Tag Archives: Trevante Rhodes

Moonlight (2016) Review

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Moonlight

Time: 111 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes
Cast:
Trevante Rhodes as Adult Chiron/”Black”
Ashton Sanders as Teen Chiron
Alex Hibbert as Child Chiron/”Little”
André Holland as Adult Kevin
Jharrel Jerome as Teen Kevin
Jaden Piner as Child Kevin
Naomie Harris as Paula
Mahershala Ali as Juan
Janelle Monáe as Teresa
Director: Barry Jenkins

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

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I remember watching Moonlight in the lead up to the Oscars, I thought it was great, and it had the biggest surprise of all that night when it ended up winning Best Picture, it was quite a big deal. With that said, I didn’t remember a lot of it from my first viewing, and I definitely needed to watch it again. It definitely improved a lot on a repeat viewing, and I can now confidentially call this a fantastic film that deserved all the acclaim that it had received.

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This movie is broken up into 3 parts, showing 3 stages of lead character Chiron’s life. The first part is him as a child, the second is him as a teenager, and the third is him as an adult. All three of these parts were quite different from each other, yet consistently great, there wasn’t one part that felt particularly weaker than the other (although the third part was a little slower). It is so engaging seeing Chiron make all these discoveries about himself and grow as a person. It’s very well written by Barry Jenkins, the dialogue is fantastic, it felt absolutely real. That’s really the biggest takeaway of this movie that I got, it all felt real and genuine. Now I’m not particularly big on coming of age stories, I have enough trouble emotionally connecting with most movies, and coming of age movies particularly don’t really work for me (probably mainly because most of the apparent appeal is being relatable and I just can’t relate to most of their stories). However this easily ranks amongst this subgenre, especially and recent years. I think most people can connect with Chiron and his story, and that is really a testament to the writing.

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The three actors who played Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) were fantastic. They all captured this character perfectly at the different stages of his life. Something I heard about is that they didn’t base their performances on each other, giving their own interpretation to the material they gave, and I think that added a lot. The supporting cast was also great. Naomie Harris was really good as Chiron’s mother, and the rest of the cast that includes Janelle Monae and Andre Holland also do their parts. The standout though was Mahershala Ali, who is easily one of the best actors working right now. He wasn’t in the movie a whole lot, but he left a real impression in his scenes, especially in the scenes with Alex Hibbert as the younger. Even when he’s not in the movie, you felt his presence throughout the rest of the film.

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Director Barry Jenkins absolutely delivers here, this is his sophomore film, and his work here is excellent. This movie is smaller and independent, and you can feel that through and through, and it was to its benefit. The cinematography by James Laxton was beautiful, not one shot or camera move felt out of place, and the lighting and the use of colour is just stunning to watch. There are so many memorable scenes and images that really stay with you long after seeing the movie. A lot of the time, there weren’t any soundtrack or music, and that helped to invest you even more into the story and the movie. It made it all feel even more real, and much easier to be invested in it all, whether that be with ambient sounds or silence. The score by Nicholas Britell when present though, is excellent and impactful, and really added to the film a lot. The editing also deserves a lot of credit, making many of the moments even more impactful.

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Moonlight is such a fantastic movie and deserved all the praise. The performances, beautifully written story and incredible direction all comes together to a profoundly moving coming of age tale that definitely ranks among the highlights of films from that decade. If you haven’t already, definitely check out Moonlight when you can.

The Predator (2018) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna
Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams
Jacob Tremblay as Rory McKenna
Olivia Munn as Casey Bracket
Sterling K. Brown as Will Traeger
Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle
Thomas Jane as Baxley
Alfie Allen as Lynch
Augusto Aguilera as Nettles
Yvonne Strahovski as Emily McKenna
Director: Shane Black

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) can prevent the end of the human race.

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The Predator, the fourth film in the franchise, was on my most anticipated films of 2018 list. With a cast that included Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane and more, and on top of that, original Predator cast member Shane Black (who directed The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) being the writer and director of the movie, everything looked like it could be something great. With that said, I had some concerns in the lead up to its release. It looked way too comical, and I wasn’t really sure that would work for a Predator movie. The news about the large amount of reshoots and cuts didn’t make it any better (not to mention the controversy with a real predator originally being in the film, thankfully that was dealt with quickly). While I can understand a lot of the mixed reactions, I surprisingly found The Predator to be quite enjoyable. No, it’s not as good as the original, it’s not one of Shane Black’s best and yes it has some issues, but it also has some really good elements to it.

I should clarify that I’ve only seen the original Predator, so I can’t compare The Predator to the 2nd and 3rd movies (Predator 2 and Predators). However I didn’t feel lost so I feel like anyone who’s seen only the first movie could jump right into The Predator. Shane Black is a great writer, who wrote Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as the films he’s directed (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys). Unfortunately his writing for The Predator is a very mixed bag. With regards to certain things like the dialogue, it feels like a B grade Shane Black was writing it and not Shane Black at the top of his game. You can definitely at times feel like it is his writing, but it’s not as strong. One thing I will say that Shane Black does do better with The Predator than the original Predator is that there is some attempt to have some emotional moments and depth with the characters. It almost always doesn’t work but I appreciate the genuine attempts. As good as the original Predator movie was, there was really nothing to these characters. On top of that, it does try some things different with the story, with a large amount of it being set in a suburbia (though we also get some sequences in the forest) and also being a much more comedic sort of movie. Now that doesn’t guarantee that the movie will be great but the best thing that each instalment can do is try different things. At the same time there are some problems with the movie. Some plot elements really don’t work well, such as Jacob Tremblay’s character who has Asperger’s and plays a big role in the movie, that plotline is a little too silly and doesn’t fit in with the movie. Shane Black has directed some very funny movies, his 3 previous movies all hit very hard whenever the comedy was present. With The Predator on the other hand, the comedy didn’t always work. It wasn’t painfully cringe worthy or anything like that, but a lot of it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if the comedic tone really works for the movie, but as I said before at least it is trying something different. There are some callbacks to the original Predator, and while I only picked up two, both of them were painful and hamfisted callbacks. To give an example of what I mean, one guy has a line “Get to the choppa” (that’s not a typo, he says choppa like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original movie). The Predator is yet another movie that has been the victim of studio interference and cuts (by Fox Studios of course). Now its nowhere like what they did with Fant4stic, but you can definitely feel that something is off about it. This is especially prevalent in the third act, which feels like a more conventional movie and seems to lack a lot of the Shane Black writing from the two acts and feels really simplified. Also the way it ends with the Predator in the end feels underwhelming. The last scene in particular is going to be very divisive especially to long time fans of the Predator lore. It is sort of sequel bait and it’s really weird and I’m not even sure what to think about it. It really has to be seen to be believed.

The cast generally do quite well. Boyd Holbrook is the lead of the movie and he does quite well in his role, however he’s a rather simple and conventional protagonist, really just a passable character. The group that Holbrook’s character teams up with, ‘The Loonies’, fair much better in comparison. They consist of Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera and they do well in their roles. Some are better than others, and you don’t necessarily care a great deal for the actual characters. but they all play off each other really well. Trevante Rhodes stands out as being particularly great. Olivia Munn works well in the movie for the most part (the scientist part to her character is a little hard to buy). Sterling K. Brown plays a 2 dimensional human villain and thankfully he plays up the role to being borderline cartoonish because the character is really generic and doesn’t have much to it. There were a lot of problems with Jacob Tremblay’s character but he plays his role well enough. Yvonne Strahovski really does play a really minor role, and really isn’t used to a fifth of her potential, her character could’ve been played by literally anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Shane Black’s overall direction is pretty good. Larry Fong’s cinematography as always looks good. The action was for the most part was really good and entertaining, I like how it fully embraced its R rating and goes all out with violence. The effects for the most part worked really well, but other times it can look not so good. The CGI blood in particular looks absolutely terrible. I liked how they portrayed the Predators in this movie, being really big, intimidating and threatening. However the second Predator, much bigger than the first one, uses a lot of visual effects, and at times it can look really fake, particularly in the last act. The score by Henry Jackman is very reminiscent of the original Predator and it actually really worked for the movie.

The Predator clearly has some issues. It is a little disappointing and it doesn’t live up to the talent of the involvement of Shane Black, the cast and the name of the Predator franchise. Some of the weak humour, story points and other elements does hold back the movie from being anywhere close to being at the same level of the original. Still, there is some good stuff to be found in the movie. Some of Shane Black’s additions were good (even if it felt like B grade Shane Black most of the time), the cast worked well in their roles and it was quite entertaining generally. If you liked the original Predator, check it out knowing that it is filled with a lot of silly things and go into it expecting a somewhat entertaining movie. Again, wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be but wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.