horror

Review: Hollow script can’t keep ’47 Meters Down’ afloat

Director: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

Synopsis: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive (IMDb).

Rating: PG-13

Year: 2017

It seems every year or so we get a shark-based survival thriller. Last year Blake Lively was stranded just off shore by a Great White in The Shallows. This year Mandy Moore and Claire Holt are stranded at the bottom of the ocean. 47 Meters Down to be precise. Though despite the titular depth, this film’s script feels rather shallow.

Moore and Holt play sisters vacationing in Mexico after Moore’s boyfriend apparently left her for being “boring.” It’s here that younger sister Holt gets the bright idea that the two should go cage diving with total strangers whom they met the night before at a party as a way to make Stuart (that’s Moore’s ex-boyfriend) jealous. Take that, Stuart!

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It’s become a rule at this point: B-list thrillers must feature stupid people making stupid decisions. 47 Meters Down happily obliges. Actually, it’s borderline offensive how idiotic these ladies are. Neither of them point out how dangerous the whole situation is, even after something like, oh I don’t know, blatantly acknowledging the poor condition of the diving cage as well as the illegal chumming of the water that the men of the “Sea Esta” engage in.

When Moore does eventually begin to have second thoughts, Holt snaps her back to party girl mode simply by reminding her how totally jealous Stuart will be once he sees the pictures of them underwater with real sharks. That’s how shallow and cliché the catalyst that sets this plot into motion is. Ugh.

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As for the two handsome strangers who entice the ladies out to sea, they are not given names up to this point. They are only referred to as “the guys” by one of the sisters as a part of a throwaway comment. Even the captain of the ship (Matthew Modine) is introduced as “Captain.” Not Captain Taylor or Taylor, just “Captain.”

We learn so little about this trio of men during the course of the film that I was under the assumption that the filmmakers were intentionally withholding information for the purpose of revealing some shady intentions during an obligatory third act twist. Nope. The script simply did not call for any background development.

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The problem with not maturing your characters, especially in a thriller like this, is that your audience will be emotionally detached once the true horror starts biting down. Unfortunately, this was my experience with 47 Meters Down. There was so little to these characters that I felt isolated from and uninterested in what was happening to them.

In the end, that’s the true horror of 47 Meters Down. The script is so light on development that the venture feels like a waste of time in a world of films like The Shallows. Even sitting at the bottom of the ocean whilst consumed by darkness and running dangerously low on oxygen, Moore and Holt still find time to discuss Stuart. It’s script details (or lack there of) like that which had me rooting for the sharks.

Grade: D

What did you all think of 47 Meters Down? Are you looking forward to seeing it during your Fourth of July break? Let us know in the comments down below!

Review: ‘It Comes at Night’ leaves everything to the imagination

Director: Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough

Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge (IMDb).    

Rating: R

Year: 2017

Writer-Director Trey Edward Shults is a true filmmaker. He knows how to effectively manipulate the technical aspects of the art form in such a way that compels viewers deep inside the minds and lives of his conflicted characters. The young artist proved so with his debut feature Krisha, which was one of the most engrossing dramas of last year.

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Shults now gives us his take on the popular post-apocalyptic subgenre, employing much the same approach. His latest film is slow burning moral tale that’s more interested in exploring the small scale, psychological toll of a deadly virus outbreak and less so the mass repercussions of one.

It Comes at Night takes place deep within the wilderness where Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his small family live an isolated life inside a boarded up home. Their intrinsic existence goes mostly uninterrupted until Will (Christopher Abbott) and his desperate family stumble upon them in search of sanctuary. The encounter leaves both families questioning each other’s intentions as well as their own judgment.

Shults takes unsettling advantage of the mounting paranoia. Slow, lingering shots stack the anticipation while faint, undiscerning sounds coupled with the unrelenting blackness of night keep you questioning what’s really going on just off screen. At times It Comes at Night plays more like a haunted house flick than anything else, but it’s Shults’s way of helping moviegoers access the inner turmoil of his characters. He is keenly aware that it’s our imaginations, not witches or bored teenagers, that conjure the most frightening scenarios.

 

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The strength of the film’s tone is matched by its equally impressive performances. Joel Edgerton is an expressive actor capable of conveying a multitude of complex feelings in a single expression. As Paul he’s simultaneously courageous and fearful, angry and heartbroken. It’s an intricate performance that seems rather simplistic because of how believable it is. Kelvin Harrison Jr. also deserves praise for his convincing portrayal of Travis, Paul’s teenage son, who acutely conveys the inner struggle of an innocent youth coming to grips with the harsh realities of his new nightmare.

Despite the film’s technical achievements and resonate performances, It Comes at Night would have benefited from further developing a couple ideas that it plants earlier on. As it stands, the film is so strong overall that nothing is lost by not following through on some of those thoughts. It’s just unfortunate that Shults didn’t see them through as they could have added to the characters’ psychoses.

It Comes at Night is another enthralling effort from Trey Edward Shults.

Grade: A-

What did you all think of It Comes at Night? Did you dig the psychological thriller aspect? Or would you have preferred a more straight forward horror film? Let us know in the comments below!

The Mummy Ultimate Collection steelbook unboxing

Another reboot of The Mummy hits theaters Friday. This one stars Tom Cruise and is the hopeful kickstart to Universal’s new cinematic monster universe, aka The Dark Universe. Help us celebrate with this video unboxing of the gorgeous Ultimate Collection steelbook from Best Buy!

 

What do y’all think? Let us know in the comments below and tell us if you plan on seeing The Mummy in theaters this weekend! We’d love to hear from you!

Adam Wingard will direct ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’

Adam Wingard is the new King of Monsters. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the filmmaker has officially signed on to spearhead the forthcoming Godzilla vs. Kong for Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment.

If the title is anything to go by, the film promises to pit against one another the two movie monstrosities, paw-on-claw. One from Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla and the other from this year’s Kong: Skull Island (catch our review here).

Wingard himself is a busy guy. So far he’s established a cult fandom with B-list horror flicks like You’re Next and The Guest (starring Dan Stevens). He’s also been recognized for his standout entries in the two anthology horror series V/H/S and The ABC’s of Death. The filmmaker’s last directorial effort came in the form of last year’s surprise sequel Blair Witch and he’s currently wrapping up an American-ized Death Note film for Netflix.

Godzilla vs. Kong will start tearing up theaters May 22, 2020. If you can’t wait that long to sink your teeth back into this shared monster-verse, don’t fret. Godzilla: King of Monsters, a sequel to the 2014 film, is slated for release on March 22, 2019.

So what do you think of this news? Does Wingard’s involvement make you more or less excited for this film? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and let us know!

The Void (2017)– Video Review

The Void is one of the most… Unique films of the year. Check out our video review below and let us know what you guys think!

Ranking ‘Alien: Covenant’ among the rest of the ‘Alien-Predator’ films

There is a lot of history to sink your teeth into between the Alien and Predator franchises. Both have experienced their high’s as well as their low’s. Despite the ceaseless debates about what exactly qualifies as what, it seems diehard fans are perpetually bursting at the chest for another chance to live inside this quasi-shared universe (whether it be the movies, comics, video games, whatever). If you’re among them (or just a casual fan of gory sci-fi action), then you’re in luck! Friday marks the release of the latest entry (directed by Ridley Scott, too!) in the series: Alien: Covenant.

To commemorate this surely divisive event, we here at Movie Minutes have ranked the eleven films (including ‘Covenant’) of the Alien and Predator (kind of) shared cinematic universe in an order we consider “worst” to “best.” Enjoy!

11.) Alien 3

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This film is so bad that its director, David Fincher (The Social Network, Gone Girl, Fight Club, if you can believe that), did not even want to be given credit on the project. It’s so bad that the Fox Studios, at one time, had officially announced plans to retcon the film with a Neill Blomkamp installment that was going to take place chronologically after James Cameron’s Aliens. And then there are the fans, who felt sleighed by (among other things) the unceremonious, unnecessary killings-off of two beloved characters in the first scene. Nobody wants this movie.

10.) Predator 2

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This film finds itself as low on our list as it is simply because of how forgettable it is. It’s your prototypical “copy-paste” sequel that plucks the titular extraterrestrial from the actual jungles of Central America and plops it into the concrete jungle of New York City. It’s an interesting idea on paper, but the film offers few new ideas or at least anything that sticks. Plus, Danny Glover just does not have the campy charisma of Arnold Schwarzenegger that helped make the iconic first film so much fun.

9.) Alien: Resurrection

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Unlike the last film on our list, Alien: Resurrection is anything but forgettable. It’s a weird, mixed bag of interesting ideas, poor visual effects, and fun performances. It focuses on the hybrid experimentation between the humans and the iconic xenormorphs, which not only revived Ripley but, in turn, granted her superhuman strength. It’s a completely ludicrous concept that actually lends itself to some fun action and some strange sci-fi sequences that almost play out like a send-up of the series itself. Plus it never hurts to put Sigourney Weaver, Ron Pearlman, Winona Ryder, and Brad Dourif in the same movie together.

8.) Alien vs. Predator

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I know already that this is where I’ll be taking the most gruff. You see, I enjoy the Alien-Predator throwdown flicks more than most. I love the idea that the Predators hunt the xenomorphs as a sort of right of passage/sport, though the more specific explanations necessary to bridge the two mythologies are a bit muddled. Regardless, there is a certain novelty is watching these two titans of sci-fi go head to head as they perfectly compliment each other’s weaknesses: the xenomorph with its brute strength and killer instinct and the Predator with its superior intellect and advanced technology. However, I don’t quite understand the math that says two brutally R-rated franchises come together to make a PG-13 film.

7.) Predators

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Slapping an “S” at the end of “Predator” was exciting. They did it to Alien and we got a whole bunch of aliens! What would Predators be like? Well, as it turns out, exactly like the first ‘Predator’ movie only with less believable characters. It’s not all bad though. The film does introduce some unique ideas such as the Predators dedicating entire planets to  the hunt and setting the film on one of those planets is an intriguing idea gushing with possibilities. Unfortunately, the filmmakers weren’t quite able to capitalize on it. Predators does, however, boast some exhilarating action sequences. Those combined with some fresh ideas and some pretty hammy performances (particularly from one Adrien Brody), is enough to warrant at least a once through.

6.) Alien vs. Predator: Requiem

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Here we are again. This is the movie I wanted the first film in this short-lived series to be: xenomorphs, Predators out in the open, duking it out in gory, R-rated fashion. ‘Requiem’ benefits from a simpler plot involving a rogue Predator visiting Earth to extinguish the abominable hybrid of their two species (the “Predalien”). It puts a sci-fi twist on the classic revenge Western. Unfortunately, the humans prove once again to be the weak link here. The dialogue is often cartoonishly unspeakable and the characters speaking it laughably lite on development.

5.) Prometheus

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There’s genuinely a lot to admire about Prometheus. It’s a technical splendor. The cinematography is gorgeous and the visual effects are out of this world (get it?). Scott’s premise of going back and exploring the origins of life within the beloved Alien universe is utterly fascinating. And, of course, there’s the stellar cast: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Idris Elba, just to name a few. It’d be higher on my list if it had answered more questions than it asked. Prometheus was marketed as an Alien prequel but failed to deliver that connection.

4.) Alien: Covenant

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The latest in the long-running franchise is every bit the technical splendor that it’s predecessor, Prometheus, is. Unlike Prometheus, however, Alien: Covenant delivers the extraterrestrial goods. It more closely bridges the gap between Prometheus and Alien seamlessly, answering a lot of big questions while also leaving some big ones for Scott’s next couple installments to tackle. If those next films are anything like this tense, slow burning slasher, then I say keep ’em coming!

3.) Predator

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You know how everyone always says the original is the best? Well, in this case that’s true (at least so far). Like its featured band of beef cakes, Predator‘s savageness is rivaled only by its simplicity. One hyper-intelligent alien warrior vs. a squad of super-macho commandos (think of it as a beefier, sweatier, bloodier Ten Little Indians). Thankfully the film plays up the camp of its own premise and Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the outfit’s commander with just the right amount of tongue planted in his cheek. Plus, the guy knows how to sell an action scene and this film’s full of ’em!

2.) Alien

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This is by far the best true-to-form horror film on this list. Technically, yes, it is just Jaws in space, but who doesn’t want to see that? Director Ridley Scott masters the art of tone with this film. Every prop, set piece, and lighting configuration in every shot is meticulously designed to make you feel uneasy or on edge. That way when things do eventually go horribly wrong (and they do!), it feels that much worse. Alien also features the trippiest-looking shark ever in a space movie. H.R. Giger’s designs are so singular and so powerful that just gazing upon the xenomorph is enough to let you know that, whatever you’re looking at, it can’t be good for your health. Then there’s the fact that every movie about an alien aboard a spaceship ever has tried to be this film and that’s got to count for something, right?

1.) Aliens

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It’s pretty much a tossup between Ridley Scott’s original slow burn and James Cameron’s action-packed follow-up. It more or less depends on the day; however, on this particular day we’re giving the edge to Aliens. It never tries to be Alien. Instead, it takes the core concept of the original film and expands it into the mythology we know and love today by approaching the story through the lens of a different genre and introducing elements that have since become franchise fixtures, such as the xenomorph queen. Cameron also surrounded Signourney Weaver with a strong cast and introduced us to some beloved characters such as Hicks and Newt. Aliens is not only one of the greatest sequels of all time, it’s one of the greatest films of all time.

What do you think of our list? Hit up our comments section below and let us know and don’t forget to share how you’d rearrange this list!

Alien: Covenant (2017)– Video Review

It’s been a long time coming, but is Alien: Covenant the Alien movie we all thought Prometheus was going to be? Check out our video review of the new pre-sequel and find out!

Have you seen the film? What did you think? Hit up the comments section below and let us know!