‘Don’t Let Go’ Film Review: This Murder Mystery With A Twist Lets Go Of Its Potential Early On

Directed by: Jacob Estes
Written by: Jacob Estes
Starring: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, Brian Tyree Henry & Alfred Molina
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Fantasy
Rated: R (for violence, bloody images, and language)
Runtime: 1 hr. 43 min.
Studio: Blumhouse Tilt

Don’t Let Go is a frustrating film and as a film lover, there isn’t anything more disappointing than watching a mediocre film squander its potential. The first fifteen minutes gear you up for one hell of an emotional gut punch, which it delivers shortly after we’re introduced to a young girl by the name of Ashley (Storm Reid), who predictably must call upon her Uncle Jack (David Oyelowo), who daylights as an LAPD detective, for a ride home after the movies. As it turns out, Ashely’s parents aren’t the most reliable guardians. Thankfully, her uncle is always there to pick up the slack.

Jack’s steadfast dedication to his niece has fostered a close-knit bond between the two, which director Jacob Estes simply but successfully establishes during a late night trip to the pair’s favorite cafe that will surely put a smile on your face. Much of the credit here deservedly goes to the stars, both of whom give wonderful performances here. It will also leave you susceptible to the heartbreak I hinted at earlier, which comes after Ashley and her parents are mysteriously and brutally murdered at the hands of… well, nobody knows. After a brief attempt to drown his sorrows in booze and some brotherly consultation from best friend and fellow detective Bobby (Mykelti Williamson), Jack receives an unexpected phone call from– you guessed it– Ashley herself. But how?! Is she still alive? Is she calling long distance from beyond the grave? Or is Jack simply starting to lose his marbles? The truth, as it turns out, is a fan of the Dennis Quaid film Frequency because Ashley is actually calling from a few days in the past and without any knowledge of her ugly fate or that she’s speaking to Jack in the future.

When it comes to time travel in movies, I typically try not getting too hung up on the details. Every film that deals with the notion inevitably runs into plenty of inconsistencies with its own rules and you could spend an entire review bashing its messy theoretics. Since I have no interest in doing so, I’ll push on by saying that despite my leniency in this area, Don’t Let Go still finds a way to bog itself down with an overly complicated plot that feels more like work and less like entertainment trying to make sense of it.

And while you will struggle to comprehend exactly what’s going on inside a film that clearly doesn’t understand its own rules, you can rest assured knowing how it will all play out. Estes’ script doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. There are only a small handful of characters, so when the inevitable reveal happens, you’re already miles ahead and likely ready for the credits to roll.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

That’s my review of Don’t Let Go? Have you checked out this film yet? If so, what did you make of it? Or is this not even something on your radar? I’d love to hear from you, so hit me up in the comments below and let me know!

‘Escape Room 2’ In The Works, Director Returning

Get ready to go back to the Escape Room.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Colombia Pictures is currently developing a sequel to last month’s Escape Room. The original creative team behind the first film is returning for the follow-up, including director Adam Robitel, screenwriter Bragi F. Schut and producer Neal H. Moritz.

The first Escape Room followed a group of strangers who are invited to test out a highly-advanced escape room prototype in hopes of winning $10,000, only to find out they’ve become a part of something much greater and more sinister than they know. The film exceeded opening weekend expectations with $18 million and went on to amass a impressive $118.6 million globally off the back of a meager $9 million production budget.

No plot or casting details are known at this time, but Escape Room 2 is set to hit theaters April 17, 2020.

What do you think of think of this news? Are you down for a sequel to Escape Room? Did you see the original? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

‘The Shining’ Sequel ‘Doctor Sleep’ Coming November 2019

The feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, will be checking in earlier than expected.

Recently, Warner Bros. announced a slew of release dates for a bunch of upcoming projects (via Deadline). In the announcement came the news that Doctor Sleep has been moved up from its original January 2020 release to November 8, 2019.

The sequel, published by Stephen King in 2013, follows an adult Danny Torrance who is struggling with alcoholism and anger issues and now works in hospice care, utilizing his Shine to ease dying patients into the afterlife. That peace is interrupted when he meets a young girl who also possesses the same abilities and is being hunted by a group of malevolent individuals who strengthen themselves by draining peoples’ Shine.

The film is being directed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House), who successfully adapted King’s Gerald’s Game for Netflix in 2017. Obi-wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor, will play Danny Torrance.

Earlier reports suggested the film will serve as a sequel to Stephen King’s original The Shining novel as opposed to Stanley Kubrick’s beloved 1980 adaptation, which was infamously changed a lot from its source material.

This makes three Stephen King adaptations scheduled for release in 2019, beginning with Pet Sematary on April 5, It: Chapter 2 on September 6 and Doctor Sleep on November 8.

How do you feel about this news? Are you excited to see a sequel to The Shining with Mike Flanagan and Ewan McGregor? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know what you think!

The Roller Coaster Career Of M. Night Shyamalan

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The classic line from Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities seems apt to describe the turbulent career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

It may seem silly now after everything that he has been through, but there was a time when M. Night Shyamalan was on top of the world. The Sixth Sense put him on Hollywood’s map early on in his career, garnering the young filmmaker two Academy Award nominations: Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The next few years were very good for Shyamalan, putting out such films as Unbreakable, which eventually earned two sequels, and the Mel Gibson thriller Signs. In 2002 News Week Magazine featured M. Night on one of their covers and declared him “The Next Spielberg.” In 2004 Shyamalan released The Village and thus ignited a long streak of critical and financial failures that made M. Night Shyamalan the biggest laughing stock in the industry. It got so bad that studios refused to associate his name with his own projects. Instead he was consistently referenced as “The Director of The Sixth Sense.” More recently, however, the writer-director has produced back-to-back hits in The Visit and Split, both personally financed by Night himself.

What will the future hold for the once and future king of the twist? While only time can tell, Shyamalan does have a new film out in theaters starting today. Glass marks the close of the superhero trilogy he started back in 2000 with Unbreakable. While critically the film has not been received well, its box office capabilities have yet to be seen. Until then, let’s take a quick statistical look back at roller coaster filmography of M. Night Shyamalan:

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Production Budget
: $40 million
Worldwide Box Office: $672.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 85%
Academy Award Nominations: Best Director & Best Original Screenplay

Unbreakable (2000)

Production Budget
: $75 million
Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million
Tomatometer Rating: 69%

Signs (2002)

Production Budget
: $72 million
Worldwide Box Office: $408.2 million
Tomatometer Rating: 73%
That same year Newsweek called M. Night as “The Next Spielberg”

The Village (2004)

Production Budget: $60 million
Worldwide Box Office: $256.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 43%

Lady In the Water (2006)

Production Budget
: $70 million
Worldwide Box Office: $72.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 25%

The Happening (2008)

Production Budget: $48 million
Worldwide Box Office: $163 million
Tomatometer Rating: 18%

The Last Airbender (2010)

TLA bill.Matrix type
M. Night’s biggest project yet and first time using a pre-established, popular IP
Production Budget: $150 million
Worldwide Box Office: $319.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 5%

After Earth (2013)

Will Smith recruits M. Night to direct his son Jaden’s first feature vehicle
Production Budget: $130 million
Worldwide Box Office: $243.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 11%

The Visit (2015)

Shyamalan signs with Blumhouse, returning to small budget horror
Production Budget: $5 million (smallest budget yet)
Worldwide Box Office: $256.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 66% (1st “Fresh” rating since Signs)

Split (2016)

Production Budget: $9 million
Worldwide Box Office: $278.5 million
Tomatometer Rating: 76%

Glass (2019)

Production Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Box Office: N/A
Tomatometer Rating: 39%

What do you think about the evolution of M. Night Shyamalan’s career? Are you a fan? Which film of his is your favorite or least favorite? I want to hear from you, so feel free to hit me up in the comments below!

Movie Review– ‘Replicas’ (2019)

Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Written by: Chad St. John
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Thomas Middleditch, Alice Eve, John Ortiz
Runtime: 107 minutes
Rated: PG-13

I desperately want to love this movie and still there are things I admire about it: Keanu Reeves, science fiction, complicated ethical dilemmas, shadow organizations and, of course, I’m a sucker for a robot in a slick nine-piece suit. The unfortunate reality is such that Replicas, though ambitious, is a shoddily written film that cannot simultaneously juggle its many interesting ideas, any of which could be expanded out into its own feature film. Yet in the end, Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and company managed to craft a film that is entirely watchable and should you find yourself in the mood for some unintentional laughs, maybe even fun.

Keanu Reeves, who’s had somewhat of an on-again-off-again relationship with the sci-fi genre, plays Will Foster, an oxymoronic synthetic biologist whose life’s work has so far amounted to repeatedly failing to transferring human consciousness into robotic bodies postmortem. After a tragic car crash claims the lives of his family, Will decides he is going to defy every natural and man-made law to bring them back.

To do this, Will reluctantly recruits his close friend, colleague and convenient cloning expert, Ed Whittle (Silicon Valley‘s own Thomas Middleditch), to clone the bodies of his wife and kids, then transfer their consciousnesses into the clones. (Fortunately, Will has had past success transferring consciousness from one biological organism to another. It’s only when he attempts the transfer from a biological host to a synthetic one that he experiences issues.)

Things truly start to go off the rails when Will and Ed, two of the greatest minds on the planet, decide they are going to attempt this volatile experiment in Will’s garage (thank God he went for the two-car upgrade). Naturally, this involves the conveniently quick and unnoticed criminal relocation of highly-advanced and unimaginably expensive–not to mention bulky– equipment from their lab at a company called Bionyne to Will’s house.

John Ortiz always seems to be on the verge of cracking up while delivering the most pointedly bad guy lines of his career. In turn, I could not help but laugh whenever Ortiz’s character confronted Will about his absence at work or threatened to shut down his experiments.

Replicas never eases up on the unintentional absurdity, be it from a gaping plot hole, silly pseudo-science, eye-rolling dialogue or a cringe-worthy bad performance. Through it all, however, the film exhibits sparks of inspiration and reflection that genuinely and repeatedly had me asking “What would I do in Will’s situation?” Inevitably, though, everything would take a sharp turn towards sloppiness.

Grade: C

Have you seen Replicas? If so, what did you think? Or is this one you’re going to have to pass on? Let me know in the comments below!

31 Days of Halloween: ‘The Snowman’ review: Laughable thriller melts in the light of mediocrity 

By Jordan Peterson |

Michael Fassbender plays tortured detective Harry Hole in “The Snowman.” | Universal Pictures

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release date: October 20, 2017
Rated: R (for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity)
Running time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Before the movie even hit theaters, director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) was already dissing his own film, a murder mystery called The Snowman based on the best-selling Scandinavian novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo.
Alfredson claimed the production in Norway was rushed and consequently “10-15%” of the film was not shot. Unfortunately, that only begins to scratch the surface of some of this film’s more peculiar ailments.

Take, for instance, Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole (what? That’s his name!). He’s a scowling detective whom we’re supposed to buy as brilliant but tortured (aren’t they all?). The tortured angle is easy enough to stomach. He’s constantly passing out drunk in public, disappointing his would-be step-son, and taking other people’s’ belongings (in other words, he’s a shitty dude).

What’s not such an easy sell is all the stuff about Harry being a cop of many merits. For most of the movie, my eyes were watery from laughing so hard at how amateurish this “legendary” detective acted (there’s a scene where Harry is completely bewildered at how alike the crude stick figure drawing of a snowman the police received from the killer seems to be to one of the actual snowmen found at the scene of a crime, as if he’d never before seen a snowman in his life). Once Harry does finally figure out the unimpressive twist, I’d already been waiting half a film for him to catch up.

It doesn’t help matters that Harry’s partner Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) is just as basic and inept. She’s the young, spitfire officer who wants to solve the case for reasons that hit close to home. The problem is that her methods are laughably immoral and unprofessional and not in the compelling, vigilante kind of way. She simply goes places and witnesses crucial events without ever informing anybody just so certain, meaningless events can unfold later.

The big stink of all this is that Harry and Katrine’s relationship ultimately means squat by the time credits roll. At the heart of any strong buddy-cop film are those reluctant bonding sessions shared between unlikely partners. Though The Snowman has its share of similar scenes, the script seems to hit the reset button on everybody come the end of the film. Nobody seems truly affected by what transpired.

Perhaps the most peculiar letdown here is the Snowman killer himself. Not only is his/her identity blandly obvious by halfway through, but the marketing for this film promised a grim, cat-n-mouse thriller. The sad truth is that the police receive one letter from the killer (they don’t even explore any possible motive for such an action). That’s as much play as their is between cop and criminal.

And don’t get me started on the cartoony methodology behind taking the time after a murder to build a snowman.

Verdict: 🎃 (out of four)

Did you get a chance to check out The Snowman? If so, what were your thoughts? Did you read the book? Is it worth picking up? I want to hear from you, so hit me up in the comments below!

Review: What’s old is new again in ‘Wind River’

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Teo Briones, Graham Greene, and Gil Birmingham

Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with a town's veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. 

Rated: R

Year: 2017

It’s late night. A young Native American woman bolts barefoot across the vast, unforgiving Wyoming tundra. She collapses into the frigid snow. Warm blood pools from her mouth onto the icy slush. She stumbles back to her feet before buckling one last time just a few yards away.

Within the first few minutes of Wind River, long-time screenwriter and first-time director Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) paints a powerful picture. It’s one of a merciless countryside where only grief and loneliness thrive; one of life and death on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Sheridan channels and maintains this chilling ambience throughout the film. As I shivered in my seat, I couldn’t help but feel the influences of other great murder mysteries like Zodiac or The Silence of the Lambs.

Their influences don’t stop there, either. Wind River also borrows familiar story tropes. Most noticeable here is the through line involving a young, ambitious crime fighter who enlists the aid of a grizzled expert (in some field) to help solve a gruesome murder.

In this case, our crime fighter is Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). She’s a Vegas-based FBI agent and though she’s still wet behind the ears, she’s the closest prospect to the reservation. It’s not long after Agent Banner’s arrival that she pairs herself off with Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a local hunter who knows the surrounding land “like it’s his job” and shares an intimate relationship with the natives.

Olsen and Renner displayed great chemistry in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War so it’s no surprise that the two work well together here. That said, Wind River is Jeremy Renner’s movie. Twice the guy’s been nominated for an Oscar and he could very well be looking down the barrel of a third nod for his work as what equates to a contemporary take on Clint Eastwood’s performance in Unforgiven.

Wind River also boasts a strong supporting cast with honorable mentions going to Graham Greene and Gil Birmingham. Greene breezily manages double duty as both the reservation’s world-weary Chief of Police (who only has six officers to cover a landmass equal to the size of Rhode Island) and a majority of the film’s comic relief. Birmingham, on the other hand, gives a heart-wrenching performance as the young victim’s father whose family seems to be coming undone at the seams.

As he proved with Sicario and Hell or High Water, Sheridan understands people and has a talent for transcribing natural speech onto the big screen. This helps him craft rich, human characters that are easy to invest in and root for, even (or perhaps especially) when they inevitably do wind up taking the law into their own hands.

Those scenes are cathartic to say the least, but they also speak to the deeper thematic context of Sheridan’s unofficial frontier trilogy. Our government marginalizes certain groups of people but how does that marginalization affect the people within those groups and at what points does the law start and stop working for and against them?

Grade: A

What did you all think of Wind River? Are you a fan of Sicario and/or Hell or High Water? Let us know what you think of Taylor Sheridan as a rising talent in the comments section!