[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 4 – The Final Destination (2009)

Director: David R. Ellis

Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Mykelti Williamson, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella

Screenplay: Eric Bress

82 mins. Rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language and a scene of sexuality.

 

Four films in and the Final Destination franchise appears to be going strong into their first 3D entry. I was excited, even though the fourth film welcomed back director David R. Ellis (Snakes on a Plane, Cellular), who I felt gave less than stellar work with the second film. I would have much rather had James Wong continue as director, but I still gave it a shot.

The Final Destination is the last in the final destination franchise (until this installment made enough money to trigger Final Destination 5 a few years later), and it features Bobby Campo (Sharing Christmas, My Christmas Love) as Nick, a nice youth who is sharing a day at the races with his friends when he has a premonition of a horrible accident about to take place that will kill all his friends and dozens of others at the track. Nick is able to save himself a several others from the tragedy, but now, the survivors are dying in really strange accidents. Nick’s premonitions are giving him clues to stop them, but only if he can solve the mystery in time.

The Final Destination follows the very same plot design that the previous installments worked well with, but this film’s tone is its biggest enemy. It’s sloppily put together with a notion that these unlikable characters are being picked off with a real fun attitude about it. We get it, the message is clear that these films are watched for the crazy Rube Goldberg-esque manner in which its characters are picked off, but there should be some level of care for them as human beings so that we actually hope for their survival. I didn’t like anyone in the film except for security guard George (Mykelti Williamson, Forrest Gump, Fences), and he’s still a little one-note.

Nick Zano (10 Years, TV’s Legends of Tomorrow) might be one of my most-hated characters in existence. It isn’t even a level of respectful hatred, like the one I have for Trent in the Friday the 13th remake. I didn’t want him getting out of the track at the beginning purely because he annoyed the hell out of me. Zano was given creativity with improvisation from director Ellis, one of the many issues that plagues this movie.

On the plus side, I do love the titles and how they pay homage to the franchise so far, especially considering that this was the last film originally. It was nice to see where we’d gone with the franchise, and it was one of the better elements of the 3D presentation.

Overall, I moderately enjoy parts of this film but as a whole, it’s a lengthy 82 minutes of piss poor filmmaking. This is the worst film of this franchise thus far and was thankfully saved by the fifth installment which would drop just a few years later.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of James Wong’s Final Destination, click here.

For my review of David R. Ellis’s Final Destination 2, click here.

For my review of James Wong’s Final Destination 3, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[#2017oscardeathrace] La La Land (2016)

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Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend

Screenplay: Damien Chazelle

128 mins. Rated PG-13 for some language.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Directing [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Original Screenplay [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Cinematography [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Film Editing [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Production Design [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Costume Design [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “City of Stars” [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing [Pending]

IMDb Top 250: #41 (as of 2/5/2017)

 

Now we get to the biggie. La La Land matched the record at this year’s Oscar nomination celebration with 14 nominations. Now, it technically could only win 13 because of its double nomination for Original Song, but all the same, it looks to be a possible sweep of many awards on the upcoming awards night.

La La Land (2016) Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling, Drive, The Nice Guys) is a jazz musician looking to start his own club when he meets Mia (Emma Stone, The Help, Aloha), an aspiring actress currently shuffling coffee on a set while searching out her big break. The two are initially at odds, but their friendship soon blooms into romance as they discover a passion for the art within each other, but they soon find that the path of the artist is a narrow one and there isn’t always space for two to walk it together in the newest film from writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench).

La La Land is a film that takes everything learned from Whiplash and uses it to push the boundaries of filmmaking, and Chazelle is an amazing artist who has crafted a modern musical masterpiece. The film also displays a common theme in Chazelle’s work, a dour but realistic representation of the costs to being an artist. It is a prevalent theme in Whiplash and only further pushes in La La Land.

Gosling and Stone have terrific chemistry, having worked previously together in Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad. These two are destined to be one of the great romantic duos of our age. Their performances together are brilliant. Gosling also gives great work with John Legend (Soul Men, Loverboy) who appears in the film as colleague Keith. Gosling learned piano for the film while Legend learned guitar.

The difference here from, let’s say, Fences, is that La La Land is focused on the relationship but has the style to elevate the film to another level, whereas Fences only focuses on the relationship. Chazelle’s direction is almost another character, aided by top-notch cinematography, set design, and film editing.

Chazelle also takes the risky route with his finale, presenting a unique and interesting twist on this love story that may not win everyone over, but I love how it presents an ending that felt authentic but also hit on everything my inner romantic wanted from this film. The ending has its roots in the musical community and is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it just works so damn well here.

Lastly, I need to touch on the music, particularly “Audition (The Fools Who Dream” and “City of Stars,” both songs very worthy of their nominations. While I loved the opening number, it doesn’t have the emotional hit that these two songs have. I personally have my vote down for “Audition” but I wouldn’t mind a win for either.

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La La Land is going to take the awards this year, but I’m not certain about Best Picture just yet. Even so, it is a powerhouse film destined to be a classic for years to come. Even if you don’t love musicals, give it a try.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

So have you seen La La Land? What did you think? What was your favorite number? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

 

For my review of Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, click here.

[#2017oscardeathrace] Fences (2016)

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Director: Denzel Washington

Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney

Screenplay: August Wilson

139 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Viola Davis) [Pending]
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Adapted Screenplay

 

You’d think, after 114 performances of Fences on the stage, Denzel Washington (The Great Debaters, Antwone Fisher) might not to partake in a screen version, and you’d be wrong.

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Washington directs from a screenplay by the late August Wilson (The Piano Lesson) and also stars as Troy Maxson, a former baseball player in the Negro Leagues who now works as a garbage collector. Viola Davis (TV’s How to Get Away With Murder, The Help) is Rose, Troy’s wife, who does her best to keep the peace in the volatile Maxson home. Troy’s son from a previous relationship, Lyons (Russell Hornsby, TV’s Grimm, Something New), is always coming over asking for money that Troy doesn’t think he’ll ever pay back. Cory (Jovan Adepo, TV’s The Leftovers), Troy and Rose’s child, wants to be a professional football player, and he really has a shot at the NFL, but not if Troy has anything to say about it. Then there’s Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson, Con-Air, The Purge: Election Year), Troy’s brother, who suffered an injury in World War II and was mentally impaired by it. With all the happenings going on at the Maxson house, Troy focuses his attention on a fence extending around his property. But a simple fence doesn’t keep secrets and regrets and frustrations from releasing themselves and forever changing the entire Maxson family in the process.

I recall seeing Fences some years back in a smaller production and absolutely enjoying it, but this play has become Washington’s and Viola’s permanently. Each of them brings a gravitas and strength to the story that is shockingly heartfelt and heartbreaking. The chemistry between Troy and Rose is the best strength of the film.

Honestly, the most frustrating element of the film is Washington’s decision to copy and paste the play on the big screen. It’s a great play but it is not adapted into a film. Washington chose not to risk compromising any of Fences impact by not making it a movie, and for me, that’s where the film suffers. I’m not talking about fundamentally changing the way the story is, but there is zero attempt at creating a film. That being said, it’s a great play on film.

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Overall, Fences is a very important film which captures Wilson’s original story quite well. It doesn’t really try to adapt the play so much as copy it perfectly which has some issues for me, but the film is largely focused on its incredible performers, notably Davis and Washington. This is their movie and their story is an unforgettable one.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[#2017oscardeathrace] The Nominees for the 89th Academy Awards

 

Best part about the Oscars every year: the Oscar Death Race. I’m ready for it, are you?

Here are the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

 

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Best Picture

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

 

Best Director

  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

 

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

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Best Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

 

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Best Original Screenplay

  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • The Lobster
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • 20th Century Women

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hidden Figures
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

 

Best Animated Feature Film

 

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Best Foreign Language Film

  • Land of Mine
  • A Man Called Ove
  • The Salesman
  • Tanna
  • Toni Erdmann

 

Best Documentary Feature

  • 13th
  • Fire at Sea
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Life, Animated
  • O.J.: Made in America

 

Best Documentary Short Film

  • 1 Miles
  • Extremis
  • Joe’s Violin
  • Watani: My Homeland
  • The White Helmets

 

Best Live Action Short Film

  • Ennemis Interieurs
  • La Femme et le TGV
  • Silent Nights
  • Sing
  • Timecode

 

Best Animated Short Film

  • Blind Vayasha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes
  • Pearl
  • Piper

 

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Best Original Score

  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Passengers

 

Best Original Song

  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls
  • “City of Stars” from La La Land
  • “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story
  • “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

 

Best Sound Editing

  • Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Sully

 

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Best Sound Mixing

  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

Best Production Design

  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Hail, Caesar!
  • La La Land
  • Passengers

 

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Best Cinematography

  • Arrival
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Silence

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

 

Best Costume Design

  • Allied
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jackie
  • La La Land

 

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Best Film Editing

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight

 

Best Visual Effects

 

 

So there you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some movies to watch…

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

National Society of Film Critics Selects “Moonlight” as Best Picture of the Year

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Moonlight, the coming-of-age drama about race and sexuality, beat out favorites La La Land and Manchester by the Sea to be named Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics. Director Barry Jenkins also took Best Director, as did Mahershala Ali in the Best Supporting Actor category and the cinematography from James Luxton. Moonlight did not get Best Supporting Actress from Naomie Harris nor Best Screenplay, being bested by Manchester by the Sea in both categories.

What does this all mean? Well, it proves that the Oscar Race this year is going to be very interesting as Moonlight again proves to be a top contender against La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. Predictions have swayed almost daily throughout this award season as the three films duked it out with possible underdog Fences also thrown in the mix.

I have yet to see Moonlight but I’m very excited to see a film that tackles so many big ideas, especially after last year’s  #Oscarsstillsowhite controversy.  Now, naysayers will probably say that Moonlight may be receiving all of this recognition purely because of the controversy, but I don’t believe that to be true. The National Society of Film Critics picks what they want to pick. It’s a small voting group that hasn’t changed much in past years, and I don’t think they feel obligated to respond to controversy either way.

Now, it remains to be seen if Moonlight actually gets nominated this year (if it didn’t, this awards season could get very messy), but I’m sure it will be. Birth of a Nation, on the other hand…

So what do you think? Have you seen Moonlight? What did you think? Is it the Best Picture of the Year? Let me know.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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