Tag Archives: Matt Hurt

Movie Review: Godzilla Raids Again (1955) – Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 2

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

Premise: Godzilla battles an irradiated Ankylosaur and destroys Osaka in the process.

Released just six months after 1954’s original Godzilla film, Godzilla Raids Again is not nearly as well-executed and nuanced as its predecessor. However, there is a lot of fun to be had in this movie and, in at least one case, it actually eclipses the original.
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Movie Review: Project Power (2020)

Project Power (2020)

Premise: A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

Netflix’s Project Power gives summer 2020 movie audiences a much needed infusion of blockbuster entertainment and superpowered action. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Foxx, and Dominique Fishback make up a strong triumvirate in a story that’s exciting and filled with varied big-budget set pieces. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman create impressive action sequences and Mattson Tomlin’s script provides an engaging plot with sympathetic yet flawed characters, despite some missteps along the way.

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Movie Review: Sputnik (2020)

Sputnik (2020)

Premise: The lone survivor of an enigmatic spaceship incident hasn’t returned back home alone-hiding inside his body is a dangerous creature.

Sputnik, the new Russian sci-fi horror film from IFC Midnight directed by Egor Abramenko, infuses elements of creature and body horror with the humanity of a compassionate protagonist. At the height of the Cold War in the 1980s, psychologist Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) is brought to a secluded research facility to analyze the bizarre case of a cosmonaut who returned to Earth with a parasitic entity in him. Charged with having to figure out a way to separate the entity from the host, Tatyana finds her conviction not to harm others being tested as the morals of those assisting in the institute are slowly called into question.

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Movie Review: Boys State (2020)

Boys State (2020)

Premise: A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

In a sense, Boys State acts as a document of the political climate of today. It shows the passion and fervor of those who seek elected office while also showcasing the lengths to which people will go to win; whether it’s in the name of their political party or if they are seeking office for themselves. The fact that this depiction of our democracy is filtered through the perspective of 17 year old boys creating a mock government over the course of a week gives Boys State a prescient energy. Seeing the potential next generation of politicians navigate an ultra conservative group and play to the whims of the general populace helps peel back the curtain on the democratic process while also exposing the less savory aspects of the political machine.

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Movie Review: An American Pickle (2020)

An American Pickle (2020)

Premise: An immigrant worker at a pickle factory is accidentally preserved for 100 years and wakes up in modern day Brooklyn.

An American Pickle‘s concept should be a delightful fish out of water story around which to build a movie. For the first 20 minutes or so, it achieves this well enough. However, it soon abandons that concept in favor of a satirical look at capitalism and the pursuit of the American dream in the age of social media mob rule. Unfortunately, it isn’t as interesting or as funny as the premise that it leaves behind in its first act, which itself was only skating by on the charisma of Seth Rogen’s performance.

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Movie Review: Godzilla (1954) – Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 1

Godzilla (1954)

Premise: American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

1954’s Godzilla is the beginning of film’s most massively iconic movie monster. It’s an introduction like no other as it focuses on the human reaction to Godzilla’s presence and destruction. With a slow build toward the rampage, the film explores real pathos in its characters. Godzilla creates the monster as an antagonist in a way that brings the fear of nuclear arms, humanity’s race toward self-destruction, and the horror of creating that which you can’t control to the forefront of its story. Continue reading

Movie Review: She Dies Tomorrow (2020)

She Dies Tomorrow (2020)

Premise: After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel. As her delusions of certain death become contagious to those around her, Amy and her friends’ lives spiral out of control in a tantalizing descent into madness.

She Dies Tomorrow, the latest from filmmaker Amy Seimetz, offers a unique exploration of existential anxiety by personifying depression as a contagion that’s easily spread. It’s a film that takes its subject matter seriously and eschews any subtlety or subtext with it. Instead, the specter of impending death and anxiety takes the forefront and drives what very little plot is in the movie. In a strange way, this approach actually works to the film’s benefit some of the time. Unfortunately, at other points, She Dies Tomorrow feels too meandering for its own good.

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Movie Review: Relic (2020)

Relic (2020)

Premise: A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.

Relic, the feature debut from writer/director Natalie Erika James, takes the fragility and fear of caring for a mentally ailing loved one and packages it into an overall enticing thriller with the effectiveness and confidence of a seasoned filmmaker. By focusing on the struggles of caring for a relative, Relic allows its audience to grow attached to its characters before suddenly ratcheting up the tension and suspense in more conventional ways. And although James deftly guides the audience through the family drama at Relic‘s center, the conventional feel of the climax does leave a bit to be desired before successfully ending the film on a disturbing and thought-provoking note.

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Movie Review: Irresistible (2020)

Irresistible (2020)

Premise: A Democratic strategist helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town.

By transposing a high stakes political arena onto a small town rural America setting, Jon Stewart’s Irresistible takes a relatively low key approach to its ribbing of the world of campaign finance. It is not simply a “fish out of water” story. Nor does it attempt to romanticize the quaint small town it occupies. Instead, Stewart uses this juxtaposition to call attention to the absurdity of campaign fundraising in a fairly unique manner. And although the approach is surprisingly refreshing in this era of fourth wall breaking Adam McKay political and socio-economic commentary films, Irresistible falters a bit on the road to its message.

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Movie Review: 7500 (2020)

7500 (2020)

Premise: A pilot’s aircraft is hijacked by terrorists.

Patrick Vollrath’s 7500 is a tense and claustrophobic thriller about an airplane hijacking and the pilot’s efforts to keep control and guide the passengers to safety. Taking place almost entirely within the cockpit, 7500 quickly becomes a showcase of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ability to command the screen with an intense and introspective performance. It is also an exercise in low-budget filmmaking and storytelling that utilizes limited set space.

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Movie Review: The Invisible Man Returns (1940) – Universal Classic Monsters 9

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Premise: The owner of a coal mining operation, falsely imprisoned for fratricide, takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.

Nine years after Dr. John Griffin’s invisible rampage depicted in 1933’s The Invisible Man, his brother, Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), helps his friend escape the gallows with an experimental drug that turns him invisible. Once Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) escapes, he sets off to find the person who murdered his brother while he waits for Frank to develop an antidote for the invisibility. The Invisible Man Returns is noteworthy for the improvements to the visual effects that nine years afforded the production.
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Movie Review: Vivarium (2020)

Vivarium (2020)

Premise: A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

In concept, Vivarium (Latin for “place for life”) has all the makings of a mind-bending sci-fi thriller that should be rich with character development and social commentary. The film features an ominous set design showcasing an empty and endless housing development in which the film’s protagonists become trapped. It’s an idyllic, yet monstrous prison of suburbia and the only inkling of hope they have toward being released is to raise a bizarre alien child that appears in a box on the street.
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Movie Review: Son of Frankenstein (1939) – Universal Classic Monsters 8

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Premise: One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father’s monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge.

Son of Frankenstein finds Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) traveling to the village in which his father’s monster wreaked havoc many years after the tragic events transpired. The young baron brings his bride Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and son Peter (Donnie Dunagan) to the Frankenstein castle where Wolf is set to collect his inheritance. In the village, the Frankensteins are met with hostility while, in the castle, the Frankenstein patriarch faces off with the heavy shadow of his father’s legacy.
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Movie Review: Dracula’s Daughter (1936) – Universal Classic Monsters 7

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Premise: Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of a noted psychiatrist, hoping to free herself of a mysterious evil influence.

The Universal Monsters’ second direct sequel, 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter, takes a different approach than Bride of Frankenstein before it. Like Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter begins immediately after the events of its predecessor. However, there is no retconning to be found here. Dracula is dead. Long live Dracula. This sequel examines the fallout of the events of the first film through Van Helsing’s (Edward Van Sloan) interactions with the law and the introduction of Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden), who is seemingly possessed by the re-deceased Dracula.
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Movie Review: Werewolf of London (1935) – Universal Classic Monsters 6

Werewolf of London (1935)

Premise: The juice of a rare Tibetan flower is the only thing that keeps Dr. Glendon from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.

Though it underperformed commercially compared to the success of The Wolf Man six years later, 1935’s Werewolf of London has the distinction of helping to create much of the mythology that is still associated with werewolves today. Prior to the film, transforming into a werewolf involved witchcraft, did not involve a full moon, and bites were not transformative to humans. Thus the legacy of Werewolf of London is indelible even if the film itself is slightly uneven and muddled with too many protagonists.
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