Volition (2019)

A man tries to change the future he has seen with taking things in his own hands.

Written by Ryan W. Smith and Tony Dean Smith with the latter directing as well, Volition is a film that requires attention in that it crosses timelines and the story becomes different with each attempt at making things better done by the lead. The story is one that is made for those who do not like when the film takes them for idiots or spoon feeds them what they want to see. Here the film takes its premise and makes the most of it, but it also becomes a bit complicated for itself, requiring the viewer to really pay attention. The film is well-written and directed, but something makes it hard to follow at times, perhaps making it a film made to be watched while fully awaken and energized.

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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

So far we’re about ten alternate time lines deep in to the “Terminator” series, a movie franchise that continues to chug on thanks to the good word from James Cameron. Methinks without Cameron, “Terminator” would and should be put to sleep as a limp IP that loses more and more fans every single year. The convoluted timeline doesn’t even want to try to explain its own concept and logic (and lack thereof) anymore. It’s now basically rebooted itself (once again), and takes off limping to the finish line. From a confusing (bold?) retcon, to an over arching theme with heavy social commentary, “Terminator: Dark Fate” incidentally makes an argument against its existence.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Tim Burton hasn’t been delivering on quality as he once was, so it’s become a rare occasion that he’s able to deliver on something genuinely entertaining. “Miss Peregrime’s” is one of the darkest Burton films ever directed, and while it’s touted toward children, it definitely skirts the edges quite often. That’s mainly due to the creepy villains that make a point of eating children’s eyes, amounting to some of the most horrific material in an otherwise darkly fantastic drama.

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

I was thoroughly surprised with 2017’s “Happy Death Day.” The more I’ve thought about it and re-watched it, I’ve come to like it more and more as a horror reworking of “Groundhog’s Day.” It’s a fun and creepy character piece about a despicable young woman who realizes that maybe the way to keep herself from dying and end the cycle of re-living the same day over and over, is to think about other people in her life. “Happy Death Day 2U” is that same concept, but a wholly different movie. It’s a sequel that brings us a new angle of the narrative, expands on the concept of the original film, while also continuing to explore the character of Tree Gelbman.

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Dead of Night (1977)

Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.

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Haskell (2017) [HollyShorts 2017]

Three moments from the life of a man who can manipulate time and how his ability is affecting him.

Written and directed by James Allen Smith, Haskell is a small part, or three small parts, of what feels like a much bigger story.  The story deals with time and how it affects people, especially the man who can manipulate it and those around him.  The story is one that is multi-layered and deals with plenty to become a full length feature easily.  The way it’s written does make it feel like it’s a part of something much bigger and perhaps a proof of concept for a feature film.  However, it does still work as a short where not everything is explained and the film works with some mysteries not explained.

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Donnie Darko: Meat Suits and Multiverses

Richard Kelly’s “Donnie Darko” has managed to become somewhat mythical among movie buffs, despite being so widely celebrated. It’s a movie with a fairly simplistic tale about time travel and paradoxes, but also has been interpreted by many people and injected with ideas that fit the general frame work of what “Donnie Darko” is. Some people call it a Christ allegory, some people call it a time travel movie, and Kelly himself has called the movieCatcher in the Rye” if it were written by Phillip K. Dick. There is a surefire hint of author Phillip K. Dick in the way that our main character Donnie Darko is stuck in this hazy world of suburban conformity and alarming aggression. It seeps in to the desperation to be accepted and act accordingly by just about everyone.

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Doctor Strange (2016)

doctorstrange-2016I freely admit that I was skeptical until the very end that comic book fans would ever get a good or respectable movie about “Doctor Strange.” Some comics just don’t translate at all to the cinematic medium. Thankfully, director Scott Derrickson proves me wrong, providing a cinematic adaptation of “Doctor Strange” that’s very much its own superhero tale while also embedding itself as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel spirit is in full force here, but the movie does take the source material seriously while subtly injecting a sense of whimsy here and there. “Doctor Strange” comes during a good time where movie audiences like some magic with their adventures, and Doctor Strange is that kind of fantasy movie for comic book fans that they’ve always wanted.

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