Review : Searching ★★★★

We’ve already seen the ‘on screen’ format recently with Unfriended :Dark Web, where the majority of the action takes place on the screen of a characters computer. It’s a unique way of telling a story, which works rather well with the society we live in now. Whereas Unfriended used this method to deploy cheap thrills and deliver an incoherent story, Searching manages to be surprisingly emotional and intense.

Following the disappearance of his young daughter, Margot (Michelle La) , David Kim (John Cho) uses all the methods at hand in order to track down what exactly happened. After tracking her Facebook, Tumblr and other social media activities, things start to turn down a sinister avenue.

Director Aneesh Chaganty manages to weave a captivating tale, even though we only see the drama take place in one place, the desktop of David. The film feels very current, and the tech used are the real programs, giving the film that much more realism.  John Cho puts in a fascinating performance,  he is pretty much in all the scenes, and really has to carry the movie. Though he is commonly known for his comedic talents, his role as a worried dad, willing to do anything to find out the truth is wonderful.

The film makes great use of the mother’s passing, to convey emotion. Especially when David logs into the account of someone who has passed away. It provides an eerie vibe, with small details like an inbox with thousands on unread emails. There are several other small details hidden in the background that makes things so effective.

The film manages to relate to several issues we have nowadays, especially the trend of people trying to bandwagon onto whatever the next trending news is, in order to get some more likes or retweets. How easy it is to talk trash/meme a stranger online. or how people act in real life, as opposed to their online persona. One particular scene is done extremely well, and makes want to yell at the character on screen!

On the negative side, there really isn’t too much to frown upon, the only issue I had was the fact the film’s promotional material, actively mentioned a big twist, which isn’t really that shocking. It was obvious the film would have a twist, and it felt strange that they felt like it needed to be mentioned, especially as the twist felt rather rushed. The film’s trailer also reveals far too much of the story, and would have preferred if they kept more of it a secret!

Searching is by far one of the best movies of the year so far, and is getting the critical praise it deserves (still at 92% on RT!), Cho really turns this film into what could have been a fairly average film, to a great one. It also contains probably one of the most emotional openings to a film since Up! And that’s saying something!

Murder On The Orient Express / Review

Featuring an incredible cast, and an intriguing source material, can the latest adaption of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express thrill audiences, or will it run out of stream?

This is in fact the 4th adaptation of the classic novel across various forms of media, though this is by far the most extravagant vision of the story yet. Kenneth Branagh , who also directs this film. Takes up the role of Hercule Poirot, the world famous detective, who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and stumbles into another case, while he takes the lavish Orient Express back to London. With a carriage full of suspects, it’s down to Poirot to find the culprit, before the police take matters into their own hands.

The strongest part of the movie is by far the stellar list of actors that are involved with this project. An ensemble cast featuring the talents of Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley & Michelle Pfeiffer to name a few. Each of them playing their characters as well as you would expect. Poirot is of course the star here, and while Branagh does a pleasant job with our master detective, he does have a few comedic moments, which feel a bit forced at times, bumbling, a trait he really didn’t need for this.

Alongside the cast, the period setting works excellently. From the hustle & bustle of the streets of Istanbul, to the divine elegance of the Orient Express, it all looks sublime. The film is also filled with several well shot scenes, such as the tracking shot as Poirot strolls through to his carriage, or the interrogation scenes, which are shot through the cuts of window glass, a very polished movie. It is a tad heavy on the CGI, but it still looks pleasing to watch, especially the scenic Alpine sections of the trip.

The cast & setting aside, Murder on the Orient Express does have its share of issues. The pacing of the movie feels very uneven. While the first half of the film moves along at a serene pace, its well into the movie before the murder occurs. After a bit of investigation, the case is suddenly all wrapped up. It does feel like the ending was rushed, a longer more drawn our investigation would have been far more satisfying to watch. The murder should have taken place in the first half hour or so, then spend rest of the time analyzing and building up the suspects for a bigger reveal.

The mystery to it all is also fairly straight forward, it’s not before long you can figure out yourself what’s going on, and put the pieces together. For a master detective, you would have hoped the conundrum would have been a bit more cerebral, to display why Poirot is so highly regarded.  The film is a like for like copy of the novel, and you can see where it has hurt this movie, a few changes could have been made to make the original source far more captivating for the current audiences

Murder on the Orient Express is a perfectly fine film to watch during these cold chilly winter months, it’s not the most enthralling mystery and the pacing is slightly off. But with its distinguished cast & colorful

environment, it’s most certainly worth a watch.

Happy Death Day, It’s A Treat!

Combining the concept of reliving your own death from Edge of Tomorrow, with the 90s Slasher vibe from movies such as Scream, Happy Death Day is one of the most interesting concepts to be put to film this year, and a perfect treat for Halloween!

Jessica Rothe plays Tree Gelbman, your typical run of the mill college student, who after a rough night out, wakes up in a dorm room, unaware of the events of the night before. As we are shown, Tree isn’t exactly the nicest of people,  with her arrogant and dismissive seniority sister demeanor, she builds up a firm following of enemies on campus. This proves to be fatal, as that night, Tree runs into a masked stalker,  who takes her life with the assistance of a very big blade. But all is not as it seems! Following her death, she wakes up back in the dorm room from earlier that morning. She soon realizes she is trapped sort of time loop, in which her death is inevitable every night. Accepting her looming fate, Tree uses the time she has, to narrow down the culprit from her list of suspects!

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Though Happy Death Day has been built up as the return of the Slasher movie, it’s still no where near the sheer intensity of Scream. Yes, there’s a masked stalker, who happens to get very trigger happy with a knife in their hand. But here, our murders are a lot less graphic as films in this genre were , especially back in the 90s! Although it has a horror element to it, it is far more of a mystery movie, rather than a full on scare, so just a few tips to consider before walking into the cinema!

That said, HDD is a thoroughly enjoyable movie,  yes you have all the usual american college stereotypes here, the bitchy mean girls, the stalker, the geek etc., but it never hurts the film. Tree is by far the standout character in the movie,  her comedic chops are on show here, bringing several moments of laughter to the show. Her character also has an engaging arch, from her ignorant past self, to a more modest and understanding person she eventually becomes.

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As mentioned, we have a list of suspects, who each may have a reason to don the eerie mask and go after our protagonist.  Could it be Carter (Israel Broussard), the timid student’s dorm in which Tree wakes up in? Or maybe it’s Danielle (Rachel Matthews), the sorority leader, who is somewhat envious of Tree? Then again, it has to be the teacher she is having an affair with right? There are plenty suspects thrown in the mix to keep you doubts swinging between all our various potential killers!

Though the biggest flaw in the film has to be the very lazy explanation regarding the real killer, their motivation and how they did some of the murders. It’s a long stretch to believe someone would go straight to a blood thirsty killer on campus! Would they really leave a random toy playing a melody in a tunnel? It would make more sense for them to just get straight to the act, without all these curious actions. The plot seems to try to make itself look a lot more smarter than it really had to be, with the lat addition of a suspect which shows up from no where.  There are also several plot points left unsolved, it it just being careless, or resolutions being saved for a potential sequel?

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With far more humour than you would think, HDD is a great concept, that utilizes its college setting very well,  it may not be the perfect Halloween movie, but it has it’s moments of suspense, a vibrant  cast, and dead cert to leave you satisfied once the credits roll.

 

 

 

 

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