‘Shrek’ Me Up: A Look Back on the Childrens’ Classic

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

For this Time Warp, I decided I would touch on one of my absolute favorite animated movie franchises. That, of course, is the Academy Award winning film, ‘Shrek’. It’s still funny to me to be able to say “Academy Award winning” to the classic swamp-dwelling ogre that is my man Shrek.

Many who haven’t seen this iconic film may ask why it won Best Animated Feature in 2002. Well, those who have seen it can tell you exactly why.

The mean green fighting machine Shrek (Mike Myers) is an angry ogre who just likes to be left alone, as most people nowadays. But once love comes along, that changes, as with anyone who suddenly finds love. Shrek’s love didn’t come suddenly, of course. It came after a long journey with his new friend – whether or not he likes to admit it – a donkey, whose name is, well, Donkey (Eddie Murphy).

The love interest/self-hating princess in the movie is Fiona (played by Cameron Diaz), who loves throwing tantrums at every moment she can. You may think that it’s obnoxious, but it becomes very easy to love her by the end.

That is the overall plot of the entire first movie, but they do so well developing all the relationships within it. Being able to meet dozens of fairy tale creatures who annoy Shrek to the brink of absolute fury is, even if it’s not to Shrek, completely hilarious to watch.

Half the enjoyability of this movie revolves around the supreme soundtrack that plays throughout. I mean, we have songs like “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Bad Reputation” performed by Joan Jett. That sells it right there, doesn’t it?

It’s an undeniably enjoyable movie and impossible not to love. It sparked a sequel that is debatably better than the first if not just as good. It’s one of those movie franchises that anybody will want to watch on a lazy afternoon in the summer, with their kids for a family movie night, in the middle of a snowstorm in the winter, or pretty much at anytime. That is how I define a classic.


The Mindf**k That is ‘Annihilation’

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood.

It’s difficult to decide where to begin with a movie that’s as much of mindbender as Annihilation. It’s incredibly complex and goes in so many completely different directions that it feels impossible to keep up. Usually a movie that has so many things going on at once is an absolute no for me, but Annihilation is an exception to that rule.

Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Jackie) plays the emotionally scarred Lena, who is suffering from the loss of her military husband who was killed in action. When she finds out that he never actually died in the first ten minutes of the movie, she is determined to discover exactly where he went and what happened to him

She comes to discover the thing that will haunt her nightmares for the rest of her life: The Shimmer.

The Shimmer is basically a giant forcefield of crazy, beautiful, constantly mutating, morbid objects and organisms that guide the plot of the film. Both Lena and husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) discover just how long it takes to lose who you are.

These two, along with several other cast members including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny, do a brilliant job at conveying the story with minor mess-ups and awkward moments.

Annihilation 3
Courtesy of Skydance Media

The story itself has great meaning to it. When digging past the mutated alligators, the color-changing flowers, and the first hour and a half of trying to figure out what the hell is going on, you might be able to detect the true darkness that is buried underneath the greenery of The Shimmer.

Chances are, however, you probably won’t be able to see the meaning. This isn’t to say the movie is bad, because it is quite the opposite. Sometimes it is just simply harder to find meaning in such an incredibly complicated plot where every few minutes you question your knowledge about practically everything. All I have to say is major props to Jeff Vandermeer who managed to explain it so well in the 2014 novel.

This film, without a doubt, is so much more than the surface beauty it initially feels like you’re watching. It’s a complete annihilation of the human brain.
With a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a whopping 87%), Annihilation is not just a major blockbuster to gaze your eyes upon. It is a movie that you will have to rewatch twice, making an attempt each time to understand the jaw dropping ending that you definitely won’t understand on the first time around.

My Rating: 88.13%

Acting: 3.3/4

Cinematography: 3.8/4

Story: 3.5/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

Levels of Paranoia: An ‘Unsane’ Review

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Psychological thrillers are off to a wild start this year with the murderous Thoroughbreds and now moving onto another darkened thriller called Unsane. The difference? This one makes you question whether you are paranoid or just out of your mind.

Paranoia is a feeling that many psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists may mistake for schizophrenia, depression, or even insanity. Those same psychiatrists may use this feeling-portrayed-as-a-disease to recommend an actual psych evaluation. People may think you are insane when you are something much different.

You are Unsane.

Shot entirely using a phone camera, director Steven Soderbergh and writers James Greer and Jonathan Bernstein tell the dark story of a formerly suicidal woman named Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) who is a victim of severe stalking by an ex-boyfriend.

Even after filing restraining order after restraining order, she still continually felt as if she was being watched. Maybe you’ve felt that feeling. The feeling of someone staring at you behind the park bench you took a break on during your morning jog. The feeling that maybe someone is staring through your window from the street outside. Sawyer Valentini felt all of these things.

It goes to show that sometimes paranoia isn’t your brain tricking you into believing a false entity. Paranoia can be your brain warning you of what is actually happening.

That is where the story begins and that is the path it follows. It explodes into a tense reawakening of just how far someone will go to get what they want.

Foy (The Crown, Breathe) delivers as good of a performance as anyone who only has a phone camera to work with, while still successfully making the audience question whether her character is genuinely insane or in her right mind.

She co-stars alongside Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project, If I Stay), who plays the seemingly unstoppable stalker in a performance that successfully portrays the absolute darkness of borderline personality disorder disguised as a man who will do anything for “love”.

There were very few bad acting moments from the cast (which also included Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, and Aimee Mullins). The acting itself helped to make this movie better than many this year by having every single actor stick to their character precisely and accurately to give each one the ability to be despised or adored by the audience.

Set in a mental institution for much of the film, Soderbergh uses rapid twisting camera angles to resemble the mind of a mental institution patient. In regards to Valentini, it makes her constant paranoia seem like she is, in fact, insane.

Even as an audience member, it’s hard not to question Valentini’s obsessive accusations of seeing her stalker everywhere. She thinks she sees him in restaurants, at her job, her house, anywhere that she goes. This is the case with the entire movie.

It provides a very important study of the difference between insanity and simple paranoia, which can also be the difference between being viewed as mentally unstable and just fearful. It shows just how hard it can be to recognize these within people, and the trust and believability used in keeping someone healthy.

Unsane is just dark enough to give us everything we need in a psychological thriller; fear, creativity, commendatory acting, and the ability to screw the minds of every shaking audience member.

My Rating: 85%

Acting: 3.1/4

Cinematography: 3.2/4

Story: 3.9/4

Enjoyability: 3.4/4

Must Love ‘Isle of Dogs’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Since the release of Wes Anderson’s animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox, fans have waited for the day that the King of Indie would release another aesthetically stunning stop-motion flick. Well, that time has finally arrived and soon it will capture the hearts of hipsters and dog lovers alike.

Based in the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, the 12 year old Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) makes the brave journey of searching for his dog after all canines are deported to the secluded “Trash Island” due to the threat of dog flu. While on the waste dump, he meets a group of Alpha dogs including the stray, Chief (Bryan Cranston), the lone wolf who bites when shown affection.

Despite being different species, the two characters are very much alike. Both are lost orphans who constantly seek belonging, either in people or pets. Atari found a home in his best friend, Spots (Liev Schreiber), when he lost his own. Chief, coming from nothing, found himself in a strong bond with the pack that provided him with purpose. At first distant, the two bond over their lonesomeness while Chief also overcomes his struggles with receiving kindness.

While Anderson’s style can come off as inauthentic to any type of behavior, it allows the film to eliminate what makes humans and animals different and brings them to the same level. The true message and heart rests in the connection between these two lonely characters when they’re both faced with the threat of losing security and friendship. This could happen between any two humans but Anderson further proves that cinematic stories like these can happen between anyone. It isn’t called “a man’s best friend” for nothing.

Between the splendid animation and witty dialogue, Isle of Dogs shines in its original storytelling while Anderson teaches us an important lesson about compassion and camaraderie: we all have the capacity to give and receive friendship even when we feel the most alone.

My Rating: 87.5%

Animation: 4/4

Cinematography: 3.5/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 3.5/4

Film Forecast Friday: March 30th

By Olivia Norwood and Anthony Peyton

On Friday, March 30th, we have….

  1. Ready Player One
  2. God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness
  3. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony
  4. Caught
  5. Fourplay
  6. Gemini

Liv’s Prediction:

Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One will be the biggest film of the weekend, hands down! It’s a big Hollywood movie with special effects like you wouldn’t believe, so it will easily be superior to the rest.

The second biggest film would have to be Tyler Perry’s Acrimony. This is mostly because it’s Tyler Perry and stars Empire’s widely adored Taraji P. Henson. That is a recipe for a box office hit. As for the third installment of God’s Not Dead, I don’t expect much attendance for it. In fact, I think it will crash. It’s not highly anticipated nor does anyone really know about the series itself. Therefore, I don’t see it going anywhere.

As for the indies, only one seems to grasp any type of attention from an average moviegoer. That film is NEON’s Gemini starring the lovely Zoë Kravitz and daring Lola Kirke. The only reason I think that this thriller will do any numbers at the box office is because of the edge factor and that it came from NEON, the production company of Oscar snub I, Tonya. It’s also a story about two beautiful women where one of them could be a murderer. Thoroughbreds, much? I won’t even bother mentioning the other two, Caught and Fourplay, because it has no appeal and no one is anticipating them.

Just know that Ready Player One will dominate at the box office and God’s Not Dead will fall into oblivion like the rest of the films in its series.

Anthony’s Prediction:

Caught has the potential of becoming popular with indie film fans. It has an intriguing story and I am curious on how they’ll go about it. Box office wise… not a hit. This isn’t a major picture that’s going to be rewatched multiple times by the regular moviegoer, but it won’t be awful. As for Gemini, this will also be enjoyed by the indie moviegoer, as many NEON films are. It’ll probably be rated about as well as Caught, if not slightly higher as it has a younger target audience.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony will be adored by women over the age of 30, as that is its target audience. It won’t fail at the box office but it certainly won’t be the biggest hit, either. However, it does deserve props for filming in a period of eight days. I have confidence that it will be a decent movie if Taraji P. Henson has anything to say about it.

Fourplay and God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness will be the biggest crashes of the weekend. Fourplay in itself sounds like an already-been-done-before monotone story that won’t be of much interest to the moviegoer who wants to be intrigued by the film they are watching. God’s Not Dead: Light in Darkness has just run its course. This will be its third movie and, given that Christian viewers didn’t even love the first two that much anyway, is on an inevitable path to catastrophe.

The biggest movie of the weekend will be the highly anticipated Ready Player One based on a book of the same title by Ernest Cline. People who have read the book – and those who haven’t – are fascinated by the unique story that this movie is revolving around and, as a result, will be watched by a large audience. This will be the box office’s biggest hit for the weekend of March 30, and that is a fact.

‘Ready Player One’: Throwbacks, Action, (Slightly Mediocre) Acting, Oh My!

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Welcome to the significantly more intense and highly anticipated Wreck-it Ralph/Tron remix that is Ready Player One. A movie that can only be described by asking you to picture the Iron Giant – yes, the one from the 1999 movie – in an all out war against Godzilla.

Can you picture it? Good.

In Steven Spielberg’s newest movie based off of the highly acclaimed novel by Ernest Cline, we get to live in the world of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he navigates through a crazy complicated Easter egg hunt – which somehow managed to involve King Kong jumping off a building attempting to destroy a DeLorean complete with a flux capacitor – that only took half of the movie to explain.

This was an Easter egg hunt for half a trillion dollars and the sole proprietorship of a video game world called the “Oasis”, given that it’s the only sane place for the majority of people in a post factory apocalypse world. It was created by a slightly senile man by the name of James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who does a good job of showing up at very odd but convenient times throughout the movie.

Sheridan stars alongside Olivia Cooke (Thoroughbreds), who plays Samantha Cook, a slightly self conscious in real life but confident in the Oasis girl, whom is also aiming to win the hunt.

As the first thirty-ish minutes of the movie comes and goes, it becomes pretty obvious that this is no one’s best performance. Cooke is unbearably monotone during certain points in the movie where a little emotion would’ve furthered the character. Sheridan’s performance equals that of X-Men, which may or may not be a good thing.

Take it as you will.

On top of the slightly mediocre acting, the camera angles and special effects towards the beginning of the film can be nauseating and rather jam-packed with the many references you want to scream at (it actually zooms in on Minecraft World before the camera does a 360 degree flip into a space fight). Fortunately, this didn’t manage to bring down the style of the production design and clearly thought out cinematography that was put into the film as a whole.

Aside from these aspects, the actual plot left something to be desired. As aforementioned, the description of the Easter egg hunt by James Halliday was very complex and took half of the movie to fully explain, although it did have a very interesting opening scene that described the  bare minimum of rules – or the lack of them – in the game.

The subplot of Ready Player One actually did better than most movies usually do. This one was very much the classic cliche love story, but it directly connected to the main plot that not many can successfully do nowadays and actually make it look good.

As an audience member, I was more connected to the actual story of the subplot rather than the main plotline. Now, if we are talking about special effects…. Then oh boy did that main storyline have some great effects. You tell me that seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the entire character cast of Halo in the same scene isn’t absolutely iconic.

All in all, Ready Player One is simply a movie to enjoy. To see hundreds of fan-favorite characters from movies, video games, and TV shows all over the course of two hours might be a dream to someone, but trashy to another. This movie packed the references, but did it well. With special effects and the beautiful set, it becomes almost easy to look past the acting and the storyline.

My Rating: 84%

Acting: 2.9/4

Cinematography: 3.6/4

Story: 3.1/4

Enjoyability: 3.9/4

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ Will Keep You Waiting… and Waiting

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Ever wanted a history film about Israeli-Palestinian relations but didn’t want to sit through 5 hours of the entire history? Well, the new film ‘7 Days in Entebbe’ might be the film for you, but you also willing to sit through almost 2 hours of a single drawn out event that happens over the span of one week.

Based on real life events, ‘7 Days in Entebbe’ tracks the 1976 hijacking of an AirFrance plane en route to Paris from Tel Aviv. Widely known as a terrorist plot, it was in hopes for the Israeli government to release it’s terrorist prisoners by holding their Jewish residents hostage.

So far, it seems like the perfect film for the average history buff.

Well, even though it sounds interesting on paper, the film didn’t amount to any high expectation. The lack of action – until the very end – seemed to drag the pace and the audience with it. Most of the film consisted of Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl’s characters waiting around watching the hostages while acting superior and pretending they knew how to use a gun.

For Israeli-Palestinian history I would instead suggest watching the 2011 documentary ‘Promises’. It has much more emotional appeal and a completely unbiased look at the conflict.

Now, I don’t want to attack all aspects of the film considering one of its strengths was actually in its performances. I might be a little biased towards Brühl because I believe that he can do no wrong but the entire cast showed that a bad movie can still have good aspects to it – including acting.

It wasn’t superb, but it was enough to be appreciated.

Overall, ‘7 Days in Entebbe’ wasn’t the Israeli-Palestinian history flick that some were expecting. If you were hoping for a highly entertaining film with an important message – I would pick a different film. The only knowledge gained is that these two nations just need to work things out and find peace – as if we didn’t already know that.

My Rating: 56%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 2/4

Story: 2/4

Enjoyability: 2/4