Movie Review: “Avengers: Infinity War” [ALL THE SPOILERS!!!]


Okay, first off, I’ve been avoiding writing a review of this movie purely because I’ve established that it’s nearly impossible to talk about it without spoilers. It could probably be done, but it would be a very half-assed review as I’d have to completely avoid talking about some of the key points of the film. And the thing is, I prefer writing spoiler-free reviews because I know most of the people looking for reviews are likely to be people who haven’t actually consumed the media for themselves yet.

That said, I’ve been desperately wanting to talk about this movie. So this will be (likely) one of my only SPOILER-FILLED reviews. And to ensure that no one accidentally glances past the post title and doesn’t realize that there are, in fact, spoilers in this particular review, I’m going to be peppering this image throughout the post:


So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

The first thing I want to mention about Infinity War is that it begins right where Thor: Ragnarok left off. That’s key information, I think, because I’ve been seeing lots of questions floating around on the internet along the lines of “Do I need to see [insert Marvel movie here] before I see Infinity War?”, and in the case of Thor: Ragnarok, the answer to that question is yes. I suppose you could see Infinity War without it, but you’re definitely going to be confused, at least in the beginning. That said, some other movies I’ve seen  in relation to this question are not required watching. Black Panther, for instance. I’ve not seen Black Panther, and there was very little affect on Infinity War for me as a result. I missed a bit of character development on the part of the Wakandans, for sure, but it’s nothing that’s going to ruin the movie for anyone. Off the top of my head I’d say that absolute required watching before seeing Infinity War is The Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Thor: Ragnarok. Movies that would greatly enhance the experience but aren’t necessarily a requirement are Guardians of the Galaxy Parts 1 & 2, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (if only for the relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark).


Sticking with that opening for a bit, Infinity War sucker-punches you right from the beginning. There’s been a lot of speculation leading up to the film about whether or not Tom Hiddleston’s Loki would be one of the characters to fail to make it through the story-line, and we got that answer within the first few minutes. It is a horrifying moment, partially because it happens so quickly, and partially because we’ve all loved Loki’s progression throughout the films as he continued to be a conniving bastard while still growing emotionally enough to fight with and for his brother. I hated this moment so much, but I admit that it was an excellent way to introduce us, finally, to the horrifying character who is Thanos.

And that leads me into another thought, because Thanos, while definitely insane and horrifying in his methods, is a disturbingly sympathetic character. His ultimate goal is mass genocide on the universal scale, and yet, somehow, the combined efforts of the Infinity War team make Thanos a character whom we can understand. His motives, while they lead him down a truly disgusting road, actually make sense, and we can sympathize with the fact that he truly, genuinely believes that he is doing right by the universe. He sees himself as a hero, sacrificing what needs to be sacrificed for the greater good, even when that sacrifice is something he loves more than anything else.


Yeah, here’s another one I didn’t see coming. Well, actually, two things. First, on his journey to find the soul stone, Thanos – accompanied by Gamora – runs into a stranded Red Skull. That was an extremely unexpected cameo, and I know I wasn’t the only one who was surprised and amused, because our theater exploded when he was revealed. It was a very nice touch that, in a way, brought the whole story full circle, as it all technically started with him and Cap during the war. Second, after Thanos discovers he must trade the thing he loves in order to obtain the soul stone, he throws Gamora off the cliff while crying openly. It’s a double-whammy, because we see that emotional side of him and realize that yes, he is actually fully capable of love, and we also see another death in an unexpected moment. Seeing Gamora’s broken body at the bottom of that chasm genuinely shocked me, especially considering that neither Star Lord nor any of the other Guardians knew it was happening at the time.


At this point I want to mention that this film has a lot going on at once. While Thanos is with Gamora looking for the soul stone, half of the Avengers are in Wakanda on Earth, trying to remove the mind stone from Vision, while a group of others are inadvertently rushed across the galaxy in one of Thanos’ ships, eventually to meet half the Guardians, who are trying to track down Gamora, while the other half of the Guardians are with Thor as he seeks a new weapon that can defeat Thanos. There are so many characters jam-packed into this movie that you’d be forgiven for assuming that it was going to be a garbled, confusing mess. That’s certainly what I thought going into it! Yet I couldn’t have been any more wrong. Between the writing, the filming, and the editing, somehow everything was brought into this absolutely beautiful harmony. There are a dozen things going on at once, and yet it all flows together beautifully, no one character’s story stomping over another’s, everything working toward the endgame. It, quite honestly, was amazing that they managed to cram so much into a single film without making it four hours long. Entire series’ of TV shows haven’t managed to do so much with the time they’re given. Enormous kudos to everyone involved for that one.

There’s lots of other stuff I can talk about as well, such as how the movie was visually stunning, the performances were spot on with pretty much everyone, and how even though it’s a somber story-line, they still managed to sneak in some of that trademark Marvel movie humor (which I, personally, enjoy, and I will fight you if you start whining about it). The “I am Steve Rogers” line in particular cracked me up, seeing Bucky pick up Rocket and twirl him around during battle was absolutely brilliant, and the little one didn’t stop laughing about “Why is Gamora?” for days afterward. We were also introduced to some great villains in Thanos’ lackeys, and it was an absolute joy getting to see groups of characters who hadn’t previously met working together for the first time. Whether it was Tony Stark and Doctor Strange hurling barbs at each other, Star Lord getting incredibly and adorably jealous of Thor, or Bruce Banner finally returning to Earth and having barely a clue of what was going on there, it was just so much fun finally seeing all these characters mixed together.


But see, the first sentence of that last paragraph was intended to point out that I could easily talk about this movie forever, and there I went ahead and started rambling again. I was trying to get across the fact that I have to stop somewhere, or this “review” will be 5000 words of me gushing about how awesome the movie was.

So I’m going to finish off with one final paragraph about the ending, because, oh my dear lord…

Given that we all knew ahead of time that there was going to be another movie after this one, I went into Infinity War assuming that it would be about Thanos getting all but one of the infinity stones, probably killing a bunch of people on the way, and that the next movie would be the big epic battle to keep Thanos from completing his gauntlet. Much to my complete and utter shock, he actually completed the gauntlet in Infinity War, and with a literal snap of his fingers, achieved his goal of wiping out half the population of the entire universe. That hit hard in a special kind of way because it was the first real epic failure for the Avengers. The didn’t stop the bad guy – not in the least – and as a result trillions of people died in an instant. Of course, we are treated to a few painful scenes of watching half of our heroes die along with half the universe, and that brought plenty of surprises with it as well. Characters I expected to go didn’t, and others who did go came as a complete and utter shock. Some of the deaths were more emotional than others, but I have to conclude this review by insisting that Tom Holland should get a goddamn Oscar for his final scene. I was a little teary-eyed up to that point, but when Peter Parker threw himself around Tony Stark’s shoulders and practically begged for his life, crying, “I don’t wanna go, Mr Stark”, I literally lost it. That may have actually been the most emotion I’ve ever felt during a superhero movie, and the only thing that brought me back was my overly-confident little girl telling me, “It’s okay, mommy. I think they’re gonna fix it all in the next movie.”


Have you seen Infinity War? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “Ready Player One” [Spoiler-Free]


I’ve been intending to write this review since we saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been having a hard time thinking about how to go about it. This is the kind of movie that it’s going to be difficult to review without spoilers, you see, but I’ll try my very best because I want to share a few thoughts.

Ready Player One” takes place in a future that is rapidly declining into serious dystopian territory. The world has become a depressing place for a number of reasons, but most people get through their day by being obsessed with the OASIS which, for all intents and purposes, is much like a virtual reality version of the internet. It is a massive online world where the entire planet can be connected at once, play games, learn, explore, go on adventures, and basically do anything and everything in the form of an avatar they create to look however they want. Our story begins when the creator of this OASIS world, James Halliday, passes on and leaves behind a challenge: find the Easter Egg that he’s hidden in the OASIS, which requires passing three hidden challenges, and you’ll inherit the OASIS itself, as well as his fortune. The film follows teenage boy Wade Watts, as well as some friends he meets along the way, as he fights to be the first to complete Halliday’s challenge.

The first thing I will say is that I did read the book by Ernest Cline before seeing the film, and while that may have prepared me for some of the film’s more iconic scenes, I do not believe that it detracted from my enjoyment, nor would reading the book have been a necessity in order to properly enjoy the film. In fact, I saw the movie with my husband and daughter, neither of whom had read the book, and they both enjoyed it just as much as I did.

Secondly, having read the book, I will bring up the fact that a lot of liberties were taken in the making of the film, specifically with the manner of the three challenges, which were changed dramatically. Now, many avid book readers scoff at this kind of thing, often considering the book to be “perfection” and thus changing it constitutes a terrible sin, but I’m going to break tradition here and say that these changes were actually for the better. Without going into too much detail, the fact of the matter is that while Halliday’s challenges sound wonderful and mysterious within the context of the book, on screen they would, frankly, be pretty boring. By drastically changing the first challenge in the film, for instance, we were able to be introduced to all the important characters, including the antagonists, as well as the intricately beautiful world of the OASIS in one fell swoop, whereas the book’s version of the challenge has only two characters discovering it secretly and completing it without anyone else in the OASIS knowing what is happening. I loved the book challenge, don’t get me wrong, but for a visual medium, the changes that were made for the film make much more sense and are able to get the important information to us much quicker while also giving our eyes a feast of nostalgia.

And therein lies my third point: the nostalgia is strong in this film. The secondary plot point of the story, as the book-readers will know, is that James Halliday was obsessed with the 80’s, and pop culture in general, and as a result the entire world becomes obsessed with those obsessions as they struggle to unlock the keys to his Easter Egg hunt. That means that the movie is filled with so much nostalgia that it is impossible to see it all upon first viewing. From players’ avatars to background scenes, games that are being played, items that are being won, and everything in between, there are nods to pop culture from the 80’s and 90’s absolutely everywhere, with a large portion from the 2000’s as well, just to keep things modern. My family and I had a blast pointing out characters from some of our favorite shows and games, chuckling at special items the characters used that came from movies or shows from our childhoods, and gaping at CG versions of pop culture icons that we never would have expected to show up in this film. There were nods to anything and everything, with something for everyone to recognize, and if you, in particular, grew up in the 80’s and/or 90’s, you’re going to be grinning like a lunatic while trying to catch everything.

In keeping with the fact that there is both retro nostalgia and current-day pop culture within the film, I thought I’d also mention that, yes, this is a movie for the whole family. There is a bit of mild swearing, slight romantic suggestiveness, and violence of the virtual kind, none of which would phase the majority of younger children. The final decision lies with the parents, of course, but I will tell you quite honestly that there was nothing in the length of the film that I was concerned about my 7-year-old seeing or hearing.

Back to the quality of the film, I felt, overwhelmingly, that the acting was well-done on all fronts. Tye Sheriden was virtually exactly what I’d pictured for Wade Watts while reading the book, and though a few of the characters were a wee bit stereotypical in nature, the “High Five” group all did a great job of bringing their respective characters to the big screen in a way that made you fall in love with them. Ben Mendelsohn as the lead antagonist and bigwig in the evil IOI company, Sorrento, was great in that he was a wonderfully weaselly S.O.B. whom you just wanted to see smashed down. I-R0k – a character who lost some of his backstory in the film but was still fairly front-and-center as an antagonist – was played very humorously by T.J. Miller in a way that made you really imagine him as a pathetically over-confident little creep of a kid playing the game in his parents’ basement. Simon Pegg, though his role was not a particularly large one, was a great addition as Halliday’s previous business partner and friend, Ogden Morrow. The one cast member who took me a bit off guard was Mark Rylance as the all-important Halliday, simply because his performance was very unlike how I’d pictured Halliday while reading the book. That said, I have to concede that his take on the character was much more interesting than the one in my imagination, performed as a wonderfully awkward nerd who was sweet enough, yet seemed to struggle horribly every time he had to speak to a real flesh-and-blood person. It brought a depth to the character that ultimately ended up being quite important to the Egg hunt itself.

Finally, though I mentioned it somewhat while speaking about the nostalgic qualities of the movie, I have to mention again that the visuals throughout were absolutely stunning, and I’m not speaking about just within the OASIS. In the “real world” scenes we were shown important locations from the book, such as the “Stacks” – literal stacks of trailer homes built dozens of layers high in order to cram as many occupants into as little space as possible – the junkyard where Wade has his hideaway, and the IOI “loyalty center” where Sorrento and his team keep base, and all of them were actualized beautifully. In particular, the Stacks looked like they were pulled right out of Ernest Cline’s brain, and the scene did an amazing job of pulling you into the rough reality of the world Watts – and most of the planet – were so keen to escape. Of course, in addition to the “real world”, the OASIS is absolutely stunning in every sense of the word, showcasing a huge variety of different worlds crawling with every form of pop culture you can imagine, all in a “it looks kinda real, but also very video game-ish” style that perfectly suits the reality they’re trying to capture. It was all very lovingly done in order to make the OASIS and the world outside it seem equal parts real in their own rights, and it’s all so genuinely beautiful that I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing something amazing.

What it all boils down to in the end is that I have next to no complaints about the film, and honestly none worth really bothering to dive into. It was an exceptionally fun movie for my entire family, with tons of both in-your-face and more in-jokish content from the past four decades of pop culture to keep all three of us giggling like fools. The changes made from the book made absolute sense and only served to create a better visual experience for the movie-goer, and the entire experience was stunning to the eye, including an absolutely epic end battle scene that you’ll have to play frame-by-frame once it comes out for DVD and Bluray just to catch half of what’s happening. A genuinely epic tale, true to the original story while understanding what does and doesn’t work for film form, and absolutely a must-watch, in my opinion. Go see Ready Player One if you haven’t already!

Have you seen Ready Player One? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” [Spoiler-Free]


I’m always wary when a beloved childhood movie is remade or rebooted, because let’s face it: the Hollywood of today doesn’t have the greatest track record when messing around with classics from the 80’s and 90’s. In particular I’ve personally found that they tend to rely far too much on current special effects technology and making controversial changes to seem progressive (*cough*femaleGhostbusters*cough*) and fail to focus on important things like, you know…the script.

But that’s just my opinion. Take it or leave it.

However, I had a small spark of hope when I first saw the trailers for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, because the combination of actors they chose felt like a winning possibility to me. So I quietly crossed my fingers behind my back and waited for the opportunity to judge with as little bias as I could manage, having grown up with the original.

And I’m happy to report that I personally thought the result was thoroughly enjoyable.

The movie opens in the 90’s, with a teenage boy finding the Jumanji board game and commenting on the fact that no one plays board games anymore before he turns to his video games. Whatever magic possesses the game apparently hears him and agrees, because it evolves in order to stay relevant and lure in new victims.

Fast forward back to the present day, and we meet our four teenage heroes. Spencer is a video game-playing nerd with asthma and allergies, who never takes any risks and is basically terrified of life. Fridge is the 6-foot-tall, muscular football player who is flunking one of his classes and bullies Spencer into writing his reports for him so he can stay on the team. Martha is an intellectual who has no use for physical activity and keeps to herself because she sees herself as an unlikable loser. And Bethany is our stereotypical blond prom queen, totally absorbed in her own world and too pretty for her own good. The four wind up in detention together and are set a task in an old, unused room of the school, in which they discover a self-enclosed video game called “Jumanji”. They decide to play, each choosing a different character, without really thinking too much about the descriptions of said characters. Unlike the original Jumanji film, in which the contents of the board game escape out into the real world, our heroes in Welcome to the Jungle find themselves pulled into the game, where they take over the bodies of the avatars they’d chosen. Terrified Spencer becomes a hulking hunk hero. Mousy Martha becomes a sexy man-killer. Athletic Fridge becomes a short, squat zoologist. And beautiful Bethany becomes a fat, middle-aged male cartologist. Together the four must play and defeat the game in order to escape and go home.

I’ll admit that, at first, I thought the idea of Jumanji being a video game instead of a board game was nothing more than a sad statement on the fact that, as a society, we’re all glued to our screens and don’t take part in proximity group activities anymore. Even as a video gamer myself I can fully accept this as a fact of present times, and maybe it seemed a little on the nose within the movie format at first. But I’m happy to say that it actually did work within the context of the film. It was interesting seeing the characters trapped in the game, trying to get out, rather than the original concept of attempting to get the game back in. Add to that the fact that the characters becoming completely different people who were very contrary to their real-life selves was the integral part of the film (morals and lessons and all that), and you’ve got a recipe for fun and hysterics abound.

The cast chosen to play the video-game versions of the teens were amazing. The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, as Spencer, Kevin Hart as Fridge, Jack Black as Bethany, and Karen Gillan as Martha were all hysterical and spot on with their portrayals of the teenagers they were supposed to be transformed from. Giant, muscular Johnson acting like a terrified little mouse, tiny Hart as a big-headed jock, and pudgy Black as a valley-girl-esque brat were all spot on and had me giggling like a damn fool on numerous occasions. Gillan was less laugh-out-loud funny simply because her character was the least cartoony teenage stereotype of the four, but she still had several excellent moments, and overall I thought her performance was spot-on.

I do have a few minor complaints, one of which is that in several scenes, when one of the characters (usually Spencer) was explaining an aspect of the video game world, it seemed over-explained, almost as if the script-writers assumed that the people watching the movie would all be non-gamers who had no idea what was going on. Contrary to that, I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of movie-goers who watch this film will have played at least enough video games to get the concepts without being pandered to, so it seemed too much to me. For example, when the characters start seeing images from the backstory of the game and act confused, Spencer explains that he thinks this is a cut-scene. For the average viewer, chances are that this would have been plenty enough information to get the joke across, but the script sledgehammers the point into the ground by having Spencer continue on with an explanation about how cut-scenes are “little movies” that show you what’s happening in another part of the story and that “lots of games have them”. The entire line really gives of a vibe that says “we think you’re probably too dumb to understand this unless we explain it in the most basic of layman’s terms”.

Another small complaint is that, while the subplot of the film is obviously that these four very different teenagers have to get past their differences and learn how to work together, I felt that the two female characters became best buds way too fast. It was cute to see the mousy nerd and the conceited beauty-queen bond and learn from each other; I just felt that it happened so quickly that there was barely any antagonism between them at all, whereas the two male characters spent a good half the movie arguing and wanting to kill each other. It just seemed a little uneven to me in that manner, and I would have liked to see a little more of the girls acting bitchy toward one another before realizing they actually rather like each other.

One final complaint is that, considering the main plot was that these characters were trapped in a video game, there wasn’t actually a whole lot of “video game level” style of scenes. There were a few cute things to remind you that that’s where they were, like the random NPC’s repeating lines over and over, or the little “lives” bars on the main characters’ arms, but when it came to actually playing the game, a large portion of it seemed to be simply walking from place to place, or performing fairly quick tasks. It’s a bit difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t seen the movie, but if you’re a gamer yourself you might understand if I explain this way: if the Jumanji game were an actual video game in real life, it could be beaten in less than an hour. Since the full movie is only about two hours long, I suppose they couldn’t really cram that much video game-esque challenge into it; it’s just that as a gamer myself, this point seemed a little glaring to me personally.

Those three complaints, however, are minor when considering the film as a whole. All in all I thought that it was a very fun movie, with lots of excellent humor, a few absolutely unexpected moments (one in particular had my daughter giggling and yelling, “It made us ALL jump!” for a full five minutes), and plenty of heart, all wrapped around wonderful performances from the cast, which, by the way, was joined by Nick Jonas about halfway through. It was (mostly) well-written, well-edited, and had that feel-good family-movie vibe while also having enough more mature humor in it to keep the adults happy.

One small warning on that topic before I conclude! If you have young children who are very inquisitive, you might have a conversation on your hands by the middle of this movie, as a few humorous moments with the transformed-into-a-man Bethany could leave little ones asking, “Wait, what? What is she talking about?” Yeah, you know what I’m getting at.

So, in conclusion, I am happy to say that I genuinely enjoyed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It did not, as far as I’m concerned, stomp on the classic from my childhood in any way, and instead gave it a little bit of a fun reboot for the current generation that can be a good time for the whole family. Even if you’re wary of remakes and reboots like I am, I truly suggest you give this one a try, especially if you’re in the mood to laugh.

Have you seen Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “Hellraiser: Judgement” [Spoiler-Free]


It’s always a concern when a long-running franchise reboots or moves forward without the actor who made them what they are. Doug Bradley was the “lead cenobite”, Pinhead, since the original film landed in the late 80’s, and while no one would ever argue that the later Hellraiser movies were master-crafts of modern cinema, fans of the franchise would certainly agree that Bradley made the character his own. He is Pinhead, and he is Hellraiser. He remained so until the 2011 Hellraiser: Revelations, when Stephan Smith Collins took over and, let’s just say, wasn’t widely loved for his version of the iconic character. So, understandably, horror fans were both intrigued and concerned when yet another actor, Paul T. Taylor, took over the role for Hellraiser: Judgement. Would he be able to pull off the necessary look? The definitive voice? The required sense of terrifying stoicism in the face of limitless pain and torture?

The irony here, which I’m making my way toward, is that Taylor was one of the only good parts of the movie.

Judgement opens with the cenobites discussing how they need to “get with the times”, for lack of a better phrasing. They talk about how the puzzle box (which, if you’re a Hellraiser fan, you’ll know is an incredibly important part of the movies’ lore) is obsolete, and that in a world of technology they must adapt in order to stay relevant. It’s an amusing conversation that sets the tone for…a plot twist that never really occurs. Though the cenobites’ methods are quite different in this movie from previous ones, “embracing technology” is not even remotely part of those new methods. The closest thing we see is when the “Auditor” character uses an old-school typewriter to record the victims’ sins. Now, I’ll grant that seeing the cenobites using modern technology is definitely not what I look for in a Hellraiser movie, so I’m not terribly disappointed in this respect. However, I thought it worth mentioning simply for the fact that it makes the opening conversation seem unnecessary and misleading about what’s to come.

Moving into the judgement process itself, I don’t want to give much away because I found this to be one of the most interesting parts of the film, but I will tell you that it involves a trial-like process of auditing, judging, and sentencing. This process was, in my opinion, very odd, very creative, and – in places – very visceral. I enjoyed it, while simultaneously wondering about the mental state of whomever came up with it. The sentencing part in particular, which involves “cleansing” from the jurors followed by a visit from the Butcher and the Surgeon, was in line with the kind of disgusting torture I would expect from a Hellraiser film. Additionally, I loved the design of the characters in these roles, particularly the Butcher and Surgeon, whose bodies are stitched together. The jurors, who are beautiful women with destroyed faces, satisfy the gratuitous nudity quota of the film, and perform, subjectively, the most disgusting acts of the process. These acts – while not necessarily gory – are the kinds of things that will make the average person gag. One scene in particular seems to exist purely for the gross-out factor, but also fits in with the task they’re supposed to be performing at the time, so it at least makes sense while making your stomach turn.

You may notice, as I’m speaking about this judgement process, that I’m not mentioning Pinhead. That’s because he’s not involved in the slightest, and that’s the – rather large – downside. During all of this judging, Pinhead is only seen a small handful of times, for a few seconds at a time, lounging in a stone chair in another room, listening to the screams. Taylor’s look and mannerisms during these tiny scenes are spot on, but still, I found myself constantly wondering when Pinhead was going to have any input to anything that was occurring.

The other side to the plot follows a group of three detectives as they investigate a series of murders perpetrated by a killer who bases his killings on the ten commandments and those who he perceives to have broken them. Aside from the crime scenes left behind after a few of the murders – which, admittedly, are creative – this side of the movie was rather boring to me. The three detectives aren’t particularly interesting or likable, so I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone, or even rooting against them (as one might be wont to do in a slasher flick). I just, generally, didn’t much care about them at all. I wanted to see more of the cenobites, more of the gruesome killings, and more of Pinheadalreadyomfg, and the exploits of these three vanilla human characters did nothing for me at all.

There was a bit of heavenly influence into the plot as well, which I won’t comment on for the sake of spoilers, but I will say that I, personally, thought it was silly. The idea had promise, but I didn’t feel it was played out well, and didn’t add anything to the movie at all, though admittedly the plot, such as it was, would have made less sense without it.

Taylor’s Pinhead finally got a few lengthy scenes coming up to the end of the movie, and here I’ll let you know that I think he did a great job. Taylor’s portrayal of the iconic character was very similar to Bradley’s in many respects, and was overall as good as we could have hoped for from anyone who isn’t Bradley himself. He got the stance, facial “expression”, and voice down, while the costume and makeup team nailed (ha ha) the look. I felt it was an excellent performance, all told, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Taylor in the role again in the future. Given the right script and some key scenes, I think he could cement himself as the lead cenobite of this age of Hellraiser films.

With that, however, I must make one last point about the movie, and that’s that I hated the ending. In part my disdain is because of the fact that it’s one of those endings that just happens, all of a sudden, when you feel like there really should be more to it. But also, I just thought it was a stupid idea for an ending. I get what they were going for; I just didn’t like it. At all.

In conclusion, Judgement was hardly the worst of the Hellraiser line of movies, but it definitely wasn’t one of the best and would have been completely forgettable if not for the judgement scenes. It had some good points, but large chunks of it were very “meh” and I felt that Taylor’s Pinhead was drastically under-utilized. My overall feeling by the end of the film is that I would love to see Taylor team up with the costume crew and whichever insane mind came up with the judgement process for this story, retcon this film, and go for a reboot that hearkens back to the original Hellraiser movie. I’d love to see what they could do with the other original cenobites, especially after getting a tease of Chatterer in a couple of small scenes throughout Judgement.

An okay movie with some very interesting ideas pasted against a mostly underwhelming plot.

Have you seen Hellraiser: Judgement? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “The Cloverfield Paradox” [Spoiler-Free]


Let me first preface this review by stating that I had mixed feelings about the first two movies in this strange, eye-twitching franchise.

The original Cloverfield film, while I enjoyed getting to see a giant, unexplained creature destroying the city, bothered me a great deal because of the ridiculousness of the main characters’ motives. The logic seemed thin throughout, and I personally loathe most “found footage” films, which ask us to suspend our disbelief that anyone in the middle of an apocalyptic situation would focus so much energy to keep the camera rolling at all times.

The second in the franchise – 10 Cloverfield Lane – was, I felt, a good movie overall, but it was a bit confusing as a tie-in to the original film. It could have easily been a stand-alone story, but shoe-horning in a morsel of Cloverfield’s world at the very end seemed a bit forced to me, if not entirely confusing and perhaps even a little infuriating because of the questions it raised just as the credits rolled.

With that said, we move on to The Cloverfield Paradox, and I have to be honest: I’m surprised by how many critics and film-lovers alike are bashing this Netflix release and calling it, “The worst of the franchise so far.”

Now, I won’t go so far as to claim that it was a masterpiece or anything, but to be perfectly and utterly blunt: I fully enjoyed this movie, save for a few of those eye-twitching bits I’ve found the franchise to be known for.

The film opens with the main character, Hamilton, having a discussion with her husband about the mission she’s considering being a part of, which boils down to a team heading to a space station to test a device they call “The Shepherd”, with which they hope to solve an energy crisis occurring on Earth. This energy crisis has driven the planet to the brink of war, which puts a great deal of pressure on our crew, who are a diverse cast from several different countries, and we watch as tensions grow with two years of failure to get a positive result from The Shepherd. During this time we also hear talk of something called “The Cloverfield Paradox”, which posits that the Hadron-collider-like “Shepherd” has as much chance of ripping apart time and space as it does of achieving the goal of limitless free energy.

In short, the real story begins when the team finally gets The Shepherd running, only for it to overload and catch fire, and when the immediate crisis has been averted, our heroes discover a sobering situation: the Earth has vanished.

Without going too deep into spoiler-territory, I will state that the Paradox, such as it is, has occurred, colliding two dimensions into each other, which causes all manner of strange and destructive occurrences in both worlds. We flash back and forth between the space crew and the original dimension’s version of Earth, on which we are lead to believe (without significant detail being revealed) that the Cloverfield incident from the original film is now occurring, offering the plausible conclusion that it was the Shepherd’s overload that caused the kaiju-creature to appear on Earth in the first place. This explanation – such as it is – is a fair enough one, that begins to piece together answers to some of the questions that we’ve all had since the viral marketing scheme for Cloverfield first overtook the internet, although Paradox hardly goes into significant detail on this matter.

On the space station we join the crew as they desperately work out how they are going to get home, while all manner of strange events begin to take place as a result of their time-and-space-warping misadventure.

At this point it becomes nearly impossible to discuss the plot further without risking major spoilers, so instead lets look at some pros and cons, keeping in mind that these are my opinions and if you disagree, good for you!

Pro: Though it seems that many disagree with me, I personally thought the cast was top-notch. I enjoyed their performances for the overwhelming part, and enjoyed the diverse group of characters.

Con: While I enjoyed the performances for the most part, I have to admit that the space-crew’s reactions to their predicaments weren’t always as extreme as I would imagine they should be. In particular, when the extremely odd and unbelievable occurrences being to crop up, their level of acceptance is unfathomable. In short, in a few places, the crew definitely should have been freaking the hell out, where they mostly gape, blink, and move forward.

Pro: The weirdness was extremely fun, with some of the incidents making me giggle like a fool, and others making me wish I could borrow the imaginations of whoever came up with those scenes. This one might actually be a con for some people, who would hope for a more serious tone with events grounded in the realm of reality, but I enjoyed the creative craziness.

Con: None of that creative craziness is explained in the slightest, which can be pretty frustrating for anyone (like me) who likes explanations. As we began watching the movie I posited to Jason that this was going to be the kind of movie that says, “see, we literally broke reality, so we don’t have to explain anything!” And that’s exactly what happened. The closest we get to an explanation is “two dimensions existing at once and fighting for the same space”, but that doesn’t even come close to making any sense of some of the strange things that occur on the space station. So if you’re hoping for answers, I’ll warn you now that you’re not going to get any. At least not any satisfying ones.

Pro: The events of the movie do shed a little bit of light on how the Cloverfield monster came to New York city in the first place, which is something we’ve all been wondering about for years now.

Con: But it also opens up several more questions that are not answered by the end of the film. This seems to be a running theme with all three movies, and makes me think – unfortunately so – that we’re never going to get anything close to any real answers by the conclusion of the franchise.

All in all, it’s difficult to explain exactly what I found appealing about the movie without ruining big moments for whomever has yet to watch it, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. I thought it was fun; a wild and weird sci-fi, creepy at times, upsetting at times, and definitely a little mind-blowing at times. It had its flaws, and I’ll readily admit that the number of unanswered questions by the end make me want to scream, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. If you can turn your brain off for a little while and accept that the movie is more about having fun with warping reality than actually explaining anything in a straightforward manner, then you might enjoy it too.