The Last Jedi Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Rian Johnson‘s exciting, unpredictable Star Wars: The Last Jedi.)

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson takes the Star Wars saga into uncharted territory. Johnson resists fan service at nearly every turn, crafting the most surprising, most exciting film in the entire Star Wars franchise. A film that both rejects and embraces legacy; a film that takes characters we’ve grown to love and exposes their flaws, while also revealing that they’re more than their flaws. Our The Last Jedi spoiler review takes a deep dive into this wonderful, unpredictable new entry in the Star Wars saga.

Spoilers follow, obviously.

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The Punisher Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the second season Netflix’s latest Marvel series, The Punisher.)

Why is The Punisher so hard to get right? First appearing in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1974, Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, was birthed from the same two-fisted pulp sensibilities that created angry, well-armed lone nuts like Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey in Death Wish and Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. He was less a human being and more of a walking armory; an emotionally stunted anti-hero brandishing killer phallic symbols, living and dying by his own morally compromised code. There’s plenty of entertainment there, but there’s not a lot of substance.

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Justice League Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the superhero team-up extravaganza Justice League.)

You can’t save the world alone, and saving the DCEU might be even more of a challenge. After Warner Bros. and DC finally found their footing with Wonder Woman, the superhero series trips over its own cape with the cacophonous Justice League. What should be a moment of triumph for the series – the long-awaited team-up of their signature heroes – instead feels like an uncomfortable obligation. It’s like a weekend visit to grandma – you don’t want to do it, there’s other things you’d really like to be doing, but you figure you make the effort because she’ll be gone soon.

As of this writing, Justice League is underperforming even more than anyone expected. The film failed to break the coveted $100 million domestic weekend opening gross, which will no doubt lead to a string of think-pieces pondering, “What went wrong with the DCEU?” With all this in mind, it almost feels cruel to hammer Justice League more. But this is the task at hand. I come not to praise Justice League, nor do I come to bury it. Instead, I want to try to get to the heart of what makes it tick. This is a garish, visually hideous work of pop art, yet I firmly believe it has its heart in the right place: it wants to tell a fun, entertaining story about a group of people coming together to solve a huge problem, and growing as they do so. But what it wants to do, and what it actually does are two very different things. This Justice League spoiler review will highlight what works best in the film, and what doesn’t work at all.

Spoilers follow, obviously.

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Thor Ragnarok Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.)

No one would ever accuse the Marvel Cinematic Universe of being dark and serious, but with Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel goes into full-comedy mode, crafting their funniest film to date. Perhaps finally realizing how inconsequential and dry the Thor films have been, Marvel hired What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi and let him go wild. The results are laugh-out-loud funny, albeit with a caveat: Thor: Ragnarok cares more about landing a great punchline or sight-gag than it does about plot. 

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stranger things 2

On the October 31, 2017 episode of /Film Daily, Peter Sciretta is joined by Ben Pearson and Chris Evangelista for a spoiler-filled discussion and review of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things 2.

You can subscribe to /Film Daily on iTunes, Google Play, Overcast and all the popular podcast apps (here is the RSS URL if you need it).

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Stranger Things 2 spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the second season Netflix’s highly anticipated Stranger Things.)

What was it that made Stranger Things season 1 such a hit? Was it the nostalgia factor, with the abundance of 1980s charm drawing viewers in? Was it the rather ingenious combination of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg-like material that tapped into an overall vibe that audiences were inherently familiar with? Both of those things likely played a part, but what truly worked best about the first season of Stranger Things was how it handled its characters. Specifically, how it created a cast of highly likable, relatable characters, cast them perfectly, and then had them work together. The chemistry was unbeatable.

Which is why Stranger Things season 2, or Stranger Things 2, as it’s officially called, seems like just an anomaly. When it came time to plan the second season for their wildly popular show, the Duffer Brothers seemingly decided to take everything that made the first season so memorable and do the complete opposite. There’s a certain amount of appreciation here: it’s gutsy to go so against the grain; to reject fan service in lieu of something different. It would’ve been very easy for Stranger Things 2 to simply remake the first season, and the fact that the Duffers avoided that is commendable. But there’s a difference between trying something different and completely jettisoning things that were working so well. You don’t throw the Demogorgon out with the bathwater.

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Mindhunter review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Netflix’s new serial killer drama Mindhunter.)

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” -William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

The term “serial killer” is a relatively new invention. Yes, people have committed multiple murderers throughout history, but no one began to really classify, or even begin to try to understand, these types of violent crimes until the the 1970s. You may not be familiar with the name John Douglas, but I guarantee you are familiar with his work. From Douglas sprang the very concept of criminal profiling. His work has served as the inspiration for a steady stream of movies and TV shows. The character of FBI agent Jack Crawford, played most prominently by Scott Glenn in The Silence of the Lambs and Laurence Fishburne on the TV series Hannibal, was based directly on Douglas.

Now, the early days of Douglas’ career are given the full dramatization treatment with Mindhunter, a new Netflix series created by playwright Joe Penhall, with David Fincher and Charlize Theron both serving as executive producers. With Mindhunter, Netflix has produced their best show in recent memory, and arguably one of the best shows in their ever-growing catalogue.

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Gosling Blade Runner

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.)

Any review of Blade Runner 2049 is by default a spoiler review. Warner Brothers and director Denis Villeneuve have gone to extreme lengths to keep the majority of details about their sci-fi sequel a secret, including limiting press screenings and issuing stern warnings to the press who did see the film to not reveal anything. This is both a commendable and unfortunate approach. While it’s true that movie marketing tends to give away too much for many films, and going into a film cold can make for a more rewarding experience, the tight-lipped approach to Blade Runner 2049 may have inadvertently doomed it at the box office. Audiences knew so little about the film from its less-than-engaging trailers that they simply didn’t bother to attend.

Which is a shame, because Blade Runner 2049 is one of the very best films of 2017, and one of the most staggering big studio releases you’re likely to come across. How on earth did Denis Villeneuve convince Warner Brothers to let him make a gigantic, foreboding tone poem and dress it up as a Blade Runner sequel? We may never know, and if the film continues to underperform, we may never get so lucky again.

So how about we dive into a Blade Runner 2049 spoiler review and talk about what makes this movie work so well?

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mother! early reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Darren Aronofsky’s mother!)

Darren Aronofsky’s talents extend beyond his gripping filmmaking, inspiring intense debate among those who watch the finished product. His latest film, mother!, is starting to inspire the loudest debate of all: those who have seen the film (whether or not they’ve walked out before it ended) are fiercely divided among those who love it and those who helped give it a CinemaScore of F this past weekend. Technically, a lot happens in mother!, but there’s not exactly a plot or character arcs on display (neither of which, of course, are necessary). The film does bear similarities to many of Aronofsky’s previous films, from Black Swan to Noah, but it’s still very singular. What else could you call a movie where a massive group of people devour a newborn baby?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To attempt to answer the question at the core of mother! — to wit, what the hell is this about? — it’s worth exploring the multiple allegories that present themselves throughout.

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Stephen King's It Reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Andy Muschietti’s It.)

How do you make a good Stephen King adaptation? That’s apparently a hard question to answer, since there are far more bad King film adaptations than good. More often than not, it seems filmmakers only latch onto the Stephen King brand – they figure if they make something that attempts to be scary and slap King’s name on it, the audience will come. That’s likely true, but the audience won’t come back again.

Last weekend, Andy Muschietti’s big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It defied expectations – expectations that were already trending positively – and took in the largest opening weekend at the box office in horror movie history. This success isn’t just the result of the King name brand – if it were, we’d still be talking about the Dark Tower film adaptation instead of consigning it to the dust. The success of It is the result of supremely positive word-of-mouth. The trailers were edited well enough to drum up buzz, and then early reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The hype just kept on building.

And that’s because the movie is good. And more than that, it’s a good Stephen King adaptation.

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