Welcome back! This is my first triple feature review. I’m squeezing three films in this review because 2018 is almost done and it would be nice to finish my remaining movie outings. Let’s take a look at my three selections. Halloween is a horror film that was highly anticipated this year. On a different end of the spectrum is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms; a kid friendly fantasy movie with an emphasis on adventure. Overlord is a violent horror flick with zombies, Nazis, and everything except for the kitchen sink. These films have different target audiences, styles, themes, visual elements, budgets, etc. I thought it might be fun to talk about all three of them. Let’s check out the best and worst elements of these movies.
I’m going to start with Halloween. It’s a direct sequel to the original Halloween film that starred Jamie Lee Curtis. Basically, the creators of this movie are saying the other sequels never happened. I’m willing to call it a soft reboot to the franchise. The story takes place many years after Laurie Strode survived the bloody murder spree of Michael Myers. He’s been living in a mental institution for decades while Strode suffered from PTSD and paranoia. Eventually, he escapes during a transfer to another facility and continues his bloody rampage through Haddonfield.
This definitely wasn’t one of my favorite movies this year, but it has some decent elements. Jamie Lee Curtis is still the scream queen supreme. I’m not kidding. She’s a different version of Laurie Strode because the storyline changed dramatically. Strode is more frail and vulnerable through much of the film. However, her rebellious side comes out later. Andi Matichak plays Allyson, Strode’s granddaughter. Allyson is a decent character with really strong survival instincts. Most of the characters weren’t very interesting, but Allyson was a little more fun and gutsy. Halloween seems to be passing the torch to a new generation of scream queens.
Surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of humor in this movie. It’s actually one of the film’s stronger elements. The marketing implied a hardcore horror film, but ultimately, it has lots of camp. Granted, that’s very typical of slasher films. It has plenty of humorous and campy moments that work pretty well. I thought the humor made Halloween seem a little more fun.
The music is perfectly suitable for this movie. It was compiled by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. The musical score incorporates large sections of the original Halloween soundtrack. It’s so retro and stylistic of this franchise. I think it was a smart decision to make the music seem like classic Halloween. It sets up a creepy atmosphere and makes some of the actions scenes quite exciting. I love it.
Naturally, Halloween has some really good kill scenes. They’re gruesome, but not cringe worthy. It’s not like watching Saw, Hostel, or The Hills Have Eyes. Thank goodness. It’s the right amount of violence and splatter that I would expect from a modern slasher film. Let’s face it. Slasher flicks are supposed to be violent with a high body count and Halloween delivers. Some viewers might find a few of the death scenes disturbing, but the violence is very over the top and it cuts down part of the dread.
Keep your eye on the third act. It’s the best part of the movie. The third act is exciting and pits the main characters against each other. It feels like classic Halloween and the ending left me feeling really satisfied. I’m not giving you any spoilers, but it almost redeems the multitude of negative elements.
Let’s talk about the other characters. They’re a bizarre group. Inherently, most of the characters are cliché archetypes who are just cannon fodder for Michael Myers. I’m not even going in detail for individual characters. They’re nearly all the same. Most of the characters make terrible decisions and wind up dead because their survival instincts are nonexistent. After Michael Myers escaped from the sanitarium, the townspeople quickly found out. Apparently, nobody cares. They just walk around unarmed, leave their doors unlocked, take shortcuts in dark areas, etc. I found so many tropes from the slasher subgenre. Furthermore, the supporting characters are very undeveloped and that means it doesn’t matter if they die.
The plot is particularly weak. Many plot points and scenes are laughably bad. Again, it’s nothing new in the slasher subgenre or horror films in general. The main point is to put each character in a situation where Michael Myers will kill them. It’s not clever or interesting. The writing almost seems downright lazy. I’m not sure why the franchise was ret conned because this is just another Halloween film. It’s not any more inventive or substantial than the other sequels. I guess it’s a little better than most of the sequels, but that’s not saying much. It also has a lot of references from the other Halloween movies. I noticed references and cookies to Halloween II, The Curse of Michael Myers, and H2O. It even makes references to Season of the Witch, which is an odd choice because Michael Meyers isn’t connected to that film. If they’re going to eliminate the previous sequels from the timeline, it’s not necessary to have so many references.
This part is going to disappoint some readers. Halloween isn’t particularly scary. Occasionally, it has suspenseful moments. But the overall product is predictable and campy with a bunch of clichés. Despite having effective kill scenes, the scare factor is missing. The atmosphere isn’t creepy enough and most of the characters are disposable. It also seems a bit repetitive. I didn’t hear any screams or yelps at my showing. There were plenty of laughs, but it didn’t seem like viewers freaked out.
By the way, Michael Myers isn’t Laurie Strode’s brother anymore. That’s part of the ret con. No, it’s not a spoiler. It was public knowledge before the film hit theaters. Their familial connection was a major part of the previous Halloween movies. In fact, that’s the primary reason why Michael pursued Laurie with such a relentless bloodlust. Now he just wants to kill her for no particular reason. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense at all.
Should you bother to see Halloween? I suppose it’s fine if you love the Halloween franchise and horror films in general. Truthfully, it’s not necessary to see in theaters. Just watch it on a streaming service or cable at some point. If you hate slasher films, skip Halloween. It’s a very typical slasher flick.
I felt more impressed with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. It’s a fantasy film that focuses on a young lady named Clara Stahlbaum who recently lost her mother. Clara’s final Christmas gift from her mother is a mysterious key that leads her to a magical land. She becomes acquainted with the titular Nutcracker, Sugar Plum Fairy, and other interesting characters while becoming tangled in a war with Mother Ginger. The film becomes a whirlwind adventure with spectacle, battles, and a dash of holiday spirit.
Overall, I thought the Nutcracker was charming, witty, and delightful. It’s a really fun movie with plenty of adventure, creativity, humor, and wholesome character moments. I would say it has broad appeal. This film could easily appeal to both children and adults. The pacing is really good and it kept me entertained the entire time. Basically, this movie has a great balance of appealing elements.
I feel satisfied with most of the characters. Mackenzie Foy plays Clara and she’s a well rounded character with spunk, personality, and relatable themes. I believe Foy might have a bright future because she gave a really good performance and comes across as very likeable. Jayden Fowora-Knight plays the Nutcracker and he was quite enjoyable as well. He’s basically Clara’s sidekick, but I didn’t mind that part. Fowora-Knight is heroic, loyal, and surprisingly funny. They're a great team of promising talent. Keira Knightly is hysterically funny as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She’s downright wacky and the true embodiment of an over the top fantasy character. Keep in mind, she’s not one dimensional either. Everybody else is perfectly serviceable, although not incredible. Helen Mirren is fine as Mother Ginger and the same is true of Morgan Freeman as Clara’s adoptive grandfather named Drosselmeyer.
The Nutcracker’s strongest components are probably the visual elements. It has amazing production design, VFX, costumes, hair, makeup, etc. This looks like an expensive film with an overload of visual treats. I love the world building of each realm. The realms of Sweets, Flowers, and Snowflakes are very beautiful and creative. This film also has many unusual looking characters and creatures. If you enjoy fantasy movies, the Nutcracker would be an excellent choice.
I also want to give credit to the music and dance sequences. Fortunately, the film includes multiple excerpts from the Nutcracker ballet. I’m a huge fan of Tchaikovsky’s work and his music from the Nutcracker ballet gave the right spirit to this adaptation. The original score by James Newton Howard was perfectly fine too. There’s more than one impressive dance sequence in the film. Misty Copeland is the principle ballerina and she’s insanely talented. It’s not comparable to the original Nutcracker ballet, but the dancing is still a lovely touch to a nice fantasy.
Here are the film’s most noticeable weaknesses. Something is a little bit strange about the writing. Generally speaking, I like the story, but it’s somewhat awkward, stilted, and disjointed. I can’t figure out the precise issue. The various scenes should probably have a better flow. In a way, the story is a bit hectic and seems to be in a hurry. It’s a minor complaint for me, but other people might have a bigger issue with the writing.
Truthfully, this movie isn’t for everyone. It’s very weird, goofy, bombarded with visual elements, and everything goes way beyond the typical suspension of belief. This is a good example of style over substance. It’s completely different than the ballet and some viewers will feel bothered by that part. I noticed a lot of influences from classic fantasies like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Actually, I like that part, but some people will think this movie is just a cheap knockoff.
Overall, I’m recommending an outing to the movie theater for this film, especially if you appreciate fantasies. I didn’t have the privilege of seeing the Nutcracker in IMAX, but it would probably be really cool. It would be a great family outing and I believe the Nutcracker fits the Christmas spirit in a unique way. If you’re unsure about seeing this film in theaters, try it on Blu-Ray or streaming. I think a lot of viewers will be pleasantly surprised.
My final selection is Overlord. The story takes place on D-Day in the decimated battlefield of Normandy. A squad of American paratroopers were sent to destroy a German radio tower that could make a huge impact on the war. The squad tries to rescue a French village, destroy the tower, kill Nazis, and fend off ravenous monsters at the same time. Hopefully, they’ll overcome the odds because failure could be literally apocalyptic.
As usual, I’m starting with the positive elements. Overlord is a really scary movie. I’m not kidding. It’s visceral, cringe worthy, and horrifying. This film combines the terror of war with monster mayhem. Truthfully, war is a frightening experience all by itself and this movie does an excellent job of showing it. You’ll see gore, mutations, zombies, and humans who might be even worse than the monsters. If you’re a fan of horror, Overlord would be a great viewing.
This movie has surprisingly good performances. I don’t recognize any of the actors, but they did a pretty nice job even though it’s a horror film. Jovan Adepo plays Pvt. Ed Boyce. He’s a kind hearted guy who hates the idea of killing people. Boyce is a duck out of water who struggles to thrive in this dystopian environment. He seems very relatable and shows genuine moments of heroism. Wyatt Russell plays Cpl. Ford, a hardened demolitionist who’s seen way too much violence. He’s tough as nails with excellent survival instincts. Ford isn’t afraid to annihilate Nazis, zombies, or anything else that could compromise their mission. Deep down, he still has a human side. I didn’t mind Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe. She’s a French villager who’s trying to take care of her dwindling family among the mayhem. Chloe is spunky and a good ally to the American soldiers. I thought it was nice to see a perspective from someone who’s caught in the middle. Overall, this movie has a strong ensemble cast and I’m sure we’ll see these actors in more films. It seems like many of them have a lot of potential.
Overlord almost has too many good things. It has solid representation in multiple genres, including action, war, and horror. The war elements are surprisingly realistic. It has many fun action scenes with a ton of intensity. The horror elements are quite terrifying with monsters, bloody violence, Nazi experiments, etc. Basically, this film will satisfy a variety of audiences. It might even make the gamers happy. Overlord is very similar to the Wolfenstein games and that’s not a bad thing.
This movie also has impressive practical effects. The VFX are fine as well, but I really noticed the creature effects. Everything is so gross and scary. The practical effects don’t look outdated and they seem pretty refreshing because we see such a huge amount of CGI in other films. If you’re looking for zombies and mutants, look no further. There’s a lot of strange creatures in this movie.
In general, Overlord is a satisfying viewing. We get to see true villains get their just desserts in remarkably flamboyant ways. It’s a huge adrenaline rush for people who enjoy these types of movies. I thought it was an exciting outing with a great payoff in the end. Truthfully, my expectations were low, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Despite my praise, it’s not a perfect film. It takes a while for the momentum to get started. The story is almost divided in half. Part one is strictly a war film without any supernatural elements. It’s really good, but I expected to see more zombie action. Part two includes monsters and supernatural themes. Most of the scenes in the trailers came from part two. It works, but the first half is a little slow and the film seems a bit fragmented.
The tone shifts around a lot. Sometimes it’s very serious and somber without any comical elements. For example, most of the war elements are brutally realistic. Then it becomes goofy with zombies and slapstick violence. The tonal inconsistency was a little bit distracting.
It also has a weak villain. Pilou Asbaek plays an SS trooper named Cpt. Wafner. He’s the main antagonist and certainly evil enough. However, he’s more like a video game boss instead of a legitimate film villain. The other monstrosities outshine him. I’ve seen much worse movie villains this year, but he's not particularly impressive.
Naturally, this film also uses stereotypical horror tropes. Sometimes the characters make dumb decisions to move the plot forward. The characters jump without looking, walk into scary corridors alone, talk loudly while avoiding enemies, inject themselves with mysterious serums, etc. They also make a lot of smart decisions, but I guess we can’t have scary movies without several bad choices.
Is Overlord worth your time and money? I think it depends on your personal preference. It’s a really good movie outing for people who enjoy horror films and action. I realize tickets are expensive, so a viewing at home would be fine too. It’s not for squeamish people. Avoid this film is you can’t handle scares and gore. Personally, I believe it's worth the price of Blu-Ray. I'm definitely putting it on my shelf.
That’s the end of my first triple feature review. I’ll probably have one or two more triple features before the end of the year. Afterwards, it will be business as usual. Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. Have you seen any of these films yet? Write your thoughts in the comment section. I’m going to write many more posts before the end of the year. So, keep your eyes open and good luck with the holidays.
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