Reviews

‘Rampage’ Review

It’s official. I’m only calling him Dwayne Johnson. The Rock is no more.

Lions, tigers and bears oh my! Well I guess, a monkey, a wolf, and a crocodile. Throw them in the Windy City make them 50 feet tall and you have the newest video game adaptation Rampage. According to rotten tomatoes it is the best rated video game movie ever, I know that’s not saying to much but a wins a win. For Dwayne Johnson – the King of the box-office he just keeps winning. I had so much fun with this movie, and will continue to support any project that DJ is involved with.

Imagine just walking down the street on a sunny day in Chicago when three larger than life animals come hurling towards you looking for their afternoon snack. Yes, I’m well aware this is a silly premise but as much as I like reviewing movies based on their technical achievements or story telling. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back, relax and completely turn your brain off. It helps when you enjoy the movie you’re watching, but people can take movies way to seriously these days. Life is about having fun and enjoying things and movies are for the most part made for entertainment purposes. Is the acting in stupendous? No. Is the movie well written? Absolutely not. Will you crush the largest popcorn and soda while enjoying the heck out of Rampage. Hell yes.

So when an evil company Energyne cooks up some secret genetic altering, gene manipulating sauce in space and things go haywire, three canisters containing this stuff fall to Earth. Three unsuspecting animals come into contact with it. A wolf on Wyoming, and crocodile in the Everglades and George an Albino ape in the San Diego Zoo. George is best friends with Davis Okoye (DJ) and when George starts to grow at uncontrollable rate, well Davis gets a little concerned. Enter Claire (Naomie Harris) a once employee of Energyne. She works along side Davis and a government worker Henry Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to try and stop these animals from essentially destroying the planet. There you go, that’s the entire plot. It’s pretty simple, big animals running amuck and us trying and failing miserably to stop them. I like all three of these people, and I actually thought they worked really well together. I would love to see DJ and JDM side by side again. Something about them seemed to click and I really enjoyed that aspect of this movie. There are other human characters at play here, but they are the definition of disposable. The villains are pretty much cartoons, and in terms of the human side of the story the weakest part of the film.

The stars of the movie are our three larger than life animals. They really steal the show and when they are finally on screen together you really can’t look away. The last 40 mins is just a fun ride. I thought the effects were pretty impressive for the animals, other aspects not so much, but watching a giant ape and DJ fight side by side is just fun to watch. Why nitpick all the little things or the issues I knew this movie was going to have. It’s a video game move – they have a terrible track record. It’s just suppose to be fun, so why base it off anything other than that? The movie isn’t perfect, I wouldn’t even say it’s a great movie, but I had a ton of fun and at the end of the day, I think that’s what they want. I know that’s what DJ wants from anyone who goes. It’s got some really great comedic moments, plenty of destruction and Dwayne Johnson. The movie is called Rampage expect a bunch of stuff exploding and a ton of chaos. This is actually something I would like to see more of, because for what it’s trying to be, I think they accomplished their goal. Thinking about it, this very well could be one of my favourite Dwayne Johnson movies.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Rampage = 70/100

Reviews

‘A Quiet Place’ Review

This is one impressive accomplishment. Such a new and refreshing take on the horror genre. A pulse pounding 90 minutes that pretty much doesn’t let up.

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“A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.”

The miracle of birth. It’s truly a special moment in every women’s life. The joy of bringing a child into this world. We all know just how painful an experience it can be. I can’t even fathom it to be perfectly honest, but just imagine going through birth and not being able to make a sound. That’s right ladies, imagine the most painful experience the human body can essentially go through and you have to stay absolutely quiet. Sounds like the worlds worst prank if you ask me. For Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place, it’s actually a reality. That is the premise of John Krasinski new ground breaking horror film. Something has come to Earth and they hunt you based off sound.

I remember seeing the first trailer when it was attached to IT and was intrigued from the get go. You felt it from the trailer that this was going to be a tense and suspenseful film. I didn’t know it was going to turn out to be the scariest movie of 2018. Film-makers  have been creating horror movies for about a century so it is really hard to redefine a genre that has stood the test of time. It’s difficult to put a new spin on something and make it stick with the audience. A Quiet Place is that movie. The premise is pretty genius and the way that Krasinski was able to carry this thing out with his almost perfect directing makes for one terrific film. There are 6 people credited with roles and everyone of them accomplishes wonder. When you see the title of the movie, one would hope you realize there won’t be much dialogue throughout, but it doesn’t need it. From the opening scene, which is probably going to end up being one of the better opening sequences from any movie this year. It immediately thrusts you into this world. You’re on the edge of your seat from the mere moments the movie begins.

Creatures have come down to Earth, and actually very little is explained in regards to why this has happened. The movie picks up on day 89 of the “invasion,” so we are thrown into this new world. This is a movie about survival and about family. About how this one family is dealing with this new threat. This isn’t some creature origin story, or a big picture kind of deal. We are only looking through the eyes of the Abbott family, that is it. I didn’t mind that they didn’t give us any backstory, because the movie didn’t need it. You understand that the world has gone straight to hell, and it’s a fight for survival now. That the world has simply changed and this family is doing everything in their power to protect one another. That’s what I kind of liked about the movie the most. It didn’t try to hard to explain itself. You just go on this 90 minute thrill ride and you’re immersed into every single second of it. The movie is scary, I had my hands over my mouth during the first few minutes because you know exactly what is going to happen, but it’s still painful to watch and the fact that they can’t make any noise and watching everyones body language and faces during this type of scene is why the movie is so special. It really makes you think, about going through all these painful experiences and really not being able to do anything, not even cry. I don’t know if I could live in a world like that, and Emily Blunt is so just damn good in this movie. She really brings the whole thing together, and the fact that her and Krasinski are married in real life, I think made the bond between these two people even stronger. The two kids, Noah Jupe and especially Millicent Simmonds who is just fantastic both bring their A game to the table. They really felt like a family.

You can tell Krasinski took some inspiration from other great monster movies. Like Jaws for instance. He knows exactly when to show you the creature and when to tease it. That’s what makes monster movies so good, is when they show their cards at the exact right moment. I thought overall the creatures were pretty cool. I was into their design, and I really liked how they feed off sound. And towards the end of the movie you begin to realize some things about them and how everything ultimately comes together is really well executed. Tons of great jump scares, that aren’t your typical jump scares and a few even caught me off guard. You need to be in a crowded theatre for this one, because it makes the experience so much better. Which luckily I had, I thought it almost made the movie a bit more tense, because you can feel that all around you at certain moments in the film.

Walking out, I wanted more of this world, there is so much more that could be explored. But what we get is just a fantastic 90 minute journey that sucks you in from the very second the movie begins. Sometimes that’s all you need, no big set ups, no world building, no after credits tease, just a really well made film. The setting, the cinematography, the score, everything in this movie is pretty much flawless. It’s a beautifully made movie, with only a budget of 17 million dollars. It made that back on Friday night. I’m really happy for Krasinski, this movie is going to be a juggernaut at the box-office. I’m sensing a Get Out kind of reception and acclaim.  I can’t recommend this movie enough, it’s a incredible movie going experience, and it’s movies like this, why I enjoy going to the theatre so much.

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – A Quiet Place = 92/100

Reviews

‘Ready Player One’ Review

Ready Player One. More like, Ready Player Fun. Am I right!?

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(WARNER BROTHERS)

“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.”

Nostalgia literally means “wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life,” and when you enter the OASIS that’s exactly what you get. The feeling of nostalgia can bring about all sorts of emotions and feelings, some good, some bad, most of the time it brings you back to a “better” time in your life. Enter Ready Player One, the newest Steven Spielberg (yeah that guy) epic based on the 2011 Ernest Cline novel that shares the same name. The world right now is kind of in a pseudo nostalgia phase. Obsessed with once was, things like Stranger Things, IT and now Ready Player One. The thought of going back to maybe a time when things were a little simpler seems to be a trend in Hollywood these days.

So when beloved game maker James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, the world is heartbroken. Halliday is responsible for creating the OASIS, and as our hero Wade Watts/Parzival  (Tye Sheridan) puts it “People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do,” and “They stay for all the things they can be.” It is now 2045 and people need an escape from their miserable lives. The world has lost some important resources and people are sick and tired of the dreadful world they live in. You can be anyone you want in the OASIS, big, small, beautiful, a giant, a robot, an orc, anything your imagination can think of. The OASIS gives you the freedom to do so. When he died Halliday left behind an “Easter Egg,” and the first person to find this egg would take over complete control of the OASIS and essentially the future of the world. The wonderful thing about the OASIS is well freedom, like I mentioned, freedom to be and do whatever you can imagine. The possibilities are endless inside this virtual reality, until well an evil corporation is trying to find this egg, so they can run a profit off this game and ruin all the fun for everyone. IOI is this corporation and they are run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelssohn) and they will ultimately stop at nothing until they find this egg. Halliday was a man who grew up in the 80’s, he loves Atari, War Games the movie, any arcade game you can think of. So when he died, the popular culture within the 80’s blew up, because the more you know about Halliday, the better your chance at finding the egg are. Parzival isn’t alone on his quest to find this egg, his best friend Aech/Helen (Lena Waithe),  the love of his life Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke), Sho (Phillip Zhao and Daito (Win Morisaki) are all in this hunt together. Together they make the “High Five,” and one hell of a team. The hunt consists of finding three hidden keys, that will lead you to the prize. It had been years since the death of Halliday and not a single key had been found. Not until Parzival stumbles upon a clue that leads him to the Copper Key. From there it’s a race against time, winner take all battle royale if you must to find this egg. There won’t be another movie where you can see King Kong, Chucky, the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and the little twins from The Shinning all make an impact on your movie, and for me, that is pretty special.

When I first walked out of the theatre Wednesday night, I didn’t know how I felt about this movie. I love the novel, I read it twice and I wanted to see it come to life on the big screen. This is Ready Player One the movie, it doesn’t really capture the spirit of the book. Sure it takes the most important elements, but this is not a faithful adaptation and I didn’t know how I felt about that. Because I wanted to see this incredible fun story come to life, but I know adapting a book onto the big screen, especially one like Ready Player One can be extremely difficult. So I needed to go in a second time, so I could just sit back, relax and watch this as a movie. And I must say, I absolutely love Ready Player One.

People will be on the fence with this film, I think you can immerse yourself into this world pretty easily, but others will have a hard time doing so. The references and the amount of characters and easter eggs inside this movie alone are too many to count. Here’s the thing they don’t do it in a way, where it’s just “Hey, look at thing that, I know that!” They aren’t shoving these references down your throat. Everything intertwines perfectly, and I thought Spielberg did an incredible job building this world. I was just caught off guard with how different the movie was from the book, so I was disappointed in that sense. But this is a film review and it’s a pretty damn good movie. No one really knows how to do a great chase scene like Spielberg, and there’s a pretty fantastic one in this, if I say so myself. He has a knack for fast, clean, precise and well shot action, he’s a legendary director and you’re basically giving him the keys to the kingdom here. How he manages to shoot scenes with so much going on and so many pieces and characters all at once, but it feels so natural. You can understand what is going on at all times, and how he was able to pull this off is just remarkable. Whenever we are transported to the OASIS I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, so inevitably when we are back in the real world, all you want to do is go back, where everything is brighter, faster and way more entertaining.

The cast is great, Tye and Olivia are great leads, and Mendelssohn continues to prove he can play a really good corporate asshole, he’s such a fantastic villain. But you almost learn to love their avatars more then their human counterparts. Especially for a character like Aech, who just had one of the best looking character designs I’ve seen in a movie. Ready Player One is very Spielbergian at times, all the things we love about his movies come to life here, and I’m happy he was the man to tackle this. There are moments of sheer delight, where my face was hurting due to the amount of smiling I was doing. This is more than just a pop culture nostalgia-fest. There’s heart and real life connections to be made. About how reality is real, and you can’t hide forever. That no matter who you are or what you do inside a game or on the internet, none of that really matters, it’s what happens in reality that counts. Reality can be scary, but it can also be great and as James Halliday puts it – the only place to get a decent meal.

Yes it’s a ton of fun, pointing out all the different characters you see, all the songs you recognize, but I think at the end of the day, Spielberg just made a really enjoyable popcorn flick. I think he knows it, and I think that was his main goal. No Oscar bait, no awards, just pure fun and a trip down memory lane. Imagine Willy Wonka decided to created a virtual reality instead of making candy, and he had all the money in the world to do so, that’s what the OASIS is. The more I think about it, the more I fall in love with the movie. I don’t think it’s ground breaking or anything like that, I just think it’s such a fun ride, and if you get on board with it, you’ll love it. My displeasure of them not being more faithful to the book is a nitpick, but one that can’t take away from the actual movie itself. That would not be fair to the movie. It gives me hope that perhaps down the road we will get that adaptation, but for now I am perfectly okay with the version we have right now. It’s a movie about the future but deals a lot with our present and again Spielberg just made another incredible movie. If you like the movie or didn’t like the movie but haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you give it a try, because it’s an easy, short and super fun read!

Check ya later.

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Ready Player One = 85/100

 

Reviews

‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Review

So they made a sequel to Pacific Rim……..

“Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.”

I can’t believe it has been 5 years since I sat down in a theatre and was absolutely blown away by Guillermo Del Toro’s incredible Pacific Rim. The man grew up loving monsters and this was a project he wanted to make his entire life. Pacific Rim kind of came out of nowhere, I remember the trailers being really loud and fast paced and I didn’t know that to expect from the film. Once 2013 was all said and done, turns out Pacific Rim was my favourite movie from that year. Guillermo has the ability to craft such poetry on screen. His colour schemes, the Jaeger and Kaiju design were so impeccable, you really felt the passion all over this movie. You could just feel his magical touch all over Pacific Rim, I think that’s what it sets it apart from every other movie like it. Transformers, Battleship, Godzilla, all these movies are just generic in every sense of the word, yet Del Toro managed to create a really beautiful universe within the Pacific Rim realm.

So we had to wait 5 long years to go back into a world that had giant robots fighting lager than life monsters, but this time around, Del Toro was not behind the camera. And for me, this is the biggest weakest of the movie. Steven S. DeKnight fills in. He doesn’t do a horrible job, but that magical touch I was talking about is quite frankly gone. This is what Pacific Rim would look like if someone who wasn’t so passionate about the material made the movie. The biggest flaw of Pacific Rim: Uprising is that it just feels like every other movie. They made a paint by numbers rock em sock em blockbuster. With generic characters and an insanely weak and messy plot. I wanted this movie to be great, but it’s just not a very good film. Instead of building off what Del Toro built, they almost decided to erase all of his work and start fresh and that was a terrible idea.

We pick up 10 years after the events of the first film and the Kaiju are no more. This time around we follow the journey of Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) son of war hero and former Jaeger pilot Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), who doesn’t want nor believes that he needs to follow in his fathers footsteps. When a new threat arises, Jake must not only follow in his fathers shoes, but finished what he started. He isn’t alone on this journey, Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) are along for the ride. I don’t want to say the acting is terrible, I think the script is just poor. Everyone is trying their best with the material given to them. Boyega remains insanely charismatic, like I’m talking young Dwayne Johnson levels here, but it wasn’t enough. Scott Eastwood is in this movie, that’s all I got to say about that. The big problem for me was they introduced a bunch of kids, and it made it feel too much like Power Rangers. The first one had these mature adults piloting the Jaegers and now we have some really young kids, who aren’t great actors trying to carry this whole movie, and it didn’t work out. We see some old familiar faces with Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as the wacky Kaiju scientists. I will only say this, the worst part of the entire movie is what they did with Charlie Day’s character, I won’t get into it, but my god. One of the worst things I’ve seen in a movie in a very long time. We also get the return of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who happens to be Jake’s sister. She is totally misused, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. A total badass turned into an army general, who I felt was in the movie just so we had a familiar face to look at.

There just wasn’t any jaw dropping moments, even the action lacked anything we haven’t seen before. The new looked Jaegers were almost to sleek and slim, it just made them look less realistic. I liked the old, clunky, slow moving but methodical Jaegers from the first. The Hong Kong action sequence is still some of the best stuff I’ve seen on IMAX. There was no moment throughout the entire film where I felt I was getting something new, something revolutionary, which is just really a shame. A lot of it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and by the time the good stuff came around, I found myself completely checked out of the movie. The action doesn’t really occur until the final 20 minutes of the movie, and it’s just nothing special. I just wanted them to take what Del Toro started and make a few adjustments and improve on it just a tad. Just take a look below and nothing even comes close to it.

I went in thinking how bad could this movie possibly be? As it turns out, pretty bad. I hate to say it, because you know a ton of work goes into making any movie, but at the end of the day, Pacific Rim: Uprising will go down as one of 2018’s worst. It’s going to bomb at the box-office this weekend, so I have a feeling this will be the last time we get to venture into this world, and that just sucks. Maybe if Del Toro agrees to come back and do a sort of prequel, the guy did just win best director and picture, so I think he has the power to do anything he wants right now. That is the only way we will see Jaegers vs. Kaju in the near future. I know this is a movie about giant robots punching and fighting monsters, and I shouldn’t think so much into it, but when at it’s core is about that, and that thing can’t even satisfy you or entertain you, well something isn’t right. If the plot stinks, the acting is sub-par, and the action doesn’t measure up, well you have a big time failure on your hands. I wanted this movie to be great so badly, I love this world, but it failed massively, and I think this is the end of the Pacific Rim franchise.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Pacific Rim: Uprising = 44/100

Reviews

‘Tomb Raider’ Movie Review

I know it’s not saying a lot, but this is one of the best video game movies ever made

‘Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared’.

The newest video game adaptation is another Tomb Raider movie, this time directed by Roar Uthaug. I can’t think of a trend in Hollywood that has a worst track record then movies based off video games. There have been plenty throughout my lifetime and for the most part, they all failed in spectacular fashion. With some of them even being regarded as some of the worst movies ever made, so whenever they roll out another one, usually people just roll their eyes and move on. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me a hundred times, well you should just give up at this point. BUT, there can always be exceptions, and this time around with the new and improved, more grounded Tomb Raider, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Remember all the way back in 2001 when Angelina Jolie geared up for her portrayal of the Lara Croft. She actually got two cracks at it, both being met with insanely harsh critics. They can be thought of as some of the last 90’s actions movies ever made. You know, insanely over the top, cheese fest. It was soon after where everything started to become more grounded and serious. These movies were the polar opposite.

It’s simple there’s a new and improved Lara Croft and it’s Alicia Vikander. Going into the movie, people questioned if she was suited to play this role. The movie is based on the rebooted game that came out in 2013, where they detoured away from making Lara a sexual figured and made her just a regular kind of gal. This is a really close adaptation of the 2013 game, and it’s a serious shift from the previous installments. The trailers were decent enough to get me to the theatre to see this. Remember we are talking about a video game movie so I was hesitant to say the least.

So this leads us into the movie itself, this is another origin story for Lara Croft, where she is on a mission to find out what happened to her father. He’s been missing for just over 7 years and when she receives a clue about what was really going on in his life, she embarks on a epic journey to a mysterious island, to help solve a mystery that drove him mad. I thought Alicia who is an Oscar winner was just incredible as Lara. You can tell she obviously put in a ton of work to get in impeccable shape for this role. She’s a mixture of Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones in this movie.  Throughout the movie Lara finds herself in life and death situations and is constantly testing her limits, and as we get deeper into the movie, the bigger hero she becomes. Dominic West plays her missing father, and I thought they played off one another really well. For a video game movie, this actually had a really good cast. Dominic West is a truly gifted actor and I thought he elevated Alicia’s performance. When Lara arrives on the island, well she ends up getting shipped wrecked and she finds herself in a hostage situation. There is a secret and evil company known as “Trinity” who is after the mysterious power that lays dormant on this deserted island. Being held captive by their leader, Mathias Vogel (Walter Goggins), he is only trying to do his job and return home so he can see his own family. It’s been 7 long years on that island and his motives have become corrupt. Walter Goggins is just a straight up professional and throughout the movie, I kept thinking that he was kind of the only person I could see playing this role. He does a great job at playing the asshole, being cocky and an all-around jerk, so once again he pulled that off.

Tomb Raider is a movie based off a video game, which means everything will not be realistic, it’s going to have certain moments that seem unbelievable, or as I like to call them “video game moments,” but that should be expected by everyone. One thing I really dug about this movie, was how they roughed up Alicia throughout the film. She’s surviving a ton of hard falls, escaping improbable circumstances, and even suffering some pretty major wounds. Movies have tendencies to always make the female leads look perfect and pretty regardless of the situation and what has gone on throughout the movie, this wasn’t the case. She was being tested and going through a ton, and as the movie carries on, it takes a toll on Lara and you can sense that on the screen. Some of these things aren’t very realistic, but if you can look past that, you should enjoy this movie. It certainly isn’t perfect, and has major storytelling issues and some horrendous dialogue, but I knew that was going to be the case going in. I went to see this movie, because I wanted to see Alicia’s portrayal of this iconic character. She went all in for this role, it’s obvious and I think at the end of the day, she deserves a ton of credit. This is a Tomb Raider film, things are going to be a little unbelievable, part of the third act, it gets that way, but I definitely thought it was going to get even more silly than it did. If you like the games or have played the Uncharted games, I think you can sit down and enjoy this. It has some pretty cool action sequences, and it’s entertaining enough that seeing it in theatres is worth it. One of the biggest letdowns was having it be in 3D, which served no purpose whatsoever, it took me out of the movie to be honest, so that was one thing I was really disappointed with.

Overall, it’s a fun action/adventure film, that I had a enjoyable time with. It’s not perfect, no video game movie is. It’s not even a great movie, but this movie belongs to Alicia Vikander, and rightfully so. I can’t stress enough, this is a Tomb Raider movie, you need to know what you’re getting into before seeing this movie. I think it’s a good step in the right direction for video game movies and that is really important. I honestly want a sequel just to watch Vikander kick some more ass.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Tomb Raider = 68/100

Reviews

‘Game Night’ Review

Rachel McAdams is comedic freight train. This is the best comedy since 21 Jump Street.

(WARNER BROS.)

“A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.”

Everyone has that couple in their life that can’t stand to lose at anything. You know the type of people that are so competitive it drives you insane, but it also brings out the competitive nature in yourself. Well meet Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) the most competitive couple in the history of rom-coms. Meeting at bar trivia night, they host a weekly game night with their close knit group of friends. When things start to become stale and routine for the event, in comes Max’s much cooler brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) to spice things up. Being the super competitive person he is, Max is always trying to one up his brother in game night but also in life. Feeling he has never achieved this, he is feeling pressures in his every day life to live up to his almighty brother.

I went back several years to see comedies that have recently come out, and to be quite honest, it was slim pickings to find one that really stuck with me. I had to go all the way back to 21 Jump Street to find a movie that made me laugh this hard in theatres. Game Night is the perfect movie, I couldn’t think of one flaw in the whole thing. Unlike most comedies these days, that rely way to much on poop, or dick jokes to get through the movie, Game Night just relies on one hell of a script. It’s tight and so well constructed, that all the jokes come so naturally, it really makes you respect the film even more. You’ve seen the trailers, Brooks invites the whole gang over for a “game night they’ll never forget.” When he plans a murder mystery party that goes awol, the rest of the guests need to figure out what’s real and what’s not. Action comedies have been done before, but sometimes you find what is happening isn’t occurring organically and feels almost forced. This is not the case here, everything happening feels so organic and happens so naturally, and that’s what makes the movie so damn funny. The other two couples at the party, Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his British date Sarah (Sharon Horgan). Ryan tends to bring a new girl to game night every week, the only person in the group not in a relationship, but this time around he brings a “ringer” in Sarah. They work off each other incredibly, him being the dumb idiot, while she is quick witted and very educated. It was great watching them bounce jokes off one another and slowly fall for each other, despite being polar opposites. We have the couple who has been together since grade school, Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) who also work incredibly well together. During game night they play a game of “never have I ever,” and when she reveals she had slept with a celebrity when they were on a two week break. Watching Kevin trying to figure out who, and the ultimate reveal was INCREDIBLE.

This is situational comedy at its finest. Like I said, there aren’t bad one liners, corny jokes about bodily fluids, everything just feels so right within this movie. Action comedies always feel the need to start off really funny, and then have the action go from 0-100 real quick, well that’s not what happens here. Everything you see feels like it needed to happen in order to progress the story further along, and even the cast themselves realize how crazy things are getting. There are certain moments in this movie that I find myself laughing about days later. That’s always a sign of a great comedy. Now there are two stand outs of the movie. First is Jesse Plemons who plays Gary, the next door neighbour who no longer gets invited to game night. You see, Gary is kind of an odd duck, a police officer, he is going through a divorce and just wants to be part of game night again. He wants to be reunited with his friends, but every scene that Jesse is in, he is stealing the show. He plays his role to perfection, that awkward, deadpan neighbour, who has zero social skills. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by his comedic skills. Next, Rachel McAdams in my opinion gives the best performance of her career. I know she was nominated for Spotlight, which she is fantastic in, but she is unbelievable in Game Night. It’s been a long time since she’s got to do comedy, and she’s kind of just been floating around lately. She had a ton of fun making this movie, you can tell by her performance, and I’m really happy for her.

I knew Game Night was going to be enjoyable and I would laugh, but I never thought I would feel this way about it. It’s honestly the perfect movie, and it would be great for a date night. There is a solid stretch of about 30-40 minutes which is so enjoyable and so funny, I couldn’t believe it. Paced well, never falters and actually leaves you guessing till the very end. You yourself don’t even know what’s real and what’s fake until the very end of the movie. This is the comedy that not enough people will see, and once it hits Netflix everyone will be going crazy over it, so do yourself a favour and get out to your local theatre and support this gem. Still can’t get over how good Rachel McAdams is in this movie.

Check ya later.

Nate’s Movie Tour Review – Game Night = 97/100

 

Reviews

‘Annihilation’ Review

“A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.”

To quickly sum it up. This movie is Predator on acid. Interpret that however you want.

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(PARAMOUNT)

I’m dead serious when I say that Annihilation, Alex Garland’s latest science-fiction film is an acid trip. Throughout the film I kept asking myself, “man this is going to be really difficult to write about.’ Annihilation is best served in dialogue when discussing the film, because it is such a complex and unique film. This is the definition of heavy science fiction, where it leaves you scratching your head long after the movie is over. I’m still digesting what I saw, because it asks so many questions, and like most great science-fiction movies, it doesn’t always give you the answers you are searching for. Now that can leave the average movie goer with a lot of frustrations because you invest your time and money into the movie, and don’t come away with certain answers to questions that are lingering throughout the entire movie.

I’ll say this first and foremost, this movie is not for everyone. You need to have knowledge in your taste in film going into Annihilation. Because this isn’t some grand science-fiction epic, with a ton of action and explosions. It’s also not a summer blockbuster like Black Panther which dropped last week. This is almost an art-house movie, in the sense that it seems small, but asks MASSIVE questions about biology, evolution and what it means to be human. When Alex Garland came bursting onto the scene in 2015 with Ex-Machina, he instantly became a fan favourite when it came to the science-fiction genre, so when he was attached to direct this movie, based on the best selling novel, people’s ears were perked up to say the least. Add in Natalie Portman as the star of the show, and now people were seriously intrigued. The first trailer dropped and I was instantly hooked and this became my fifth most anticipated movie of 2018. Here’s the thing about building up movies, sometimes they aren’t exactly what you want them to be, or simply don’t meet your expectations. Annihilation just wasn’t what I was expecting, so I can’t say it didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. It would be unfair of me to criticize a movie just because it wasn’t what I thought it “should be.”

No one is going to go see this movie, not because it’s a bad movie, it’s currently sitting at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, but because it’s so different. People just want to go into a movie and sometimes not have to think or be told a unique and insanely different kind of story. Comic book movies, sequels, prequels, they all rule the box-office right now, and it’s a shame, because I think if you can, you should head out and see this movie. It’s deep, it’s rich, it’s very thought provoking material, where I’m still not sure what the message or the ending means. When Kane (Oscar Issac) suddenly returns home, his wife Lena (Natalie Portman) is shocked beyond belief. Meeting each other in the military he went on a top secret mission and had now been missing for just over a year. Thinking he was dead, when he resurfaces, he just isn’t the same. Shortly after his return, he needs medical attention and slips into a coma, and that’s when we find out that he had entered the ‘Shimmer.” Lena is now in Area X, located just outside the Shimmer, she intends to find out what happened to her husband and embarks on an expedition inside it, along with 4 other crew members. Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny) and Josie (Tessa Thompson). All these ladies excel in some sort of scientific background and want to know what exactly is at the hear of the Shimmer. This is a female led film, all of them giving great performances, I thought Gina Rodriguez was tremendous, and we should be again celebrating an all female cast, not just for that single reason, but also because it’s a fantastic movie. Everyone pulls their own weight, and Tessa Thompson is a freight train that cannot be stopped right now.

See something three years prior landed on Earth, at a lighthouse, and ever since, the Shimmer has be manifesting and growing. Every team they send in, never make it out alive, until Kane. Things start off normal, but the Shimmer is a myserteous place for a reason, and when they start to realize that the laws of nature do not apply here. They discover a crocodile that has been crossbred with a shark. From the very get-go the team realizes they are most likely on a one way mission, but they want to try to find some sort of answers. The further they get into the Shimmer, the weirder things become. Lena realizes that their own DNA has been compromised. You knew all of that from the trailers, so I won’t go any further into plot points or spoilers, because everyone should really have the opportunity to fully take in this flick. The visuals are simply stunning, with a 50 million dollar budget, the visuals are better than most blockbusters, and Garland really builds a world of his own. This is just a really ambitious movie, with imaginative story-telling. It’s almost the definition of mesmerizing because at times, you aren’t really sure what you are watching, because it’s so vastly different from anything you have ever seen before it. It can be terrifying in moments, fun in others, and all around suspenseful. It’s unsettling, you see things that make you want to look away, but get you so immersed in the movie, because you want to know why these things are going on. You really want to know what the Shimmer is, but it’s not about the end, it’s about the journey.

This is survival of the fittest, they are battling new elements that the human race has never seen before, but also one another. It leaves you scratching your head at times, because in certain parts they take you one way and you think this is where the movie is going, but then they flip things around, and you want to know why the movie shifted gears so quickly. Don’t worry the climax delivers copious amounts of that blood and gore and a ton of tension, you will get your fill. The landscape is miraculous, it’s a world that wants to shake you up a bit, it’s uneasy for a reason. Some things are better left unsaid, and in some instances unsolved. You don’t get all the answers you are looking for, but going on this acid trip is worth it. Sometimes you need to expand your own horizons, step out of your comfort zone and experience something new. Annihilation is just the thing you are looking for. It’s like creating a new cocktail and Annihilation is part Arrival, part Predator, and part 2001: A Space Odyssey and that is the greatest compliment one can give.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Review – Annihilation = 90/100

 

Reviews

‘Black Panther’ Review

Haven’t seen Black Panther yet? “Wakanda” do about it? You can get your butt to the theatre and enjoy this movie, that’s what!

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(DISNEY)

“T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.”

The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is none other than Black Panther, which was written and directed by Ryan Coogler. It continues the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) after the events of Captain America: Civil War, where he is set to become the King of his country Wakanda. After Civil War came out, there were a few standouts of the movie and Boseman and his portrayal of Black Panther was one of them. So when they attached Ryan Coogler to helm his first solo movie, everyone was excited. First things first, the hype surrounding this movie is massive, and I understand that, but this is also a movie, and like every movie, it has flaws. This is important to discuss, because I believe that if people dissect this movie and talk about the good (which there is so much of) but also the flaws, they might fear repercussions. Which isn’t fair, because like most movies, especially comic book movies, they are bound to have flaws in them, it just comes with the territory. So I think it’s best to view the movie as a whole and just enjoy it for what it is. A terrifically directed, well acted Marvel movie, which will please audiences everywhere and make a boatload of money.

What does it take to be King of a nation? What responsibilities comes with it? For T’Challa he is about to find out about all of these things, and what it truly means to be a great ruler and leader of a nation. Going into Black Panther, I knew there would be a strong political message, and strong social commentary, which there was. But Coogler found a way to do it so seamlessly and naturally, that it really tied the movie together. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced country in the world, yet they hide in plain sight. Built on the backbone of Vibranium, they have the means to do so much, but they keep all of these secrets to themselves. They do not help the outside world, and millions of people could use their help. T’Challa is conflicted when he becomes King, because unlike previous rulers, he believes Wakanda can be doing so much more. They have the power and tools to help so many of those that suffer; yet they do nothing, and that starts to eat away at him. This is where Michael B Jordan’s character Killmonger comes into play. You see, he is of Wakandan decent but was raised in America, so he didn’t have all of this technology and a safe space to grow up in. Now an adult, he wonders why they sit back and do nothing, while their kind is struggling in the outside world. So when he challenges T’Challa to the throne, he wants to be King, so he can use their technology to essentially rule the world. Or take back what was rightfully theirs. Michael B Jordan is such a great young talented actor and when he was cast as Killmonger, and I saw he was going to be playing the villain, I knew this had serious potential to be a special performance, it was. He gives a charismatic performance, the best villain since Loki, and the craziest part about Killmonger is, you feel for him. Like I said, he wasn’t raised in the protective bubble that is Wakanda, he was raised in the outside world, and had to deal with all the hardships that come with that. Stuff we know to be true and see everyday on the news, and he is extremely pissed off that they have done nothing about it. So when he shows up in Wakanda and starts asking all of these questions, it makes all the other characters start to question their own beliefs, and that is what makes the movie so damn good. What makes a truly great villain is when he makes the hero question his own belief system and what it means to be a hero, and Killmonger does just that. Because deep down, you kind of believe in what he believes in. Why doesn’t Wakanda help the outside world? Why aren’t they using this incredible technology to help those in need? So you start to see where he’s coming from, but like every great villain, he goes about it the wrong way. He questions the entire existence of Wakanda and what it means to be the world’s most powerful nation, and they start to listen. Michael just gives such a powerful performance, like I knew he would and continues to just knock it out of the park. That brings me to the biggest flaw of the movie, not enough Killmonger. He has such a cool introduction and you are instantly connected to him, then we go about 40 minutes without him. The movie needed more, because whenever he was on screen, you couldn’t look away, and every one of his scenes was intense.

Michael B Jordan isn’t the only standout in this superb cast. Again this movie is being celebrated because of the massive African American cast, which it should be. The movie is so rich in black culture, but Coogler also uses that to build a culture of his own, which is that of Wakanda. The world building here is incredible, and you leave the theatre wanting to see more and to understand more. They could have just said, look at this magical place we have made up, and not given any insight to their beliefs or culture, but they dive so deep into it, you almost begin to think it’s a real place. That is truly the work of a great director. Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, the little sister to T’Challa was the breakout star of this film. She gives one heck of a performance, where she can be fierce and feisty, yet provides some of the biggest laughs in the entire movie. A star making performance in my mind, and I expect to see her in many things down the line. I can’t wait to see her in upcoming MCU movies, because she was so great. The whole cast is awesome, and I know they all had so much fun making this movie together and knew what it would mean to the world. This really is a special movie, during a time when we need a movie like this. Because the themes and the messages behind it are so relevant today, that it makes it that much more important. Marvel could have just made another stereotypical comic book movie. About a guy in a costume and have a ton of stuff blow up. Yes stuff goes boom and there’s a guy in a costume, but it’s about so much more, and that’s why it’s so important.

In the end I really enjoyed Black Panther, it was a fun ride, with plenty of action, the CGI in some parts was a tad underwhelming, but overall it’s was fine. I prefer a better-told story and a strong message behind something than having incredible CGI. Ryan Coogler is now three for three in directing and he’s only 31 years old. That’s a very inspirational thing, seeing someone so young create such incredible movies. He has such a bright future ahead of him, and personally I can’t wait to continue watching him make movies for decades to come.

Check ya later.

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Black Panther = 90/10

Reviews

‘Call Me By Your Name’ Review

“Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Before you know it, your heart is worn out. And as for your body, there comes a point where no one looks at it. Much less wants to come near it.”

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(Frenzy Films)

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Do you remember what it felt like? Maybe your first crush? Your life changes when you meet that person, or you have certain feelings for the very first time in your life. It’s a special moment in every person’s life because well love is suppose to make you fell something, it’s suppose to make you feel complete. Call Me By Your Name is just that, a love story. Just so happens it has to be a gay love story, which occurs in the summer of 1983 in a villa in Italy. Honestly who wouldn’t want to fall in love in such a place? Italy is such a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people and in the summer of 1983 it saw a romance form like no other.

Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is a 17 year old boy who in the summer lives in a villa in Italy with his parents Mr. Perlmen (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Annella (Amira Casar). His father, an archaeologist who studies sculptures, brings in a grad student every summer to help him with his work. Elio rarely thinks anything of these students, as they come and go every year, and he never seems to be able to form any sort of bond or friendship with them. When Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives, well everything changes. Hammer, has a statuesque stature himself. From the very get-go you notice the size difference between Oliver and Elio. The Perlman’s are as the world would put it today “boujee,” they are fluent in multiple languages, well read and educated and appear to have an incredible amount of wealth. When Oliver first arrives, Eilo gets a sense of entitlement and cockiness, and is immediately fascinated by him. He gives off an “American” vibe, for instance, whenever he leaves, he declares “Later!” Elio is thrown off by his behaviour, but the two form a bond right away.

Most days for Elio are spent riding his bike, reading pool side in his swim trunks and flirting with the local girls. Oliver joins in with all of these activities, and when they start to bond and begin a friendship, Elio doesn’t know how to react. He isn’t sure if this is a real friendship or if Oliver is just being nice and Elio is merely the professors kid. Elio is a 17 year old kid, he’s going through what any 17 year old goes through. An insane rush of emotions and hormones. Elio is so intwined with Oliver, he cares so much about how he views him and what he thinks of him. The movie doesn’t give us any back story to Elio’s character, so we don’t know if he has had feelings like this before, but once Oliver arrives, it awakens something in him, he begins to finally see the light.

Call Me By Your Name isn’t so much about “doing it,” but rather wanting to “do it.” It’s about discovering your true sexual orientation and being comfortable in your own skin. For the most part, our two leads are wearing no shirts and just swim trunks, it’s summer, it’s Italy and it kind of sets the stage for some early physical contact, when Oliver offers to help Elio with his injured shoulder. The word “gay” is uttered once throughout the whole movie, which you might find strange in a movie about a gay romance. The one time it is said isn’t even directed at either one of our leads but rather a person in passing. The conversations about that subject between Elio and Oliver often happen off screen and I found this quite fascinating. This all happens naturally because director Luca Guadagnino allows it to, he sets the stage early on, and we watch as this progresses. Remember Oliver is only here for the summer, so this ends up being a painful summer romance, and when they finally figure out what they share together it is simply too late. The problem lies within Elio where he at one point asks Oliver if he is sick. Oliver simply replies “I wish everyone was as sick as you.” You almost wish these two would have had more time together, because they ultimately wish the same thing.

From the very start you knew these two would get along, Elio and his self confidence and intelligence meshed well with Oliver’s sometimes arrogance and often at times bro-ish behaviour. They are attractive to each others intelligence first, then it becomes more physical. They seem perfect for one another, but all good things must come to an end, and when the summer ends, so does this romance. It’s a coming of age kind of summer for Elio as cliche as that sounds. By the end of the summer, he is now who he was meant to be, and he is heartbroken.

The two leads give inspiring performances, and have incredible chemistry. It’s a testament to both actors. And they seemed to form a great bond in real life as well. Timothée has such a bright future in acting and seeing this side of Armie Hammer made me respect him even more as an actor.

This is 1983, the world was a different place and this kind of relationship wouldn’t have been accepted. So when Oliver arrives to work for Elio’s father, the two become close. He becomes part of the family. They have an incredible close knit family, that is very tight. So as this is going on, you are unaware of how the parents are viewing this and if they know what is even going on. Throughout the movie, glances are shared between the Perlman’s, that gives you the idea that they know something is going on. Nothing is ever said between the pair or to their son. They are being so supportive of their son, and they don’t even have to say a word. They are generous people, the kind of parents you want to grow up with. As one would put it, they are reading between the lines of this friendship forming before their eyes. They notice the changes in their son. They are allowing their son to become something, that as it’s put in the movie, most parents would not allow to happen. Allowing their son to grow into the person he is meant to become is your job as a parent. You know the saying – you don’t know what you got till it’s gone? That’s pretty much what Call Me By Your Name is about. Oliver and Elio sit outside well into the night and talk about how much wasted time they had this summer. That most things in life come and go so quickly that before you realize it, that thing you are experiencing is already a memory. Some of the greatest things in life are ephemeral, and for Elio and Oliver, their love is the greatest example.

The movie ends with a beautifully haunting speech by Michael Stulhbarg when he sits in his office with Elio and tells him about love. About what he experienced with Oliver is the type of love that people will search for their entire lives. That he wishes he found what they had this past summer. He envies what he had with Oliver, and that most parents wish and pray their son would land on his feet – he’s no such parent. It touches on everything you just felt watching Call Me By Your Name, all the themes and messages the film was trying to convey. “We rip out so much of ourselves, to be cured of things faster. That we are bankrupt by the age of 30, and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.” This final interaction between father and son is so powerful and emotional, that I feel like it’s a scene that will almost live on forever. When you are unsure about something in life, maybe love, go watch that scene and be reminded it’s okay to be different and that love is such a powerful thing. Don’t let the world change who you are, and be who you are meant to be. I am shocked Stulhbarg wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for this performance. The more I sit with this movie, the more I think I enjoyed it.

I will also never look at a peach the same way again.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Call Me By Your Name = 84/100

Reviews

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Review

The most family friendly movie you’ll see all year!

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(FOX SEARCHLIGHT)

“A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.”

How does one deal with loss? Everyone deals with things in their own unique way, and for Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) buying three billboards is how she copes with hers. The biggest fear for any parent is the loss of a child, and when it happens unexpectedly and in the worst way imaginable, that can take a toll and have a serious affect on any parent. So when Mildred’s daughter Angela is raped and murdered she is determined to find those responsible. Well several months pass and NOTHING has happened, no arrests, no questionings and Mildred has pretty much had enough. So outside her house are three blank billboards. She takes it upon herself to buy them and writes up a harsh message for the chief of police, Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Mildred can’t believe there hasn’t even been one arrest. It’s pretty obvious that Willoughby and Mildred are familiar with one another, most likely growing up together in this small Missouri albeit fictional city.

Three Billboards at it’s core is how people rebound and cope with loss. For Mildred it’s putting up those three billboards. She knows this will not bring her daughter back, but I took it has a symbol, that as long as she has these in her life. There’s still a little part of her daughter left, which was hope. For Mildred’s son Robbie (Lucas Hedges), well he isn’t to thrilled about having these billboards outside their home. It’s hard enough for him having Mildred as a mother at the moment. Everyone in town knows who she is, and he may love her, but he’s a little embarrassed by it all. Now everyday he goes home, he has to be reminded that his older sister was raped and murdered, because as he puts it – if there wasn’t a second of the day he wasn’t thinking about it, he certainly is on the car ride home. They have a chaotic family, her ex husband was very abusive, both physically and mentally. Mildred is one of the strongest characters in film in the last year. Frances McDormand is a freight train, and gives such an incredible performance. Mildred is taking on the entire town and doesn’t back down from anyone, including the police.

Which leads me into the next part of the film, which deals with the police department in Ebbing Missouri. We have Willoughby, who is a level headed cop. He’s a family man and deep down it breaks his heart that he can’t catch the men responsible for Angela’s murder. But as he tells Mildred, they could not find a DNA match and there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict someone

. When he tells Mildred they can’t go around and get DNA from everyone in town, she doesn’t understand why they can’t and why it is ethically wrong to even consider that. She can only see the end goal, which is finding the killer, and she doesn’t care how she gets there. They have a complicated relationship, they understand each other, but at the same time can’t see eye-to-eye. You see, Willoughby has cancer and it’s killing him. So you feel for him, because not only is there a giant billboard telling him to do his job better, which he has, but he’s also dying. One scene in particular with Mildred and Willoughby where she goes into the police station for questioning, and you think you know how the scene is going to end, but then it takes a serious turn, and from there the whole movie kind of changes. Up in to that point, the movie was going in one direction, but after this scene, you couldn’t really predict anything that was going to happen. It’s an emotional scene, and it really makes the movie feel real and raw.

For most people this is Frances McDormand’s movie, but for me, Sam Rockwell steals the show. Remember his character from The Green Mile? Well just image that guy, but he’s a police officer in a small rural town. The definition of a nightmare if you ask me. He’s a bigot, a racist, he’s pretty dumb and he doesn’t mind beating a helpless citizen when he can. Jason Dixon is his name, and pain is his game. The character arc that his character goes through is something else. He literally has all the characteristics of someone who absolutely should not be a police officer, but he is actually the chiefs right hand man. He has one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the entire movie, it really puts you on edge. That’s what Martin McDonagh does so well. He’s the writer and director, and he wants you to feel uncomfortable. Listen, this is a small rural town, in the middle of Missouri, these people are saying every curse word in the book. They have ZERO filter, just think of  a curse word, and someone in this movie says it. Some of the cops are unethical, the towns people are rude and quite frankly racist, and then there’s Mildred right smack dab in the middle. It’s a tug-of-war between the police and Mildred. Both think they are right, and in some way, both parties are right. So when things heat up (literally) between them, people are doing insanely appealing things to get the job done. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is a movie that makes you think. It’s about real world problems, these things are going on in everyday life, yet they kind of get turned into a “he-said, she-said” situation. In the end, Dixon learns how to kind of become a “good police” and take a step back. He’s been through a lot in his life, and that is the reasoning behind some of his behaviour. There are no excuses for how he acts and how he treats people, but when a tragic event occurs, he is determined to turn his life around.

Three Billboards has a ton of heart. It has many heart filled moments throughout the film. Mixed into all of that heart is uneasiness and often hilarious cruel moments. Moments where you’re not sure whether it’s okay for you to laugh or not. Some of it, is almost right in your face. I enjoyed this movie, not only is it well written, but the performances really shine through. Don’t be surprised if this cleans up at the Oscars in a month.

Check ya later,

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri = 93/100