Tag Archives: Josh Hartnett

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) Review

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Halloween H20

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Adam Arkin as Will Brennan
Michelle Williams as Molly Cartwell
Adam Hann-Byrd as Charlie Deveraux
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Sarah Wainthrope
Janet Leigh as Norma Watson
Josh Hartnett as John Tate
LL Cool J as Ronald “Ronny” Jones
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jimmy Howell
Director: Steve Miner

After escaping serial killer Michael Myers’ attacks, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) relocates to California and adopts a new identity. However, years later, Michael returns to finish what he started.

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Despite how the original Halloween movie from 1978 is widely regarded as a classic, the reception of the sequels have generally ranged from mixed to negative. With that said, I heard that H20: 20 Years Later is one of the better movies in the series (despite having the worst title of the whole series, and that’s considering that the next entry being called Resurrection). After seeing the 6th Halloween movie, I was definitely interested to see what direction they would take it next. I can say that at the very least, they took it in a different direction, some of it works, some of it really doesn’t.

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Something to note is that H20 basically erases Halloween 4-6 and instead follows on from Halloween 2. That means no Cult of Thorn business, so that’s already a plus. Not only that, but they are also bringing back Halloween lead character Laurie Strode, along with actress Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role. Both changes are very welcome in this movie. We see how despite 20 years later, the events of the first two movies have still had a long lasting effect on Laurie. H20 explores Laurie’s PTSD from her encounter, and storywise it was probably the strongest aspect of the movie. The movie does open relatively well, reintroducing audiences to Laurie with her new life (she has a son named John), and her trauma. However you notice that the pacing is really slow, especially with the second act. It takes too long to kick off, you’re basically just watching Laurie and other characters interact. The first act is one thing as it is setting the scene for the whole movie, but the second act just focuses on John and his group of friends who have decide to sneak away from a field trip to have a double date at the school. It’s not interesting like the Laurie-centric narratives are, and feels really out of place. In fact, the movie does feels a little loose with its plot, and it really could’ve been much tighter. I actually checked the time, and it’s around an hour into the movie before things actually start getting real and Michael Myers begins doing a lot of killing. Keep in mind that the movie is less than 90 minutes long. With that said, the third act and the overall climax is really the star of the whole movie. It’s very satisfying, and without getting into the ending, would’ve been a great and fitting way to end the series (and then they made another follow up for some reason).

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Storywise, H20 does feel like fan service more than an eager or ambitious follow-up, but I guess that’s not a terrible thing. One new change was that it’s the first Halloween movie (at least of the ones featuring Michael Myers) that doesn’t take place in Haddonfield, instead being set in California. Not only does it make sense from a plot perspective (Laurie would logically move out of Haddonfield after what happened), but it also gave the movie a distinct look and feel. The setting for much of the movie is a school campus, and while it does set you at this location well, it’s not really creepy at all. Something to note is that the movie is clearly influenced by Scream, which came out in the mid 90s. Kevin Williamson wrote Scream, and then Miramax had him do a treatment for what would become the H20 script. He only has a producer’s credit, but his fingerprints are all over this. It doesn’t feel like a Halloween movie at all. With that said, considering the last 3 movies felt like they were on repeat, maybe a change in style and approach is what it needed. The end result is a mixed bag, however. It does feel painfully 90s, dating the movie painfully. H20 even feels older than Carpenter’s original film, which was pretty much timeless. There’s humour in it, some of it hits, some of it misses. There are references to the original (they flat out quote the original sometimes), and references to popular horror movies at the time, including Scream. While it does make itself distinct from the other movies, it just doesn’t work all that well. The tension and atmosphere just isn’t there, and even Halloweens 4-6 felt more creepy, even if they were worse movies.

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Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, it’s so great to see her come back in the role that really started off her career. She does some amazing work here, and considering how underserviced and passive the character was in her previous appearance on screen with Halloween 2, it’s nice to see her have such an active role in the third act. She covers a lot of ground as Laurie goes from being an in-hiding over protective mom, to a full blown badass at the end. She really adds a lot of credibility and is easily one of the best parts of the movie. I wouldn’t say the other characters are great, but having more experienced actors on board definitely makes a difference especially when compared to some of the other Halloween sequels, and they had more chemistry together. Josh Hartnett is solid as Laurie’s son John, but is saddled with some bad material throughout most of the movie. With that said, he really works well in his scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis, their dynamic feels real and believable. If they focused more on those two in the movie, I think it would’ve worked better but they have probably 10 minutes of screentime together and John is forgotten for much of the rest of the second half of the film. Michelle Williams is also here in an early role for her, Janet Leigh also makes an appearance, even if it seems to be mainly to be meta with her being Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother, and to make some Psycho references. There’s also an early appearance from a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the opening sequence.

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H20 is directed by Steve Milner, and you can definitely that he was influenced by Scream on a visual level. The 90s influence also clearly carried over to this movie. On a visual level, it just looked a bit wrong to me. Now I’ve only had glimpses of Dawson’s Creek, but for much of the movie, H20 looks like a horror themed episode of Dawson’s Creek, from the look of the movie to the production design. The movie does well at setting you in this location of a school, especially with the long takes. However, it’s nonetheless just a school, it doesn’t feel creepy, claustrophobic or anything like that. I mentioned earlier that there isn’t much of a tense atmosphere, and again H20 is one of the least scary movies of the entire series. There isn’t much atmosphere at all honestly, with not much tension even in the third act. Michael Myers doesn’t feel very scary, and much of that has to do with the mask, or masks to be precise. There are 4 masks used over the whole filming of the movie (largely with reshoots), including one shot where they used CGI because the real mask wasn’t ready in time for the scene. The only version of the mask I liked in the movie was in the opening sequence where they used the mask from Halloween 6, but it wasn’t used much more because some people thought that audiences would be confused with that mask being from a different Halloween movie. Most of the kills are pretty forgettable except for one in the third act. Speaking of the third act, I did like how much of it was filmed, even if it wasn’t very scary. The score does have some moments but a lot of the time it doesn’t sound anything like a Halloween movie. This time they got John Ottoman to compose. He steered away from the synth heavy aesthetic that Carpenter and Howarth used in the early days of the franchise, and instead went for a fully orchestrated symphonic score that sounded more like Danny Elfman than John Carpenter. It feels very out of place and is among my least favourite scores in the series. It only really works when it actually plays the classic Halloween theme. Also, this movie has a Creed song playing over the end credits. I don’t know why.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a mixed bag of a movie, I think I would’ve liked it more if I saw it in the 90s. It is a movie that should have been way better than it actually is. The script has some missteps, and its new directions aren’t fully fleshed out, some of its influences holds the film back, and other aspects like the score and the mask have issues. With that said, there’s some good in here too. Jamie Lee Curtis is great, I liked the direction they took Laurie, Miner has some solid direction at times, and the third act, especially the ending, was satisfying. If you like any of the Halloween movies, I do think H20 is worth checking out, despite its many issues.

Wrath of Man (2021) Review

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Wrath of Man

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast:
Jason Statham as Patrick “H” Hill/Heargraves
Holt McCallany as Bullet
Jeffrey Donovan as Jackson
Josh Hartnett as Boy Sweat Dave
Chris Reilly as Tom
Laz Alonso as Carlos
Raúl Castillo as Sam
DeObia Oparei as Brad
Eddie Marsan as Terry
Scott Eastwood as Jan
Director: Guy Ritchie

Mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard (Jason Statham) for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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I was interested in Wrath of Man. Not only was it a Guy Ritchie movie, but it would be his first collaboration with Jason Statham in a long time. The trailer for the movie was alright but it definitely seemed like more like a typical Jason Statham action flick than a Guy Ritchie movie, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect outside of some good action scenes. I still was interested in it however, and it ended up being better than I expected it to be.

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Essentially, Wrath of Man is a revenge thriller meets heist film. The plot wasn’t exactly predictable and was a tad on the generic side, but I found myself invested throughout its runtime. The characters are common personalities as well for a film of this genre, but they’re written confidently and in such a way that we can just focus on what they are involved in. While Wrath of Man features some Guy Ritchie tropes, there’s definitely a lot of distinct differences between this and most of his other films. It’s set in Los Angeles, the dialogue while being Ritchie-esque isn’t quite as snappy, and the characters aren’t quirky. It also doesn’t quite have the dark comedy that those other movies have. Wrath of Man is a dead serious, brutal, relentless, and violent revenge thriller, in fact this is definitely one of the darkest movies that Guy Ritchie has made. The middle section particularly gets grim, bleak and unsettling. At the same time, the tone felt right for this story, and it was well put together. One way Wrath of Man is similar to Ritchie’s other movies is the nonlinear narrative. We cut around to different character sand see their perspectives, even in the past. As a result, it gives the narrative even more context. It does get a little crazy with the time jumps, especially as we see title cards revealing that we are jumping months ahead and behind. The pacing runs a bit on the slower side, especially when we are often cutting back to the same events and just seeing them through different perspectives. A consequence of this is that it makes the movie feel longer than it really is. With that said, the slow pacing was necessary, and it is rewarded greatly with an entertaining and action packed climax.

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This movie has often been advertised as a Jason Statham flick, and he’s definitely the lead character in this. As expected, he plays his role similar to how you’d expect him to, basing it off his previous action and crime movie roles. However, there’s something slightly different to him in this, unlike his past roles (even his straight up villainous roles), he feels actually threatening in this. His character is mysterious and stoic, and he’s got this empty far-away look that makes him actually feel intimidating. He’s ruthless, and in some scenes seems almost like a terminator or slasher villain. At the same time he’s still very much not invincible, just very dangerous. Probably among Statham’s best performances. The rest of the cast are good too, with the likes of Holt McCallany, Scott Eastwood, Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Eddie Marsan and Andy Garcia providing solid support work.

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Guy Ritchie directs this, and his work here is really good. Even though I previously said that its different to a lot of his previous movies, you still do feel to a degree that it’s a Guy Ritchie film with the way things are shot and edited. It’s a very well shot movie, there are some impressive long takes, the movie even opens with a great long take. Despite how it was advertised, Wrath of Man isn’t an action-packed movie. Outside of a couple of action scenes in the first two acts, most of the action takes place in the last act, and it’s brutal, bloody, and kind of realistic. You feel every shot and impact, and the build up to it all is just as effective. One of the standout aspects from this movie immediately was the foreboding score from Chris Benstead, making an already unnerving film even more haunting. It has a sense of doom and dread that fits with the film, even sounding like something from Joker. It keeps the tension rising throughout the movie, creating this unsettling and intense atmosphere. Speaking of which, with the level of violence and intensity, it really makes the movie stand out in Ritchie’s filmography.

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Wrath of Man might actually be among Guy Ritchie’s best movies. The plot isn’t anything special or unpredictable, but the bleakness, the intense and haunting atmosphere, the non-linear narrative, and the fantastic action sequences, along with some solid acting and directing, it all combines to make an experience that I’m glad I saw, especially in the cinema. If you are a fan of Guy Ritchie’s movies or Jason Statham’s movies, I do recommend checking it out.