FrameRate Reviews

Because you don't have time…and neither do I!


New Film

All films released within the last year

Wonder Woman

Although I rather liked Batman v. Superman (an opinion I find myself defending often ha) I do believe Wonder Woman brings that franchise in a much better direction, giving us elements wholly distinct and different from the good-yet-tiring fare Marvel provides us, offering interesting perspectives and views on humanity, yet not being dour, depressing, but instead very fun and funny. Gal Gadot as Diana is the highest achievement of the film, bringing the young heroine to life as if she stepped right out of a panel, young, hopeful and naive, but always strong and powerful both in her mind, heart and fists. Patty Jenkins and co. provide a slick, well paced film that looks distinctly different from Snyder’s work, yet fits snugly in that universe with ease, even though like Snyder their love for slow motion is abundant, redundant and garish (guys please, let’s chill on the slo-mo.) What prevents me from saying I loved the movie (I liked it, don’t get me wrong. Liked it a lot) were some eyeroll inducing moments of cheesiness even super hero films should be above, and villains that are not only cartoonish, one-dimensional, and cardboard, but stand in direct opposition of the film’s message that ideas on good and evil are much more complex than Diana thinks, making the central theme fall flat in what is otherwise an inspiring, exciting and hopefully first entry in the Wonder Woman series of films.


Alien Covenant

If you’re going purely for the thrills and chills, you’ll probably be more than satisfied; the film proves to be the franchise’s most visceral and harrowing film since the first. Added to that, even at its weakest the actors of the film bring their A game, Crudup, Waterson and McBride noteable of praise, and Fassbender stealing the show with his double role. But while a fun thrill ride, Alien Covenant falls apart quite quickly with even the merest of inspection, from weak and dumb characters, to overexposure of the Xenomorph, and worst of all, poor narrative choices not only as an individual film but in the larger scope of the franchise. Overall, the experience is frustrating to say the least, with greatness always a few inches out of reach, held back by plot holes aplenty which will nag hardcore fans (like me), but may not deter those merely seeking a chill on a hot summers day. 


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In some ways better than the original, in others weaker, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was able to placate this growing Marvel cynic, convincing me the machine still has some life to it yet. Whereas I feel each Marvel movie is starting to look and feel the same, Vol. 2 cranks up Gunn’s signature humor to eleven and gives him free reign, feeling unrestricted and totally unique from the rest of the MCU, even more than the first film (which I honestly didn’t find as unique as others did, just saying). The villain doesn’t suffer the same fate as the rest of Marvel’s fare but could use some work, and although the plot was totally predictable complete with world-ending threat, it felt more constrained and character focused, culminating in a hilarious, heartwarming, and fun-filled movie. 


The Shallows

The Shallows is a competently made entertainment piece, elevated to slightly above average with a harrowing performance by Blake Lively and a simple yet effective script approach. The shark is played much like in Jaws (but never directly apes the superior film) a growing and tense force of nature, rarely seen yet always felt, which gives the film some fantastic tension. Probably the greatest flaw was the flashy and overdone camera work, abundant splashes of tedious slow motion and overly long glances at Lively’s body in a swimsuit (seriously guys, I get it, she’s well built but *my goodness*), making the whole thing look like a music video starring sharks, dampening but thankfully not fully diminishing this great choice for a movie get-together after a long day. 



Please excuse the week break! FrameRate is back and ready to go! 

Passengers falls in that frustrating category of being full of potential which is wholly squandered, making a movie which could be great into something bad or, as is the case with this movie, bland and mediocre. The sets and designs are nice, Michael Sheen is fun as the bartender, and some individual moments shine, but overall the movie is overlong and disjointed from first half to second. The characters and their motivations are unconvincing, but this is clearly a case of good actors tied to a bad script and not flat out bad acting, and I would be remiss to mention that Pratt’s character makes a terrible and deeply problematic choice which the filmmakers never fully explore and/or condemn. 

The Void

Since The Babadook I’ve had this idealized perception that indie horror was on the cusp of a revolution—and maybe it still is!—but a few films lately have dampened that view, The Void included. The film is visually creative in shots and designs, and the Lovecraftian elements are a nice change of pace from the standard “demonic” angle I half expected. But The Void is a failed pastiche where assembled elements of 80’s horror don’t feel creatively assembled together but yet sloppily assembled and ultimately derivative, and coupled together with some atrocious acting, makes for an experience which disappoints; my hope is another viewing could improve my feelings. 


Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is, at its heart, a film with an identity crisis, torn between appealing to the original, superior source material and wanting to be its own thing. The result is some good, like the Major-Batou relationship, beautiful visuals, and cool designs, but a great deal of bad, too. From a hackneyed script with a weak villain, to the dull characters, and while always pretty some scenes feel like a cloying copy-paste of the original as opposed to an homage, which all culminates to a work that isn’t awful per se, but one that doesn’t live up to the name attached to it.  


I Am The Pretty Little Thing That Lives In The House 

This Netflix original movie had a promising and spooky trailer which immediately piqued my interest, but ultimately left me very disappointed. It’s strong part would be the odd, unusual main character, whose quirks make her feel more solid and real, and is very well played by Ruth Wilson. But despite how commendable the idea of a slow paced thriller is, I Am The Pretty Little Thing That Lives In The House soon goes from “slow paced” to “agonizingly plodding” by the end, trying to fill time with the sparse narrative more suited to a short film, likely the side effect of the director being more focused on pretty shots (which they are!) than what truly matters—storytelling. 


I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore

Pessimistic and cynical, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore finds a way to convey the darkness of this world with unforced quirkiness and dark humor, and most of all, managing never to be maudlin. Melanie Lynskey is the “sick of this crap” hero we all want to be, and Elijah Wood gives probably one of my favorite performances of his career. The film’s climax is truly tense and gut wrenching, but the conclusion cheapens the overall journey in the end. 


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