Review by Dan Skip Allen
Marvel/Disney has put out a bunch of series on Disney+ and Loki is considered one of the best they've released. Season 2 of Loki doubles down on the weird and crazy stuff from the show’s first season, picking up after Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) pushes Loki (Tom Hiddleston) through a time door and kills “He Who Remains,” the god-like figure who once maintained order over the TVA and the various timelines.
Season 2 of Loki gets off to a wild start as Loki is time slipping, which causes him issues. He needs help from Mobius (Owen Wilson) and the rest of the TVA, including Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and a new man fans haven't met as of yet, Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan). Once they help Loki, they have to set their sights on Sylvie and any versions of Kang the Conqueror that may be left as a threat to the TVA and the timeline.
As before, the locations and sets are cool, and the TVA itself has once again been built on a soundstage. These sets look great. They help bring the viewer back into this world right off the bat. The writers have also made this world much more accessible to viewers who watched season one and are fans of the characters seen in season one. The thing is, those that follow the MCU already know it's going to play a big part in the Multiverse Saga, but it still works as a story in its own right.
There are many things that were good about season one of Loki, but season two has some equally, if not better things in it regarding some of the technical aspects. First of all, there is an amazing score by Natalie Holt. It is so much a companion of this season. It goes hand-in-hand with everything going on. Also, the costumes and hairstyling are great, and spot-on as well. With a show with characters traveling through time, you know each of the periods has to have its own look and feel.
The creators and writers of the show — Eric Martin, Michael Waldron, and Brad Winterbaum, among others — use some easy ways for people to follow along with all the time jumping and so forth. They put graphics on the screen, saying where and when the show is taking place. It's a popular way to go to all these different places from episode to episode. In one particular time, a character by the name of Victor Timely (Jonathan Majors) does a time demonstration. As comic book fans know, this is an alternate version of Kang the Conqueror. This is in fact the beginning of the Multiverse Saga. It's how these writers and directors get from point A to point Z that will be the most interesting part of all this.
As is a good thing with any show or film, the cast must have good chemistry. One of the best parts about Loki season one was the chemistry between Owen Wison’s Agent Mobius and Hiddleston’s Loki. This second season, they are even better together. They have plenty of funny banter about various things, but they are just enjoyable to see act opposite each other. The rest of the cast is great as well, and an unexpected hero, Tara Strong, as the AI character Miss Minutes also has a lot of time to shine this season. I could watch these actors all day, though, because they just have a knack for being entertaining.
After the success of season one of Loki, Marvel and its chief content officer Kevin Feige went into production on season two rather quickly. There was a reason for that — we know now that the Multiverse Saga was coming right around the corner. If the first season had failed, I don't know if there would have been a justification for doing a second season. That doesn't matter now because it's here and fantastic. The storyline is terrific, and it allows this cast — mainly Wilson, Hiddleston, and Majors — to shine. The production design regarding the TVA, in the ‘80s, and especially the 1860s, was quite impressive. The score by Holt was phenomenal and felt like a perfect companion piece to this series. Season one was a hard act to follow, but Season two is even better after four episodes I've seen. It left off at a cliffhanger, but up until that point, it was pretty amazing so far. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Loki streams on Disney+ beginning October 5 at 9pm ET/6pm PT, with new episodes streaming subsequent Tuesdays at the same time. Four out of six episodes reviewed.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Hollywood has their own personal issues with AI regarding using actors' likenesses in films and television projects without their permission. AI has also been blamed for creating opening credits, taking jobs away from visual effects artists, and writing scripts, which in turn take jobs away from writers. This transpired all before The Creator came out, which will inevitably pour more fuel on the fire of the AI vs. humans debate.
After a devastating nuclear attack on Los Angeles, the United States declared war on all AI entities. Some countries in Asia have banned together to protect AI organisms and even share their likeness so these AI individuals can walk around with human faces. One human Joshua (John David Washington) has infiltrated these AIs and even developed a relationship with their human leader known as Maya (Gemma Chan). When the U.S. government and their special weapon Nomad catch up to them, things go bad and the operation is over. Five years later, he is tasked with finding a secret weapon of the AI, but it's not what he expected. It's a child he dubs Alfie (Madeline Yuna Voyles).
Gareth Edwards, who some may know as the director of Godzilla (2014) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is the brains behind this film with his co-writer Chris Weitz. Together, they have set this story in the near future and have used hot-button topics as plot points. An added part of the story is the setting and how it relates to history. There was a Vietnam War angle to the story, and a layer of overcoming great odds to achieve a goal. Combining these two ideas made for a fascinating story from beginning to end.
One more element of this film that had me overjoyed was the Lone Wolf and Cub aspect. As some might know, Lone Wolf and Cub is a Japanese story of a samurai who is saddled with taking care of this child, and eventually they become attached to him and love each other. That's a major theme of The Creator. Without getting into too much detail, Washington’s character had a child coming with Chan's character, and by a confluence of events, he lost the child. By looking after this child, he feels he can make up for lost time. This was the best part of the film for me, and I'm sure others will like it as well.
I'm not much of a music guy when it comes to film, but when I hear a score or song I like, I sing it to the rooftops. This movie has an exceptional score by Hans Zimmer — one of the best to ever do it. There were some roaring moments and a lot of subtle moments. The slower moments were the ones I gravitated towards the most, during scenes involving Washington‘s character and the little girl. It's a nice mix of bigger roaring sounds and quiet ones, which is similar to the film and goes hand in hand with the story Edwards is trying to tell.
Greig Fraser won an Academy Award for his work in Dune a couple of years ago, and his work on The Batman was impeccable. He has a knack for creating a visual aesthetic in all his films that looks beautiful. With the mix of natural habitats and computer-generated buildings, space stations, and so forth, he helps create a world like no other I've seen. The Earth looked incredible, coming from the creative minds of Edwards, Weitz, and Fraser. They just knew how to bring this story to life visually. This is an amazing-looking film.
This movie will stir up a lot of conversation regarding the title, the whole idea of AI vs. human existence, and how we as humans cause many of the problems we try to prevent, like war and such things. For instance, we brought on the wars we have gotten involved with by trying to be the world's police or persecuted specific races, and when they fought back, we annihilated them. We create a lot of things that we get involved with. The same goes for this film. We as humans created AI, and when it developed sentience, we got upset. Yet we still use computers to destroy the other AI entities. It's a slippery slope we find ourselves in the film, and in the real world.
There is a big cast in this movie, but one member of the ensemble who was a bit annoying was Allison Janney. We all know she can be a bit of a nasty character in some roles, like in I, Tonya. She has a motivation against AI in this movie because of something that happened to her sons in the past. She was a bit of a one-note character. She had this idea and wouldn't let it go even when her life was threatened. I felt Janney was directed to be this nasty one-note character, but in the context of the movie, she felt overzealous. I wasn't supposed to like her, but I really didn't like the performance either.
The Creator was a film I was looking forward to quite a lot. There is an underlying plot thread I was pleased with in the de facto parent aspect of the film. I feel this was the strongest part of the movie, aside from the visual effects and the score. Many television shows like The Last of Us and The Mandalorian have taken this path with storytelling, and it has paid off big time. Edwards and Weitz have also capitalized on a hot-button topic that has taken over Hollywood of AI. This part of the film was also strong for me. The movie has a few characters I wasn't a fan of, but David Washington and young Madeleine Yuna Voyles were captivating. The Creator as a whole is one of the best sci-fi films in a long time, maybe since Edwards’s own Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The Creator hits theaters on September 29.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Halloween is the spooky season of the year. All the studios like to put their scary movies out and get as high ratings or viewership as possible for them. The same goes for alien films, which often exist in a subgenre of horror. Hulu has a new alien film out this week called No One Will Save You, starring big-name young actress Kaitlyn Dever.
The film focuses on a young woman living alone in her childhood home, where she seems happy. She listens to classic tunes from yesteryear while cooking, and does not have a care in the world Until she is awoken in the middle of the night by a noise coming from downstairs. She starts to investigate when she notices a figure walking around rummaging through things. When she hears a strange noise, she tries to backtrack to her bedroom, but the stairs creak and she has been noticed by some sort of creature. A creature with feet that look like fingers. Her instinct to survive kicks in, so she decides to try and fight off the alien creature.
Brian Duffield, who wrote Love & Monsters, is also the director of this movie. He creates an atmospheric setting for this story. It's about a girl with a hidden past, but she's trying to move on from it. The aliens in the film do things to her that bring back these latent memories from the past. In flashbacks, we the viewer learn about her and her past experiences in this small town.
Duffield uses various forms of moody, dark, and scary situations to create the look and feel of the movie. As a film with mainly one character, he puts her into an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario, where she thinks she's going crazy, but she's not. It's the whole situation that brings on the paranoia she is experiencing. There is also a claustrophobic feel to the film, which is creepy, to say the least
Kaitlyn Dever is a young actress who starred in sitcoms, like Last Man Standing, and graduated to dramas like Justified in her career. She's eventually branched out to movies, but she has always returned to television/streaming. Her roles in Dopesick and Unbelievable have garnered her a lot of critical acclaim. No One Will Save You is the latest thing she'll get a lot of love for. It allows her to stretch her acting abilities beyond what we have previously seen. Not having anybody to act the opposite isn't easy. She creates genuine dread with the whole scenario she's involved in. She has blossomed into a great actress.
Filmmakers more often than not lack the ability to do subtle storytelling. Duffield seems to be a master at it, though. He uses the fact that this character is all alone as a strength. Having the house lose power and showing dark clouds with lightning is pretty foreboding for the main character. She feels helpless in this world she lives in. One thing after another gets in her way, and it's quite overwhelming. We as viewers feel for her. That's how you tell a good story and film it for people to watch.
There have been many alien abduction films that have captured the public consciousness. War of the Worlds, the various versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Day the Earth Stood Still are some that captured the perfect blend of sci-fi and horror. You can add No One Will Save You to that list. Duffield and Dever give the audience watching genuine scares while creating a sci-fi world I haven't seen before. There are others that have stood the test of time, but none have been done quite like this one.
No One Will Save You is a one-of-a-kind alien invasion/abduction film. Duffield puts the viewer in the shows of this young woman portrayed by Devers. We feel and see everything she's going through because it's a single person story. She's on her own with… well… no one to save her, hence the title. Devers has become a great young actress, and she proves how good she is in this role. The moody atmospheric nature of the movie plays perfectly into the whole vibe the filmmaker is going for. This is going to be a big hit this Halloween season.
No One Will Save You is now streaming on Hulu.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Dumb Money is very similar to Adam McKay’s The Big Short, which came out about eight years ago, kicking off a wave of other films imitating it. It has a similar theme following a group of people during an economic crisis. In that case, it was the housing market crash of the 2000s, and in this film is a Wall Street stock market shape-up. Although Dumb Money doesn't have the same fast editing or fantasy storytelling, it is still entertaining.
"Dumb Money" refers to people who buy into failing stocks or useless stocks. The people who own the hedge funds that drive the stock market get richer off of these people, while the people are like a squirrel crawling around in the dark looking for an acorn — which they rarely find. That's the premise behind this film. A nobody named Keith Gill (Paul Dano), who calls himself "Roaring Kitty" on YouTube, notices a trend going backward and decides to invest his life savings in GameStop stock.
This ends up getting him a bunch of followers, including a GameStop employee (Anthony Ramos), two Austin Texas college students (Talia Ryder and Myhala Herrold), and a struggling mother of two who is a first responder nurse (America Ferrera). These people believe in this man, and it pays off big for them. They all become rich overnight. That is until the bottom crashes out on them due to shady business practices from an app creator and some hedge fund guys willing to bail out their buddies.
Gillespie uses a framing sequence to help tell the story of the wacky scenario involving the attack on Nancy Kerrigan in I, Tonya, but he doesn't do that in this movie. He tells this story with the help of Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker much more straightforwardly. They follow these characters around from the beginning of the film. At first, the hedge fund guys played by Seth Rogen, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Nick Offerman, as well as the Robinhood app creator (Sebastian Stan), are all smug and on their high horse. They act like nothing's wrong until it is. The filmmakers use tons of news footage covering these events to tell the true story.
The editing going back and forth between all these characters doesn't hurt the story at all. The back and forth makes for a much more riveting story overall. We get to meet these people and see what their lives are like. The film wants us to pick sides, and because of that, we get invested in this story and the little guy, which is all the people who followed the Dano character. There are also song choices that are put into the film at certain junctures that we can go along with, including the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army," usually an anthem for the downtrodden or those who are disrespected. This song was perfectly used in the movie.
One of the best parts of The Big Short and I, Tonya is how absurd the characters or the story within the film are depicted. Sometimes, that's what makes them funny. The same goes for this film. Pete Davidson plays the brother of Dano’s character, and he is used perfectly as comedic relief, especially during the Senate Zoom meeting hearing on the whole GameStop and Memestock situation. Davidson has a knack for advising and saying the funniest things at the most unperturbed time. He had me in stitches.
Dumb Money fills in the gaps perfectly for me, who wasn't up to date on this whole scenario. I felt Gillespie and the writers informed me on what was going on very well. They made me pick a side. Of course, I was going to pick the side of the little guy, and they told the story in an entertaining way that was funny and informative. The cast was all stellar, including Dano, Davidson, Ferrara, Ramos, Rogen, and others. This was a fun look at a bad situation for many people. Nobody wins when the government gets their hands in the situation, though, and that's what happens here.
Dumb Money is now playing in theaters.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
I've been a football fan for a while now. The New England Patriots are my favorite pro team, so needless to say, I'm not much of a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. They beat my team in the Super Bowl a few years back, and I've been souring on them ever since. That being said, one of my best friends owns a Philly cheese steak franchise, and I'm constantly being reminded about the Eagles. Kelce is just another reminder that the Eagles are good right now, and my Patriots aren't.
Jason Kelce is an offensive lineman/center for the Philadelphia Eagles. He's played for them for twelve years. He's a perennial all-star and is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the game. Football isn't all this man is about, though. This new documentary sheds light on his family life, his businesses, his podcast New Heights (with his equally talented brother Travis Kelce, who's a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs), and everything in between.
The documentary is an inside look at a man who has had a lot of good years in his life, but when you're as famous as he is, you have to take things in stride. No family is perfect, and we all have skeletons in the closet. We just don't have documentaries airing our dirty laundry for millions of people to see on Prime Video.
As most football fans know by now, the Chiefs and the Eagles played in the Super Bowl this past February. It was dubbed the “Kelce Bowl” because both Kelce Brothers played on opposite teams — one for the Eagles and one for the Chiefs. This was a great moment for the family, including their mother, who took the opportunity to do every interview from East Coast to West Coast. She was a celebrity because her sons were in the game. The fact remained, though, that one team had to win and one team had to lose, and we all know how the game turned out. The Chiefs won 38 to 35, and one Kelce was happy, while the other was sad.
As documentaries go, this one doesn't do anything new. It focuses on mostly talking heads and footage of Jason Kelce going through his life in various ways. Part of that is it focuses on his wife Kylie. She is the mother of two little girls and a third one on the way. Ironically enough, if Kelce didn't have enough on his plate, his wife was nine months pregnant, and she and the kids traveled with an entire entourage of assistants to Arizona, in case she went into labor early. The film captures everything except that special moment in time, which was a little too personal for the family
Besides the talking head aspect, there are a few other ways the filmmaker gets information to the viewers of the film. Director Dan Argot used the entire 2022 NFL season as a framing device. He goes game by game, and in between he depicts this man's life. The voices of radio hosts and sportscasters are littered throughout the film to dictate week to week how the season is going for this man. Sometimes things don't go very well, but most of the time they do, including the birth of a child and a successful podcast with his brother.
Kelce isn't going to be for everybody, but if you are a sports fan or an Eagles fan, this glimpse into this man's life will be pretty fascinating for you. I was interested in his wife's take on things, as well as what we got of the two brothers. Travis didn't get as much air time as I'd like, but this wasn't his documentary, so I understand that. This film had a specific moment it was leading to, and if you're a fan of this man and his team, you know what happened regarding that decision. If not, this might be an engaging aspect of the film.
Kelce streams on Prime Video beginning September 12.
THE WHEEL OF TIME (Season 2) -- A Terrific Start to the Second Season of This World-Renowned Fantasy Series
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Wheel of Time is a long-running fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan. It was turned into a television series on Prime Video a couple of years ago, now entering into its second season on the streaming service. Fans have been eagerly waiting for this season because they weren't exactly over the moon with the first season of the show. The book series is very dense and in-depth, and Season One didn't capture that as far as the fans were concerned. I for one liked what I saw from Season One, and I'm excited for what Season Two can bring to the forefront.
Season Two shows the five have all been separated and are on their own, away from the help of Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Blue Ajah — a subsect of the Aes Sedai, a section of women who have the ability to wield the One Power, which makes them some of the strongest people in the realm. She has saved the realm with the help of her ward al'Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and the sisters in the other sects, but it didn't prevent her from losing one of the five…. or so she thought. In Season Two, she embarks on a mission to find Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski), while she breaks up with her servant/protector, al'Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney).
The other members of the five each have their own various difficulties that they need to try to overcome. Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoe Robins) and Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) are at the tower, learning how to use their gifts and find one of them is more important to the Ajahs than the other. A Red Ajah specifically, Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood), takes an interest in her and her training, which goes in a direction most unexpected for all involved.
Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) has found himself with a group of warriors who have been broken away from the kingdom they've sworn to protect. On their journey to find a haven, they get captured or in some cases killed. With the help of a new friend, he escapes his captors, who are trying to take over the land one town at a time. They both have abilities from the One Power as well, which can help them find their place in a special pack.
Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) is in prison, and he's a ploy for one of the Red Ajahs to find out about him and his ties to the five and the One Power. She sets another prisoner as a ruse to get them to escape and find his friends. Like the other subplots in the series, this one will lead to bigger things in the overall context of the season. Season Two is littered with subplots like this one that made the first four episodes all that much better.
There is an overarching storyline involving Stradowski’s character, which comes to a distinct cliffhanger at the end of the fourth episode called "Daughter of the Knight." He must find out if he is the dragon or not. He works in a health care facility/prison to learn about the power he wields from the previous man, who could wield the One Power that drove him mad. He is a prisoner there. Also, he shacks up with a beautiful innkeeper who may have a secret of her own.
The first four episodes of Season Two of The Wheel of Time were a great setup for the rest of the season. They give the audience watching at home on Prime Video just enough to whet their appetite. I was completely enamored with the endings of all four episodes I watched. They all had fantastic cliffhangers, with the fourth episode having the ultimate cliffhanger of them all.
The writers, Rafe Lee Judkins, and Amanda Kate Shurman, and the creator of the book series, Robert Jordan, do a great job setting up this second season. They give each of the five terrific character arcs and keep fans excited for what is coming down the road. Throw in the arc of Pike's character, and this season picks up nicely from Season One. Not having read the books, I can only go off of what I'm watching, and this is on par with The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon in terms of recent fantasy shows.
Fantasy shows like this must have a distinct look and feel to make fans and critics like myself believe in what we are watching, despite the strange dialogue. The show creator does that by having the costumes, hair and makeup look good, visual effects and stunt work look authentic and immersive. They must be as good — if not better — than other shows of this nature. I can say without question this show from a technical aspect is first-rate. This is a great-looking series thus far.
Season Two of The Wheel of Time packs a wallop. Each episode I saw had fantastic cliffhangers. All the main characters had good arcs that will make fans get invested in this season from the start. The writing is a major strength, but the technical aspects are as good as you'll see in a fantasy show such as this. I am eagerly waiting for what happens next after the fourth episode. I'm sure fans of the books and Season One will be as well.
The Wheel of Time streams on Prime Video beginning September 1. Four out of eight episodes reviewed.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
When I pressed play on New Life, I had no idea what I was getting into or what the title of the film truly meant. Once I started watching it, I fully understood where it was going. Sometimes I was delighted by the location, and other times I was completely disgusted by the destination. That's what a great horror film does, and this one was a pleasant surprise from the beginning to end.
Jessica (Hayley Erin) is running toward the camera with her face covered in blood. The camera pans back, and we see men in hazmat suits with guns chasing her down the street. Fast forward to a government agent (Tony Amendola) making a phone call to another woman, Elsa (Sonya Wagner). He tells her she needs to track down this woman who may be infected with a deadly strand of the Ebola virus, and she could be spreading it everywhere she goes, to everyone she comes in contact with.
The film starts with that framing device and goes back and forth between these two main characters until they eventually meet each other tragically. We see both of their stories, why they are doing what they're doing, and how they are motivated individually. We as viewers are instantly interested in each woman and the reason they have to do what they have to do.
The thing about this film that makes it pretty amazing is there is a twist about halfway through the film I didn't see coming that was pretty crazy. Without spoiling the movie, it gets batshit crazy right at the halfway point. I thought I was watching a horror film, but most of the movie was character-building stuff and dialogue between characters in person or on a phone. However, once the twist happens, things get nuts.
With the COVID-19 virus not too far in the distant past, and to some extent still lingering among the public, this film hit home for me, and I'm sure it'll hit home for many others who watch it. The fact about the Ebola virus isn't the only illness-related topic in the movie. Wagner’s character has ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. She is struggling on her end to walk, talk, and still do her job effectively. The nuance with which the film talks about its medical topics is surprising.
The two main women portrayed by Erin and Wagner are both very well-fleshed-out characters. The women get the audience to buy into their plight until they have to take a side, and the twist makes up their mind for them/us. The supporting cast is well used, with good character actors who do good work in these roles. It's the two lead actresses that sell this movie and its plot, as well as the crazy twist in the middle of the film.
New Life isn't what I expected by a long shot, but I loved every minute of this movie, which was something that could actually happen in real life. The realistic nature made it all the more interesting to watch. It started slowly to build the tension, then it went wild in the middle. The two lead actresses sold the film perfectly with their performances, and the supporting cast was good as well. The writing and direction by John Rosman were incredible. This is going to be a film people will be talking about throughout its festival run and when it comes out.
New Life is screening at the 2023 edition of FrightFest, which runs in the UK from August 24-28.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The horror genre is vast in its scope of what fits within its boundaries. Sometimes, there are strange or weird movies that make you scratch your head. Eight Eyes is one of those films. It's an hour and a half of wackiness. I do applaud the effects of the writers and director for trying something that's an amalgamation of things we've seen before, but it just didn't work for me in this instance.
Pinch me if you've heard this before: an American couple, Kass (Emily Sweet) and Gav Bradford Thomas), goes to a foreign country — in this instance, Yugoslavia — to travel around and explore and visit the local sites. Along the way, they crash a wedding just because she wanted to dance. While visiting one of the sites, they meet a strange one-eyed man called Saint Peter (Bruno Velijanovski). Due to a confluence of events, he ends up on the same train as them and convinces them he should be their personal tour guide. This leads them down a path they would soon regret.
This film has a specific style that it's going for. It looks like an old horror film from the ‘70s or ‘80s. It reminded me of a few other films with similar plot points: the Eli Roth film Hostel, Michael Heneke's Funny Games, and Speak No Evil. It’s like a modern-day exploitation film. This genre has been around for a while now, and it's a horror stalwart. This genre just lends itself to strange happenings, murders, and weird people doing questionable things — usually involving blood and guts and horrible behavior for no real reason.
The stranger is actually part of a weird family — a naked man running around with a mask on, a guy playing music on some sort of instrument while on air ventilation, and a punk kid — and he's trying to recruit new members for his wacky family. He kidnaps the couple and makes Sweet’s character watch VHS tapes of his dead mother spouting a bunch of mumbo jumbo. It was very cult-like and almost nonsensical. There were psychedelic lights and strange sequences of a bunch of random things all edited together as hallucinations. Even within the context of the film, it felt strange and off-putting.
Another tip showing that something is going on with these characters is she hears ringing in her ears and sometimes voices. It's the director trying to mislead the audience, as the character does not know what is real or not real. There are many scenes of this sort of thing. These European countries can have some off-the-wall traditions, but this is a little too much for my liking. This movie goes down a crazy path that went off the rails.
Eight Eyes is set in an era that looks like today because of a few things, like cell phones and so forth, but it has a dirty grimy vibe. It’s set in parts of the world that look downright ugly and unclean. This played into the whole vibe of what the director was going for. We as viewers are instantly disgusted by what we watch on screen, for better or worse.
Eight Eyes is screening at the 2023 edition of FrightFest, which runs in the UK from August 24-28.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
In the ‘70s, the U.S. was so blinded by Watergate and the Vietnam War that many Americans did not see the other crises happening around the world. At the same time in the Middle East, a burgeoning war was about to break out from Egypt and Syria attacking Israel, which caused its leader at the time, Golda Meir, to reciprocate on behalf of her country. Golda is that story that many Americans may not know about.
Golda Meir (Helen Mirren) is the Prime Minister of Israel in the 1970s. While under her watch as caretaker of her country, it was attacked on the sacred day Yom Kippur in 1973. She had to overcome the damage and loss of life, and still lead her country. With the help of her trusted military leaders, generals, and such, she tried to defend her country and fight back against these two countries who want their so-called land back.
The movie, which more or less captures a moment in time, used a lot of technical aspects to help tell its story. In the opening credits, dates, news broadcasts, and newspapers were used to depict what was going on at this time. Later, archive footage and flashbacks were used to show Meir’s past and motivations for why she's doing what she's doing in the present, which is mainly in 1973. The viewer can learn a lot from all this information shared in these various ways.
Helen Mirren’s filmography is vast and varied. She played the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, the mother of Owen and Deckard Shaw in the Fast and Furious franchise, and everything in between. She has had a vast career under her belt. Her portrayal of Golda Meir is one of the best of her career, though. She all but disappeared into this character. She has a lot of difficult dialogue, and she uses an accent to become this woman who was trying to save her country. She may have another Oscar run in her future.
The film uses a framing device as its main form of telling its story. Meir went to a special committee hearing, where they asked specific questions about all the decisions that went into what happened in Israel during these difficult times of war. This framing device served a great purpose in the story.
As this is a period piece set in the ‘70s, there must be a realistic look and feel to the film regarding these years in history. As mentioned, Mirren disappears into Meir, and she isn't the only one who looks amazing in her role. Liev Schreiber plays Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State, and other men and women are dressed and look the part of people during this time. The hair and makeup departments were on point. As well as the production design, all the various rooms and places depicted looked amazing. The period look of the movie was terrific all the way around.
Golda is about someone I hadn't known before watching this film. This was a fascinating story about a woman in a difficult position. She had to make tough decisions regarding her people. Mirren knocked this role out of the park. She may have a chance at another Academy Award nomination. The below-the-line departments brought me completely into this time and place in history. This is an interesting history lesson about Israel and the Middle East.
Golda hits theaters on August 24.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Shelter is the first novel in American crime author Harlan Coben's young adult series featuring the teenager Mickey Bolitar, the nephew of his popular book series protagonist Myron Bolitar. The book came out in September 2011. Harlan Coben’s Shelter is a new series on Prime Video that is a little more adult than most young adult films or television series.
Mickey Bolitar (Jaden Michael) is reeling from the death of his father. He ends up having to live with his aunt in New Jersey and start life over at a new high school. While there, he meets some new friends and gets embroiled in a deep and dark mystery, starting with the kidnapping of another new student at the school. Every twist leads to another turn. The story is complicated, and there are many subplots unfolding.
Coben knows how to tell a story. He creates a tale of lies and deceit that completely envelopes everyone involved in the show. From the aunt to a creepy old lady who lives down the street, nobody's off limits in this series. The main character has enough of his uncle's ingenuity and curiosity to spare. He can't help but delve deeper and deeper into this world with the fight and courage he got from his father. He left him with a lot of questions.
The high school aspects were like a whole different world within this story. Typical high school angst follows this story as the main character meets new friends and gets involved with pretty girls dating other boys. Bullying and teen awkwardness follow this boy and his friends, whether it's involved in trying out for the basketball team or a stage production at the school of The Phantom of the Opera. The kids get wrapped up in everything the main character is doing.
The cast is a vast one, with a bunch of high school kids and many adults. Coben fills his story with many characters, and all of them play an important part in the overall storyline, while sometimes having their own subplots. The parents even have storylines. The three main kids besides Michael's character — Ema (Abbey Corrigan), Arthur "Spoon" (Adrian Greensmith), and Rachel (Sage Linder) — all play major parts in this series. They all get over their heads and into trouble, along with the main character. They help him out quite a bit, considering everything that goes on in this show. These actors do a great job supporting the lead kid in the series.
There are many different filmmaking styles that go into making this show. One of them is flashbacks of German concentration camps, in black and white, to show the back story of an old lady. Another shows us some of the history the main character has with his deceased father. A lot of the show is shot at night, and the camera work is very good. The lighting is used to create a moody and noir-esque feel to the series during these moments. Then the show switches back to the young adult high school feeling once again. It's a very good dichotomy between styles.
Harlan Coben's Shelter is a complex series based on a dense and modern book. It takes themes we've seen before and turns them upside down. There are many twists and turns in this show. The high aspects are typical of a young adult series such as this, but they still add a different vibe from the mystery thriller stuff. The story as a whole is the strength of the series. The actors give good performances, and the cinematography blends many elements. This is a good first season, and hopefully there will be a second based on this literary character. I'm sure Coben has more in store for fans of these characters, and ideally, more books in this series will get the light of day.
Harlan Coben's Shelter is now streaming on Prime Video. All eight episodes reviewed.