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Upgrade (2018) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace
Betty Gabriel as Cortez
Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen
Director: Leigh Whannell

A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green) paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife (Melanie Vallejo) dead. A billionaire inventor (Harrison Gilbertson) soon offers Trace a cure — an artificial intelligence implant called STEM that will enhance his body. Now able to walk, Grey finds that he also has superhuman strength and agility — skills he uses to seek revenge against the thugs who destroyed his life.

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Upgrade is a movie I’ve been hearing about for a while. On paper it sounded like a really silly B movie but apparently it was quite good, so I had been meaning to check it out. Upgrade more than lived up to the hype, with its simple but effective story, really impressive direction and a great leading performance by Logan Marshall Green.

Upgrade has a pretty straightforward premise: normal guy and his wife get attacked, she dies and he gets badly hurt. He receives something that makes him a killing machine and seeks to find out who killed his wife. Director Leigh Whannell also wrote the script to Upgrade and he made this simple but effective story work really well. The plot is not overcomplicated and a little simple, but its not without some depth, asking some questions about technology and man vs machine. These concepts and ideas aren’t fully explored like other sci-fi movies but its still much more than you’d expect. It even has a twist ending that I wasn’t entirely expecting, really effective way to end the story. I actually wouldn’t mind a sequel, there’s definitely a lot of potential there. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, and it was the right length, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and yet its long enough, with a pacing that keeps the movie moving at an adequate speed.

Logan Marshall Green has been in many movies, the ones I’ve seen being Prometheus, Devil and Spider-Man Homecoming and while he was good enough in his roles there, with Upgrade he really gets to show off his acting skills. He has to show off so many sides to his character, he had to be vulnerable, he had to be convincingly badass, he had to be funny and deadpan, he has to show some of the conflict that he has (especially near the end), he has to show all of that, and LMG absolutely handles all of this with ease. I really do hope that Upgrade will make people take more notice of him because it really showed how talented he is. Make no mistake, while at least half of the movie working is due to the direction, at least 40% of it is due to Logan Marshall Green’s performance. Performances from other actors like Betty Gabriel were also good. On another note, Simon Maiden’s voice performance as STEM (the AI chip inplanted in Logan Marshall Green’s character) is also great, a real stand out character. I guess the one criticism that I could have with this movie is that the characters are written rather thin and there’s not really much to them, but there’s more here than you’d usually expect from a movie of this sort of plot.

Upgrade is directed by Leigh Whannell, who previously directed Insidious: Chapter 3 and while I liked that movie, he showed an immense amount of talent here. For a film with a 3-5 million dollar budget, the visual style on the whole was great, with great cinematography. Upgrade is definitely set in the future but it’s also grounded in reality with some grit, so it doesn’t go full cyberpunk or anything. The action is entertaining, fast and absolutely brutal. There are times where the movie is even somewhat reminiscent of body horror movies from the 1980s. Even the camera movements are great, a stand out being how sometimes the camera follows LMG whenever STEM takes over during action scenes, tilting and moving following his movements. The score by Jed Palmer is also great.

Upgrade is one of the most surprising movies of 2018. Leigh Whannell took this simple premise and worked wonders with it, delivering a fast, original, entertaining and brutal sci-fi action flick, made even better by Logan Marshall Green’s great performance. I suggest checking it out sometime, Upgrade looks like it’s going to be somewhat of a cult classic.

Get Out (2017) Review

Time: Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington
Allison Williams as Rose Armitage
Bradley Whitford as Dean Armitage
Catherine Keener as Missy Armitage
Caleb Landry Jones as Jeremy Armitage
Lil Rel Howery as Rod Williams
Betty Gabriel as Georgina
Marcus Henderson as Walter
LaKeith Stanfield as Logan King
Stephen Root as Jim Hudson
Director: Jordan Peele

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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Get Out is a movie that has been getting a lot of attention recently, and has already been called one of the best films of 2017. While it looked interesting, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. After finally seeing it, I have to say that Get Out really deserves all the hype, it really surprised me. It is both a great horror movie, as well as a great comedy. Jordan Peele has directed a great social commentary on modern racism, while at the same time creating a great horror movie.

I was riveted from start to finish in this movie. Get Out has the perfect mix of horror and comedy. Horror comedies are extremely difficult to get right but this film nailed it, it knew when to have scares and when to have comedy, and none of these moments felt tonally out of place. This movie wasn’t that scary to me personally (granted most horror movies don’t really scare me) but it is very well crafted. Until the last act, most of the ‘scares’ aren’t that significant, but there is a constant feeling of uneasiness, as you know that something is off, you don’t know what it is. At the same time this movie is hilarious, sometimes some of the scares and ‘weird’ moments are for comedy, the dialogue at times can be really funny, especially between Chris and his friend Rod, and the comedy (when present) never detracts from the scares or tension. Of course the mix of horror and comedy isn’t just what makes the movie work so well, this film is smartly written by Jordan Peele. This movie is honestly one of the best written horror movies in recent years. The social commentary of Get Out is absolutely genius, which Peele explores in very subtle bits of dialogue, symbolism and writing. The racism aspect of the film is actually more in depth and complex than you may think, its not just that the girlfriend’s family is racist and doesn’t like Chris, there’s a lot more to it. So many things in this movie really does reflect today’s society, from the dialogue, to the way people act. In fact I’d say the most unrealistic thing in the movie is that someone uses Bing as a search engine. I won’t reveal too much about the movie as I don’t want to ruin any surprises, I’ll let you experience all this for yourself.

The acting from everyone was really good. Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams are very convincing as this couple who are basically surrounded by uncomfortable people. Kaluuya particularly was great, no matter your race it is very easy to relate to his character Chris, and Daniel’s acting played a big part in that working effectively. The girlfriend’s family members with Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener and Caleb Landry Jones were also great, very unsettling but at the same time not too over the top. If there’s a showstealer performance it is of Lil Rel Howery as Chris’s friend, there are many moments when they talk on the phone. He was so hilarious, and the interactions with him and Chris were incredible entertaining.

The film is very well directed overall. It’s clear that Jordan Peele knows and loves horror, and he directs it excellently here. The scares were very well implemented throughout the movie, there aren’t many jump scares and when they are there, they are effective and well placed. The film looks absolutely stunning, and the visuals are amazing. This movie does have a lot of subtle visual symbolism, which Peele inserted into the movie in such a great way. The soundtrack by Michael Abels was really effective, and added a lot to the horror and suspense.

Get Out is one of the best horror movies in recent years. Smart, creepy and hilarious all at the same time, it’s no surprise why this film has been met with such critical acclaim. It seems that Peele has created a new type of horror/thriller, the ‘social thriller’. Apparently he’s planning on making more of these types of movies, and I’m very intrigued. He’s shown his talents as a director and writer with Get Out, so I can’t wait to see more of his work. If you are a fan of horror, I definitely recommend checking this out. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of horror I suggest watching it. It’s one of the best movies of the year.