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Review: David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” Revives The Fear and Terror

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After numerous sequels, remakes, reboots, and even a failed divergence of trying to weave the saga into an anthology, it is ultimately David Gordon Green’s take on Halloween that is the worthy successor. It may have taken forty years to find that perfect follow-up but, as we’ve seen from the likes of Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max: Fury Road, several decades can make a world of difference for a sequel. And though we had to suffer through a long road to get here, we’ve finally arrived at the true Halloween film I’ve been pining for. And it feels so good to have a slasher picture so grim, beautiful, straightforward, and intense.

Despite being titled as Halloween, like another dreary retread, this new film acts as the true sequel forty years later, ignoring previous entries. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the role of Laurie Strode and she’s been waiting for her attacker Michael Myers, preparing for his return. He’s been locked up in solitary confinement for decades but Laurie is no fool when it comes to horror movie logic. She’s had plenty of prep time and nightmares that never cease to keep her pumped for Michael’s next rampage. And it’s coming up quickly when Michael is transferred to a high-security prison and makes his escape during transport.

It’s back to basics for the classic killer, slowly slipping back into his groove of intimidation and murder. He gets back his old attire by swiping a mechanic’s uniform to fit his massive frame and acquiring his old iconic Halloween mask that looks as though it hasn’t been washed since the 1970s. He’s a ways off from Laurie’s home but works his way over by attacking the neighborhood of Laurie’s family that includes her daughter Karen Strode (Judy Greer), her teenage granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and Karen’s husband Ray (Toby Huss). Taking a stroll on Halloween night, he breaks into homes, finds some weapons, and begins his night of many stabbings with his following piano theme.

What makes this film so effective is that it never feels the need to delve deeper into Michael’s past, keeping his motivations a silent enigma hidden behind his mask and heavy breathing. There are many attempts to understand him, as with nosey podcasts journalists hoping to land a story and a curious psychologist who wants to know Michael’s secret of evil. Michael won’t spill the beans; he’d rather spill guts. Even Laurie, with her rocky history of not being trusted by her family, obsessed with keeping her home safe, and driven mad by Michael’s existence, has a tone that feels more natural than expositional. She’ll never slow down to explain herself when it comes to the dangers of Michael or how her odd house of tricks functions for trapping the killer she knows will come. She, too, will be interviewed by the podcasters and she won’t give them much, as though her wish to survive the night and kill Michael won’t come true if you tell.

David Gordon Green’s direction is superbly on track for matching the style of the original. The atmosphere always carries a creepy and intimidating feel, that familiar and simple John Carpenter style score piercing the tension almost as sharply as Michael’s knife. Michael’s kills are kept clever, bloody, and chilling; sometimes he’ll go as simple as choking someone to death with his giant hands and sometimes he’ll bring his boot down to splatter brains into the pavement. For as elaborate as it seems, I dug how Laurie’s secluded home comes with a slasher security system, including multiple door locks, an underground bunker of supplies, and special locks she can use to secure rooms she’s already explored. It turns Laurie into more of the screaming warrior than the scream queen she was originally known for. And there’s something oh-so-satisfying about transforming her into the gritty grandma with an arsenal of guns.

I doubt most jaded modern horror audiences would be as spooked into terror at the almost quaint killing spree of Michael Myers with his classic tactics but Halloween keeps a focus by maintaining its style and tone with grace. It’s a brilliantly shot film, from the checkerboard floors of a mental institution to the darkly lit interiors of Laurie’s stronghold, including some subtle callbacks and an alternate take on familiar shots. It’s viciously violent, slowly establishing that nobody is safe from the massacre via Myers, including kids. There are even a few twists thrown in to keep the story more interesting. Ultimately, it’s a wickedly faithful throwback to what made Halloween so gripping and infatuating before the saga descended into Stonehenge mysticism, a reality show, and dreams of white horses.

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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