• Assassin's Creed (2016)

    Assassin's Creed was once a great video game franchise. However, quantity has become more important than quality over the past few years. The market has become over-saturated with countless video games, novels and other merchandise. The release of this movie can be considered the franchise's nadir.

    To start on a positive note, the movie's special effects look impressive thanks to a generous budget. The visual and sound elements are truly immersive. The locations in ancient Spain look stunning. The martial arts fight scene are intense.

    Everything else is disappointing however. The story is overall confusing, lacking structure and extremely thin. The characters are particularly unlikable and viewers won't care about their fates at all. The actors and actresses seem to have phoned in their performances that lack conviction, depth and talent. The locations in present-day Spain are bland, grey and repetitive.

    This movie is only interesting for die-hard fans of the franchise. It's one of the worst cases of a video game that was made into a movie. The hype surrounding this franchise has overstayed its welcome and this movie has rightfully been received unfavourably.

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  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is for die-hard fans of the Harry Potter universe only. The movie has a lack of interesting characters, plodding length and weak plot that make it hard to sit through. Especially the first hour is a lengthy tale without a proper story line that mostly focuses on mild slapstick humour.

    However, the film is saved by its creative universe, excellent special effects and of course the numerous intriguing beasts discovered throughout the movie. The second half of the movie quickens up the pace, becomes more sinister and ends on a high note in form of an epic battle.

    This movie never comes close to even the worst movies or novels of the Harry Potter franchise and is simply stated an average fantasy film. The hype around this film and its sequels is exaggerated and the cinematic Harry Potter universe should have concluded with one single movie about the seventh novel ten years ago. You can watch this movie if you are an avid fantasy movie fan but anyone else can ignore this start of a new series.

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  • Glass (2019)

    Glass starts like an intriguing supernatural thriller with bleak atmosphere as three men with mysterious powers encounter at a mental institution. The movie is a contiunuation of Unbreakable and Split, hence completing a trilogy that had started quite promisingly. The acting performances by a resilient and tough Bruce Willis, a highly diversified James McAvoy and a gloomily intellectual Samuel L. Jackson are absolutely outstanding. The settings are also quite intriguing as the mental institution has a vibe of insanity, isolation and secrecy. The camera work is calm and precise, amplifying an almost claustrophobic atmosphere.

    As the movie progresses however, it loses some of its atmosphere, creativity and wit as the film turns from a psychological thriller into an action film where the fascinating three main characters are degraded to superheroes that could come straight out of the uninspired, repetitive and stereotypical Marvel universe. The movie progressively loses its identity and even the usual twist that occurs in Shyamalan's clever films is too predictable to leave a mark. The viewers gets fed entertaining but shallow popcorn cinema by the end.

    The movie starts like a rich meal at a steakhouse to turn into Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food by the end. The exposition of the movie is brilliant, the rising action is promising leading to a tense climax but the falling action is disappointing and the resolution simply uninteresting. The film will have commercial success since people prefer empty superhero flicks over Shyamalan's more intellectual works. However, more sophisticated cinephiles will feel let down. It feels as if Shyamalan tried to jump the bandwagon midway through the film. It isn't surprising that he wants to experience commercial success after his unique films like The Happening have been harshly criticized by people who are unable to think outside the box. But as a fan of his works, the outcome of Glass is disappointing, especially since its premise had been so promising. Since the first two thirds of the film are still great, the movie deserves an overall solid rating by mathematical laws but the final third feels like a huge failure to me. It makes sense to watch the film if you have watched Unbreakable and Split but if you haven't, do yourself a favour and refrain from watching this to avoid popcorn cinema disappointment.

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  • Aquaman is another exchangeable superhero movie but it's so dynamic and visually stunning that you won't care about the insultingly predictable plot and the repetitive superhero tropes.

    The movie has a short and appropriate introduction before the epic adventure unfolds and ends on a concise positive note going back to its opening sequence. The underwater world looks fantastic and especially the animals like sharks are lovely. The quest that leads the main character and his female sidekick across the planet includes stunning locations like Sicily and Morocco that offer a welcome change from the seas. The settings are carefully chosen and cleverly mixed with computer animations. Director James Wan filmed everything calmly, extravagantly and precisely. Even the dramatic action scenes like the breathtaking escape sequence in Sicily avoid shaky cameras and exaggerated special effects which makes the film enjoyable to watch from start to finish. The final duel between the courageous half-breed protagonist and his sinister half-brother is visually spectacular and emotionally engaging.

    You will get exactly what you expect from this movie: shallow but gripping entertainment for the whole family with a big budget. It's pleasant while it lasts but also quickly forgotten because of predictable tropes, an overall tiresome story and mostly average acting performances. Up next, let's create another exchangeable superhero movie called Airwoman, Earthtransgender or Firetiger.

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  • The House with a Clock in Its Walls

    The House with a Clock in Its Walls is one of the most imaginative fantasy movies I have watched in a very long time. The colourful settings, the quirky characters and the spooky story make for a quite entertaining ride. Children might find some scenes involving creepy dolls, an undead magician and an obsessed witch somewhat scary but most young teenagers shouldn't have any trouble to sleep after watching this film. This is the type of film that is even entertaining for older teenagers and adults when they go watch the movie with their younger children, friends or siblings which is quite an achievement. Most movies that pretend to be for the whole family are actually only entertaining a very young audience but this is the type of movie that should please to a large audience. If you like fantasy movies, you should definitely watch it.

    One of the most important elements of the film are the settings. The old house filled with numerous magic objects such as an overtly enthusiastic chair, its garden with a vivid lion made of grass and the nearby cemetery where lies the body of a mysterious magician who was once positive but became attracted to the occult after having witnessed the evil that men do during the horrors of war are all truly imaginative. The fact that the film takes place in a Michigan small town in the fifties adds a nostalgic charm to the film and so do the elementary school, the school uniforms and the way people are dressed in general.

    The characters are very interesting as well. Owen Vaccaro brilliantly plays a ten-year old orphan who is very curious about the mysteries of life but who struggles to adapt to his new environment. Sunny Suljic plays his classmate who is initially nice to him to impress other pupils and influence them to win an election for class president but who soon has a negative influence and even abandons his friend. Vanessa Anne Williams plays a classmate who is as weird, likable and creative as the outcast orphan boy. Jack Black plays the orphan's uncle who has a very vivid temperament and turns out being a motivated but untalented warlock. Cate Blanchett plays a good friend, loyal neighbour and talented witch who spends a lot of time with the uncle and his nephew. The main antagonist is an evil undead warlock played by a brilliant Kyle MacLachlan who should play in more contemporary movies and who would deserve winning an Academy Award one day. His dangerous wife is played by a creepy Renée Elise Goldsberry.

    The story is entertaining from start to finish. A ten-year old orphan moves to a small town in Michigan where he has to live with his uncle in a mysterious mansion. The young orphan soon realizes that his uncle seems to be looking for a hidden object in the house along with their neighbour and friend. The two finally reveal to be a warlock and a witch who are trying to find a mysterious clock hidden in the mansion's walls that was placed there by an evil warlock and his wicked wife before their tragic deaths. The orphan boy wants to become a warlock himself and his uncle initially disagrees but ultimately decides to trust his nephew and teach him simple lessons of magic. The orphan gets however attracted by a mysterious book he isn't supposed to read and ends up summoning the ghost of the evil warlock who soon returns with his wicked wife to complete their sinister plans. The orphan, his uncle and their neighbour must work together in order to prevent their plans and save mankind.

    The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a movie that surprised me very positively and turned out being one of the greatest fantasy films in recent memory that should be appreciated by the whole family. The story will keep you guessing until the very end, the settings are diversified and stunning and the acting performances are absolutely brilliant. It's a great movie to watch around Halloween and the mildly dark themes might even introduce teenagers to the fascinating world of gothic and horror movies that deserve a better reputation than they have. The novel of the same name by John Bellairs might also be a great Christmas gift to offer to a young teenager who appreciated this film.

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