Review: Wish Upon

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In this teen horror, Clare (Joey King) has not had an easy life since her mother committed suicide when Clare was a little girl. With her grief-stricken father (Ryan Phillippe) resorting to scavenging discarded items to sustain them, Clare is particularly embarrassed by her father’s line of work when it brings him near her high school, as it gives her bullies extra fuel when taunting the creative outsider. However, something interesting seemingly comes from her father’s scavenging and hoarding when he finds a strange, ornate box with Chinese writing and motifs. It turns out that the box grants wishes, and Clare happily wishes for things that seemingly improve her life, but she soon begins to realize that her wishes are fulfilled at a terrifying cost.

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Review: 47 Meters Down

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So far, 2017 has had plenty of good cinematic offerings, especially in the high concept department with such gems as Free Fire and Baby Driver. As such, a high concept movie about two sisters stuck in a shark cage 47 meters below the surface could make for a suspenseful film, however, as we all know, all good things must come to an end, and 47 Meters Down proves exactly why high concept cinema can be so difficult to pull off.

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Review: Dunkirk

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For many, Christopher Nolan is synonymous with high quality cinema, and he does indeed have an impressive resumé that attests to just how consistent he has been as a filmmaker. The expectations for his latest effort have therefore been understandably high, and with Nolan’s insistence on filming Dunkirk on film rather than digital, the result is visually stunning, not only in terms of the cinematography, but also in terms of how impressive this war epic looks on 70mm in particular. It also comes as no surprise that Nolan has paid meticulous attention to detail, which makes the portrayal of the situation feel authentic and incredibly intense, with the intensity being further underlined by Hans Zimmer’s imposing and unrelenting score. In spite of its 12A/PG-13 rating preventing the filmmakers from showing the devastating gore associated with the horrors of war, Dunkirk still manages to have a highly realistic feel, which is further emphasized by the performances; in his previous work, Nolan has been known to include characters seemingly for the sole purpose of providing exposition, but there is no room for exposition in Dunkirk, just as the film barely has any dialogue, which it highly fitting since the three different perspectives portrayed in the film are all focusing on one thing only: survival.

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Review: It Comes at Night

Marketing a horror film can be a tricky affair as it is difficult to keep the balance between selling the film for its actual premise and type of horror while also making sure it looks enticing enough to lure the unsuspecting, casual viewer into the dark of the cinema. With It Comes at Night, A24 seemingly focused on selling the film as a conventional horror, which frankly does this minimalist survival horror a great disservice; while the film is bonechillingly tense, the horror showcased in It Comes at Night stems less from the outside threats of a postapocalyptic world and rather focuses on the horrors our paranoia and fear may result in under such dire circumstances. As such, those who are looking for a frenzied zombie siege may find themselves disappointed by this tense slow burn of a horror film. On the other hand, those who consider films such as The Babadook to be terrifying, exactly because of how it portrayed the horrors of the human condition in terms of grief and depression, will likely appreciate It Comes at Night for how it utilizes fear and paranoia to horrify its audience.

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Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming*

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After the disappointment of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 and the subsequently underwhelming reboot of the franchise in the form of the two Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man movies, most Spider-Man fans’ spider senses were tingling when Tom Holland made his debut as the web-slinging superhero in last year’s Marvel epic, Captain America: Civil War. With a solo movie for this new incarnation of Spider-Man being confirmed immediately after Holland stole the show along with Cap’s shield in 2016, the expectations for Spider-Man: Homecoming are understandably high. Fortunately, those expectations are largely met as Holland breathes new, youthful life into both Spidey and Peter Parker by showing that he is more than capable of carrying a whole film on his own. Thus, as far as Marvel films go, Spider-Man: Homecoming places itself on the better end of the MCU spectrum, much like Holland strikes a balance with his Marty McFly-inspired performance that makes both his Spider-Man and Peter Parker equally great, and thereby the best cinematic interpretation of both aspects of the character that a single actor has managed to bring to the big screen so far.

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Review: Baby Driver

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Baby (Ansel Elgort) – a very young and extraordinarily gifted getaway driver with a very eclectic relationship with music due to his tinnitus – works for the slick criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey). Never putting the same team together twice for his heists, the only person Doc always swears by is Baby, who has been the getaway driver for the various heist teams for years. However, being close to paying off the money he owes Doc, Baby is looking to leave the world of crime behind him and start living an honest life after meeting the charming waitress Debora (Lily James), but Doc is reluctant to let his lucky charm leave. Once Baby has worked off his debt, Doc therefore intimidates Baby into doing another heist that brings together some of the most volatile and intense members from previous heists, but how far can Baby stretch his talent and luck when the tensions between the team members continue to grow?

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Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

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Ten years ago, the first live-action Transformers film exploded onto cinema screens across the globe with a maelstrom of CGI, big action set pieces, awkward humor and leering close-ups of Megan Fox’s physique. Despite some changes to the cast over the years, the films have all followed a very specific formula, which has resulted in the films having so many similarities that they have all essentially been the same movie. Having a product that draws people in because they know what to expect does not have to be a drawback, though, as the similarly action-filled Fast & Furious franchise has only gained more success thanks to a formula that allows the audience to enjoy well-known characters involved in increasingly outrageous action-packed shenanigans, which serves as the perfect setting for switching off your brain for a couple of hours whilst munching on overpriced popcorn. However, while the audience for a Transformers movie is presented with a product that they are familiar with from the first scene much like the audience for a Fast & Furious film would be, the familiarity of the Transformers franchise is not anchored in a continuation of an overarching narrative or a zest to expand on a cinematic universe. Instead, Transformers: The Last Knight looks and feels exactly like what it is, namely the result of a paint-by-numbers approach that is not in place to give a clear outline of the film’s structure, but rather reeks of being a callous checklist that makes everything on screen feel like a carefully calculated financial decision.

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