Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for July 2nd, 2019


Directed by Ari Aster

      Just as Dani (Florence Pugh) is about to break up with her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), she suffers a horrible tragedy. Christian pressures her to tag along with him and his friends, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), to Pelle's village in Sweden for a summer solstice festival. Connie (Ellora Torchia) and her boyfriend, Simon (Archie Madekwe), also join them. They all end up experiences a lot more than they bargained for.

      The shallow, sophomoric screenplay by Ari Aster offers nothing new, surprising nor remotely intriguing for audiences. Not that there's anything wrong with resorting to clichés because it's more important how a film goes about its clichés, but Midsommar goes about its clichés as if were doing it to merely tick off all the boxes that you're familiar with in horror films. A trip to a location in the middle of nowhere? Check. Dumb, gullible victims? Check. Seemingly nice people who obviously have a hidden motive that's sinister? Check. Foreshadows? Check. An eerie soundtrack that tells you exactly how to feel? Check. And the list goes on. You can feel the wheels of the screenplay turning from start to finish.

      Ari Aster tries too hard to shock the audience with very gory scenes that are more disgusting than scary. He doesn't trust the audience's imagination enough nor does he grasp the concept that less is more. The first two hours are nothing more than a tedious, drawn-out first act that introduces you to the bizarre people at the village and their many traditions. They never seem like fully-fleshed human beings, though, and their backstory leaves too many questions unanswered. None of the comedic beats land, and the same can be said from the horror beats, although there are some bad laughs to be found like there were in Hereditary. What's up with the Austin Powers reference? It felt random, silly, pointless and a desperate, yet failed attempt to be funny.

      The cinematography looks stylish with some very trippy images occassionally, but the scene with the camera upside down showing Dani, Christian and their pals driving to the midsommar festival is too much of an obvious attempt to add meaning to the visual style. The modicum of poignancy comes from the raw performance of Florence Pugh who resembles a young Kate Winslet. She deserves better material, though. At least Aster avoids using flashbacks and voice-over narration to tell the story, but it would've been better if he allowed audience to get more of a glimpse of what's going on beneath the story's surface instead of just bombarding the audience with more deaths and gore. Once the film gets to the meat of the story during the last 20 minutes, it's too little, too late. There's too much set-up with a very lazy pay-off that tries to provide Dani with a character arc, but it just feels contrived and rushed. Even the gory Saw films had more profound things to say about human nature than Midsommar does in its lengthy running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes. It doesn't work as a horror film, comedy, drama, romance, psychological character study nor as a satire. If it were campy, it would've been a guilty pleasure instead of such an underwhelming, insipid and pretentious bore.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by A24.
Opens nationwide.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by Jon Watts

      Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) goes on a class trip to Europe along with his crush, MJ (Zendaya), and best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Betty (Angourie Rice). Their first stop is Venice where Peter encounters a new villain called Elementals terrorizing the city. He also meets Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a superhero named Mysterio who helps him to fight against the Elementals. Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury.

      It would be ideal not to know too much about Spider-Man: Far From Home's plot before watching it because there are more than a few plot twists that are better left unspoiled. Fortunately, the screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers isn't afraid to take risks with some trippy sequences and witty dialogue that's often quite funny. Wit, after all, is a truly special effect. There's a light touch to the film that makes sure that it never takes itself too seriously, although there are a few moments that are surprisingly poignant, especially if you're an avid Marvel fan. Tom Holland exudes plenty of charisma and has terrific comedic timing as Spider-Man, and the scene-stealing Jacob Batalon is also worth mentioning. Neds' rapport with his love interest, Betty, are among the film's best scenes.

      The action scenes are nothing to write home about with plenty of CGI, a.k.a. standard effects, just as expected. You can clearly tell where the film's budget went to, but the action isn't non-stop---otherwise, it would've been exhausting. There's just enough of an interesting plot to keep you engaged on a visceral level. The dialogue lacks nuances and spoon-feeds the audience while stating the obvious, thereby not trusting the audience's intelligence nor their emotions, but that's just as expected from a Hollywood blockbuster. At a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes, Spider-Man: Far From Home is an exciting, funny and refreshingly witty spectacle that effectively serves its purpose as a mindless diversion and pure escapist fun. Please be sure to stay through the end credits for a mid-credits scene and a post-credits stinger.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Columbia Pictures.
Opens nationwide.
Questions? Comments? Please click here.

Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Avi Offer
The NYC Movie Guru
Privacy Policy