Us and Hotel Mumbai
Welcome back! This post is going to be a double feature review for Us and Hotel Mumbai. Us is a horror film that was directed by Jordan Peele. It's a very unique movie that illustrates some cultural themes. Hotel Mumbai is a thriller that was based on true events, chronicling the mayhem of a terrorist attack that occurred in 2008. The human race watches a lot of violent movies, but destruction isn't fun in real life and that part is clear in Hotel Mumbai. Keep reading to find out my thoughts about both films.
Let's begin with Us. The movie is told through the Wilson family's point of view during their vacation in Santa Cruz. After coming home from an outing on the beach, they encounter their evil counterparts or dopplegangers. These frightening beings terrorize the family with a very direct intent. Ultimately, the story unfolds with mystery, scares, violence, and several thought provoking moments.
This film didn't blow me away, but it definitely has good elements. Most of the actors brought a lot strong elements to the movie. Lupita Nyong'o plays the Wilson's matriarch, Adelaide, and she was the star of the film. Overall, Lupita is an exceptional actress and this performance is another strong addition to her resume. She plays Adelaide and her evil doppleganger very well with a lot of depth and range. Winston Duke plays Gabe, Adelaide's husband, and he brought a lot of humor to an otherwise dark story. He was quite refreshing and entertaining. The teenage daughter and young son were played by Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex respectively. Both of them had pretty good range for young actors, bringing different elements to the children and their dark twins. Truthfully, the actors made the film a lot more watchable and interesting.
It's not a boring film either. Us moves along at a solid pace and keeps the entertainment value amped up. It has a good mixture of thrills, humor, and unusual elements. The movie is creative and quite a bit different than most horror films. I also found the story very simple and straight forward as well. Believe me, that's a good thing. This film could have been very confusing and convoluted, but it actually makes sense.
Jordan Peele has a his own style of directing. Us is surprisingly artistic with interesting choices in cinematography. Even though it's not one of my favorite horror films, I'll definitely give Peele credit for his craftsmanship. In some ways, it feels a little bit like an art house film, made in the vein of A24's releases.
Now I'm moving on to the movie's weakest elements. Some components don't work very well. Many viewers will find plot holes, inconsistencies, and continuity errors. Jordan Peele will often ask his audience to think deeply while they're watching his work, but that can be a problem sometimes because they'll notice the film's problems. I don't want to give away spoilers, but many elements don't add up if you pay attention.
Is this movie scary? Unfortunately, it's not particularly scary at all. The marketing doesn't help the film very much. It's not a true horror movie. Us is more like a horror comedy with social commentaries and action scenes. This film doesn't have a lot of tension, jump scares, or bloody scenes. I would say it's more weird than frightening. It also dives really deep into another genre, but I'll remain vague because that would be another spoiler.
I'm pretty sure this film will be anticlimactic for several viewers. It's a little bit difficult to explain. You'll either connect with the story or not. It's actually not a bad movie, but this particular story probably appeals to niche audiences better than the mainstream. I just think it will be too weird for a lot of people.
Should you see Us in theaters? That's a hard question to answer. I would say give it a shot if you're curious. You might think it's amazing. I'm pretty sure a lot of people will enjoy it more than I did. Just don't expect it to be a hardcore scary movie.
Hotel Mumbai has a very different take on violence than Us. This film was inspired by true events that happened in 2008. A group of radicalized youths from Pakistan invaded Mumbai, killing at least one hundred and sixty-six civilians at a train station, café, and other locations. Most of the story takes place in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, where the terrorists continued their violent rampage. This might seem like a controversial movie, but it fits within our current climate and brings a realistic vision of widespread violence.
I actually felt really disappointed with this film because it has a lot of issues. But I can probably summarize its stronger elements in one paragraph. Hotel Mumbai is shockingly realistic and it doesn't sugarcoat anything. Cinema tends to glamorize violence and it can give people false impressions. In reality, violence isn't fun and this film boldly shows a more accurate concept of terrorism. It's visceral, eye opening, and difficult to watch. I believe this movie raises awareness about violence in the real world and it sends an effective message. People are often dismissive about violence and terrorism because it's an uncomfortable subject, but ignoring it won't change anything. Once in a while, we need a film that tells the truth instead of showcasing a romanticized tale of heroes and villains.
Unfortunately, Hotel Mumbai is lackluster in many ways. It has a bunch of technical problems, including bad cinematography. For example, the picture was blurry sometimes and I know it wasn't a problem with the theater's projector. The cameramen also used a ton of shaky cam during most of the violent scenes. I'm not a fan of that cinematography style. It's hard on the eyes and makes the scene disorienting. This film was directed by Anthony Maras and it didn't seem like he was capable of putting everything together very well. Even the story and characters don't stand out. I wouldn't say the movie is disorganized, but the final product is unimpressive and it's the director's job to identify major issues.
It's worth nothing that I didn't connect with any characters. That problem hurts the movie significantly. When lives are at stake, it's important to feel invested in the characters. The viewer should care if they live or die. This film has an ensemble cast and that might not have been the right choice. Ensemble casts work great for certain movies, but in this case, nobody has a chance to shine. Most of the characters lack a backstory and considerable screen time. Honestly, I'm not going to care if a character dies when they only appeared in a couple scenes. Certain elements were also used as copouts. For example, Dev Patel's character, named Arjun, has a pregnant wife and a small child. That part is supposed to make you care about him, even though his character isn't fleshed out. A couple with a baby is vacationing in the hotel. You're supposed to care about the child because it's a baby. Isn't that enough? Not really. I'm not going to tell you who lives and dies because that would be a spoiler, but many of the death scenes didn't seem meaningful enough.
I have a really huge complaint. The characters have unbelievably bad survival instincts. Nobody is smart enough to run out the front door! When bullets start flying, get the heck out of there! I only remember one minor character escaping through the front door. Nobody leaves through the back door either. In general, the characters just hide and hope someone will rescue them. Ultimately, the characters are trapping themselves and it becomes very easy for the terrorists to pick them off. The film also has plenty of opportunities for retaliation and the characters don't take advantage of it. When a terrorist has his back turned, grab one of those handy items and crack his head open. But this movie needs a huge body count, so the characters aren't allowed to be resourceful. By the way, this hotel has a kitchen staff and I don't remember anyone using knives as weapons during the most prime opportunities. I realize anything can happen in a disastrous situation and many people will die during a major attack, but this went above my suspension of belief. The film seems exploitative to a certain extent because the writing forces the characters to make bad decisions that will lead to gruesome death scenes. Something just doesn't feel right about it.
Overall, Hotel Mumbai is a missed opportunity. It could have sent a powerful message to both critics and general audiences. But a sloppy execution ultimately hurt the film's integrity. It has some really good moments, but the low points brought everything down a few notches. Don't bother seeing this movie in theaters. In fact, a lot of people won't be able to handle this film at all. It's pretty disturbing.
That's the end of both reviews. Have you seen either of these movies yet? Leave your opinion in the comment section. On a different note, I had a really good time at WonderCon. Next week, I'm going to post my photos from the event. My photo gallery has a good combination of cosplayers and exhibitors. So, come back next weekend to check it out. Thanks for reading my reviews and I'll see you guys soon.
Joining the Streaming Revolution
Good evening! How many of you are familiar with cutting the cord? Nowadays, many people are getting rid of cable and satellite television in favor of various streaming services. It's a much cheaper option for television that works quite well for certain individuals. I've been experimenting with the cord cutting experience this year and it might work for you too. Keep reading to find out the perks and drawbacks of using streaming services instead of traditional television.
What is a streaming service anyway? You create a subscription, download an app on your tablet, computer, or cell phone, and watch tv shows and/or movies. That's basically how streaming works. The most popular streaming services are Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. But there are many others, including HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, etc. Some streaming services offer live network television, including sports, news, reality tv shows, and more. Today, there's a streaming service for everyone. You can even find niche options for fans of anime, horror, superheroes, etc. Most streaming services are quite cheap, ranging between eight and fifteen dollars a month on average. Streaming options with live television cost a lot more. They vary widely between twenty and eighty dollars a month.
I had DirecTv for many years, but they kept raising the prices and it was becoming prohibitively expensive. A person shouldn't be wealthy to enjoy quality television. The cheapest cable and satellite packages cost around a hundred dollars each month. These are the least impressive packages with a small number of channels. The better packages usually cost more than one hundred and fifty dollars. In fact, it's not unusual for the premiere packages to cost more than two hundred dollars a month. Who wants to pay that kind of money for tv?
Here's what I'm doing at the moment. I'm currently using PlayStation Vue for live television. It includes most of the major channels, including the main sports, movie, news, and niche options. PlayStation Vue also includes local channels like CBS, NBC, ABS, and FOX. I'm missing a few channels. It doesn't have the Lifetime channels, History, or NHL network. Beyond that, I'm perfectly happy with the channel lineup. Like I said, streaming live television costs more. My package is almost sixty dollars per month. That might sound pricy, but it's still considerably cheaper than cable or satellite. In fact, this particular package on PlayStaion Vue probably includes many more channels than the lower tier packages through cable or satellite providers. There are some extra perks as well. PlayStation Vue doesn't charge tax in my area or hidden fees. Viewers don't have to pay fees for boxes, regional sports, installation, or anything else. PlayStation Vue and most of the streaming options don't requires contracts either. It's simply an app that runs live television and you can cancel at any time.
Most of my streaming services provide on demand television shows and movies. I use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, and Starz. The monthly cost isn't much for any of them , but you can actually reduce the monthly charges and still have several options. For example, I pay for Amazon Prime and Starz annually. On demand streaming options are great because you can flip through their video library and binge anything. You can watch any movie or tv show whenever it's convenient. All of the streaming services on my list have a ton of content, so you should be entertained for a long time. It works pretty well for families as well. The kids can watch something entirely different than the adults.
Believe it or not, I found a few free streaming services. IMDB Freedive, Tubi TV, and Sony Crackle are entirely free. They also include ads. All of three of these streaming services have decent content, but it's less impressive than competitors like Netflix. Basically, they make good supplementary content to a viewer's primary services.
Even sports fans can join the streaming revolution. I'm currently subscribed to the WWE Network and ESPN+. The WWE Network is the right choice for huge wrestling fans because it includes exclusive shows and all of the Pay Per View events for no extra charge. ESPN+ is great for fans of niche sports, such as MMA fighting, rugby, and multiple college sports. They're pretty cheap too. The WWE Network is around ten dollars a month. I'm only paying fifty dollars per year for ESPN+.
Here are the biggest advantages to cord cutting. It's less expensive than traditional television. You can also get significantly more content for the money. You can take movies or shows anywhere. Watch a football game or movie while you're sitting in the back seat during a road trip. There's no such thing as, “I’m bored. There’s nothing on tv.” A few streaming services will provide more content than you could possibly watch. Many people have limited time for tv anyway. It's simply not worth the money for cable or satellite if you can only watch something periodically. There's a lot of choice because most streaming services are on demand. You're not limited to whatever is playing on a certain date or time. Even the live streaming services, like PlayStation Vue, have a certain amount of content on demand. Overall, you can get significantly more content through streaming services than cable or satellite providers. Many people are paying almost two hundred dollars a month for a single cable or satellite package. Instead, you can have a handful of streaming services that provide a lot more content for less than a hundred dollars each month. You're getting more content for less money.
What are the biggest drawbacks? Well, your internet speed will definitely affect the quality of the programming. Faster internet speeds will give you a better viewing experience. So, if you're using a cheap and slow internet service, cord cutting might not be the best option. Most streaming services limit viewers to two devices at the same time. That means you can't watch more than two screens simultaneously, which might be a problem for larger households. Streaming can also be a fleeting experience. A particular service might be here today and gone tomorrow. Some of these streaming services won't survive in the long run because the market is so competitive. Certain apps also need a USB stick, like an Amazon Fire or Roku. It's a device that can be plugged into the television's HDMI port. For example, the PlayStation Vue app can be downloaded directly through a PlayStation 4 game system, Sony televisions, tablets, and cell phone. But PlayStation Vue requires a tv stick for everything else. This might also be a difficult option for people who aren't particularly tech savvy. Streaming in general might seem confusing for many viewers and they're simply better off with traditional tv options.
Is cord cutting the right decision for you? Ultimately, you're the only one who can make that decision. It's probably a good idea for people who are comfortable with modern technology and searching for methods to save money while retaining a lot of content. I'm going to write separate posts for certain types of streaming options. Streaming appears to go into multiple categories, so I'll keep you up to date throughout the year.
Honestly, I'm paying a little more than a hundred dollars each month for all of these streaming services combined, but it's a ridiculously huge amount of content. It's still cheaper than traditional forms of television and I'm getting way more programming.
Are you using Netflix or other streaming services? Did you recently cancel cable or satellite television? Go and ahead and leave a comment. I hope this article helps and come back for next week's post. Good night!
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