Category Archives: Reviews

Film Review — Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Director Doug Liman brings us a masterful adaptation in the truest sense of the word.

Edge of Tomorrow 1

Time is a precious commodity in any film, but especially so in one that spends the majority of its run recycling scenes and settings as the primary means of advancing its story. There are many risks associated with this narrative technique, the most obvious of which is your audience growing bored of stale settings before your story has come full circle. Edge of Tomorrow, however, laughs boldly in the face of these concerns and masterfully exploits every last moment of screen time spent with its audience.

Based on a Japanese light novel—Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill—the film takes place in a near-future Earth setting during a war with an unknown alien species. Sound familiar? Don’t worry. Most of the story movement here centers around our protagonist, who makes a habit of dying, only to wake up at the start of his final day amongst the living. The final product is oozing with originality and boasts a pace that begins steadily enough, but quickly takes off at a dead sprint that it maintains for its entire duration.

There is no time for hand-holding here.

Narrative ground is covered quickly and intelligently, and director Doug Liman works under the assumption his audience is sharp enough to keep up, filling in large time gaps with precisely measured dialogue and action. The audience doesn’t need to relive this day in full every single time our protagonist does—so we don’t. It’s that simple. The presentation is quick, but always leaves viewers with just enough information to follow what’s playing out before them. Liman truly takes full advantage of this story’s relatively complex structure, developing the plot in a fashion entirely unique to his work. Many changes are made from the source material, but they are almost unanimously for the better, and there are an equal number of homages—such as the Americanization of protagonist William Cage’s name from the original’s Keiji Kiriya.

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Film Review: Oblivion (2013)

Kosinksi’s labor of love brings us an inspired hybrid of classic and new age sci-fi.

If you’re not familiar with the name Joseph Kosinski, there’s a pretty good chance that’s about to change—and for good reason. He directed the 2010 Tron: Legacy, and he’s the guy who worked on the original Gears of War trailer set to Gary Jules’ “Mad World” back in 2007. His most recent work, however, was on the 2013 film, Oblivion—which he wrote, produced, and directed.

In case you’re not in the loop with the backstory here, Oblivion was originally written by Kosinski as a graphic novel circa 2005, though it’s often been more adequately referred to as an “illustrated novel.”

There’s only one problem with the original work: it was never published.

At least, it hasn’t been published yet. As of this writing, there’s supposedly a text write-up floating around out there with a relatively substantial amount of concept art to accompany it. Some of the artwork has made its way online, but that’s been the most of it thus far. There is still a chance of a future release, however, which would make for an interesting situation—the source material being released after the film, both of which were handled primarily by the story’s original creator.

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TV Review: Arrested Development (Season Four)

A little more development would have been welcome after the infamous seven-year wait.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Unfortunately, I also know I’m not alone when I say that rarely have I experienced such disappointment from such a highly anticipated event. The worst part about this disappointment is that the material here is by no means bad — it was just far too fragmented.

As a disclaimer, this is not a strictly negative review; think of it more as constructive criticism. I truly am thankful to Mitchell Hurwitz and all the involved cast and writers for working to bring this show back, and I’m curious to see what (if anything) happens from here.

When confirmation of the fourth Arrested Development season was announced, I was excited, but I didn’t get my hopes too high. I knew that the show was going to be different, so I made sure to keep an open mind. My initial fear was that this would simply be a handful of episodes that rehashed the same jokes we’d heard so many times over the years. Strangely enough, however, the final product was disappointing for exactly the opposite reasons — one of which was a complete lack of the classic running jokes.

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Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Abrams continues boldly forward with the rebooted series.

As appears to be my movie-going trend lately, I have very little knowledge of anything Star Trek before the 2009 film. I caught that one in theaters, however (being a fan of Abrams’ work), and I absolutely loved it. The visuals, music, cinematography, script — all of it was incredible. It was great science fiction, and the characters were more than compelling enough to pull me into the story.

Needless to say — four years later — I was more than ready for another trip on the Enterprise.

As with the first film, Into Darkness opens up with a bang. The audience is offered a huge set piece to pull them back into the world and get things moving at a sprint. The additional focus on action scenes is immediately apparent, and some early impressions I skimmed prior to my viewing suggested the script made some sacrifices to accommodate a summer popcorn action flick audience. My fears were quickly put to rest, however.

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Film Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Turns out, Gatsby isn’t all that great.

I’m going to get this one out of the way up front—I have never read The Great Gatsby. I know, I’m sure that makes me a terrible writer and a worse English major. Needless to say, I’m not exactly the most well-read individual in my field. That’s just fine by me, however, and apparently by Baz Luhrmann, as this film was clearly not created for a well-read audience.

For those who are also unaware of the source material’s plot, it follows Nick Carraway, a writer-turned-bond-broker, after his recent move to New York. He reconnects with his cousin and her wealthy husband and soon finds himself an acquaintance of the notoriously enigmatic Jay Gatsby. It is not long, of course, before Carraway finds himself pulled into a chaotic world filled with individuals of high class, potent drugs, scandalous affairs, and far too much liquor. Sounds like the perfect project for Luhrmann, doesn’t it?

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Album Review: Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions”

I’m waking up to ash and dust, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Recently, I began to question the musical rock I’ve been living under (endearingly referred to as a “Linkin Park rock” by some). My first doubts began to surface when I played this “cool song I just discovered” for my girlfriend—“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons—and she sang most of the words right along with the track. It was at that point that I decided to get serious about checking this band out, because I was clearly in desperate need of escaping my musical rut.

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