Room Review

Posted: November 25, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

roomWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Sometimes greatness can come from unexpected places. Last year, I saw Frank; a little film from director Lenny Abrahamson which had received some positive buzz. I remember thinking the film was a fairly amusing project with some good ideas that never really came together perfectly. All told I didn’t give Abrahamson much thought. Fast forward to a year later and a movie called Room is quickly becoming the most highly praised film of the Toronto International Film Festival. That of course, caught my attention, but it wasn’t until weeks later that I clued in Lenny Abrahamson was the director. I never would have expected the guy capable of making one of the year’s best films but Room has proven me wrong.

As a seventeen year old, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) is kidnapped by a middle-aged man who keeps her locked in a shed (furnished into a sort of makeshift apartment) for several years and repeatedly rapes her. During her captivity, Joy becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son named Jack. Struggling to raise Jack in such an environment, Joy tells him that “Room” is the entire world, with things find in TV and books coming from other planets. When the film opens, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is five years old and he and his mother have a certain routine. Jack is largely unaware of the horrors his mother faces, and in the day when the two are left alone their lives almost take on some normalcy. But as their captivity continues, Joy starts to realize she can’t protect Jack forever and they must escape. Read the rest of this entry »

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. Francis Lawrence and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong have taken what many believe to easily be the weakest of The Hunger Games books and make one movie that’s really solid for the most part and another that’s, dare I say, pretty great. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, given that the talent of filmmaking for this franchise has been consistently strong and that Mockingjay – Part 2 happens to be adapting the better half of Suzanne Collins’ final book in the trilogy. This may be one of those rare cases where what isn’t so spectacular on the page ends up working A LOT better on the screen, to the point where the comparison between each might as well be night and day. I honestly didn’t think I’d be saying this, but Mockingjay – Part 2 is actually one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year.

The spark of the rebellion is threatening to sizzle out. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has had his mind warped and twisted by The Capitol during his time in captivity, to the point where every time he lays eyes on Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) now, all he wants to do is try to kill her. Where Katniss was once on the verge of becoming a hollow shell of herself, she’s now broken entirely, and the only thing that’s filling that emptiness in her soul is a desire to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) herself. But Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is still convinced Katniss is most valuable as their propaganda puppet, shooting videos meant to inspire rebellion among the other Districts rather engaging the enemy herself. Katniss is having none of that, though; she’s prepared to do whatever she has to to bring an end to all the bloodshed once and for all. Her method of doing that is sneaking into District 2 — which she does — where the heart of the resistance is planning their all-out assault on The Capitol. She isn’t alone on this mission, however. Joining Katniss is Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Katniss’s propaganda film crew, Commander Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and, unexpectedly, Peeta. The squad’s mission, though, isn’t to help fight on the frontlines, but — you guessed it — to shoot more footage for the rebellion, trailing on the heels of the actual soldiers. The Capitol has been turned into its own Hunger Games arena, filled with deadly booby traps the team has to navigate in order to survive, all while avoiding Capitol soldiers along the way. Katniss’s one true goal remains intact, however: kill Snow. As Finnick himself says at one point: “Ladies and gentlemen … welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.” Read the rest of this entry »

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

I love the Harry Potter series with every fiber of my being. I know this is a review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, but go with me on this. If you asked me what’s one thing from the Harry Potter franchise I ultimately sort of regret, it’s the fact that the two-part adaptation of Deathly Hallows began a trend of every final installment of a young adult franchise since then being split into two separate films, whether they warrant it or not. The seventh Potter book deserved such a treatment, though. I’ve read The Hunger Games novels by Suzanne Collins, and I can safely say that the third book definitely did not call for it, ignoring that it wasn’t nearly as good as the first two novels. So, naturally, one would assume that Mockingjay – Part 1 would be a lesser film than the first two installments, right? Well … yes and no. Yes, it is indeed not as wow-worthy as Catching Fire or The Hunger Games, but no, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad movie. In fact, it’s pretty surprising it’s ultimately as good as it is.

Picking up nearly right after the cliffhanger conclusion of Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Part 1 finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a broken shell of herself after being rescued from the Quarter Quell. Her rescuers are the citizens of District 13, an independent and militarized District long-thought destroyed, but has actually been thriving underground for years, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike back against The Capitol. The leader of District 13 is President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), who, together with Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), orchestrated the events of the 75th Hunger Games to get Katniss out. Coin is intent on taking down The Capitol and removing President Snow (Donald Sutherland) from the equation, and she needs Katniss to help by being the face, or “mockingjay”, of the rebellion that all of the other members of the Districts can rally behind. But all Katniss is concerned about at first is how District 13 abandoned Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) back in the Arena and left him at the mercy of The Capitol. And as events begin to unfold, it becomes clear that Snow has the same intentions for Peeta that District 13 has for Katniss: to use him to discourage any rumblings of war, but is Peeta doing it of his own volition? Read the rest of this entry »

Spectre Review

Posted: November 9, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

spectre posterWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In 2012, the 23rd official James Bond adventure Skyfall came out to a ton of positive reviews, huge box-office, and in the midst of “Bondmania” celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise. I was one of the many who sang the film’s praises but looking back, I was clearly blinded by the hype. I still like Skyfall a lot, but it isn’t the great film I used to think it was. The writing has a lot of problems, but more frustrating, the film almost seemed embarrassed to be a Bond film. The script seems to constantly want to outsmart the series and the allusions to Bondian tradition felt like forced fan-service. As a Bond fan, I want the series to embrace its roots, not shun them. I’m all for modifying the character for the times, and I should also stress that I love 2006’s Casino Royale, but I also want James Bond to be James Bond. This is why Spectre, though far from perfect, is exciting.

After taking an unofficial mission in Mexico, secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) discovers a ring with a suspicious symbol belonging to a crime lord. Bond suspects that the symbol denotes a greater criminal organization and soon finds his suspicions are correct. Bond’s investigation brings him back into contact with Jack White (Jesper Christensen), a fugitive who had dealings with the secret organization. White points Bond to White’s daughter, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), who knows enough to aid 007. The two engage in an action-packed investigation as a mysterious villain (Christoph Waltz) lurks in the background. Meanwhile, a merger of MI5 and MI6 threatens to destroy the double 0 program, despite the efforts of M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). Read the rest of this entry »

Bridge of Spies Review

Posted: November 5, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

bridge of spiesWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Steven Spielberg started as career as one of the most amazing genre filmmakers of all time. Horror, science-fiction, action, the dude was able to take on each genre and embrace the best aspects of them while injecting a lot of character and heart. This resulted in a lot of classics like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, in the 80s Spielberg started to focus on making “serious, adult” films like The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun. I use quotes because I don’t really find those films any more adult than his initial crop of classics (which were absolutely made for adults) but there’s certainly a distinction in the type of films. Personally, I’ve always preferred Spielberg’s more genre infused fare. He’s certainly made some great non-genre work like Schindler’s List and Munich, but sometimes his more sentimental aspects can get the better of him, as with Amistad and the aforementioned Color Purple. Spielberg’s newest effort, Bridge of Spies, doesn’t really fall heavily into genre, and while it doesn’t climb to Munich heights, it is a damn good movie in its own right.

The film takes place at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s when suspected Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested by the CIA. The American government does not want to seem unfair, and thus hires attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) to defend Abel in court. However Donavan takes the task more seriously than intended and puts forth a serious effort to defend his client’s rights. Donavan truly believes everyone is entitled to a fair defense, a decision that puts him at odds with his family, colleagues, and the American public. The situation is further complicated when American spy pilot Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is captured by Russia. Talks of a trade break out between the nations, with Donavan being called upon to negotiate the swap in East Berlin. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Best Horror Films of All Time

Posted: October 30, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Concluding my series of horror list is the ultimate one; my favourite horror films of all time. I did a list of my favourite horror films a few years ago, but that list sucked. It’s time to set the record straight.

10. Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)frankenstein-poster-classic-movies-19761154-1035-1596

I’m a big fan of the Universal Monster films directed by James Whale. The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein are both fantastic, but Whale’s first monster film, Frankenstein, is certainly his best. The film is steeped in atmosphere, with great horror set-pieces, and features two iconic performances. Boris Karloff’s monster is one of the most famous film characters of all-time, and Colin Clive’s Dr. Frankenstein steals a number of scenes. Perhaps most importantly though, despite the numerous changes made to Mary Shelley’s novel, Whale does an excellent job capturing the themes and humanity of the story.

“Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.” Read the rest of this entry »

Steve Jobs Review

Posted: October 28, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

steve-jobs-movie-poster-800px-800x1259Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

There have been a ton of movies made about Steve Jobs. In the 90s and early 2000s there were a few documentaries as well as the made-for-TV film Pirates of Silicon Valley, but it was once the man died that the massive outpouring of Steve Jobs films began. There were a few documentaries, TV specials, a satirical comedy called iSteve and the biopic Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher. I haven’t seen any of these films. Most of the documentaries have been a bit to minor to cross my radar (at least until Alex Gibney’s from earlier this year), while the films iSteve and Jobs were made by questionable sources and received awful reviews. As such, I’ve been waiting for a genuinely artistic and interesting take on the man before just watching any old biopic. Despite its generic title, Steve Jobs seemed that film. The script from the very accomplished Aaron Sorkin, while director Danny Boyle has proven to be one of the most interesting voices in contemporary American filmmaking. However while the film is good (and I’m willing to bet the best non-documentary made about the man), it’s not exactly the slam dunk it could have been.

Rather than focus on its subjects life from birth to death, Steve Jobs looks at three specific time periods in the man’s life; 1984, 1988, and 1998. Each of these settings is represented by the launch of a new Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) product and shows his professional tensions with colleagues like Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), and Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels). Also depicted is Jobs’ growing relationship with former girlfriend Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) and his daughter Lisa (Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss at different ages). Jobs’ key confidant is his friend and marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet). The overall path of the film is Jobs’ highs and lows with Apple computers. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Most Anticipated Horror Films I Haven’t Seen

Posted: October 23, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to expand my horror horizons. I’d like to think I’ve seen quite a bit since I’ve started writing about movies, but I still have a way to go. So I’ve decided to compile a list of the ten horror films I haven’t seen, but which I’m most anticipating. I couldn’t really settle on a ranking, so I decided to just go in chronological order. But before I dive in…

Honourable Mention: Friday the 13th  (1980)

The fact that I’ve never seen the original Friday the 13th is probably one of my greatest horror blind spots given what a major franchise it spawned. And yet, it isn’t exactly a movie I’m chomping at the bit to see. I’ve seen some of the sequels (along with the remake) and none of these movies really made me think this is a series I’d like to dive into. On top of that, the reputation for the original is fairly mixed. The series didn’t seem to come into its own until Part Three. I do want to see it eventually, but it doesn’t excite me the way the other films in my list do. So, I have it here as an honourable mention.

1. The Man Who Laughs (1928)the man who laughs

There were a lot of silent horror movies that I considered for this list, but The Man Who Laughs won out. The fact that the film comes at the tail end of the silent era is enticing. Silent films were at a creative peak at the late 1920s and this German Expressionist work’s reputation reflects that. However what pushed this over the edge was simply the influence The Man Who Laughs had in creating one of my favourite characters of all-time; The Joker. That’s one hell of a legacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Crimson Peak Review

Posted: October 18, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

crimson_peakWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The horror genre has been going through something of a renaissance over the last year and a half. The Babadook took its craft seriously, added levels of interpretive detail, and was intelligently written by and for adults. Meanwhile, this year’s It Follows may have been a little less sophisticated than The Babadook, but it made up for that with lots of style and a clever high concept.  Now, Crimson Peak has entered the fray. Unlike the aforementioned films, which were made by relative newcomers, Peak comes from genre expert Guillermo del Toro, and sees his return to the genre he build his reputation on.

Set in the early 1900s, Crimson Peak follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring horror story writer and the daughter of a wealthy American industrialist Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver). Carter is approached by Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a British inventor seeking funding for a project. Carter refuses, but Thomas takes a liking to Edith. The two begin a courtship and quickly marry. Thomas takes Edith to live in his decaying mansion in England, along with Thomas’ sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Not only is the house in a decrypt state, but Edith is certain she keeps seeing unknown figures walking through the halls. These figures quickly reveal themselves to be ghosts and begin to more directly plague Edith. Fearful, she turns to Thomas and Lucille who both dismiss her claims. This, in conjunction with Thomas’ late night disappearances, cause Edith to question the siblings’ motives. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Scariest Non Horror Films

Posted: October 16, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Just as there are funny films which aren’t actually comedies, so too are their films which bear certain elements akin to a horror movie, but don’t actually belong to the genre. That’s what this list is all about; taking a look at films which have elements of horror, but don’t actually qualify. It should be noted that I’m not talking about movies like The Silence of the Lambs where people debate over how much of a horror film it really is, I’m talking about movies which are not qualified as horror by anybody, but still contain some terrifying content all the same.

10. There Will Be Blood


Taken as a whole, There Will Be Blood probably doesn’t seem very horrific, but a few isolated elements do stand out. For one, the title. It’s foreboding, dark, and was even the tagline for Saw II. Then of course there’s Johnny Greenwood’s aggressive score, with its screechy violins evoking Bernard Herrmann and Psycho. Finally, the whole film has a dark, American Gothic undertone. Does it come out to being a horror film? No, but those elements are there. Read the rest of this entry »