Tag Archives: emily blunt

‘A Quiet Place Part II’ Review

Theaters are BACK, baby!

“A Quiet Place Part II” is the sequel to the 2018 sleeper hit, again written and directed by John Krasinski. The film follows a woman and her children (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) one more having to navigate a world where aliens are hunting them based on sound; Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou join the cast.

This was due out in theaters in March 2020 (I had my ticket bought and was a week out from going) but became one of the initial films to be delayed due to the coronavirus shutting down theaters. It has been a long wait, but there is something poetic about “A Quiet Place Part II,” a rare sequel that does its predecessor justice, being the first “big” release of the (almost) post-pandemic era.

“A Quiet Place” took a lot of people by surprise when it came out, and came *this* close getting a Best Picture nomination (it earned top nods at nearly every guild). I like the film and think Krasinski, known for his comedy, did a good job directing the thriller. The sequel ups the stakes (and by default, the budget) but Krasinski manages to keep the film’s heart in-tact. The action sequences are bigger and I really enjoyed the tracking shots and use of background actors to create a sense of chaos, compared to the “hold your breath and look over your shoulder” sequences of the first film. I think he does make the mistake a lot of monster movies (especially sequels) make and shows the creatures a bit too often (the scariest thing is what you can’t see), but it is never overly excessive. I do think that we lose some of the “don’t you dare make a sound” tension since the characters have a way to fight the creatures, but Krasinski is able to play with these new rules.

Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe are both great talents and they’re good here, but the show belongs to Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy. Simmonds takes the reigns as the lead of the film, and she and Murphy, playing a man dealing with being alone in this bold new world, make an interesting team. Their quest is where “Quiet Place 2” thrives, creating some of the tensest sequences of the film.

Much like the first film, I think it takes a bit of time to get the ball rolling, but once Krasinski really gets things moving he doesn’t stop until the credits roll. The film does have some moments of poor sound editing where it is difficult to make out what actors are saying, but for the most part the seamless transition from booming screams, to static, to mute make for an immersive experience.

The film does a great job of building off the lore and rules of the first installment while introducing new challenges and risks, and that isn’t an easy thing for a sequel to do (clearly; name five follow-ups as good as their predecessors). You hear the line “this deserves to be seen in a theater” a lot and usually it’s just code for “this is a big-budget blockbuster that you will forget about almost instantly” but in this case it is actually true: this film deserves to be seen in a theater. From the sound, to the action, to simply giving Krasinski and his team the support they deserve, “A Quiet Place Part II” is a great unofficial start to both the summer movie season and return to normalcy at the cinema.

Critics Rating: 8/10

‘A Quiet Place’ Has a Lot to Say about Horror

I’m excited to see which comedian takes up directing a horror/thriller film next, because it’s worked out so far for Jordan Peele and John Krasinski…

“A Quiet Place” stars John Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt as parents who must quietly survive in a world where aliens that hunt off sound have invaded. Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe star as the couple’s children as Krasinski directs.

Back in 2016 there was a film called “Lights Out” which had a great premise but poor execution. In it, there is a monster that can only survive in the dark; if you shine a light on it then it disappears. It was smart because we all as humans have a natural fear of the dark and “A Quiet Place” feeds off the fact that humans make sound and have an urge to communicate, so what would happen if that was suddenly taken away?

One of the children in the film is hearing-impaired (played by Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life) and the film does a good job of putting us in her shoes. Even though the other characters are trying their best not to make noise, our world still has so much ambient sound in it like the hum of a radiator or the soft whoosh of a quick breeze. Whenever the camera is focused on her, all sound cuts out which creates true terror at points when you just want to shout at her to notice something on screen but can’t. Not only because she cannot hear you but also because the rules the film has established for its universe.

Emily Blunt, Krasinski and Jupe are all solid, each given a scene or two to truly shine. I want to remain as vague as possible regarding how and when they have their moments (and about the plot in general) but they all step it up and give arguably career-best performances (seeing as Jupe’s previous best was in the hysterically awful “Suburbicon” take that for what it’s worth).\

The film’s best moments are when the family is in danger and there are some true heart-pounding sequences. There aren’t too many moments that allow you to fully exhale or catch your breath but that is smart because it puts you in the shoes of the characters, like with Simmonds. There are points that Krasinksi the director could have used a bit of touching up, whether it be falling into genre tropes like the bloody hand slamming up against the window for a jump scare or mishandling how a scene should have been conducted using sound design, but these missteps are rare.

“A Quiet Place” will surely make some noise on social media and at the box office because it isn’t too often that Hollywood puts out an original film (in horror no less) that resonates with you after you’ve left the theater. Typing this review I really took note of how much sound the keys make and when I sneezed how hard it would be to try and stifle the noise, and that shows that Krasinski tapped into something that connects each and every one of us and attacked it, and that’s true horror.

Critic’s Grade: B+

‘Girl on the Train’ Wastes Cast on Sluggish Melodrama

The_Girl_on_The_Train“Girl on the Train?” More like, “Girl, That Was Lame,” amiright?!

“The Girl on the Train” is based on the 2015 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name and follows an alcoholic woman (Emily Blunt) who gets involved with a missing person investigation. Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux and Luke Evans also star as Tate Taylor directs.

When I saw the trailer for this I, like many people, made an instant connection to “Gone Girl” due to the feel of the film and the whole “missing wife” plot. Upon seeing the film, it has a few similarities to that film, including non-linear timelines and unreliable narrators, but doesn’t share anything else that made “Gone Girl” so good.

Emily Blunt has really come onto the scene and into her own in the previous few years. After starring in romantic comedies like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” she headlined the action-thrillers “Looper,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Sicario.” So it makes sense that Blunt is the best part of this mystery, but the performances of her and her fellow actors aren’t enough to save the film.

Blunt plays Rachel, a divorcee whose life is spiraling out of control thanks in large part to her alcoholism. Blunt makes the character sympathetic, but at the same time there is an uncomfortable sense about her; when she tries to interact with another person we in the audience almost cringe because of how unnatural and awkward it feels. Justin Theroux (always welcome in my book) plays Rachel’s ex-husband, who remarried and now has a kid, and although he seems like the nicest guy in the world and is admittedly a victim to Rachel’s drinking, there is a tense sense whenever he is in the room.

That is the one thing the film does well, it establishes tones and feels, sometimes multiple at once based on what character is speaking, and being set in New York City during the autumn gives everything a brisk, dark orange glow.

However the performances get drowned out by a screenplay that is so intent on keeping everything in the shadows that is reveals nothing about the plot until the very end. While “Gone Girl” (or most any successful mystery) drops subtle hints throughout about the true nature of its tale, “Girl on the Train” keeps everything spinning and murky until it hits you over the head with the “twist” ending. Except it really can’t be called a twist because it wasn’t truly alluding to one outcome and suddenly flipped the script; it just spins you in circles until you barely know or care what is going on before jerking you to a stop and expecting you to just appreciate that you finally got some answers.

The dialogue doesn’t pop and the direction never is sure-handed enough to take any real chances. It plays out pretty much exactly how you would expect the guy who directed “Get on Up” and “The Help” helming a “Gone Girl” wannabe.

“The Girl on the Train” isn’t *bad* but there is no reason you should ever see it. There aren’t enough thrills to keep you engaged or enough mystery to make you think, and isn’t even so-bad-it’s-good; it’s just so-meh-it’s-boring.

Critics Rating: 4/10

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

‘Sicario’ Offers Uneasy, Intense Thrills

Sicario_posterIf this film is good for anything, it’s reaffirming my desire to not visit Mexico anytime soon.

“Sicario” stars Emily Blunt as an ambitious FBI agent who gets involved with a government task force (led by Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro) in an effort to bring down a Mexican drug lord. “Prisoners” director Denis Villeneuve helms here.

This was one of my most anticipated films of the fall ever since the first trailer dropped. I adored “Prisoners,” the cast looked great, and cinematographer Roger Deakins is one of the best we’ve ever had. So even though “Sicario” isn’t the masterpiece I hoped it would be it is still an intense, wonderfully-wound thriller about the war on drugs.

The best things about “Sicario” are from the people who stand behind the camera. The film is shot beautifully, which like I said shouldn’t be a surprise since Deakins was the Director of Photography. He and Villeneuve implement aerial shots throughout the film, which shows us the vast scope of how much of a No Man’s Land the southern U.S. border and Mexico really are.

While marketed as an action film, you should know there isn’t much gunplay in here. Instead, Villeneuve makes the entire film have an uneasy, dangerous sense about it; you feel as if any character could pull put a weapon at any moment. The best sequence in the film takes place on the U.S.-Mexico border bridge, and it is as intense as any scene I’ve seen in a while, very possibly since the climax of “Prisoners” (which I’m still shaking from).

The acting in the film is solid across the board, but Del Toro stands out. Throughout most of the film he is a silent observer, you don’t know much about him or his motivations except “he goes where he’s sent”. But in the film’s final act, Del Toro flips a switch and becomes an incredibly different person, and this simple man suddenly becomes a multi-layered character study.

I wasn’t annoyed or off-put by “Sicario’s” slow pace, it adds that uneasy tension to the film, however outside of Del Toro’s character the film never truly builds to anything great. Blunt’s FBI agent is more of a pawn than an actual player in the film, and the plot itself plays out like a more sadistic version of “Breaking Bad” (to say, there aren’t any huge twists; the “twist” is pretty much given away in the trailer).

“Sicario” is one of the movies that you appreciate the more you let it soak in. It is certainly an adult film if there ever was one, and an uncomfortable one at that. There are mutilated bodies galore and the entire experience itself may make you want to take a shower, but I am glad I went on the ride. It is a good, not great film, which is a bit disappointing considering all the talent involved, but I still think “Sicario” is one of the better films of 2015.

Critics Rating: 7/10



‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Return to Form for Cruise

Edge_of_Tomorrow_PosterIf there was any doubt that Tom Cruise could still carry an action film, “Edge of Tomorrow” makes those doubts a thing of the past.

When Earth is invaded by aliens, a military officer (Cruise) finds himself repeating the same day over-and-over again every time he dies. The only person who believes him and knows how to use this as an advantage is a Special Forces solider, played by Emily Blunt. Doug Liman directs.

Tom Cruise is a movie star, and a dedicated one at that (even at age 51 he is still doing his own stunts), but he has been in some very average films the past few years (here’s looking at you, “Oblivion”). However, “Edge of Tomorrow” returns Cruise to his former glory, and does so in a very enjoyable way.

If you mix “Groundhog Day” with “Saving Private Ryan” and “Elysium”, that’s pretty much what you get with “Tomorrow”. At times the plot sags, but it never gets repetitive or boring, which is a high compliment about a movie that is essentially set in the same 24 hour period over-and-over. The film knows how to use the “live-die-repeat” premise to its advantage, and the audience gets a few chuckle moments thrown in every now and again.

As good as Cruise is, Emily Blunt holds her own, too. Walking into the film it may be hard to picture her as the deadliest killer mankind has to offer, however Blunt quickly sells you on the character, and that she isn’t to be messed with. Her and Cruise have solid chemistry, even if at times her hardened exterior may seem a bit unrealistic.

Most of the action is shot well. It is a PG-13 film, so there are obviously some shaky cam moments and some of the kills are a little too close up, but overall it is very solid direction and cinematography.

There really isn’t much “Edge of Tomorrow” does wrong. The ending may be a little cliché or blah for some people, and the alien’s invasion plot does resemble that of Hitler’s (first conquer France, then Europe, then the world), but in a world of remakes and over-the-top action films that are nothing but one-liners and explosions (*cough* Michael Bay), it is nice to watch something that is at least trying to be original.

If you can deal with the “every time the hero repeats the day he learns a little more” storyline, and especially if you enjoy the idea of Tom Cruise running around in a robot suit killing aliens that look like the robots from the Matrix, then “Edge of Tomorrow” is the film for you. If those things don’t appeal to you… then I think there’s some teenage rom-com about stars that is also playing.

Critics Rating: 7/10