“The Hateful Eight” (2015)

This film is what happens when you cross Agatha Christie with Quentin Tarantino, a combination that I didn’t know I wanted, but now am very happy that I got. This film showcases that Tarantino understands set-up and build-up incredibly, as he lets the mystery and unease slowly and uncomfortably unfold, until the film’s sudden explosion of inevitably violence finally rears its head. There are a number of genuinely surprising twists and turns, the film is transfixing, and, despite it’s nearly three-hour long runtime and its slower pace compared to Tarantino’s other works, this film goes by like a breeze. This film is well acted, extremely entertaining, and a chillingly claustrophobic mystery that masterfully builds and releases tension.

Rating: 5/5

“The Gallows” (2015)

Shot on a miniscule budget of $100,000, you’d think it would be an impressive feat that they were able to make a film with that small a budget, until you actually watch it and understand why. For the first 40 minutes, nothing happens. At all. Then when the horror aspect finally rears its head, this film is mostly made up of characters walking down dark hallways, reacting to predictable jump scares. The characters are poorly written, horribly unlikable horror bait, and the film’s twist ending is laughably nonsensical. The only reason this film is spared my lowest rating, is because one of the death scenes was surprisingly decent. But the rest of the film is garbage, and deserves to be strung up by its neck.

Rating: 1/5

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (2016)

I know it’s cliché to say “the book was better,” but yeah, the book was better. You would think that Tim Burton would be able to capture the dark gothic style of Ransom Riggs’ books, and he does in spots, but in some other spots it feels like he’s trying way too hard to create his own “Harry Potter,” putting too much emphasis on the whimsy. Add on top of that, this film chickens out on ending on the original book’s haunting cliffhanger ending in favor of a more conventional Hollywood style happy ending, as if even they didn’t have faith it would do well enough to warrant a sequel. As a film, it’s very watchable, but as an adaptation, it’s sorely lacking.

Rating: 3/5

“Molly’s Game” (2017)

Aaron Sorkin is an extremely talented screenwriter, most well-known for his exceptional dialogue, and here we get to see that he’s also a talented director. He keeps the film’s plot flowing at a steady pace, and the story is never boring. On top of that, Jessica Chastain gives a commanding lead performance, making you easily buy that she could run and maintain an empire. The film does go on a touch too long, likely due to Aaron Sorkin refusing to cut down much of his, admittedly well written, dialogue, but this is a gripping and engrossing fact-based drama, that will make you easily overlook that this film is about 10 minutes too long.

Rating: 4.5/5

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)

One of the biggest compliments I can give this film is that this film is literally like no other film out there. Its premise is so strange and bizarre, and it creates a world where such a premise can take place, that this truly feels like a one-of-a-kind experience, with creativity oozing in every corner. But I kind of feel like this film was simply hyped up too much for me. For example, it does take a little while for the ball to get rolling, and the film wasn’t quite as funny as I wanted it to be. But the imagination and creativity truly helps this film shine, and helps explain why Edgar Wright is such a talented and unique director.

Rating: 4/5

“The Happytime Murders” (2018)

I was interested in seeing R-rated Muppet film that was a film noir. The problem? This film is meant to be a comedy, and there’s basically one joke; Muppets swear and tell crass sex jokes. That’s it. Most of these jokes are so bad that even Chuck Lorre would reject them. The problem with this film is that it wants to be a film that’s entirely shock comedy, but you can’t make a film made up entirely of shock humor consistently funny. The characters are awful, the mystery is stupid and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, and the film’s attempts at social satire are honestly pathetic. What a waste of a good set-up and potential.

Rating: 1/5

“Natural Born Killers” (1994)

There are very few films that are as controversial as this film. But just because a film is highly controversial, that doesn’t automatically make it a great film. This film’s style is so bizarre and in-your-face, that this film is impossible to not at least admire, even if there are aspects that don’t quite work (like the bizarre sitcom sequences). The film’s more grounded second half is a lot better than its rather jumbled first half, but Oliver Stone really hammers the film’s message over and over again with the subtlety of a jackhammer to the foot. This is a highly imperfect, but still mostly enjoyable film that’s worth watching once, but probably not more than that.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Don’t Breathe” (2016)

The film starts out good, with scenes of genuine tension, and it makes great use of the darkness and silence, as well as the atmosphere of a creepy old house to great effect. Then the film’s third act rolls around, and it completely loses me. It takes a rather shocking and bizarre turn that feels like a total disconnect from what came before. The main characters make some infuriating decisions that just make you want to scream at them. And by the time the climax rolls around, any sense of realism has been flushed down the drain, especially in its terrible ending. This was a film I liked when I first saw it, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Paddington 2” (2017)

If there was a single, solitary film that defined the word “charming,” this would be it. It takes everything that made the first film so great and enjoyable, and ups its game. While still unabashedly a kid’s film, its incredibly well written and tightly woven script, its sweet, but not glurgy tone, as well as a fantastic performance by Hugh Grant are just some of the things that make this so much better than almost any other kid’s film out there. There really is no other way to describe this film other than charming and sweet, and it makes it look so effortless. This is a delightful film that is almost guaranteed to brighten up your day.

Rating: 5/5

“Fist Fight” (2017)

A rather generic, but very watchable comedy starring two very talented comedians; Ice Cube and Charlie Day. This film doesn’t quite get as much comedic mileage out of its premise as it probably could have, but I think it would be inaccurate to say that this film is completely laugh free. There are funny moments, sometimes simply through the delivery of the actors rather than because the line is actually funny. I can’t really defend this as a “good” film per se, but I will say that I enjoyed it enough the marginally recommend it for those that are curious, or for those looking for a decent throwaway comedy to rent.

Rating: 3/5