Brightburn (2019)

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Tori and Kyle have long dreamt of being parents. But, try as they might, they’ve never been able to conceive. Then one night, a ship crash-lands in the woods behind their farm, and they discover a baby inside. Believing this to be a gift from above, the couple adopts the child and name him Brandon. All seems well, until Brandon hits puberty, and starts to exhibit superhuman abilities, including flight, strength, invulnerability, and heat vision. More disturbing than that, though, Brandon starts behaving violently, killing their chickens, breaking a classmates hand, and, eventually, just hurting anyone who displeases him. Tori and Kyle do their best to rein him in, but it might be too late, as Brandon now views himself as a predator and the whole world as his prey. Continue reading

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High Life (2019)

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In the future, death-row inmates are given the choice of either rotting in jail, or going up into space and participating in an experiment. One prisoner (Robert Pattinson) chooses the latter and is put on board a ship with a psychopathic doctor (Juliette Binoche), who is obsessed with creating a child through artificial insemination. It’s never revealed why she wants to do this since it’s never explicitly stated that humans can’t have children the old-fashioned way, but whatever. Sexual contact between the passengers is prohibited, which, as one might expect, drives certain people crazy. So crazy that, eventually, they start killing each other. In the end, Pattinson and his daughter, who was created by Binoche through very questionable means, are left alone on the shuttle, drifting through space. And… yeah. That’s it. Continue reading

Us (2019)

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In 1986, Adelaide Thomas went into a funhouse in Santa Cruz and saw something horrifying. She’s never said what that thing was, but it’s clear that she’s done everything in her power to avoid going near that place. How unfortunate for her when her husband, Gabe, and two children, Zora and Jason, insist that they go to Santa Cruz to visit friends. And that misfortune only grows when the very thing Adelaide saw in that funhouse all those years ago, an evil doppelgänger, arrives with clones of the whole family, looking to kill them all. Will they survive? Watch the movie and find out. Continue reading

Love, Death & Robots (Season 1, 2019)

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What if the world were ruled by yogurt? What if a couple had a civilization in their fridge? What if the military recruited werewolves to hunt terrorists? These questions and more are asked and answered in Love, Death & Robots, a brand-new Netflix anthology series. Consisting of 18 animated shorts from different directors, the stories have no narrative connections, and all feature different tones and art styles. The only real thing linking them is the motif of science fiction, and even that’s tenuous, since several of the stories, like the aforementioned werewolf film, would more comfortably fit in the fantasy genre. Even so, the series is engaging enough, with plenty of unique ideas and slick visuals to keep you invested. According to the show’s producers, David Fincher, and Tim Miller, their only objective was to “make something cool.” And, in my opinion, they more than succeeded in that regard. Continue reading

Overlord (2018)

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It’s the eve of D-Day, and a group of paratroopers are being sent to destroy a German radio tower in France. Before they can get there, however, their plane is shot down, and only five men, Corporal Ford, and Privates Boyce, Tibbet, Chase, and Dawson are left alive. Shaken, but determined to complete their objective, the soldiers make their way to the village where the tower is located and discover some strange, horrifying things. What things, you ask? Well, it would appear that, in the hopes of ensuring their thousand-year Reich, the Nazis have been performing experiments on people to create “thousand-year soldiers.” Yikes. So now, in addition to having to blow up the radio tower, it would appear that the paratroopers have to contend with undead Nazis as well. Charming. Can they do it? Well, watch the film and find out for yourself. Continue reading

The Host (2006)

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When a huge amount of formaldehyde is dumped down the drain, strange things start happening in Seoul’s Han River. First, all the fish in the area mysteriously die off. Next, pedestrians start noticing something big, and creepy, skulking below the surface. Then, after four years of waiting, a giant monster bursts from the water, eager to eat, and kidnap, humans. One of those taken is Park Hyun-Seo, the daughter of a neglectful Snack Shop Owner, who, with the help of his aging father, alcoholic brother, and athlete sister, sets out to bring her home. But things get complicated when the American military, the group responsible for creating the monster, block off the river, and release a poison, Agent Yellow, into the air. WIll the Parks save their daughter in time? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

When it came out back in 2006, The Host was a smash hit. Not only did it become the highest grossing Korean film of all time, it also garnered glowing reviews, and launched its director, Bong Joon-Ho, from a popular local filmmaker to a global talent that Hollywood was eager to work with. Because of this, and the upcoming release of Okja, Bong’s newest film, I decided to give The Host, and a few of his other movies, a look. See, It’s very rare for Asian directors to become big in Hollywood. There are exceptions, like Ang Lee and John Woo, but, for the most part, Asian filmmakers are relegated to the periphery of the popular conscience. So what about The Host is so special? Why does Hollywood know this film, and its director, and not others? Simple; its entertaining and well-made.

The Host takes a very basic premise–family tries to save daughter from monster–and tells it with just enough skill, and heart, to keep you engaged. And unlike many foreign films, which feature jokes that really only make sense in the original language, The Host is completely universal in its characterization and humor. I don’t speak a word of Korean, and the first time I watched this movie, it was without subtitles. And yet, I still knew what was going on, and who everyone was. That’s because Bong did a brilliant job of using costumes, hair styles, and other bits of visual shorthand to establish who the characters were. The film also looks amazing. Seriously! Anyone hoping to direct great monster movies should give this flick a look. It is a masterclass in how to shoot a blockbuster. Now, with regards to complaints, I do have a few. I think that the film, which is over two hours long, could have been shortened. I also couldn’t get over the fact that the Monster kidnapped Hyun-Seo, and didn’t just kill her. I understand that she needs to stay alive, because otherwise the story won’t happen, but, still. That seemed like a logical error. Granted, most people probably won’t care, and, even for me, its a nitpick. Beyond that, though, I have no comments. The Host is an entertaining, well-crafted monster movie, which transcends linguistic barriers to deliver high thrills and huge laughs. Don’t hesitate to give it a look.