Tag Archives: Matt Reeves

Let Me In (2010) Review

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Let Me In

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen
Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby
Richard Jenkins as Thomas
Cara Buono as Owen’s mother
Elias Koteas as a detective
Director: Matt Reeves

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads a lonely life and is bullied by his peers at school. He happily befriends Abby (Chloe Grace-Moretz), his new helpful neighbour, without being aware that she is hiding a secret from him.

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Let Me In was a movie I was interested in watching for quite a while. I deliberately held off watching it till after I watched the original, Let the Right One In, which turned out to be quite a great movie. The remake sounds like a bad idea at first, even with it being led by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz and being directed by Matt Reeves. Not all American remakes are bad, but most of the time they don’t turn out the best, especially when it comes to remakes of foreign horror movies. Surprisingly, Let Me In is a pretty decent remake, and I liked it quite a bit, however it definitely could’ve afforded to take more risks.

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Usually American remakes of foreign movies simplify the plot, and water things down. The good news is that for the most part, Let Me In doesn’t do that. It’s pretty much the same plot just done again. That’s also the bad news however, it really doesn’t do a whole lot new outside of adjusting it to an American setting. The small changes that were added to the plot really didn’t serve the story much, including an opening which flashforwards to the middle of the film. There’s also a forced police investigation throughout the movie, and it just didn’t find it to add that much to the movie all that well. The main problem from the original with the bullies being over the top evil is also a problem here too. With all that being said, the rest of the movie is good, removing the original from it all. The pacing is good across its roughly 2 hour runtime, the story is engaging, and I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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The acting is great, and one of the highlights of the film. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz are in the main roles, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s on the level of the two leads from Let the Right One In at the very least. Their relationship and connection just felt genuine and real, and they shared great chemistry. Moretz is particularly fantastic in the role of the vampire girl, conveying so much emotion, it ranks among her best performances. The supporting performances are also good, mainly from Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas.

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Matt Reeves’s direction is really great as to be expected, he was definitely the right person to handle this remake. It’s an absolutely gorgeous looking film, and I might actually slightly prefer the cinematography in this just a bit more over the original. Reeves gave Let Me In very atmospheric, on a technical level for the most part, it’s great. There are some faults especially when it comes to the use of CGI. Minor spoilers here, but without going into too much depth, there’s an attack in both versions that happens under a bridge by Eli/Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), and it was done effectively in the original and wasn’t too silly. However, in Let Me In they added some CGI to her during scenes like this, and it just made it really goofy and over the top. There were some sequences that were done in a more over the top way in general, some of it is fine, but other times it doesn’t work so well. Let Me In is noticeably more bloody and violent than the original, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Let Me In could’ve been a lot worse, but there was definitely room for improvement. At the very least it could’ve benefited from trying something different. With that said it is still a pretty good movie, directed greatly by Matt Reeves, and acted wonderfully by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz. It is worth watching for sure, just make sure not to watch it right after watching the original or anything.

Cloverfield (2008) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence.
Cast:
Michael Stahl-David as Robert “Rob” Hawkins
T.J. Miller as Hudson “Hud” Platt
Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford
Odette Yustman as Elizabeth “Beth” McIntyre
Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond
Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins
Director: Matt Reeves

As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

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Cloverfield did have a big impact upon it’s release, a big part of that was its mysterious marketing, a trend which would continue in the series, to the point where the trailer is being released hours before the film’s actual release (AKA Cloverfield Paradox). Cloverfield is a found footage movie that is quite effective in its execution despite its simple premise. It’s opening 20-30 minutes wasn’t the best but after that, director Matt Reeves delivers a very solid movie.

First I should clarify that I’m judging this movie by itself and not comparing it to the other Cloverfield movies. I will admit, earlier in the movie I really didn’t care about what was going on. It’s just all these characters at a party and I was completely unengaged, I wasn’t interested in the characters at all. Once the destruction start, that’s when my interest really picked up. The film does a good job at keeping you riveted from start to finish from that moment. It occasionally gives you moments to breathe and it doesn’t feel too long or short. You really feel like you’re with these characters as they are going from place to place, trying to survive. It also really benefits from the simplicity, there aren’t tons of scenes filled with exposition about what’s happening, you only really know what you can see. Found footage movies always have the issue of explaining why the main characters keep carrying with them a camera and recording everything even though they shouldn’t even be bothering with it, Cloverfield is no exception. While initially you can understand why the camera is there, over time it just seems increasingly pointless and you wonder why our main characters would bother carrying this camera around with them (though that goes for most found footage horror movies). Outside of that, after the first 20-30 minutes Cloverfield is pretty good for what it is.

The characters weren’t all that great or interesting but the cast did a good job playing them, with a cast that includes Michael Tahl-David, T.J. Miller, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman and Lizzy Caplan. Found footage movie characters aren’t really all that great, but the ones in Cloverfield ended up being on the better end of the spectrum.

This is a found footage movie, and as its being inside a lot of destructive events, there is a lot of shakiness. If you are easily dizzy, you’ll probably find Cloverfield to be hard to watch. The illogical reasoning for the main characters keeping recording with a camera aside, it is very effective at being very tense and scary to a degree. As I said earlier, Cloverfield is effective at making you feel like you are one of the people witnessing the carnage and destruction. It’s no real secret nowadays that a source of the destruction is a giant monster but you don’t see too much of it and it is used effectively. It’s probably underwhelming if you just watched all the trailers because with all the build up it just turns out to be a monster, but otherwise it’s fine. Matt Reeves did a really solid job at directing this movie, delivering on creating one of the more effect found footage movies.

Cloverfield is a very solid found footage movie that is very effective as a thriller. The first 20-30 minutes were quite iffy and didn’t have much of my interest but after that, it really picks up and becomes a really good found footage thriller. If you like thrillers and don’t mind dizzy found footage movies, I’d say definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and content that may disturb
Cast:
Andy Serkis as Caesar
Steve Zahn as Bad Ape
Karin Konoval as Maurice
Terry Notary as Rocket
Ty Olsson as Red
Woody Harrelson as The Colonel
Amiah Miller as Nova
Director: Matt Reeves

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.

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War for the Planet of the Apes was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. Director Matt Reeves did an excellent job with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the surprising Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So naturally, I was excited for what was to come. I am happy to say that War for the Planet of the Apes was even better than I thought it would be. Matt Reeves again delivers on making a compelling film in this series and has truly crafted something special.

This movie probably shouldn’t have been called War for the Planet of the Apes, despite the trailer and the title its not really a war movie, its not an action movie either. There is only a couple of major action sequences, the rest of the film is a drama and I have to give Reeves credit for being willing enough to go much deeper with the story, instead of making the film bigger and more actiony just because its the conclusion of the trilogy. This film is also even darker than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, its very bleak with only a few bright spots. The stakes are more personal and it focusses heavily on Caesar, it’s the most character driven story out of all the Apes movies. Rise and Dawn partially focussed on the humans along with the apes and because they weren’t as interesting as the apes, their segments felt weaker in comparison. War doesn’t have this problem, it’s almost always focussed on the apes (particularly Caesar) and you care about every moment. This film is slower paced and it is long, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. But it really does work in the film’s favour and helps to tell the story. The story of War for the Planet of the Apes may not be what you’d expect it to be (without spoiling anything) but I can’t imagine it being any better. Absolutely everything in this movie is perfect, Reeves again has made me emotionally attached to a movie about apes, not an easy task.

Andy Serkis is absolutely phenomenal as Caesar, honestly this is the best I’ve seen him in a movie. It’s been great seeing him evolve as a character from Rise, to Dawn and now War. This movie is Caesar’s story. Most of the main characters are apes and all of them are great, a standout (like in the previous movies) being Karin Konoval’s character Maurice. There is a new character, with Bad Ape played by Steve Zahn, who I guess you could call the comic relief of the film. This movie is very bleak, with only some instances of humour, and Bad Ape takes up the majority of the humour. This character could’ve gone so wrong, becoming annoying or distracting but that’s not the case. He’s an genuinely entertaining and likable character and Zahn did a great job. There are only a couple of noteworthy human characters. One of them is Amiah Miller as a mute girl, she did a really great job in her role, especially when she interacted with the apes. The other is Woody Harrelson as The Colonel. He works well as a threatening antagonist but at the same time is given some depth and has some motivations for what he does.

Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had great special effects and War for the Planet of the Apes has effects that are even better. The special effects are incredible, at no point does the CGI feel fake. I’m especially talking about the motion capture work for the apes, most of the characters are apes and all of them are look incredibly convincing. War for the Planet of the Apes has some of the best motion capture in a film ever. There isn’t a massive amount of action (really just two major sequences) but whenever it happens it is done excellently. Michael Giaachino has a bit of a reputation of making passable but forgettable scores, however his score here is actually pretty good, and really adds to the movie. Matt Reeves’s direction of this movie is overall perfect, there’s nothing I have an issue with really.

War for the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best films of the year, it is also one of the best blockbusters in recent years. The fantastic direction by Matt Reeves, the excellent performances (particularly from Andy Serkis), and the deep and complex story truly make this an incredible movie. I will say for those going in, keep in mind is that it’s a full on drama, don’t go in expecting an action film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a mix of drama and action, War for the Planet of the Apes is a drama. Matt Reeves did a great job with this film, I don’t know how it could be any better. I don’t know whether there will be any more sequels but if this the final instalment to the franchise, then it’s a fantastic conclusion to one of the best film trilogies ever.