Hold the Dark (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Macon Blair (Screenplay) William Giraldi (Novel)

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, James Badge Dale

Plot: After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the mother of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate her son in the Alaskan wilderness.

Runtime: 2 Hour 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Messy and Confusing

Story: Hold the Dark starts when a young boy becomes the latest victim of the wolves surrounding an Alaskan town, his mother Medora (Keough) writes to a hunter an author Russell Core (Wright) in hope that he will come and destroy the wolf that took her child.

When Russell heads out into the darkness that covers Alaska, he sees the wolfpack and believes he sees another child taken by the wolves, leaving him to deal with the police who were waiting for any suspect to fall into their laps and after Vernon (Skarsgard) returns from Iraq, he looks to get revenge on the wolves that took his son, only there is a biggest conspiracy being covered up here.

Thoughts on Hold the Dark

Characters – Russell Core is an author and wolf expert that gets called to help hunt down the wolf which has been killing the children of the local area, only to discover a much bigger problem going on in the town. Vernon is the solider that has returned from war to find his son dead, he wants to work getting revenge on the responsible one. Medora is the woman that calls in for the help, while we also meet cops that are looking to get to the bottom of the killings.

PerformancesThis is a film where you don’t want to say anything bad about the performances, because it is more of how the movie is made that makes anything bad, Jeffrey Wright does make his character feel distant, while Alexander Skarsgard does show the grief, otherwise nobody gets to do anything more.

StoryThe story here follows an author that is called to look into a string of deaths involving children and wolves and soon finds himself in the middle of something much deadlier. Well I think this was the story, it isn’t shot very well to show the story unfolding, it seems like there is a lot more going on, but it didn’t give us enough information, looking to create a more shock filled moment with plenty of blood over creating an idea to what is going on.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does come from seeing how people are reacting to losing their children, which shows the panic, only for the mystery to try and take over, without giving us enough to work on as an audience member.

SettingsAlaska should be a wonderful setting, it does show the darkness that would be felt there at certain times of the year, but doesn’t take us into the environment enough.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the injuries the people suffer, with the shootout being the one scene with the most going on within it.

Scene of the Movie – Shootout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Hard to follow.

Final Thoughts This is a disappointing outing from a director that has usually done wonderful things, it is slow, confusing and messy to keep up with.

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

Electric Love (2018) Movie Review

Director: Aaron Fradkin

Writer: Aaron Fradkin, Victoria Fratz (Screenplay)

Starring: Mia Serafino, Zachary Mooren, Erik Friffin, Kyle Howard, Hayler Marie Norman, Matt Bush

Plot: Four couples traverse the modern dating scene in Los Angeles utilizing popular dating apps.

Tagline – Love at first Swipe.

Runtime: 1 Hour 21 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Modern Love Life is Hard

Story: Electric Love starts as we see the first dates from internet apps, Emma (Serafino), Adam (Mooren) who are both struggling with internet dating, finding only the wrong type of people, one needs to learn to grow up, while the other could be open to more.

When the two eventually find themselves on Tinder, and they eventually end up going on a date, while the people in their lives are having their own relationship problems.

Thoughts on Electric Love

Final Thoughts This is a story that tries to put the spotlight on modern dating, with how difficult it is to find somebody on the different apps out there, or at least finding someone who is like the person you believe you are meeting, add in the problems that comes from not knowing everyone in someone news life. We get to go through the emotions of how amazing the first dates can feel, the first interactions can be exciting, but also showing just how disastrous they can go. When it comes to digging into the characters, we don’t seem to dig into who they are outside of the dating world. This could have opened more doors to the pain of the dating in the modern world, how social media has continued to make things more complicated in life. The performances are solid enough, without needing to become amazing to stand outside the box.

Overall: Online Dating 101.

Red Joan (2018) Movie Review

Director: Trevor Nunn

Writer: Lindsay Shapero (Screenplay) Jennie Rooney (Novel)

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Nina Sosanya, Laurence Spellman, Nicola Sloane, Tereza Srbova, Freddie Gaminara, Tom Hughes, Stephen Campbell Moore

Plot: The story of Joan Stanley (Dame Judi Dench), who was exposed as the K.G.B.’s longest-serving British spy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: So Dull

Story: Red Joan starts when elderly lady Joan (Dench) gets arrested with the suspicion of treason for release secrets over years, since 1939, to 2000. This takes Joan back to her younger self (Cookson) who met people in her time at Oxford, including Sonya (Srbova) and Leo (Hughes) who put her in connection with a KGB connection.

After university Joan starts working for Max (Campbell Moore) who has been development nuclear weapons, a role she must keep secret, despite the number of people that came looking to get secrets out of her including her love Leo and former student William.

Thoughts on Red Joan

Characters – Joan is an elderly lady arrested and charged with treason, she must remember her life which saw her working on England’s own nuclear defence, while being friends with Russians, making it appear like she might have been playing both side, she must tell her story to see if she is guilty or not. Leo is the Russian that Joan has fallen in love with, he only turns up when she needs something, making it clear that he is trying to learn more about her role, using his charm to get information. Max is the person that hires Joan, gives her a chance in a male world of science to show her own brilliance, he will push for her greatest to be seen by the world.

PerformancesJudi Dench does seem wasted in this role, she does her best with what little she has to work with, it just would have been nice to see more. When it comes to the rest of the cast, they all struggle to make any impact in the story.

StoryThe story here follows an elderly lady accused of treason and dive into her past to learn the truth. This sounds like it should be a very interesting thriller, but soon turns into a romantic based movie, which seems to imply that Joan only helped the people who she seems to love, it has so much potential to be a much more interesting story, only for it to come up very short and just being bland and forgettable.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film is meant to show what happened in Joan’s early life only for it to be more about her love life than anything else.

SettingsThe film does re-create the locations that you would have imagined seeing for the 40s and 50s timeline.

Scene of the Movie – Press Conference.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much pointless love.

Final Thoughts This is a really disappointing biopic thriller that just doesn’t get close to the levels it could do, leaving us feeling like we should be getting a lot more out of the material.

Overall: Disappointing.

A Kid Like Jake (2018) Movie Review

Director: Silas Howard

Writer: Daniel Pearle (Screenplay)

Starring: Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, Ann Dowd, Amy Landecker

Plot: Loving parents of a four-year-old must come to terms with their child being transgender.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: A Kid Like Jake starts as parents Alex (Danes) and Greg (Parsons) are looking for a school for their son Jake (Davis) in the competitive school district, when they start to notice that Jake is different to the rest of the students, he enjoys princesses, over male figures, which sees Alex and Greg starting to investigate what might have caused this, or what the bigger issue might be.

When Greg starts to come to the realization that Jake is a transgender, he needs to get this through to Alex, while Judy (Spencer) is struggling to find a safe school for a transgender student to attend.

Thoughts on A Kid Like Jake

Characters – Alex is the mother that gave up her time as a lawyer to raise the couple’s son, she has suffered miscarriages and when Jake starts wanting to wear dresses, she doesn’t know how to deal with this happening to her son, not understanding how to deal with the fact her son is different. Greg is the therapist father that will start to take a step back to see what is happening and suggests Jake see a specialist to help understand the changes he is going through. He is more open to what Jake wants and must help Alex understand it isn’t a bad thing. Jake is the son in question, while he isn’t on screen much, he is the one that is trying understand why he is different to the other students. Judy helps the children find the schools, she is aware things will be difficult for Jake and is trying her hardest to help prepare Alex and Greg for the future.

PerformancesClaire Danes and Jim Parsons are both brilliant here, showing us just how difficult it could be to understand the situation they are in, showing how it can become even more difficult without having anyone to prepare them. Octavia Spencer gives us one of her trademark quality supporting roles, with the whole cast shining through here.

StoryThe story here follows parents that start to learn that their son is a transgender and must start to learn about it, the struggles they will need to go through as less people will be accepting their son going forward. This movie does get to show us the difficulties parents would have when it comes to learning about their child being different, while they are not different in any sort of bad way, it is hard to adjust to what they were expecting. It shows that not everyone is going to be accepting, which is going to cause problems going forward for Jake too. We focus on being prepared for what the future is going to hold.

SettingsThe film is set in New York, which highlights the competitiveness of trying to get kids into the schools within their district with the added stress thrown at the parents in this situation.

Scene of the Movie – The argument, showing both Danes and Parsons full skills.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t really get to see Jake point of view from anything going on.

Final Thoughts This is an important drama that will highlight the changes people will be going through in a more modern world that isn’t going to be found in an educational system.

Signature Entertainment presents A Kid Like Jake on Amazon Prime September 4th

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – V – Valley of the Lanterns (2018) Movie Review

Director: Caleb Hystad

Writer: Caleb Hystad (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Samantha Ferris, Thomas Haddaway-Graham, Ian Hanlin, Jonathan Love, Nicole Oliver

Plot: An old woman’s hold on the past puts her family’s future in jeopardy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Animation 101

Story: Valley of the Lanterns starts as young village boy Porter is asked to help his mysterious grandmother Olistene out with her work, she builds lanterns for the village for a yearly celebration, all while searching for her own mystery that has been a lifetime of searching for.

When Olistene finds the secret, she ends up putting the village in an endless cycle, which sees her living the same day on repeat trying to fix the problem she created.

Thoughts on Valley of the Lanterns

Characters – Olistene is the grandmother of the family that builds the village lanterns every year for a celebration, all while searching for her own solution to the magic, she is willing to teach her grandson about the ways of the lanterns, until she finds herself repeating the same year over again, looking for a different outcome to save the village from repeating the day. Porter is the grandson that enjoys kicking a ball around, but is being encouraged to learn from his grandmother, passing on the traditions of the family. Keelan is one of the few people that bought into the cycle, where his greed puts Olistene in a difficult position of wanting to fix things or get what he wants.

StoryThe story here follows a woman that has found herself repeating the same year, a special day for the village, where her magic has caught everyone in a loop, where she needs to start finding a way to change things before it is too late for the people. This is a story that examines accepting time in life and seeing just how greed can leave people stuck in a cycle they can’t control, it also focuses on the idea of tradition still needing to be followed no matter what. This is told in a sweet way, that will appeal to the younger audience that are watching.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a small traditional village which has got plenty of history behind what has happened there and shows us just how close the community really is.

AnimationThe animation might not be the strongest, but it doesn’t hold it back from showing us just how the story is meant to be seen.

Scene of the Movie – The first change.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does play the repeat card too often with how everything happens.

Final Thoughts This is an easy watch animated movie, this can be enjoyed by all and without being anything overly complicated, with a nice sweet message behind it all.

Overall: Sweet Animation.