Category Archives: Films

My Thoughts on: Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

*note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon

Oh good lord, where to even start with this movie. I’ve had the better part of a week to think about my reaction to this movie and honestly I’m still struggling to put it into words. So if this review seems a bit more rambling than usual, I apologize for that. It’s just…Everything Everywhere All at Once isn’t your usual movie. It’s…different.

Really different.

Let’s start at the beginning and see if I can make sense of things from there. The plot of Everything Everywhere All at Once, in a nutshell, focuses on a woman named Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), whose laundromat is being audited by the IRS. But when she goes to the IRS office to have the audit done, a series of weird events start happening. Suddenly her husband isn’t her husband, he’s a different version of her husband from another universe. In fact, we find out there are a lot of parallel realities out there in the multiverse. It’s one of the things that makes this movie so dizzying at times, but in the best way possible. 

And why is Evelyn being contacted by an alternate reality? Well, I’ll keep it simple to avoid spoilers, but the gist is that an overwhelming evil is taking over reality one universe at a time and this particular version of Evelyn is the only one who can stop it. To do so, Evelyn will have to harness the power of the multiverse, unlocking abilities that her counterparts in other realities know how to do.

That summary above sounds like it might be pretty complete, but I promise you this is just scratching the surface of what the movie is about. The big thing to understand is that watching Everything Everywhere All at Once will seriously shift the way you think about reality, at least it did for me. There are some deep messages in this film about the ultimate meaning of life and what we can/should/choose to do with our time in this universe. 

On a more shallow level, there’s also a very touching story to be found between Evelyn and her father (played to perfection by James Hong) and between Evelyn and her daughter (Stephanie Hsu). The latter especially gives the performance of a lifetime and next to Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Seriously, the acting performances that are put on in this film….to represent so many versions of the same person across multiple realities….that can’t possibly be easy to do and yet it’s made to look so easy! 

Everything Everywhere All at Once is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and in the past few years if I’m honest. I’m certain new details will jump out to me in future rewatches and I highly encourage everyone to go watch this film if you get the chance.

I know this isn’t as long as reviews I usually do, but I feel like if I go too far into this film than I’ll spoil all of it, and really this is a film that can’t be explained, it must be experienced.

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My Thoughts on: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

*note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon

*warning: minor spoilers below for Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Of all the surprises of 2020 (the pleasant ones at least), Sonic the Hedgehog was the most unexpected. I went into that movie with very low expectations and was completely blown away. Consequently, with a larger universe being hinted at, I didn’t hesitate to go see Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in theaters.

Picking up sometime after the events of the first film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sees the speedy blue hedgehog struggling to make a life in Green Hills with his adoptive family the Wachowskis. Sonic wants to be a hero, but Tom reassures him that the moment his powers are needed will find him eventually. The moment comes when Dr. Robotnik finds his way back to Earth….along with Knuckles the echidna, who has a long-standing grudge of his own against Sonic.

For the most part I enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (though I viewed the film in less than ideal conditions, i.e. a noisy theater). As with the first film, Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Robotnik remained one of the best parts, though I think I liked his performance in the first film slightly more than this one. You really get a feel for how power hungry the mad doctor really is as the film goes on. It’s kind of frightening actually, especially when the film reaches the climax. On a related note, I absolutely loved how Stone went right back to fawning over Dr. Robotnik the instant he returned. Stone is that rare example of a henchman whose loyalty never waivers, even when it’s clear the villain does not care about them.

Idris Elba as Knuckles is my next favorite part of the movie. Knuckles is my new favorite character, even more than Sonic and Tails. Knuckles initially seems poised to be just as much as villain as Dr. Robotnik, but it turns out the echidna is far more complex than he first appears. I’m very excited to see what the spin-off series with Knuckles looks like. One thing is for sure, Idris Elba was the perfect casting choice for Knuckles, his voice fits the character perfectly.

Now, all that being said, this movie does have some significant flaws, ones that I could not ignore. While the main story with Sonic trying to beat Robotnik to the Master Emerald is pretty good, the side plot of the Wachowskis attending a wedding is just…well, it’s kinda dumb and it doesn’t really fit all that well with the rest of the story. But, for that matter….parts of Sonic’s story aren’t that good either. The pace of the story is very uneven and the side plot in Siberia….ugh. I feel like this story could’ve been better fleshed out, or more refined. 

At any rate, at least these bad moments don’t overwhelm the good parts of the film. One other good thing I can say about this film is that the animators have definitely nailed the ability to bring the video game characters to life. The animation on Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails all looks fantastic. And having Colleen O’Shaughnessey reprise her role as Tails in the films, well that’s just cool!

The last thing I want to mention is that the mid-credits scene is definitely worth waiting around for. While I didn’t think it was possible for the story of Sonic to grow any larger once Tails and Knuckles were introduced, this scene definitely proved me wrong. It absolutely sets up a plot for the third film, one that I’ll likely end up seeing in theaters too. All I’ll say is, if you know anything about the plots of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, then this mid-credits scene will make you scream!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is far from the perfect movie, but I did enjoy it. This series has continued to surprise me and I’m looking forward to rewatching this one.

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My Thoughts on: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

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My Thoughts on: Candyman (2021)

*note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon

Candyman is a film that I originally intended to see in theaters last fall, but ultimately didn’t because I was suffering from severe burnout at the time. Even though I received the movie on blu-ray for Christmas, I still found I wasn’t ready to view the movie….until now that is.

Today, I finally sat down and watched Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, a direct sequel to the original 1992 film. While it’s been close to a year since I watched the original film, this one contains enough references to the original film that if you haven’t seen the original or haven’t seen it recently, it doesn’t hurt your experience with this film. I particularly appreciate the role, however small, that Helen Lyle (the protagonist of the original film) plays in the story. While she never appears in the flesh, her presence is very much felt throughout the film.

And what a film! Set in the modern day, the story follows artist Anthony McCoy as he discovers and delves into the legend of Candyman while seeking inspiration for his art. It seems like a great idea at first, but it quickly turns nightmarish for all involved, as it quickly becomes apparent that, even all these years later, Candyman is still very real (and just as deadly as ever).

I love how the story of Candyman is updated to even more better reflect the ongoing turmoil in our country involving racial tension. What was only hinted at in the original film (re: the inequality between communities) is now confronted almost head on in this one. I also like how the story of Candyman is expanded upon, past the original legend that’s cited in the first film. It doesn’t feel shoehorned in the least and in fact it feels like a very natural part of the story, almost an improvement if that makes sense. In fact, based on how the story ends, I’d almost say there’s room for a sequel.

Anthony’s story arc is particularly heartbreaking to watch, even more than Helen’s in the first film (and that’s saying something). Even though Anthony seems to have the best of intentions when investigating the legend of Candyman, it doesn’t take long for the story to corrupt everything it touches, ripping Anthony’s life apart. Though once he becomes aware of certain story details, I feel like Anthony almost becomes resigned to his fate, while I can’t help but think of how Helen resisted almost to the bitter end before finally inserting herself into the narrative on her own terms. Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll decide otherwise upon rewatch, but that’s how I feel after my initial viewing.

Now, no review from me would be complete without mentioning the film’s music. If you’ve seen the original Candyman, then you’re likely aware that film contains a magnificently haunting score from Philip Glass. Well, while the music for this film is composed by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, it’s clear to my ears that he took inspiration from the original score when putting this music together. And to my delight, when I watched the movie’s credits, it looks like the composer directly cited some of Philip Glass in the music too! If I had to choose, I’d say the original Candyman score is a hair better, but that’s really just nitpicking. The music in this film is beautiful and haunting and really helped to drive the horror in the story home.

Also, since it’s been a while since the film came out, I don’t see the harm in openly discussing the fact that Candyman doesn’t physically appear except in reflections for most of the movie. I understand the explanation that this is because Candyman has become weaker over time, but it also reminds me of a scene in the original movie where Helen sees video footage where she was confronted by Candyman, only no one can see him. This reminded me very much of that.

All of this is to say that this new Candyman was very much worth the wait and I enjoyed it immensely. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly encourage you to do so.

See also:

My Thoughts on: Candyman (1992)

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My Thoughts on: Umma (2022)

*note: This review was originally published on Patreon in March

Umma is set in the countryside where Amanda (Sandra Oh) raises her teenage daughter Chris (Fivel Stewart) completely off the grid. Their seemingly idyllic life is turned upside down when the ashes of Amanda’s estranged mother are delivered to the house. You see, Amanda didn’t have the healthiest relationship with her mother and has spent many years living in fear that she will turn into a copy of her. Things become further complicated as Amanda must also come to grips with the fact that her daughter is rapidly growing up and will soon leave home.

I was intrigued by the concept of Umma because my interest in horror as steadily risen over the past year and I was curious to see what kind of horror story this was. The most interesting part of this film is definitely how the story incorporates Korean spiritual beliefs. 

Unfortunately, while intriguing, I feel like the concept wasn’t nearly as developed as it could’ve been. The story has some interesting beats, to be sure, but it either needed more horror or more mother/daughter drama to really make it click, and it’s just not there. I know horror films don’t have to explain everything that happens, but I feel like Umma could have benefited from a bit more explanation as to how and why certain things were happening, particularly the ghost-related parts.

That being said, while the story is underdeveloped, I can respect the story they’re trying to tell. At its core, Umma is attempting to relay a powerful message about breaking generational cycles of abuse. Sadly, it’s just an attempt, because if Umma had fully hit the nail on the head then this would’ve been a really great horror film with a good message at the center. But instead, it’s just a decent film, and lacking in the horror department to boot.

While Umma isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, I can’t in good conscience recommend going to see it. Other horror films can tell this story better, and I recommend going to see them instead. You can safely skip Umma.

Let me know what you think about Umma in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: The Batman (2022)

*note: this review was originally published on Patreon last month

In a word, The Batman is amazing! I was initially leery about the film running nearly three hours in length. Even though I’ve sat through films that long before (Infinity War and Endgame come to mind), there’s no getting around the fact that three hours is a LONG time to sit and watch a movie. Thankfully, I’m pleased to report The Batman doesn’t really drag at all. Three hours is really a perfect length for the story Matt Reeves is setting out to tell. In fact it reminded me almost of a play or an opera at times, because if you pay attention you can tell where each act ends and the next one begins.

Robert Pattinson makes for an incredible Batman AND Bruce Wayne. I absolutely love that this isn’t the playboy billionaire that we’ve seen in most every incarnation of Batman that’s ever made it to the screen. This version of Bruce Wayne feels so much more….I think the word is realistic? If you went through the trauma of losing your parents, you could easily withdraw into yourself the way Bruce does. Speaking of realistic, I also like how “real” all of Batman’s gadgets feel. They’re not sleek and shiny like some of the past iterations. These feel like they were cobbled together by someone learning as they go, which would make sense given that this is stated to be Batman’s second year of operation in Gotham. It’s not the “bare bones” you might expect from the very beginning, nor is it a well established operation like other films have implied, and I like that.

If I have one nitpick it’s that I wanted to see more of Andy Serkis as Alfred. I really like how Serkis plays the character, and I especially like the stern-but-loving relationship that clearly exists between Alfred and Bruce throughout the film. Hopefully the sequel will let us see more of Alfred. I also really, really liked Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon. I hadn’t realized before going in that he’d been cast for the part but my god he is PERFECT for this role. Wright perfectly balances between trusting Batman and being wary because he doesn’t know who Batman really is. That’s a relationship I really hope gets explored further in the sequel.

Speaking of relationships, I love love LOVED the chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz. The Batman/Catwoman relationship is one of my favorites in comics and it was done so well here. 

Back to the story itself for a minute, I couldn’t understand at first why a few people were comparing The Batman to a horror film…and then I saw the Riddler for the first time in the movie and I suddenly understood. I think we could definitely make the argument that The Batman is a superhero horror film. Certainly many of the segments involving the Riddler felt like they came right out of the depths of the horror genre (there’s one scene that felt like it came right out of SAW) and that’s not a bad thing. Given the twisted villains that can and have appeared in Batman stories in the past, it’s a wonder Batman films don’t dip into horror more often. I still prefer the bowler hat-wearing Riddler from the 1960s TV show, but I did enjoy how he was presented in this film as a part-brilliant/part insane serial killer. 

What really made the Riddler unsettling for me is that, underneath the madness…he has a point. The most twisted thing about this film is that the Riddler is actually trying to do a *good* thing he’s just chosen the most twisted and sadistic way possible to do it, which I suppose makes the Riddler pure Machiavellian (the ends justify the means). That is….that’s how it feels right up until the last twist of the last act. I won’t say more than that, except to mention that I haven’t made up my mind if Reeves included one twist too many in this film, I’m going to need to watch a few more times and see if if plays out the same for me in repeat viewings.

I sincerely hope we see more of Colin Farrell’s Penguin in future films (I know there’s already a series greenlit about the character). If you didn’t know the casting, you’d never know it was Colin Farrell under all that makeup. I hated this look when it was first revealed, but seeing it in context, in the film, it works. The Penguin isn’t quite the suave criminal he’s appeared as in other films or shows, but he clearly has aspirations to being such and that helped the character grow on me throughout the film.

One final character I have to highlight and that’s John Turturro as Carmine Falcone. Turturro’s Falcone drips malice from the moment you meet him, but it’s a subtle kind. You can almost be suckered in to believing that Falcone isn’t that bad a guy, despite being a crime lord, until the last act lays everything bare. 

All of this is to say that The Batman is well worth the three hours you spend in the theaters and is easily one of the best, if not THE best Batman movies ever made (and I do not say that lightly).

Let me know what you think about The Batman in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Uncharted (2022)

*note: This review was originally published on Patreon in February

Against my better judgement, I went to see Uncharted, the long-gestating movie adaptation based on the video game series of the same name. Tom Holland plays treasure hunter Nathan Drake while Mark Wahlberg is his partner in crime Victor “Sully” Sullivan. The film follows the duo (and others) as they hunt down a missing fortune in gold worth billions.

Based on the mixed reviews I’d heard so far about this film, I was very worried about whether this film would be any good. However, my curiosity won out and I decided it was worth the risk to go. After all, the movie is just under 2 hours, so I figured it couldn’t be THAT bad.

Well, after sitting through the movie, I can officially report that Uncharted is nowhere near as bad as I feared it might be. While heavily flawed (I’ll get to those in a moment), the film does have some decently choreographed action moments and more than a few callbacks to the video games that I could appreciate (I haven’t played too far into the Uncharted games but I recognized a few easter eggs). The scenes where Nate and his cohorts are actively pursuing the treasure are by far the best moments in the film.

I’m also pleased to say that the film’s score is pretty decent. I also really appreciated that Nolan North (voice actor for Nathan Drake in the video games) made a cameo appearance in the movie (I won’t say where, but it’s pretty obvious when the moment comes).

Unfortunately, the good parts of the film are almost completely overshadowed by an almost criminal case of miscasting. My initial fears about this film when I saw the first trailer were unfortunately confirmed: Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland are completely miscast as Sully and Nathan Drake. Holland is clearly putting his heart and soul into the performance, I’ll give him that, but I never could quite suspend my disbelief that this young man was Nathan Drake. And Wahlberg…..ugh. I don’t know, there was something about his performance that rubbed me slightly wrong throughout. Maybe it was the constant wisecracks, or just the way the character was written for the film, but I found myself definitely not liking him for most of the story (though he did kind of grow on me by the end).

It also mortifies me to say that Antonio Banderas was criminally misused in this film, to the point where I would almost accuse the film of a bait and switch. I was so excited to see Banderas play the villain in this movie….yea that’s not quite what happened.

I wasn’t really surprised to see a sequel hook at the end of the film and as much as the flaws bothered me, I was slightly surprised to realize I wouldn’t mind seeing another Uncharted movie. After all, a second film might give the filmmakers a chance to correct the flaws of the first one.

My final thoughts on the Uncharted movie are this: I’ve seen better movies than this, but I’ve also seen much worse. If you have two hours to kill, this isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening. 

Let me know what you thought about Uncharted in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Moonfall (2022)

*note: this review was originally published on Patreon for my subscribers

In a nutshell: Moonfall is 100% pure dumb fun, but in a really good way.

I knew going in that the plot was going to be batsh*t crazy. I mean, it wasn’t enough to have the moon crashing into the Earth, it’s ALSO secretly an alien spaceship? I just had to see how all of this could possibly fit into a single film and, if you ignore basic physics, it actually tells a pretty decent story. The way I see it, Emmerich came up with the core premise first (the Moon is secretly an alien spaceship) and then spent the rest of his time devising a plot that led up to this reveal because he was so determined to put the idea on the screen. 

This movie managed to stuff every disaster movie cliche into it. And the cheesy dialogue, oh my goodness…the cheesiness is almost unbearable at times, but God help me I loved it. With the world continuing to be a messed up place, sometimes you need a cheesy disaster movie with relatively good special effects to take you out of your head for a little while. And in that regard, Moonfall absolutely succeeds. Yes, the dialogue is pretty spotty, and as I said before, I’m almost certain they ignored the basic principles of physics throughout the film, but it is still enjoyable, despite all that.

One of my favorite parts was the completely unexpected chemistry between Patrick Wilson and John Bradley. There’s almost an “Odd Couple” level of chemistry between them that, once it gets established, works really well.for the remainder of the film. I didn’t expect it at all, but I totally loved it.

The disaster scenes play out pretty much like you’d expect them to, though there actually wasn’t as much as I thought there’d be given that the entire planet is being damaged. The space scenes were pretty well done, though there’s one scene late in the movie that gave me flashbacks to Mission to Mars (2000), and in fact it wouldn’t surprise me to find out this scene was in fact an homage to that film.

All of this is to say that if you want to spend a little time with a dumb fun popcorn movie, go see Moonfall. It’s far from the greatest movie ever made, but I enjoyed it, and really in the end isn’t that all that matters? Beneath all the cliches and cheesiness is a decent story that surprisingly leaves a small door open for a sequel. And you know what? I almost wouldn’t mind seeing a followup to this movie, if only to see what they do next.

Those are my thoughts on Moonfall, let me know if you enjoyed watching the movie or if you watch it at all.

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My Thoughts on: Death on the Nile (2022)

*note: this review was originally published on Patreon last month

After several years of delays (this movie was originally scheduled for 2019), I’ve finally gotten to see Death on the Nile, the second movie featuring detective Hercule Poirot from director and star Kenneth Branagh. As with the first film, Murder on the Orient Express, this film features an all star cast set, as the title implies, in Egypt. In fact most of the action takes place along the Nile River, and what a story it is!

Let me start off by saying that Death on the Nile was absolutely worth the wait. As with Murder on the Orient Express, I was almost immediately pulled in by the gorgeous cinematography that permeates Death on the Nile. I don’t know if this is part of Branagh’s style or something that’s just unique to the two Poirot films he’s made, but there’s an almost unique look and feel to these two films that I’ve seen nowhere else and it completely mesmerizes me. 

You really do feel like you’ve been plopped down into Egypt circa 1937 (a much different place than the Egypt of today) and I can’t overstate how much I love this film’s attention to the little details. You can feel all the textures of the fabric, you can almost smell the food, and the colors just pop out everywhere. 

And what’s even better is that the story is completely deserving of this rich and colorful backdrop. If you enjoy a good mystery, then Death on the Nile will keep you guessing for most of the film. There is one sub-plot that feels slightly shoehorned in (and I subsequently learned it’s original and not part of Agatha Christie’s novel, so that might explain that), but it’s not bad by any means. I have no complaints with the main plot. The solution to the mystery (if you haven’t read the source novel) might seem like a complete surprise, but the way the story is put together, it all seems super obvious in hindsight. I like how little clues are seeded throughout the story, little things that seem meaningless until Poirot calls attention to them. I feel like that will give a lot of rewatch appeal to the movie, because you’ll want to watch it over and over to see if you can see what Poirot does.

On top of all of this, Patrick Doyle puts in a magnificent score that perfectly suits the film’s Egyptian setting. At some point I hope to do a proper score review on my blog, but for now suffice to say the music of Death on the Nile alone is worth checking out. I love how the blues was integrated into the film’s score. I haven’t heard this much diegetic music in a film in a long time and I lord every bit of it!

Ok, now to address the elephant in the room: I know a lot of people are probably going to avoid this film because of everything that happened with Armie Hammer. I get that, I do, but if you ignore this film because of one part of the performance then you are seriously missing out. This film is so good, don’t let one bad apple (so to speak) keep you away from what is otherwise a great film.

I’ll say it again, do not sleep on Death on the Nile, it’s really good.

Let me know what you think about Death on the Nile in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

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My Thoughts on: Belle (2021)

*note: this review was originally published on Patreon in January

*warning: Minor spoilers about Belle will be discussed below. If you don’t want to know, I highly suggest watching the movie first.

In January I went to see Belle in theaters. This is a movie I’ve wanted to see since last year. In fact, Belle is the reason why I applied to cover the New York Film Festival (though sadly I didn’t get accepted that time).

First, some basic details about the movie before I get into why I absolutely loved it. Belle premiered on July 15, 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was directed by Mamoru Hosoda whose past films include (but are not limited to): Mirai, Wolf Children, and Summer Wars. The film is loosely based on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and, I would somewhat argue, also takes inspiration from Disney’s 1991 adaptation of the fairy tale also.

I’ve rarely found an anime film I didn’t like, but I didn’t expect Belle to completely sweep me off my feet like it did. The animation throughout the film is beautiful, but everything set inside the digital world “U” is drop-dead gorgeous and stunning. I swear the colors pop much more vibrantly during these portions of the story, so much so that when you return to “reality” it feels almost drab in comparison.

And then there’s the story of Belle, my god this story….if I could give all of you one word of warning, do NOT let the fact that this film is loosely (I emphasize LOOSELY) based on Beauty and the Beast temper your expectations about what this film is going to be like. The Beauty and the Beast parallels are only one portion of the overall story, which goes far deeper than I ever dreamed it would. I can’t discuss it in any more detail than that because I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say some serious issues are brought up. You should definitely be prepared to cry before the film is over.

Even more than the animation, I think the music of Belle might be the best thing about it. Now, I should note that my first watch through of Belle was with the English dub, so I haven’t heard the original Japanese yet, but the English dub songs are heartbreakingly beautiful. I wasn’t sure how I would react to this film essentially being a musical (Belle the character has several musical numbers throughout the film) but each song is so beautiful I had no trouble getting lost in the music. The songs are just so beautiful, I’ll have to do a soundtrack review for my blog at some point.

One last thought before my conclusions: I am convinced there are parallels between this film and the 1991 Beauty and the Beast film. Look at the interior of the Castle and the dancing sequence and try to tell me the animators did not take inspiration from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. And I don’t mean that in a bad way either, Disney’s adaptation is iconic, it’s flattering that Belle would include an homage or two to that film.

In conclusion, Belle is a masterpiece of animation and could easily be the best film I see this year. I know we’re only just over two weeks into 2022 but I stand by this statement: the bar has been set so high for best film of the year, it’s going to take a while for anything to surpass Belle in my mind.

Let me know what you think about Belle in the comments below and have a great day!

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Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Horror of Dracula (1958)

As it was Peter Cushing who drew me into Hammer horror films in the first place, I suppose it was only a matter of time until I got to Horror of Dracula (also released as “Dracula” but I’m going by the title on my copy), the first of Hammer’s Dracula films and the first to feature Christopher Lee as the notorious vampire.

Considering I grew up knowing Christopher Lee primarily for his role as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit and as Count Dooku in Star Wars, discovering Lee’s horror roles has been eye-opening to say the very least. Oh, to be sure I knew that Christopher Lee had a lengthy history in horror, but it’s one thing to read about it and quite another to watch it on the screen. And one thing I’d heard for several years now is that his portrayal of Count Dracula was must-see.

And is it ever! While I was astonished to learn that Lee is on screen as Dracula in this movie for less than ten minutes, you’d never know it from the way he dominates the screen. I got a cold chill when he appeared for the first time as this looming figure at the top of the stairs. I love how Lee’s Dracula just oozes charm during his introduction. This is how I’ve always imagined Dracula to be: just this overwhelmingly charismatic figure that anyone would find irresistible if you didn’t know he was actually a centuries-old vampire. Also, I love the cape that Lee wears throughout the film, this is definitely what a vampire’s cape should look like.

Now, Lee’s appearance in the film aside, the story of this film did bother me just a little. Unfortunately for this film, I’m quite familiar with Bram Stoker’s original novel and my brain couldn’t help but point out differences between book and film throughout the story. This despite the fact that I know a Dracula movie isn’t beholden to copy Stoker’s novel to the letter. It’s just..this story is in some respects so close to the book and yet so different. I mean, we still have Mina and Lucy, and Dr. Van Helsing of course, but that’s where the similarities pretty much end and I don’t know why but the differences bothered me just a little.

Speaking of Van Helsing, I think I like Peter Cushing in this role just as much as I like him playing Baron Frankenstein. He projects such an air of authority that you have no trouble believing that this is an expert vampire hunter who will stop at nothing to see all vampires eradicated from the face of the earth. In fact, he plays the part so well that I found it legitimately frustrating when certain characters found ways to circumvent his instructions (I felt a similar way while watching The Brides of Dracula).

As for the horror elements in this movie, I was sufficiently scared throughout the movie. Believe it or not there’s at least one jump scare in this movie that had me almost jumping out of my skin. Most of the scares have to do with Christopher Lee and that gorgeous score that accompanies the film. Even before Lee makes his appearances as Dracula, you just know he’s coming from the music alone, which makes the moment he appears so much more terrifying.

There’s so much more I could say about Horror of Dracula but it all essentially boils down to the same thing: this is a great entry in the list of Hammer horror films and one I greatly enjoyed watching. The only way it could’ve improved was with more screen time from Christopher Lee’s Dracula, but I take comfort knowing that Lee returns as the titular vampire in Dracula: Prince of Darkness (a film I hope to review later this year).

Let me know what you think about Horror of Dracula in the comments below and have a great day!

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