Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Review)

Directed by: Rian Johnson (Looper)

Starring: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Laura Dern, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Billie Lourd, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o and Benicio Del Toro.

I am an unabashed Star Wars fan, I re-watched all of the films in anticipation for The Last Jedi, and even started watching the animated TV show The Clone Wars. The last few months I have subjected myself to a small media blackout in order to avoid spoilers. I only watched the first trailer that was released for The Last Jedi. I am a part of several Star Wars fan groups, I blocked those groups until yesterday, when I had finally seen the film.

I left the theatre with my own feelings on the film, like I always do, and let my experience marinate in my mind. Well I couldn’t sleep, partly out of sheer excitement in just having seen a new Star Wars movie. I unblocked the Star Wars groups and was I in for a surprise. Not only was there a large number of people bashing the film, I no longer wanted to be a part of one of the groups because of the sheer misogyny and prejudice from full grown men. Full … Grown … ADULT … MEN!

The misogyny aside, some in the group had huge issues with the films characters and the way they were portrayed, mainly Luke Skywalker. Most of these I just can’t get behind, a Films main goal shouldn’t be to service it’s fan base completely.

Now to depart from what others feel about TLJ, and on to what I feel about the film.

If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi I will most likely get into spoilers but I will warn when it is no longer safe to read on. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has arrived to the planet Anch-To, where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) now resides. Luke has been in hiding for six years after Ben Solo (Adam Driver), son of Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford), was drawn to the dark side, and Luke blames himself. Rey wants the legendary Jedi to train her in the ways of the force, and to come back and fight for The Resistance.

Meanwhile, General Leia Organa and the Resistance are evacuating their base on D’Qar as The First Order has begun an attack on the planet. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) launches an attack while Leia, Finn (John Boyega), BB-8 and the rest of the Resistance try and escape.

The Last Jedi is the second film in this new trilogy, The Force Awakens being the first. While I enjoyed the first film, I gave it more of a pass than I probably should have, I was more or less excited to see the characters back on the screen. The Force Awakens introduced interesting new characters, but relied heavily on past films in its storytelling.

Writer and director Rian Johnson heard the criticism of the first film and created something vastly different; for better or for worse. Johnson’s film does leave some plot holes from the first film, that fanboys and myself have noticed, that I’ll delve into a bit later, but overall he’s created a fine addition to the Star Wars catalogue.

*Spoilers below*

The film deals heavily with failure and the many different ways we deal with or how we handle our failures. Luke feels as if he failed Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, its revealed in this film that once Luke realized Ben was falling to the dark side he considered killing his nephew in order to prevent him going deeper towards the dark side. Unfortunately Luke’s momentarily lapse of judgement sent Ben over the edge, he murdered most of his fellow students where Luke was training others in the way of the force, and he became Kylo Ren, joining the evil Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Many fans have made it known that Luke even having the notion to kill his nephew is unlike his character. It may be unlike the soft-hearted Luke we knew, but Luke had this thought for a reason, because of the things he’s seen in his past; to me it felt authentic.

Luke has dealt with his failures by running, hiding in a place no one would ever be able to find him. Now, the resistance needs him and R2-D2 has offered up the final piece of the map, the droid, Chewbacca and Rey are on the island but Luke, with his failures & his past make him unwilling to leave the island to help the resistance, or train Rey. To see our hero so beaten and broken is a different sight for fans of Luke Skywalker.

Eventually, with the help of an old friend, Luke learns from his failure. The film is ripe with lessons of failure and how different people handle failure. Poe is an example of someone just learning about failure, while Leia HAS learned from her failures and is trying to teach Poe some valuable lessons with what she has experienced in her lifetime.

but there is another message this wonderful film holds that speaks to fans. It’s a message that we are familiar with: Hope.

As I stated before, the resistance is under attack from the first order. The Resistance has begun to evacuate their base on D’Qar when The First Order attacks. The First Order causes some damage before The Resistance is able to jump into hyperspace, but when The Resistance think they’re safe, it’s revealed that the F.O. is able to track through hyperspace. For much of the remainder of the film, the Resistance is under attack and taking many losses. Finn, BB-8 and Newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) escape in order to find a master code breaker that can help them disable the hyperspace tracking device. The mission brings them to a Canto-bight casino on the planet Cantonica, there they find a “wretched hive of scum and villainy”, the rich & the famous. The city is full of children in slavery and creatures being brutalized, all for the pleasure of the elite.

It’s hard not to see this as an allegory to the world we are living in, I’d rather not get political here, but the Resistance being beaten down continuously as the First Order tries to obtain brutal dominance over the free galaxy. Finn & Rose mingle among the one per-centers who aren’t concerned with the plight of the world around them, only themselves…

But Hope…

The final moments of the movie offer us some hope, After losing Many characters (Holdo, Ackbar, and others) it’s hard not to feel it coursing through you as our beloved Luke Skywalker appears to help take on the First Order.

Hope as our very small handful of survivors make their way to the Millennium falcon, where they rejoice as they are able to escape the clutches of the first order.

Hope, as we see a small slave boy reach out with the force in order for a broom to land in his outstretched hand, revealing that Rey may not be the “Last Jedi”.

So, I loved the story, it was engrossing, fun, smart, and joyous. I’m (almost) thrilled that Rian Johnson will be helming a new trilogy in the Star Wars franchise, but he’s so talented I’d rather see him make more original works like Looper.

As I said earlier, I can’t get behind some of my fellow Star Wars fans issues with the film. People are focusing in on technical flaws in a science fiction Star Wars films. They have issues with the fact that the bomber at the beginning of the film could drop bombs in zero gravity, and issues with the fact that the First Order has figured out hyperspace tracking. While this could have been explained with a simple line of dialogue, it doesn’t need to be. End of story.

Fans are upset because they had theories, they wanted things to go a certain way and they didn’t. Snoke didn’t turn out to be Darth Sidious/Palpatine/etc. and Rey’s parents weren’t Solos, Kenobi’s or Skywalker’s.

Fans had questions from The Force Awakens that weren’t answered. How did Maz Kanata get Luke’s Lightsaber? Who is Snoke (if anyone)? Who (and Where) are the Knights of Ren? How did Kylo Ren have Darth Vaders helmet.

We should be happy that Rian Johnson and the people behind Star Wars allowed for good storytelling to happen, not just fan servicing. The “Backlash” over the film may push Disney towards more fan service, the re-hiring of J.J. Abrams leads me to believe that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn more about Snoke’s background and Rey’s parents turn out to be someone of note in Episode 9.

I have some issues with The Last Jedi, It would be an A+ If I didn’t, but the issues are minor. I found the humor to be a bit more childish, and some scenes meant for humor are unnecessarily included. I laughed twice, and I didn’t mind the Porgs, They were cute and harmless.

The subplot with Finn and Rose heading to the Canto-Bight Casino didn’t lead anywhere, and while it was entertaining and did introduce the force sensitive child, it didn’t help our heroes in the end. Benicio Del Toro’s new character DJ was interesting and played well but didn’t amount to anything of importance. I don’t find Finn to be an entirely intriguing character, and pairing her with newcomer Rose, another character who I wasn’t entirely invested in, wasn’t a smart option.

Who I did find intriguing was Admiral Holdo, played wonderfully by Laura Dern, her character was epic and intriguing. A mutiny was started on a resistance ship under her command, all she would have had to do was reveal her plan/end-goal to Poe and the mutiny wouldn’t have happened. It’s a minor flaw though, one that we can chalk up to her inexperience during her brief time as Admiral, or maybe Poe was being an arrogant, cocky boy and she didn’t feel the need to tell him.

The Last Jedi is easily the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy, and a terrific send off for our princess, our General, Carrie Fisher. I have hope for the finale in this trilogy, and for Rian Johnson’s future trilogy. May the Force be with you.

Grade: A

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Wonder Woman (Review)

The DCEU doesn’t have much in it’s canon to be proud of yet, but I wasn’t ready to write it off yet. Man of Steel was almost good, Suicide Squad was watchable, and Batman Vs. Superman was a dismal piece of garbage, but with such great characters, and so many points of inspiration to pull from, I knew there would be some greatness to come along.

Que Wonder Woman. I didn’t think it would be Wonder Woman, I’ll admit, I didn’t see this coming at all. Ideas for a Wonder Woman film have been bounced around since 1996, I just assumed we hadn’t seen anything by now because bringing her origin to the screen was undo able.

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) lives with her people, the Amazons, on the island of Themyscira. The Amazons are all women, created by Zeus in order to one day defeat the God of War, Ares. Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) forbids her daughter to train to become a warrior, but Diana’s spirit prevails, and she beings training with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright).

Diana is a fast learner, she is strong and brave, and it seems to surprise only her, there are secrets surrounding Diana’s powers, and she may be the only one who doesn’t understand. When a mysterious man named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) appears on the shores of Themyscira, War and the evils of man follow closely behind, and Diana can only hear so much before she must take action.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Wonder Woman is wondrous and inspirational. What surprisingly drives the film, is Gal Gadot’s stellar Performance. Why surprisingly? Because I personally haven’t seen her give even half the performance she gave in Wonder Woman, in her other films. People praised her performance in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I found the film so horrible that for me, it completely drowned out any greatness that might have been. Gadot handles her character with grace and compassion, she’s hilariously naive, but as confident and valiant as we could expect from someone playing the Wonder Woman.

But how about the movie as a whole? It could be better.

Wow, you’re so negative Mitch. Geez.

Hey now, no back talk. I enjoyed Wonder Woman about as much as I did this years superhero film “Logan”, but there were ways to improve the film.

for one, remove everything involving Dr. Maru/poison (Elena Anaya) and General Erich Ludendorff. Ludendorff was entirely over the top, played laughably by Danny Huston, he was entirely the worst part of the movie. Elena Anaya, played her role well, but there was so much good in this film that having these two instigators at the center of the film was unnecessary. The bit that had General Erich Ludendorff sniffing a poison that made him stronger was silly.

***Now for SPOILER territory***

*** BACK OUT NOW if you must***

For a film that wants to celebrate it’s femininity, it’s frustrating that it has Steve Trevor, and the rest of the supporting characters, doubting her thoughts on Ares, the God of War, the whole film. Nobody believes her, to the point that the audience believes she is wrong. I would have preferred Ares be the bad guy the whole film, instead of have Diana be the butt of the joke the entire film.

My next critique will begin as a critique and end as a positive, so bear with me, oh and again ***Spoiler***….

I haven’t seen much criticism over this, and why haven’t I? Diana Prince isn’t able to unleash her full power until the death of a man. Steve Trevors death is what allows Diana Prince to tap into the full extent of her powers. Now, this bothered me at first, but the film quickly shows us that it’s not that he’s a man, it’s the love, and loss of love, that allowed her to become the “Wonder Woman”.

all of that said, The relationship between Steve Trevor and Diana Prince is BY FAR the best relationship I’ve ever seen in a superhero film. I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been so invested in a love story in a movie in years, and years. Chris Pine and Gal Gadot have great chemistry, and this was definitely my favorite Chris Pine role since the first “Star Trek”.

Wonder Woman has so many astounding, breathtaking moments, that I recommend it to every woman, their daughters AND every man. Wonder Woman is brave and beautiful, while it’s script lacks in some places, Gadot, Pine and director Patty Jenkins have created a triumph that all women deserve.

There’s one scene that I will never forget, I wanted to cry with triumph. Wonder Woman turns “No Mans Land” into Woman land, when she runs onto the battlefield alone in order to fight the war single-handedly. “If” Wonder Woman is nominated for an Oscar, it will be for that incredible scene.

Grade: A-

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Alien: Covenant (Review)


Let me be Clear, I am an Alien fanboy, the beautiful photo above has been my lock screen photo since it was revealed months ago. You can read my ranking of the films on Letterboxd here.

Alien: Covenant tries to be a Prometheus sequel and an Alien prequel at the same time, the film is as terrifying and interesting as it is frustrating and nonsensical. The film answers few questions poised by Prometheus, but still offers enough thrill and intrigue to keep anyone entertained.

The year is 2104, ten years after the events of Prometheus, and 18 years before the events of Alien. A colonization ship is traveling to the planet Origae-6, a planet that is hospitable for human life. The ship, which holds thousands of colonists in cryo-sleep, and a small crew, is hit with a blast and damaged. The crew is awakened from hyper-sleep to fix the ship, they are surprised to find a planet close by that can sustain human life as well, and may be even better suited for them than Origae-6.

The crew decides to land on this new-found planet to investigate. It doesn’t take them long to realize the planet they’ve discovered holds shocking secrets, and unimaginable horrors.


The secrets are SHOCKING and the horrors are quite UNIMAGINABLE, I wasn’t exaggerating. In Prometheus David was quite nefarious, but in Alien: Covenant he is pure evil, and it is glorious. David is the best movie villain in recent memory, Michael Fassbender plays him, and Walter, with skill and talent.

The subtlety in this film is, well, nonexistent. Ridley Scott answers critics of the perplexing Prometheus by having David completely wipe out the engineers, and turn his focus towards the Xenomorphs. I expected Scott to turn away slightly from the Engineer storyline, never did I think he’d set it in flames. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, I still have questions about the engineers, but the pivot back to the Xenomorphs is a welcome diversion, and may give us answers to other questions.

Unfortunately, Scott presents even more infuriating questions in Alien: Covenant, questions he will have no chance of answering, even if he does get the chance to make a sequel.

Some of my questions include:

  1. Why did David Destroy the engineers?
  2. How/did David create the Xenomorph?
  3. How did David obtain a Xenomorph egg?
  4. How was David put back together? (If you say Shaw did it…How? come on?)

Just a few questions, I’ve seen much speculation but there’s really no hard proof. When all is said and done, these plot holes got under my skin only minimally. The Original Alien presented many questions and never attempted to answer them. My main problem with the film is its plotting, Covenant has many stops and starts, playing like a Yo-Yo of highs and lows. Most scenes are great, from mesmerizing, to terrifying, to suspenseful, yet they don’t mesh as well as they should. This film had most of the right parts, but was in need of a better editor, the editor of the Amazing Spider-man series doesn’t exactly bode well.

Enough negative, let me be positive. Covenant succeeds in many aspects, first and foremost, it has more scares than The Alien Vs. Predator films, Alien 3, and Resurrection combined, and while Prometheus had it’s terrifying moments, Covenant supersedes it in almost every way. Covenant is just as beautifully shot as Prometheus, taking even the most bleak and boring set pieces and making them artistic and intriguing.

Katherine Waterston’s Daniels is more representative of Ripley, and a much better character than Prometheus’ Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace). Danny McBride plays it pretty straight in this film, he had only one laughable line in the whole film, and I actually enjoyed his performance and character.

That leads us to David, the star of the film. Michael Fassbender deserves an Oscar Nomination for his role in this film, playing dual roles of Walter and David. David is a terrific character, one who I want to see more of, something I haven’t felt since I was first introduced to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The scenes between Walter and David are a deeper look into A.I. and our creators, and they manage to be insightful, eerie, and sensual.

79 year old Ridley Scott listened to his critics, and I think he’s put an end to the Engineer story-line almost completely. I feel the end of Alien: Covenant takes us into territory that I am excited to see more of. I’m eager to see more, because if anything, Covenant leaves you want more, for better or for worse.

Grade: B+

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

Suicide Squad

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch)

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, Karen Fukuhara, David Harbour, Jim Parrack, and Jared Leto


It must be said that I had fairly low expectations going in to Suicide Squad, and the problems with this movie are devastatingly obvious, but I can not in good conscious say I didn’t have a fun time. It’s like eating something that tastes good, but smells really bad.

Following the events of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and (Spoiler alert) Superman’s death, Agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) feels that in a world where Aliens come down from the sky, it would be wise to have a defense system. Waller’s plan is to use supervillains, that are currently behind bars, as a defense system by putting bombs in their necks that can be remote controlled to go off if they act up.

The Squad includes Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc ( Adewale Akinnuoye-agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), and Slipknot (Adam Beach). The squad is led by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinneman), who along with his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), are in charge of this Suicide Squad.

No sooner does the group form (Wouldn’t you know it) When an ancient evil force begins to wreak havoc on the city. It falls upon the newly formed group of super-villains to bring down this evil force and protect the city, all the while trying to get along. It doesn’t help matters when The Joker (Jared Leto) steps in; trying to steal his girlfriend Harley Quinn back from Waller and the Squad.

When you boil it down to a few paragraphs it really doesn’t seem as convoluted and messy as the film actually turns out to be. The story spends a huge chunk of time on exposition, to the point where you would almost think it’s a joke, the way the beginning of the film starts and stops. Honestly, we didn’t need an explanation of why each character is in jail, there background, there skills, etc. Especially since the characters are simple and Straight-forward, Boomerang is Australian and throws a boomerang, Killer Croc is a crocodile man, Deadshot shoots, Harley Quinn has a bat… etc.

I have been known to forgive lousy exposition now and then, but the script is altogether lousy and so unimaginative that you can’t help but wonder who green-lit this script. This is clearly a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, I don’t understand how anyone looks at this script and says “perfection”.

I couldn’t help but feel that I just watched some decently talented actors walk around Midway City and kill the odd guy. The Squad are sent to an office building where they’re forced to fight there way to the to top (Raid/Dredd style), this is a large majority of the story and it’s absolutely worthless! It’s a waste of our time, because…


… at the top they find Waller (Davis) and a group of armed people who need to be escorted out. Honestly a huge waste, if the film had an interesting “Bad guy” they wouldn’t have had to fill the film with this bogus malarkey.

Even with all the destruction and mayhem (which felt very reminiscent of the destruction in Man of Steel) The stakes feel incredibly low. The “Big Bad” is a horribly constructed and monotonous, *Spoiler* The enchantress is the bad girl, she resurrects her evil brother and they decide to eradicate mankind, so they go to the middle of midway city and dance around a big purple light. What?

The tone is dark, but not dark enough, with random comedic beats that are rarely funny, and clearly thrown in to try a lighter, Marvel-esque approach. The pacing is off, the film stops and starts, winding through plot holes and logic gaps without a care.

Suicide Squad is quite honestly a bad movie, so why did I kind of enjoy it?

Well, for one, the characters they do manage to develop are interesting, Harley Quinn (Robbie), Deadshot (Smith), and Rick Flag (Kinnaman) are the standouts in my opinion. This is the first time Harley Quinn has been brought to the live-action screen, and I think they did a good job with her character. One scene stood out in-particular, a simple scene with Quinn sitting on a taxi pretending to be happy when really shes crushed inside. Robbie was the possibly the best choice to play the Jokers girlfriend, and besides some corny dialogue, Harley Quinn is really the best part of the entire film.

Clearly, Will Smith is the biggest actor and highest paid among the group, so his character Deadshot must be the lead. The decision to make Deadshot the focal point of the film, when all eyes are clearly going to be on the Joker and Harley Quinn, seems a bit forced. Although, besides a scene near the end involving Deadshots daughter, his story-line doesn’t feel as contrived as it could have been. Smith is as good as usual, and his character is interesting, he’d be a great villain on his own.

I haven’t heard much talk about Rick Flag, but I found his character to really bring the film and group together, and Kinnaman’s portrayal was top notch. Flag grounds the film and brings a tiny bit of reality to this crazy story. Waller (Viola Davis) is an almost unbelievable character, and does quite the opposite of grounding the film in reality. I love Viola Davis, I really do, but she really just came across as a disgruntled office employee.

Now, The Joker. The clown prince.
I never, ever, for one second thought The Joker was going to be the villain in this film, I’m baffled people thought so to begin with. Why would Harley Quinn try and stop her boyfriend?
I honestly thought he was going to be a part of The Squad itself, but maybe that was crazy thinking as well. Now, you may think I’m just going against the grain here, but I personally thought we were given a good amount of The Joker in Suicide Squad. I obviously knew going into the film to expect less of him than we all originally thought, but his amount of time onscreen was sufficient for me. Although, what they chose to have the Joker do in this movie, was baffling. I would have just kept him in some of Harley Quinns flashbacks, and the end scene, and that’s it. The Joker is really an unnecessary addition to this film, he had almost nothing to do.

I found Leto’s performance to be sufficient, and I personally think it will be super interesting to see Leto’s Joker go up against Affleck’s Batman someday. I will not compare him to Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, these are clearly two different jokers, and we will never, ever get a performance like Ledger’s again. I applaud the minds that decided to make Leto’s joker more of a gangster/thug, it feels authentic, and it could really work in future films. Overall though, The Joker should not have been in this film, and Leto really tried here but his performance was wasted.

The other characters are either straight forward, or forgettable. Jai Courtney, who I’ve never been a fan of, is unrecognizable and the funniest part of this film, as Boomerang. Killer Croc, Slipknot, Diablo, Katana, and Enchantress are forgettable or just serviceable. Waller, as I said, is an over the top character, and just logistically did not make sense. Scott Eastwood is in this, and he’s practically useless, I don’t even think he had a character name.
Also, I can’t be the only one who think Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) and Jim Parrack (True Blood) look incredibly similar. I didn’t realize until afterwards that they were two different people, which made for some confusion on my part.

So, for me the good characters made this bad movie entertaining. Even the characters that I didn’t find all that interesting, I found their abilities were brought to the screen in wonderful ways. Diablo, Killer Croc, and The enchantress’ brother all have interesting, unique powers that are realized with great effects and thought.

The story is incredibly straight forward, a bit silly, but there’s something fun about it all. It never feels like a slog, it never bores, I would rather watch this 1000 times over watching Batman vs. Superman once. DC is quite clearly trying to rush films out the door before they’re ready, although this time it feels as if at the last minute they over-saturated it with “Fun” music, and threw in some shitty jokes to give it a tone closer to Marvels. Sadly, it doesn’t work, and dammit did I really want this to be a hit.

Grade: C-

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Cell (2016)

Cell (2016)

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Tod Williams

Starring: John Cusack, Samul L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague, Alex Ter Avest, and Stacey Keach.


The last time John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson teamed up to bring a Stephen King novel to the screen was 2007’s 1408. Many considered that a success, and Stephen King novels have a sordid history of not making great films, so maybe Cusack and Jackson should have stopped while they were ahead.

Cell has a sordid and painful path to the big screen. Dimension films purchased the film rights for Stephen Kings bestseller in 2006, the same year the book was published. It was announced that Eli Roth would direct after finishing Hostel 2,  Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski  were hired to write the script. In 2007, Roth began to have doubts about directing Cell, and it wasn’t until 2009 that it was confirmed that he wouldn’t direct it. Talk about development hell.

Surprisingly, Stephen King announced in 2009 that he had written a screenplay with Adam Alleca (Last House on the Left). This saddens me, as it seems that King REALLY wanted a Cell film adaptation, and a good one. Now, listen to this timeline, in 2012 Cusack was signed on, in 2013 it was announced that Paranormal Activity 2 director Tod Williams would be directing and it was also announced that Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Cusack’s co-star. Then, 5 months later Isabelle Fuhrman and Stacey Keach were cast and filming began and ended in January 2014.
Then it took them 2 and a half years to release the bloody thing. It took Ten years to turn Stephen Kings novel into 90 minutes of pure garbage.

The film follows Clay Riddell (Cusack) who’s just landed at an airport and is talking on his cellphone with his estranged wife and son. lucky for Clay, his phone battery dies seconds before a signal is emitted from all cell phone’s worldwide, turning anyone listening to the signal into zombie like killing machines. The airport quickly turns into a blood-soaked mayhem, as the “Phoners” begin killing anyone not effected by the signal.

The logic here is mystifying, The noise turns any human listening to it into a killing machine that mimics a bird and makes the noises of dial-up internet. How do these “Phoners” know who’s affected or not? How close would you have to be to the signal in order to be turned? suspend disbelief people.

Riddell escapes the airport, and quickly meets up with two other survivors Tom McCourt (Samuel L. Jackson) and Alice Maxwell (Isabelle Fuhrman). Together the three survivors must traverse a new landscape where from sunrise to sunset they are being hunted.

Now, it sounds incredibly interesting, I gave it a chance on the IMDB description alone, but sadly it’s all pretty dull. Never have I ever felt like a movie was merely a collection of scenes mushed together. You can almost hear the director calling “Action” and “Cut” and “That’s a wrap”.

No pun intended, but Jackson and Cusack “phone” their performances in, neither of them are happy to be their, and it’s painfully obvious. Then there’s Poor Isabelle Fuhrman who apparently had a small role in the first Hunger Games. She was probably stoked to get the female lead in a Stephen King adaptation with Cusack and Jackson, and she acts her heart out, but it falls flat and this won’t be the breakthrough role she had hopped for.

Cell bumps along, characters are introduced suddenly and then dead without even a shrug from the other characters. Cusack is supposedly on a desperate hunt to find his wife and son, and I honestly forgot that’s what they were doing. The characters goals are rarely talked about, although maybe it was, I just couldn’t believe that such little emotion could come from a father (Cusack) fighting to save his life and desperately hoping his wife and son are alright. I assume Cusack would have the same facial expression when ordering a footlong at Subway.

The budget and Box Office figures are M.I.A, but the special effects feel incredibly low budget. There is an opening sequence in an airport that’s quite intense, even with Cusack standing in the middle of it all looking like a stunned idiot, although it’s stuff you see on TV almost nightly.

The reason Cell doesn’t get an F is because several times I did feel creep-ed out. Several portions of the film have a creep factor and that surprised me. The overall idea of the story was interesting, but that can all be attributed to Stephen King. In Actuality, King changed much of his original story for the film adaptation. Once the movie ended I went to Wikipedia and read the plot for the book, and it seemed a very different story, especially the end.

Speaking of the end? It felt…well, dumb. It left unanswered questions, left me feeling very unfulfilled and displeased. The sad part is, Stephen King wasn’t a fan of the original ending of his novel so he changed it to this. Completely baffling in my opinion.

I’m fairly certain that Cusack and Jackson are happy this wasn’t the hit Stephen King hoped it would be…

Grade: D+

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Captain America: Civil War (2016) review

Captain America: Civil War

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Frank Grillo, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Marisa Tomei, and Daniel Bruhl.


*Below I have constructed a rough outline of the plot, I consider it to be Spoiler Free, nothing more than what is shown in the trailers. I will inform you, the reader, when I decide to enter spoiler territory.

Captain America: Civil War or Avengers 3, you can choose to call it either as both titles fit perfectly. If we’re going to call it Avengers 3, it’s the best Avengers movie yet, if we want to call it Captain America, it is the second best Captain America film, after Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Following the events of New York in the first avengers, and the events in Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where there were civilian casualties, some people around the world don’t see The Avengers as quite the Superheroes they claim to be.

Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is leading his team of Avengers, Falcon/ Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), on a mission in Lagos. When Scarlet Witch attempts to save Captain America from an explosion, she inadvertently causes the deaths of a few Wakandan Humanitarian workers.

This is a breaking point, The U.S Secretary of State, General Ross (William Hurt), informs the Avengers that the United Nations is looking to pass a ruling that the Avengers would henceforth be governed by a panel on the United Nations, called The Sokovia Accords. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with the accords and tries to convince the other Avengers to sign. Captain America does not agree, and he’s not alone. Each Avenger has their own reasons for agreeing or not agreeing.

With a major divide among the group of superheroes, it becomes apparent that they must fight for what they believe in.

Civil War has a rough time finding it’s footing, but I don’t blame the writers or directors as they had very rocky ground to work on here. This was a big story to tell, with a lot of characters. It’s a Captain America story through the heart of it, but it deals with a lot more than any standalone MCU film has, such as almost every other Avenger and a lot of Iron Man.

The film suffers under the weight of all it’s characters and dauntingly large story. Tt has tonal and pacing issues galore, but it shouldn’t bother most; and with a 90% Rotten Tomatoes score I see it isn’t. I do think that Civil War could have used a tiny bit more editing and some tightening up a bit. Particularly some scenes involving the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and our new villain Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). I think many people can admit to that, although I will also admit that most every scene felt  tangentially necessary, or was at interesting/fun.

What makes this movie great, and made Avengers: Age of Ultron a nudge above average, are the characters. In Civil War we’re given the Avengers, minus Thor and Hulk, but adding some new faces on the team such as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). On top of three new faces on the Avengers docket, we also get more time with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) who only just made their debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a larger amount of screentime for War Machine (Don Cheadle) who has honestly been a very minor character thus far.

It’s reach a point in the MCU where I don’t expect much out of these films, they probably won’t ever be on my best of the year lists, but I will continue to see them for the characters.

I’m a fan of Captain America/Steve Rogers. In my opinion he’s the most compelling character next to Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, and both have a large amount of screen-time here. I’m also very intrigued by Scarlet Witch and Vision, as their powers are obviously very strong and interesting, and while Civil War gives a nice dose of each character, it felt like only the tip of the iceberg.

It isn’t until the latter half of the film, when the new characters and a returning character appear, that we get any humor. In a series of films that seem to keep a jokey tone, it was quite a relief to see the arrival of these characters. I was almost begging for them to arrive, and with them a dose of laughter. (non)Spoiler: There are laughs.

Now I will jump into some *spoilers*, if you aren’t interested in spoilers, scroll to the bottom to see my grade.

Civil War is tense, it is the only film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where I couldn’t predict where the movie was headed. I was consistently surprised, and I I’d be lying if the final 20-25 minutes didn’t leave me shocked.

Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) was an interesting villain, and he’s the main reason I’d like to see this again, as I didn’t understand his motives, or where his story was headed until the final moments. Maybe others picked up on parts or all of it earlier, but much of his story-line remained cloaked in mystery for me.

The best part of Captain America: Civil War is it’s ability to make the viewer never comfortably settle on one side of the argument. Once you feel like you may align with Team Captain America, then you’re conflicted, then you side with Team Iron Man (and repeat). This was my experience anyhow, and I loved it. It’s a film packed with emotion and tension, one moment I was rooting for one side, the next I was pissed off at that very team, It’s quite literally a roller coaster of emotion, and in that regard, it succeeds.

Now, this is very spoilery: Tony Stark watches the video of his mother and father being killed by a brainwashed bucky, while an un-brainwashed Bucky stands 10 feet way. This is the most tense & emotional scene in the MCU thus far.
I wanted Stark to just kill Bucky at that point, I didn’t care anymore and I actually believed Steve would just let Tony do it. Then we come to learn that Rogers knew the whole time. I was quite shocked to then see Steve and Bucky beat the shit out of Iron Man. I thought Iron Man was actually dead for a moment.
This epic battle was irritatingly interrupted by cut scenes of Zemo and Black Panther, something that would have worked better as one scene after the fight.

Speaking of Black Panther, we’re supposed to be getting a Black Panther movie, but I don’t see how it can be an origin movie, which I would be fine with. Civil War really served as Black Panthers origin movie(?), the death of T’Challa’s father and his urge to seek revenge are what creates Black Panther. Right? Unless Black Panther was a creation T’Challa’s before now and that will be a movie on its own.

Well I must digress, as I’ve written over 1000 words and I don’t have much more to say. Civil War was fun, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I figured I would, as it took turns and made decisions unexpected by me, which is really all I can ask for with these movies anymore.

p.s. After seeing Civil War, I am slightly optimistic for the new Spider-man franchise. Tom Holland did well, so we shall see. I am not getting my hopes up.

Grade: A-

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong’o, Max Von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Andy Serkis, and Mark Hamill


*Spoiler warning: The following review will contain spoilers*

I really can’t say anymore that the masses haven’t already said, and I won’t be adding anything to the conversation besides my own view. That said, Star Wars was a big part of my early life. I was shown the original trilogy, on VHS, sometime in the late 90’s, as I wasn’t even born until 7 years after Return of the Jedi was in theaters. I saw every prequel trilogy in the theater, and 9, 12 and 15 year old me enjoyed them, and I don’t really hate them today. Star Wars returning is… well… pretty huge for me and a lot of people, and I would like to say my peace during this historical moment.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Empire still exists now called the New Order. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is thought to be alive but missing, the Resistance is led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), and is said to have the “Support” of the Republic. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a pilot for The Resistance, he obtains a map on the planet Jakku that will assist The Resistance in finding Luke, he gives the map to his droid BB-8, Poe is then captured and BB-8 escapes.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger on the planet Jakku, finds BB-8 and forms a connection with the droid. Poe, now captured by the New Order, escapes with the help of a traitorous Stormtrooper, who Poe names Finn (John Boyega). Finn and Poe return to Jakku in the hopes of finding BB-8 before the New Order does.

J.J. Abrams would not have been my first choice to direct The Force Awakens, although he did a terrific job with the Star Trek reboot (not so much its sequel), so why not. I’m happy to say Abrams deserves a pat on the back, a thumbs up, and a “Good job”, but I’d really rather him not direct/write another.

Before I make myself sound negative in anyway, I’ll state immediately that I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It could even make it on my top ten list for 2015, although I still have a lot to see. I only want to pick at The Force Awakens the way a Pilot Fish picks away at the parasites on a shark. Myself, movie critics and others should pick away at Star Wars, in hopes that it will continue to stay good and healthy like the Original trilogy, and not be plagued by parasites like the prequel trilogy. Did that make sense?

The story does work, although it does leave many questions without an answer, but that is typical of a J.J. Abrams production. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the most interesting character by far, a character that I am crying for more of, same goes for Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The inclusion of the original cast members does not feel as forced as I foolishly assumed they would be, in fact they are incredibly central to the story and I would have a hard time thinking of this movie sans Solo, Luke and Leia.

The Force Awakens does seem to take a lot from the original trilogy, for example: A new (round) ship, The Starkiller Base, that destroys planets, and somehow The Resistance destroys, sounds an awful lot like a certain Death Star (or two). A droid containing key information that will assist The resistance happens to fall in the hands of Rey, a girl who later finds out she has the force, sounds a bit like R2-D2 and Luke in A New Hope. Those right there are two major similarities plucked right from the other scripts.

This new entry into the franchise may have a few too many similarities with its predecessors, some irritating questions left unanswered and other minor annoyances (which I will get to later), but The Force Awakens is one of the more entertaining blockbusters we’ve had in a while (excluding Mad Max: Fury Road). The characters are deep, rich and interesting, the worlds are awe inspiring, the aliens, droids, and ships are fresh, creative and imaginative. The kid inside of me was smiling and entertained, as was the adult on the outside.

The visual effects are spectacularly brilliant, it is a visually stunning film, you feel the very fine attention to detail in every scene. The motion capture effects used to capture Lupita Nyong’o’s character Maz Kanata is very nice. The times they do use practical effects, puppets and costumes works well also, Chewbacca is just a guy in a costume and we all seem to forget that. John Williams’ score works, on a nostalgic level, I only really noticed it when it used portions of the score I love so much.

Now if you haven’t seen the film and you haven’t left yet, here be spoilers. The film has heart and many emotions flowing through it and most of that heart revolves around Kylo Ren. Having Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and General Leia’s son (Darth Vaders Grandson) be the main villain makes for a terrific character in Kylo Ren. His parents are such good people, his Grandfather was so evil, his inner struggle is wonderfully portrayed by Adam Driver. The decision to reveal Kylo Rens heritage earlier on, and not keep it for later in the film (or a separate film) was a smart move, a wise difference from the original trilogy.

Now, in my opinion, knowing that Mark Hamill is in the film playing Luke Skywalker is a spoiler. Basically, the main goal of The Force Awakens is to find Luke Skywalker, and knowing he makes an appearance… but I digress as I know I can be quite fastidious about these things. I’ve heard talk of his appearance in the film to be lackluster, I wholeheartedly disagree, maybe not wholeheartedly as I dislike the Cliffhanger-esque ending. That look and that moment between Luke and Rey as she holds up his lightsaber, without a word spoken, I found to be incredibly powerful.

Luke Skywalkers absence is also acceptable to me because this movie was Han Solo’s show to steal, and Han Solo stole the show and then he died. So while Rey, Finn and Poe were great, The Force Awakens is arguably Han Solo’s movie. Harrison Ford actually pulls it off too, his acting hasn’t resonated with me in recent years but his return to Solo resonated with me. Han Solo’s death in the film was shocking and disheartening but it didn’t feel wrong, forced, or used as a gimmick to pull at audiences heartstrings, it worked on every level. My heart did not go out to General Leia as much as it did to Chewie.

I was worried Chewbacca wouldn’t work in a movie filled with CGI, but his humor and heart made him one of the better characters in the movie. BB-8 is as cute and funny as I assumed he’d be, and his engineering and maneuvering are interesting. BB-8 basically takes R2-D2’s spot, but like Luke, he was a welcoming presence and made the ending a bit more interesting. C-3PO felt awkward in his very brief moments, but it was honestly just nice to see him, maybe in a larger role I’ll warm back up to him. It really felt like Carrie Fisher was a bit awkward returning as General/Princess Leia, her presence is needed and I wouldn’t want anyone else playing her, but the acting left me wanting more.

The new faces in The Force Awakens definitely make there impression, especially Daisy Ridley. Whoever found Daisy Ridley and cast her deserves a million dollars right now, she is a beautiful and terrific actor, I hope to see her in many more films. I’ve already stated that I thought Adam Driver was terrific, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. Domhnall Gleeson who is always great, no surprise here, is great as smarmy General Hux. Poe Dameron is a fun character, his enthusiasm was refreshing, and I’m not sure I’ve seen Oscar Isaac play such a cheerful character before.

Last but not least, Boyega; I’m just fine with Boyega, but I’m not completely sold yet on Finn, and I can’t quite tell if it is the acting or character that I can’t fully embrace. Finn just seemed to be very aggressive, I felt as if he was too boisterous, rammy and talkative. I didn’t hate Finn, but I think I need more time to really adjust to his character and love him a little more. I really hate speaking negatively about the character of Finn in anyway, because Boyega seems like a genuinely great person.

I’m going to point out a few of my problems with the film, again think of the Pilot fish and the shark and don’t be aggressive with me. I’ll bullet point my issues and then provide a link to an article on /Film that actually helped me get over some of the issues.

  • R2D2 isn’t working one moment, but then suddenly works again?
  • Poe Dameron is just missing, thought to be dead, and then is completely fine? Feels forced to me.
  • Why couldn’t we get some basic knowledge on this Supreme Leader Snoke? Why keep it a secret and lead us along? It hinders more than it helps.
  • Is Maz Kanata alive? is Kylo Ren alive? Is General Hux alive? Is Captain Phasma alive? I’m just assuming yes, but it’ll be pretty dissapointing if any are dead.
  • Why does Maz Kanata have Luke Skywalkers Lightsaber?
  • Why the differences in power between Rey and Kylo Ren? Rey just learns she has the force and at one point overpowers Kylo Ren even though he has been using the force since he was a boy?
  • Why does Kylo Ren have Darth Vaders helmet? While I enjoyed that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder.
  • C-3POs arm?
  • How did Han Solo and Chewie find The Millennium Falcon?
  • Which planet did the Starkiller base destroy? Does it matter? I know it was more emotional when Alderaan was destroyed in A New Hope because it was Leia’s home planet, but a planet was destroyed in A Force Awakens and it didn’t seem like a huge deal, to anyone.
  • Who was Max Von Sydow’s character, the older man at the beginning of the film?

I’m sure a lot of these questions may be easily answerable to someone very wise in the ways of the force, I mean Star Wars, or will be answered in the future but they are a few things that I left the theater questioning.

Grade: A

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Spotlight (2015) Review


Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian D’arcy James, Billy Crudup, and Stanley Tucci


Director Tom McCarthy has made some great films, mostly indie darlings such as Win Win, The Visitor and The Station Agent. Only one of those films has gained Oscar attention and that was for Richard Jenkins performance in The Visitor, but this very well may be the year McCarthy strikes Oscar gold. What might surprise you to know is that while Spotlight sits at a solid 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, his Adam Sandler comedy from earlier this year, The Cobbler sits at a sad 8%. Has there ever been a director with two films in the same year, one being one of the worst films of the year and the other being one of the best? I did watch The Cobbler… actually, I watched half an hour and walked away while my wife finished it, she said it was pretty bad, but she stuck it out, good for her.

Spotlight tells the story of a group of writers called The Spotlight Team working at The Boston Globe. The team works on stories that involve heavy amounts of investigative work and can take more than a year to reach print. The team is headed by Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) and includes Mike (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha (Rachel McAdams), and Matt (Brian D’arcy James).

The Boston Globe hires a new editor Marty Baron (Liev Schrieber), who comes in just around the time as a story about a pedophile priest named John Geoghan is being published. The Cardinals in Boston knew of this but did nothing about it. Marty instructs the Spotlight team to begin researching the story. As they do, they begin to uncover a secret that the Catholic Church has kept hidden for too long.

McCarthy’s ability to let the story unfold in a very natural fashion is astounding, nothing here seems over glorified, the Spotlight team aren’t made out to be heroes, and the twists and turns the film takes feel genuine.

McCarthy had help with creating an extremely genuine story with some incredible actors on hand. In my eyes Schrieber, McAdams and Ruffalo shine a bit above the rest, but not by much. Its one of the better ensembles I’ve seen in a while, the team performance here is what makes the film great.

Spotlight is moody and dark, but not dismal, Howard Shores score works wonders. I felt uneasy, and at times almost sick, but in a way that snuck up on me, and to me that is a sign of good filmmaking, this is a film that can only be described as harrowing. One scene that involves children singing Silent Night had my heart thumping in my chest, and another involving McAdams character coming face to face with a priest.

It’s not a film that I would deem incredible, It’s a very good watch, and while some scenes may stay with me, I won’t be raving about it in the near future and I will probably never watch it again. Although it is still a wonderfully well done biographical film, on a topic that hasn’t been told often, with a terrific cast.

Grade: A-

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

Pitch Perfect 2

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Adam DeVine, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp, Benn Platt, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Birgitte Hjort-Sørensen, David Cross, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgens, and Katey Sagal.

Pitch Perfect 2Sometimes reliability is a comfort we can all use, and when you sit down to watch the Barden Bella’s newest outing in Pitch Perfect 2, you can rely on them to entertain you for 115 minutes. Other constants you can rely on? Priceless humor, good music and uplifting moments.

In that sense, Pitch Perfect 2 delivers. We’re back with the Barden Bella’s 4 years after the events of the first Pitch Perfect film. The whole gang is still singing and dancing, Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe (Brittany Snow), and the rest of the gang. After a performance involving Fat Amy hanging in the air at Barack Obama’s Birthday event goes terribly wrong, the Bella’s are disqualified and banned from performing as an A Capella group.

The group makes one request, if they can win the world A Capella tournament, they would be reinstated. The deal is made, and now the whole group, joined by newcomer Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), must fight to regain their former glory.

It sounds fairly traditional, and let’s face it, it is! You won’t find anything new in Pitch Perfect 2 (Sorry for that rhyme), but you won’t leave disappointed, in fact, you might want to re-watch it immediately. Is it better than the first? Nope, but just as entertaining! Do they sing “Cups” Again? Yes, but it’s earned! The jokes are fresh and funny (if not shockingly racist at times). The music, well it’s fresh and (excuse the old man lingo) it’s a toe tapping good time, if not altogether sing-along worthy!

The story, well it’s sweet, emotional, sappy, uplifting, and … well… nothing extraordinary, but thanks to the characters, and the actors portraying them, you’re wholly engrossed and excited to see the outcome, even if it’s obvious.

I have to say, I’m impressed by the acting. The actors give it their all, they bring to their roles what we want from them and sometimes more! Rebel Wilson, who many have stated as being a bit much as of late, is toned down slightly but still brings the humor. In the few sight gags given to “Fat Amy”, they are actually quite funny, it just works.

Anna Kendrick, who is terrific, and wonderful, and amazing, (and I wonder if she wants my number…) plays the straight woman, the central character to the whole story, but is given chances to shine musically and comically. I specifically enjoyed the confidence given to Kendrick’s character in this film, it allowed her to play a very honest and real woman. Brittany Snow, who is very underrated as an actor, may very well be one of the best at playing an uptight woman who doesn’t really go over the top… ever. I have to be honest, I was actually impressed by Snow’s acting, that’s right, impressed by someone’s acting in Pitch Perfect 2! Hailee Steinfeld, well she’s adorable and is going to have a wonderful career in Hollywood. Some fun, small supporting roles such as Birgitte Hjort-Sørensen, who plays a German opponent is absolutely beautiful, and I’d like to see her in more. Hana Mae Lee provides some more funny humor like that in the first film, as well as Ester Dean.

I’m going to take a quick jump back to the racism for a moment; a few of the racist jokes from the A Cappella show commentators, John (John Michael Higgens) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks), are actually shockingly funny and have the impact they are meant to have, for example “No one cares about the Koreans” is actually a funny, throwaway line. The racism I’m speaking of is surrounding one of the new Barden Bella’s, Florencia “Flo” Fuentes (Chrissie Fit), a Guatemalan senior who spouts “jokes”, which are really just a foreign person’s stereotypes which hold no humor whatsoever. I was blown away by these moments making it into a popular culture film, and worry about the impact they may have on some.

The film may have some risqué jokes, some riddled with sexist undertones, but Pitch Perfect actually exceeds in having a positive image for women. Here we have 10 women working together, on film, and it succeeds in avoiding stereotypes and portraying positive friendships between these women. Avoiding the typical backstabbing, cattiness, and other false traits we’ve come to expect from women in film. Here we have real, unique, interesting, and funny women, and it earns an extra grade point in my book, just for that.

Grade: B-

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Town that Dreaded Sundown) 

Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cylar, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Katherine C. Hughes, and Jon Bernthal.

2015-09-22 23_35_31-SearchGreg (Thomas Mann), or Me in the film’s title, is invisible, He gets along with almost everyone in the school, but he blends in. He knows everyone, but no one really knows him. He has one friend, who he calls a co-worker, and that’s Earl (RJ Cyler), He calls him his co-worker because they make films together, funny rehashes of classic films.

One day Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) forces him to call Rachel (Olivia Cooke), AKA the Dying Girl. Rachel has been diagnosed with Leukemia and Greg awkwardly begins hanging out with Rachel, until they actually do become friends. Earl, Greg and the Dying Girl begin to hang out, and so begins an odd, yet incredibly real friendship.

The story is about Greg, and his friendships with Earl and Rachel, it’s about his friendship with both of them, and each of them separately. The audience becomes spectators upon a very authentic view of High School, friendships and how it feels to deal with a deadly disease, from the angle of the sick person and their friends. Youth today are rarely represented as well as they are here, the awkwardness of growing up and being forced to handle situations well beyond their years is bravely shown here.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has heart, and if you’re known to cry during movies, bring tissues, but fuck this film is really, really funny. The main character Greg is someone you would want to be best friends with, he’s comical, honest and unique. Earl and Greg seem like an odd pair, but together they are wonderful, and both are compelling enough characters to be remembered.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has quite possibly the best cast of the year, even beyond the three main stars and their incredible chemistry. From Connie Britton and Nick Offerman as Greg’s quirky but genuine parents, to Molly Shannon as Rachel’s wine drinking mother, Jon Bernthal as a tough ass teacher, and even miniscule acting flourishes from around the high school these kids attend.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon seems to be a very talented man, I can’t wait for him to do more work. This film feels as if Wes Anderson made a more linear Drama/Comedy, if that makes any sense, you can feel that Gomez has been influenced by Anderson greatly.

The film has some flaws, certain portions or characters traits that may distract some from loving it as much as I did. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked Greg, but I quickly realized I adored him. Rachel’s wine-drinking, younger-man loving, mother Denise, played by Molly Shannon, isn’t very funny and she’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s tolerable. At times I was confused by the relationship between Greg and Rachel, but I sense that may have made the film that much better in the end.

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is as beautiful and poignant as it is hilarious and sincere. It’s a film that will stick with me throughout the year, and I can see myself recommending it to many.

Grade: A

Thanks for Reading!

Find Mitch on Twitter @mitchydaily

Like The Hollywood Persona on Facebook

Follow the official The Hollywood Persona Twitter page @THPersona