This article will have short reviews of the following films: The Wolfpack, Blockers, Una, Set it Up, and Compliance.
While incredibly interesting, The Wolfpack didn’t have a whole lot to say. I didn’t get the sense of coherency or any structure whatsoever. It felt more like the director had a bunch of scenes in front of her and jumbled them together in the hopes of making a good documentary. The documentary turned out fine. It was entertaining and interesting and visually the film looked fairly decent as well. It’s just the lack of story that really drags the film down. If the director had put more time into asking questions and building up to something, the film would’ve been great, but now it’s just fine.
Blockers was way better than I anticipated it to be. I was expecting a raunchy “comedy”, without a lot of heart, and where the jokes where mostly “haha, dicks, amirite?”, but to my surprise, Blockers had something to say and it did so well enough. The film’s far from perfect, but the fact that it had a serious and relevant message to put out, took me by surprise. Another thing that took me by surprise was that it had some decent characters. Every character was well written and underwent an arc throughout the film. At times this arc could be predictable, but mostly it was done well. Blockers was also quite funny, verbal comedy dominated, but sometimes there was some physical comedy from the actors which could be funny. The comedic timing from all of the actors as a whole was great, but John Cena and Ike Barinholtz were definite standouts.
The film does have some technical flaws, though. The editing, for example, was quite bad. Actors changed positions throughout scenes, and even though these changes in position were minor, they did feel jarring. The pacing was fine and I never felt bored but I wouldn’t call it great either. There’s also a scene in the film where Ike looks off screen for confirmation if his improvised joke was good enough, which could’ve easily been avoided by reshooting the scene. The sound mixing wasn’t that good either, there were often moments of “emptiness” when characters were talking.
With sharp writing, strong performances, and great cinematography, Una‘s one of 2016’s most overlooked films. The dialogue’s crisp and fast paced and the characters are all really well developed. The film delves into some interesting subjects and it explores them thoroughly. It’s not a flawless film, but the fantastic acting from Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelson really help to drag the film away from the things dragging it down. The editing, for example, could be choppy at times and the sound design felt as if it wasn’t designed with stereo sound in mind, as it often was just mono. But don’t let those things withhold you from seeing this film; it’s a really good character study with masterful writing. Keep in mind that’s an extremely dark film, and the themes it deals with feel very realistic.
Set it Up is fine for the most part, but the ending really sucks balls. It’s quite a cliché film overall, but as with every film Zoey Deutch stars in, she’s able to save it gracefully. This girl carries some amazing charm and shines in every role she’s in. She just radiates joy and she can make a mediocre film enjoyable. She’s got some great chemistry Glen Powell and they make for a great pair. It was fun to see their characters interact with each other and slightly develop throughout the film. Their arcs were really predictable, but due to their great chemistry, it’s still a great ride nonetheless. The script, while clichéd, was also pretty funny. Visually the film isn’t particularly interesting and the original soundtrack wasn’t very good either.
Compliance is a difficult movie to review. There are some aspects that I’ll be able to view objectively, but there are some that impacted by opinion subjectively. Before we get to that, let’s start off with the objective things. The acting was great for the most part; the two leads gave an incredibly realistic performance, but the rest of the cast wasn’t always up to par. The writing too was very realistic since it was written in the way that normal people talk on a normal day. And the directing too was pretty decent. He was able to create a tense-full environment due to some really good pacing and well-placed camera angles. On a technical level, it’s the soundtrack that really drags the film down for me. The mixing of it was quite bad as it often overtook the dialogue the characters spoke. As a whole, I wasn’t a fan of the way it was composed.
But now we’ll have to go into the subjective area: the characters. They were as stupid as humans can possibly be. They were frustratingly stupid. Unbelievably stupid. It made the film feel very dramatized, yet after having done some research, the people involved did, in fact, make these decisions, which puts me in a difficult spot. If I hadn’t known that these people handled the situations the same way in real life as the characters do in the film, I would’ve crossed the stupidity of the characters off as a criticism. But now that I do know that it is a realistic portrayal, I don’t really know what to view it as. It’s a double-edged sword.
That’s why this film get’s either a B, or a C+.
Grade: B or C+