Life (2017)

Director Daniel Espinosa has given us a great space action horror flick. There’s a good lesson here too that we’ve seen before in movies like Jurassic Park: Don’t mess with nature.

Life
“A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.” -IMDB

Cast

Jake Gyllenhaal David Jordan
Rebecca Ferguson Miranda North
Ryan Reynolds Rory Adams
Hiroyuki Sanada Sho Murakami

Directed by

Daniel Espinosa

Written by

Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
R
Fri 24 Mar 2017 UTC
103min
IMDB Rating: 7.1

It starts like any other space team film. You might even expect the label predictable. still, if you want a Big Mac, there’s nothing better to satisfy your hunger. People who liked Alien and Gravity will like this film. Scene for scene it’s a lot of the same stuff. Creature is brought aboard, impossible to kill. Yeah. There is an ending eerily similar to Gravity but I will spare you the twist.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a great ride. While parts seeem highly borrowed, I chose to enjoy it and let it rock me. I would have liked to have seen something more scientifically illuminating as the trailer and title alluded to. Still it’s a great thriller with horror elements that fans of these genres will enjoy. A lot of work clearly went into this. Too bad it’s a rehashed plot. Most people will enjoy it.

3/5

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Gentlemen Broncos (2009)

Movies give us a specific point of view. For this reason, it is possible to NOT GET IT in the same way you might not get someone different at work or in your life’s travels. In my years reviewing movies here on my blog (as well as my entire lifetime watching movies) I have suffered from “jumping to conclusions” about movies. I did that with Nacho Libre. Jack Black didn’t seem funny the first time, but my perspective changed. My gate opened up and after a month or so, that film was my second favorite of all time. Gentlemen Broncos was directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). It is as camp as camp gets. All (I am) saying is give “camp” a chance.

Gentlemen Broncos

Gentlemen Broncos

“A teenager attends a fantasy writers’ convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.” -IMDB

Cast

Michael Angarano Benjamin
Jemaine Clement Chevalier
Mike White Dusty
John Baker Don Carlos

Directed by

Jared Hess

Written by

Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess

Other Info

Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
PG-13
Thu 27 May 2010 UTC
90min
IMDB Rating: 6.2

Sam Rockwell plays Bronco, an interstellar futuristic hero from the imagination of a teenage writer. He is made out to reference the futuristic movies of the 1960’s, usually starring Charleton Heston. He is actually one layer below the reality one, being in a book. Michael Angarano is our true protagonist. Reminiscent of the children’s comedy Big Fat Liar, his manuscript is stolen by a more established sci fi writer and used for his next book. The best parts of this movie are the flashback sequences into the book. Everyone is searching for yeast, it is the lifeblood of a dying species. Does that sound ridiculous? There’s much more. Some of the real life sequences are slow and unnecessary. I don’t know why the director did so many of them. He could have stuck more to the manuscript story and only gone back occasionally to real life. I think tht would have improved the movie. The director seems like he is filling up dead space with snake diarrhea shopping with mother scenes. The manuscripts are where it’s at.

Envision stags with explosive rockets mounted on them. It’s camp effects again (see what I was saying about camp?). This movie will not resonate with a large audience because it is just too loosely joined. I probably will not recommend my friends and family to watch it but for those who have “seen it all” I offer this as a refreshing laugh with truly stupid intentions. If you laugh at this movie or even walk out, you are doing exactly what the director had hoped you would. I like movies like that, just not every day. Check out the clip below of Gentlemen Broncos.

3/5

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The Elements of Riley

My favorite little book on English usage is Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.” I’ve used it a lot through the years in my teaching. There is a lot in there about misspelled homophones and multiple meaning words. In my graduate program I used to work at the Cerritos Community College writing center where I was hired to help entering language students correct basic usage and composition errors on their papers. They were required to spend a given amount of time in the writing center and I would sign them off when they’d seen me a few times. It was a great job for a 26 year old thinking about becoming a college teacher. I got to see what a lot of the job would consist of. Working with people so closely was nice too. After correcting some of the same mistakes over and over by the hundreds, I had developed little doodles and vocabulary to help them see the correct way to spell homophones like to/too/two. I don’t have a way o doodle here “stream of consciousness” but I’ll try and remember some of the ways I used to teach these. I still use some of these little ideas to teach these homophones to my 4th graders.

to is a preposition. It announces where you are going. “I am going to the store.” It has one “o” unlike the other two spellings. too is a modifier of degree. I taught this one by saying when it’s explaining there are “too many” you don’t use just one “o” you use “too many o’s” or “2” o’s as opposed to one. Get it? It’s simple and cheesy but when you are starting out in college or anything you do as a serious writer, these little tips are golden and they were always appreciated. I made handouts and I copied a LOT of them. The final word that sounds the same but is spelled different is the number. two, the number, is spelled with a “w.” I would coach them to memorize the spelling of the number first and then use the trick of “degree” being too many “o’s.” And that’s how I would teach the homophones of to/too/two.

Candyman (1992)

Here we have a cult favorite with underpinnings of a low budget cheap thrill horror movie. Centered around an urban legend where if you say “Candyman” 5 times in the mirror, the characters are killed one by one. Not too cerebral but with a lot of jump scares. Candyman “The Candyman, a murderous soul with …

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Here we have a cult favorite with underpinnings of a low budget cheap thrill horror movie. Centered around an urban legend where if you say “Candyman” 5 times in the mirror, the characters are killed one by one. Not too cerebral but with a lot of jump scares.

Candyman

Candyman

“The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.” -IMDB

Cast

Virginia Madsen Helen Lyle
Xander Berkeley Trevor Lyle
Tony Todd The Candyman/Daniel Robitaille
Kasi Lemmons Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Walsh

Directed by

Bernard Rose

Written by

Clive Barker, Bernard Rose

Other Info

Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
R
Fri 16 Oct 1992 UTC
99min
IMDB Rating: 6.6

Kids freak out over urban legends. The idea that a chant in a mirror can summon a killer or a demon or even a product of ones imagination scares the crap out of them, Some people say we are all kids inside no matter our ages. Perhaps that is why this film has become such a cult classic.

Where I get off the bus is when Virginia Madsen’s character start researching this killer as a supernatural entity. Throughout the 90’s we had slasher films that centered on legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer comes to mind. Perhaps this film tried a bit to hard to weave a scientific basis into it. I think we’ve learned as viewers that the legend need not be explained. Of course, there is always the twist that works well.

Final Thought:
Candyman is a gore-filled jump fest that may appeal to pajama party teens. For those of us seeking to see the elements of horror, it grows tiresome wading through the cheap thrills to get to the real stuff that scares us. It’s all there though, I can’t deny that. Don’t expect a dark sense of foreboding but then again not much n the 1990’s produced that good stuff.

3/5
3 Stars

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Get Out (2017)

In an era where all films seem to have a complicated twist at the end, it is refreshing we have this film that keeps you guessing and then satisfies.

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Get Out“A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.” -IMDB

Cast

Daniel Kaluuya Chris Washington
Allison Williams Rose Armitage
Bradley Whitford Dean Armitage
Catherine Keener Missy Armitage

Directed by

Jordan Peele

Written by

Jordan Peele

Other Info

Horror, Mystery
R
Fri 24 Feb 2017 UTC
103min
IMDB Rating: 8.3

Jordan Peele has directed a film here that simply shines. It will be an instant classic and there are no questions left unanswered. It tells it’s message like it is. Veiled racism is all around us, Peele alludes to that and warns us what is really under the surface. He does this humanitarian task in the guise of a horror movie that is, along with its message, extremely well delivered.

The writing supplies a superb cast with the vehicle it needs to reach the audience. Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris Washington, a 26 year old black man dating a white woman and finding his way in the world. He does an excellent job and, I am told, can tear up on cue. Allison Williams plays Rose Armitage, his white girlfriend. I only point out their ethnicity because it is central to the plot and message of Peele’s film. Catherine Keener is Missy Armitage, a controlling and spooky psychiatrist who also wields the power of hypnosis. LilRel Howery should be mentioned as well for his hysterical comic relief in the character Rod Williams. There are more than a handful of other great performances in this film. It’s put together very well that way. Again it’s the script and directing that make this all work and both were done by Jordan Peele.

Chris is falling in love with his girlfriend and she thinks it’s time he met her parents. Once there for the weekend, her mother tries to hypnotize him to stop smoking. All during the visit, there appear to be almost comatose black individuals scattered throughout the home. They appear to be servants. This is a mystery until the near-end of the film. Concepts of veiled racism are depicted and it starts to seem like something very odd is going on. The final act explains everything and it’s a twist Jordan Peele delivers well. This is a truly formidable debut.

FINAL THOUGHTS
In the theater most people were hollering but I didn’t mind. It was like a melodrama from the old west that way. I have never seen an audience so involved. Quite a few of the voices I assume were black. This film illustrates what racism can do, even a subtle version of it. It can be seen as a microcosm of the human condition but there is a lot here about black vs. white culture. In one scene, we see Rose with “trophy” photos on her wall. I thought that was a great hidden message of the film. There are many, go see it and figure them out! It doesn’t take much thought and that I enjoyed!

5/5

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