Tag Archives: Julius Onah

Luce (2019) Review

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Luce

Time: 109 Minutes
Cast:
Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce Edgar
Octavia Spencer as Harriet Wilson
Naomi Watts as Amy Edgar
Tim Roth as Peter Edgar
Brian Bradley as DeShaun Meeks
Andrea Bang as Stephanie Kim
Norbert Leo Butz as Dan Towson
Director: Julius Onah

A liberal-minded couple, Amy (Naomi Watts) and Peter Edgar (Tim Roth), are forced to reconsider their image of their adopted son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) after they discover he has written an extremely disturbing essay for his class at school.

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I heard about Luce more recently, I knew of Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth’s involvement, and I also heard it was pretty good, so I wanted to check it out for sure. Having seen it, I can say that it’s really one of the most overlooked movies of 2019, and it really deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving.

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I think it’s better to be surprised by the plot and not know too much going in, so I’ll try to keep my review as vague as possible when it comes to the plot. Luce relies quite a lot upon its script, and thankfully it’s written quite well, and has your interest from beginning to end. Much of the movie feels like a play at times in the way it’s written, especially with the dialogue. As it turns out, it is based on a play by J.C Lee. It’s also a movie that talks about plenty of difficult subject matters, like adoption, social injustice, tokenism, mental illness, stereotyping, and race. With that said, it doesn’t explore every single theme to its fullest extent or done equally as well. It’s a very ambiguous movie with a lot of complexity, it’s not as black and white as it would seem at first, there’s a whole lot of grey. You have to assume that you won’t get the answers that you want about certain characters, and you’ll have to draw your own conclusions based off what the movie actually gives you. The ending particularly will have people confused a little as to the interpretations of the final moments of the film.

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Part of what makes this movie work particularly well are the 4 central outstanding performances. Each character has their own thing going on with them and have more complexity to them than they initially appear. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play the parents of Luce, and both are great (this is the best I’ve seen Roth in years). Octavia Spencer gives one of her best performances as Luce’s teacher, really believable. I had previously only seen Kelvin Harrison Jr. in It Comes at Night but he’s shown himself to be an outstanding actor with his performance here as Luce. He’s so charming and convincing, and there are points where even though you can’t tell whether he’s manipulating and lying or telling the truth. Definitely an up and coming actor that you want to be paying attention to. These 4 performances essentially anchor the movie, and even elevate it a bit.

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I just know Julius Onah as the director of The Cloverfield Paradox, and while for many that doesn’t bode well, with Luce he really gets to show off his talents. The cinematography was stunning, and it was edited very well. The music by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury was also good, adding a level of unsettledness throughout. While it’s not a conventional thriller and you’re not expecting anyone to be killed or anything of the like, you do feel somewhat tense throughout, like something isn’t quite right.

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Luce is a complex and well written movie, with some excellent performances leading it. There are some aspects that don’t work quite as well, some parts of the writing are a little too ambitious for its own good, it doesn’t quite follow through on what they set up during it, and they don’t all come together to form a clear message at the end, but I still think it’s generally well done. Definitely check out Luce when you can, at the very least for the acting.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Cast:
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton
David Oyelowo as Kiel
Daniel Brühl as Schmidt
John Ortiz as Monk Acosta
Chris O’Dowd as Mundy
Aksel Hennie as Volkov
Zhang Ziyi as Tam
Elizabeth Debicki as Mina Jensen
Roger Davies as Michael Hamilton
Director: Julius Onah

The story, set in the near future, centers on a team of astronauts on a space station making a terrifying discovery that challenges all they know about the fabric of reality, as they desperately fight for their survival.

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God Particle was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017 and 2018. It was the talented cast, premise and the fact that it tied to the Cloverfield universe that had me interested. I admit I was a little worried since the movie was pushed back a couple times but I was still interested in it. A little while ago, the film was released on Netflix hours after the first trailer and retitled to The Cloverfield Paradox. Initially it seemed to be genius marketing for the film as the Cloverfield series had been known for its secret marketing. However after seeing it, it seems now that other reasons may have played a part in its sudden release. While I did like it, The Cloverfield Paradox didn’t quite live up to all the hype to say the least. There is some good to it though with the actors and some aspects of the story. Overall it just feels rather okay and not too much more than that.

I’ll first of all talk about this movie itself without all the ties to the Cloverfield universe. On the whole it feels like a passable normal sci fi horror movie, so pretty much like 2017’s Life, only not as good. The mystery wasn’t as interesting as it could’ve been, there are aspects of it that were intriguing but it really doesn’t do anything special with them. There were also some really out of place scenes that take place on Earth, which were apparently reshoots added because of test audiences’ reactions (more on reshoots later). The Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t particularly deliver on the horror either, it doesn’t help with the tone of some scenes, including a gag involving an arm. Speaking of the arm scene, there’s also some parts about the film that don’t really make sense. While I understand the Cloverfield aspects not being explained, most of the film’s plot should’ve been explainable, some things just happen with no logical explanation whatsoever. It’s just rather confusing looking back at what happened. Now onto the part about the connections to the other Cloverfield movies. The connections do feel a little forced, they weren’t as seamless as the connections in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Not only that, without spoiling anything, the connections it does have opens the Cloverfield universe up to so many possibilities that I’m not sure it was the right decision, future films will decide that. It seems that there was a reason why the connections feel forced. God Particle when it was written was originally not supposed to be a Cloverfield film. 10 Cloverfield Lane’s script was a spec script that was reworked into having connections but prior to filming (and when it was written) God Particle didn’t have any Cloverfield connections. Because of this, reshoots eventually were needed later on so that it would be a Cloverfield movie. Finding out all of this really explained a lot. I can’t tell how the movie would’ve been just as a non Cloverfield movie but I have a feeling it would’ve been better, without all the reshoots. The best part of the film was actually the ending, it may raise questions for some but it was the most effective scare in the whole film.

The characters weren’t all that interesting or great but the actors did a pretty good job with the material that they have. You have a really talented cast with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo and more. They all do a good job with what they have, no one here is phoning it in. If there’s a main character its Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, who’s the most developed of all the characters, so its no surprise that she’s the stand out performance out of all of them.

The direction generally was good, it is a good looking movie. As previously mentioned, this movie wasn’t very tense, and the scenes that were meant to be tense really weren’t that effective at being tense. On the whole though, my main criticisms didn’t have to do with the direction as much as it was the writing (and as I said earlier the changes to the movie).

The Cloverfield Paradox unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype. I can’t tell what caused all the problems, whether it was all the reshoots and sudden changes or if the film wasn’t going to end up being that good anyway. I’m not even sure if you’ll enjoy it if you’re a Cloverfield fan, it might just make things more confusing and frustrating. I did find some good parts to the movie, including the cast and some of the ideas but it doesn’t come close to 10 Cloverfield Lane or even the original Cloverfield. Apparently a Cloverfield 4 is set for release in 2018 called Overlord (which will no doubt will be retitled to Cloverlord by the time it’s about to release). Hopefully this will tie into the universe better without feeling forced and is a better movie overall.