I would never have considered myself a King Kong fan, but that instantly changed once I finished watching Kong: Skull Island. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ 2017 reboot of the iconic, towering gorilla-beast contains more action and adventure than anyone could have expected.
In my opinion, this film brought the full package and more. Whether it was the fantastic special effects showing a skyscraper-sized monkey eating a cruise ship-sized squid, or the prefect ensemble of co-stars, or even the engaging story itself — every aspect of Kong had me submerged in the mystical world of Skull Island, the place where Kong is King.
The special effects of this film are superior to those of any movie that I have seen in quite some time. As the saying goes, one must “see it to believe it.” Although that may sound cliché, it could not be more genuine when pertaining to this particular piece. The dazzling precision of angles, sounds, and colors make this film intriguing and easy to enjoy.
Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, is a biographical drama based upon the true story and extraordinary life of Desmond T. Doss (played by Andrew Garfield in the film), a man who served as a conscientious objector in the U.S. Army in World War II. Although he participated in one of the bloodiest battles of the war, Doss completely refused to carry any type of firearm during his time as a combat medic. Instilled upon him at an early age was a religious faith that he swore to uphold for the rest of his life.
Of the Ten Commandments, “thou shall not kill” played a huge role in why Doss decided not to carry a weapon amongst the carnage and atrocities surrounding him, while Desmond’s faith as a Seventh-day Adventist compelled him to risk his life in order to save the lives of others. Mel Gibson does an incredible job of depicting the heroic actions of Doss, who was the first conscientious objector to receive a Medal of Honor.
If you look back on the history of horror cinema, you’ll find that many make use of timely social issues in order to convey poignant commentary on their respective subjects. Visionary horror director George Romero continually did it in his Dead series, with Night of the Living Dead tackling race relations during the height of the Civil Rights movement, while Dawn of the Dead took shots at consumerism and its power to literally turn society into zombies. The Purge series of films delve into classism, Rosemary’s Baby is related to feminist ideals, They Live looks at the power of the media, and plenty of other examples handle countless other social issues.
The latest film to do this is Get Out, which comes courtesy of comedian-turned-writer/director Jordan Peele. Get Out is Peele’s first foray into the horror genre, as well as his first time being in the director’s chair, but this is never apparent as you watch it. The film is so successful in so many aspects that it ends up not only being one of the most impressive debuts of the last decade, but also perhaps the most socially charged mainstream horror film in that timespan as well.
Get Out’s central character is Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a 20-something black man who’s in an interracial relationship with his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), who plans to take him along for a visit at her family’s house for a weekend getaway. Chris is noticeably skeptical about the trip and coyly asks Rose if her parents are aware that he’s black, implying that he believes he may not feel welcomed by Rose’s family. “My dad would vote for Obama for a third term if he could,” Rose responds, Peele obviously making fun of the people who say things like, “I have a black friend,” as if that can automatically save them if they have racist opinions or support racist ideas. The punchline of the joke lands a little later on when Rose’s father recites this line to Chris verbatim.
Kevin Wendell Grump can be Barry in the morning, Hedwig during the day, and Dennis at night. You never know who you are going to encounter; one personality here, a different one over there. Split (2016), directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is as twisted and demented as the recurring visual motifs make it out to be.
Split may not necessarily hit it out of the park, but it is without a doubt entirely intriguing, and certainly worth the watch. Kevin’s mental instability — in part due to his unheard of and widely-ridiculed psychiatric and physiological disorder — has led him down a path of complete lunacy. Although the different personalities living inside Kevin’s brain may not necessarily agree on what is best for him, they all agree on one thing: the beast is on the move.
Veteran action star Keanu Reeves returns to embody his titular role in John Wick: Chapter Two, which proves to be a fantastic follow-up to the 2014 sleeper-hit that single-handedly revived Reeves’ stagnant career.
John Wick 2 expands upon all of the aspects that made its predecessor so invigorating, and is a near-perfect example for what a film sequel should be. John Wick was brimming with style, featured some of the best gun-fighting I’d ever seen on film, and was set in an immensely intriguing world. It was light on story, but that didn’t matter, because even though we didn’t know it yet, that first film gave us everything we wanted from an action flick: John Wick being an absolute badass. John Wick 2 presents its audience with all of this and then some.
The longer runtime of John Wick 2 allows for an even higher body count, as well as a more fleshed-out story this time around. John Wick is ready to settle back into retirement after his previous encounter forced him to return to a dangerous world of assassination. However, getting out of this line of work is never as easy as Wick would like it to be.
The Godfather, directed by revered filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, is a period drama that realistically depicts the hardships and misfortune associated with the Italian Mafia in the early twentieth century. Coppola’s film tells the fictional story of Vito Corleone and his endeavors as the head of an organized crime family in New York City.
The Godfather allows its audience to become transfixed in the secret, underground dealings of an extremely powerful crime organization that is built upon both trust and fear. However, maintaining this power does not seem to be a simple task, as the Corleone family faces the constant threat of other families who desire their fortune and supremacy. In addition to the film’s well-constructed plot, Coppola remarkably utilizes various film elements in order for the audience to better connect with the characters in an emotional manner. It’s the emotional appeal of The Godfather that makes it one of the greatest films of all time.
Editor’s Note: “Casual Critics” is a new feature we’re introducing this semester on the Jet Fuel Review Blog. It’s a weekly feature about film, written by two critics, Reno Stramaglia and Donatas Ružys. The two critics will switch off week after week, with this week’s post being written by Ružys.
Ray Kroc revolutionized the American fast food service industry in the mid-1950s by turning McDonald’s into one of the most successful and recognizable businesses in the world. John Lee Hancock’s biographical drama, The Founder (2016), depicts the true-to-life events that propelled Kroc (played by Michael Keaton) from being an obsessively ambitious shake-mixer salesman into one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Surprisingly, the film does not overly rely on the subject matter to draw in audiences. Instead, it is easy to sense the fitting selection of actors for key roles, as they naturally immerse themselves into heart of the narrative and in turn cause the audience to feel a wide range of emotions. Michael Keaton’s performance is exceptional and well deserving of recognition.