren Kruger  STORY BY: Masamune Shirow STARRING: Scarlett Johansson Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom Ghost in the Shell is the greatest science fiction movie from the 90s that wasn't made in the 90s. Based on the 1989 Japanese comic book and 1995 animated film of the same name, Ghost in the Shell depicts "Major" Mira Killian as she adjusts to life as a cyborg. Her brain was rescued from a victim of a terrorist attack, and her new body is part-human, part-machine and all secret agent. The deal requires that Major work with the Section 9 spy agency as "repayment" for transcendence. As the film begins Section 9 tasks her with investigating the murders of scientists working for the Hanka company. Given that Hanka created Major's body, her attention is rapt.

Review: Logan (2017)

Image
LOGAN VERSION: Theatrical, "Premium" Format DIRECTED BY: James Mangold WRITTEN BY: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green STORY BY: James Mangold STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom Having been the subject of two solo films and a featured character in a handful ensemble X-Men movies, James Howlett aka Wolverine aka Logan is one tired-out hombre. Portrayed by Hugh Jackman, he's fought mecha-samurai, altered timelines, and tangled with his own mutant brother. Like many fictional characters who are "cursed" with extraordinarily long lives, Wolverine has witnessed the loss of countless loved ones over the years. When the audience meets him chauffeuring wealthy party-animals in the year 2029, his exhaustion almost leaves him unable to defeat a handful of car thieves. The world of 2029 feels vaguely pre-apocalyptic. While there may be parties in the back of Logan's limo, the outside world teems w

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Image
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE VERSION: Theatrical, 2D DIRECTED BY: Chris McKay WRITTEN BY: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern & John Whittington STORY BY: Seth Grahame-Smith STARRING: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson Reviewed by: Justin Rumenapp @The_Ill_Phantom The LEGO Batman Movie is a very silly, very colorful film. It mashes together dozens of franchises with wild abandon, just like a child playing with her toys. The storyline follows "LEGO Batman" who was first introduced in 2014's The LEGO Movie . This incarnation of Batman is narcissistic to a fault. He will save the day, but only if Gotham City praises him afterward. Everything he owns is bat-themed, and he will launch bat t-shirts into the crowd of onlookers after stopping a villain. When Barbara Gordon takes over from her father as police commissioner of the city, she devises a plan that focuses on teamwork to solve crime once and for all. This naturally goes