Call Me By Your Name

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Call Me By Your Name is one of the films this year competing for award consideration that had not yet opened in a theater near me.  It is annoying when, after watching movies all year, the award shows are talking about films that have yet to come out in my area.

It has finally arrived and it is a very strong movie that centered around two very strong performances.  Timothée Chalamet played Elio, a 17-year old American-Italian boy who is finding himself.  He finds himself attracted to Oliver (Armie Hammer), a colleague of his father, and the two of them dance around each other while trying to determine what they should do.

The relationship between Elio and Oliver is very sweet and real.  Elio is confused by his feelings and not sure what Oliver thought.  Elio pursued other sexual relationships with girls his own age as he and Oliver continued their “courtship.”

This is a very European film.  The way the film approaches some of these ideas is just really progressive.  It is as if it is just as natural as anything.  It was really refreshing to see this.

I also loved the parents of Elio.  They were so wonderful and loving and understanding that I am not sure that we have seen such amazing parents in movies ever.  They were open and honest with Elio and never once lectured him about his choices.  They were there for him.  It would be awesome if more parents were this way.  Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg played these roles.

The film is beautifully shot and directed by Luca Guadagnino.  It is a coming-of-age story that is as subtle and caring of a young boy who found a relationship that he did not expect.  The film is definitely Timothee Chalamet’s film.  His performance is note perfect and covers the spectrum of the emotions.

Call Me By Your Name is a wonderful film that featured one tremendous performance and several really great ones.  Chalamet should be in consideration for an Oscar nomination this year.  And he will have deserved it.

4 stars



Phantom Thread

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The Oscar movies are finally starting to open in the areas where I can see them.  Many people had Phantom Thread in their top ten of the year that I decided to give the film a chance, despite not being high on my list of anticipation.

I was bored.

I did not like Phantom Thread much at all.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion artist/dress designer during the 1950s.  Reynolds is very persnickety in his mannerisms and the order his follows.  It made me wonder if this guy was meant to be on the Autism Spectrum.  When he meets waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps), he brings her into his life as his newest muse.  However, Alma does not intend to be just the next disposable muse.  She is in it for the long haul.

Daniel Day-Lewis claims that this will be his final film, as he is retiring, and he does his normal great job creating this weird character.  Vicky Krieps also does a great job opposite the legendary star.  The performances of the film was not the problem.

Through the first hour or so of the movie, I was really bored.  I understand it was a slow burn, but I was squirming in my seat and dozing off and just wishing this would get over.  There is a moment in the story where the film takes a different turn.  Honestly, the film became more interesting at this point, but then I wasn’t sure if the characters were doing things that they should have been doing.  At times, it seemed as if they were out of character near the end of the film.

You always know that Daniel Day-Lewis is going to be amazing.  The film looked tremendous and extremely stylish.  I just don’t think much happened and, by the time some thing did happen, I was checked out.

2.2 stars

12 Strong

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Chris Hemsworth is showing the world that he is more than just Thor.

Hemsworth is the lead character in the new war film, 12 Strong, which tells the just recently declassified story of the Horse Soldiers, a group of 12 men who went to Afghanistan after September 11th to fight against the Taliban.

The members of the Dagger Squad was sent to Afghanistan to aid a local warlord in their attempts to retake the country from the Taliban and isolate them from Al Qaeda.  When the Dagger Squad arrived, they realized that they would be taking on the well-armed Taliban army by riding horses into battle.

I had never heard about this story before so I came into the film without any preconceived expectations.  I think that having no idea about this helped make the film stronger.  The battle scenes are extremely dramatic and felt truly real, and the fact that these soldier approached it on horseback with their automatic weapons fighting against tanks and missile launchers was truly amazing.

Now, honestly, a lot of the characters in this film are lacking.  If you are looking at it in a strictly movie stand point, only a few of them have anything more than just surface level development.  Yet, that is not a huge drawback for this film because of the way it is shot and the seriousness of the situation.

Joining Hemsworth, who plays Captain Mitch Nelson, in this film are Michael Shannon as Hal Spencer, the older veteran who believes in Mitch, and Michael Pena as Sam Diller, who starts with some distaste for Mitch.  The strongest relationship in the film may be between Hemsworth and Navid Negahban who plays General Dostum, one of the Afghan military warlords willing to aid the US.

The true story is amazing considering the odds that these soldiers faced in their attempt to bring to justice those men responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  There are some scenes here where you wonder exactly how it is possible that these men are able to escape death, let alone continue their mission.

Hemsworth is truly a star.  He has shown us the ability to be larger-than-life.  He has shown us that he has comedy chops.  Now, he has shown us that he can carry a dramatic role as well.  A role that forces him to get down and dirty and reach an area that he has yet to go.  He has a presence on the screen like few others (actually reminds me a bit of Dwayne Johnson.  I’d love to see those two together in a movie).

12 Strong might be a bit long, but it did not feel that way.  It is a realistic and powerful war movie that could have used a little more character development, but succeeds nonetheless.

3.5 stars

Forever My Girl

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I would venture to say that when the seven year old girl has a greater acting range than anyone else in the movie, you have some trouble brewing.

Little Abby Ryder Fortson (who plays Cassie Lang in the Ant Man film and its upcoming sequel) is easily the best, most entertaining part of this film.   She delivers her lines with enthusiasm and gusto, leaving the rest of the cast in her diminutive wake.

Josie (Jessica Rothe, who I thought was considerably better in Happy Death Day) prepared for her wedding to Liam Page (Alex Roe).  Problem was… Liam had just written and recorded a country song that was hitting it big and he decided to leave Josie at the altar.  Instead, he took off for the bright lights of music city.  He never looked back.

That is, until he hears that his high school best friend had been killed in an accident.  This brings Liam, full fledged country music star, back to his hometown where he discovered that Josie was the mother of a 7 year old girl, Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson).  By the way, Liam left her eight years ago. Surprise!  Liam is a daddy.

I swear, Alex Roe had one expression for every scene in the movie.  He was about as cardboard as you could possibly get.  Every moment felt like the same moment because he appeared unable to react to it like a natural human.  That might be harsh, but I just felt that there needed to be way more emoting going on from a lead character.

There was little to no chemistry between Roe and Rothe, despite the fact that they were meant to be this forever couple that would overcome anything to be together.  I never got that.  Honestly, I never got a reasonable answer to the question of why Liam left her at the altar to begin with.  I don’t know why I am supposed to cheer for this pairing to reunite when Liam only seems to be a giant douche.  Why would Josie accept this jerk back?  He basically left her because he was going to be successful in music and didn’t want to be tied down to her.  He then spends the next seven or eight years doing drugs, getting drunk and whoring around.  Who knows how many children he actually does have?

We are supposed to believe that he really loves Josie because he kept his old flip cell phone from high school and listened to a message she left on it every day.  Sounds more stalker-like than charming.

The only bit of charisma given to us from Liam is when he is with young Billy.  She does do a decent job of being entertaining with whomever she shares screen time with, which is an impressive feat for someone so small.  And her song at the movie’s end is charming.  Having said that, no parent in their right mind would allow her to do what she did at the end of the movie.

This is not a Nicholas Sparks movie, but it sure felt like one.  The nonsensical romantic film between two beautiful yet deeply shallow people with a story that you can see coming for miles and miles falls right into that genre of films.  Of course, that means that there would be an audience for this type of movie, but I am certainly not it.

2 stars

Den of Thieves

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It will be tough for me to discuss much about Den of Thieves without going into spoilers so I am going to get this out of the way right off the bat.  I really liked the ending of this movie.  What lead up to it, though, not so much.  So I will not mention that ending again but it did help salvage this movie for me.

Den of Thieves tells the story of a band of cops led by Nick Flanagan (Gerard Butler) that work quite a bit outside the law attempting to stop another band of criminals led by Merriman (Pablo Schreiber) who are attempting to pull off the heist of the century.

I was really bored by the first hour of this movie.  There was nothing new or engaging for me as the time dragged on.  The film was 2 hours and 20 minutes long and the first half of it was just so slow.  I will admit that the film did pick up the pace once the heist began, but, by that time, I had checked out of the film.

I had a second major problem that I found as I was watching the film.  I wound up rooting for the criminals.  The thieves which included characters played by Evan Jones, 50 Cent, Cooper Andrews (Jerry from the Walking Dead) and O’Shea Jackson Jr. were just more compelling and seemed to be the more decent people than the cops.

I hated the character of Nick.  I thought he was a terrible person and he pulled so many illegal things that I am surprised that they would allow him to be the main protagonist of a film in today’s society.  I was legit cheering for him to be killed in the final shoot out because he was such an unlikable character.  This is nothing against Gerard Butler, because I think he did a very decent job playing the character, but I just saw almost zero redeeming qualities in him.

They also spent way too much time, in a film that is over long, showing Nick’s family troubles.  I understand that they are showing this to prove that Nick is not a complete asshat, but it only served to slow the film down even more.

There were a bunch of scenes here that could have easily been edited out and nothing of substance would have been lost.  Part of that falls at the feet of first time director Christian Gudegast.  Though much of the film is technically well done, the run time is an error in judgment.

As I said, I was really cheering for the bad guys to get away and win in the end of the film and I do not think that the filmmakers intended that to be that way.  I was bored with Den of Thieves for a good chunk of the movie, but the ending did improve the film for me.  It did not improve it enough for me to recommend this, but it could be a good cable watch some rainy lazy day.

2.3 stars

I, Tonya

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I remember watching this train wreck happen at the Olympics and like everyone else, I was amazed at the story.  Whether fair or not, Tonya Harding had become the villain, the heel of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

I, Tonya brings the story of Tonya Harding to the big screen and does something that, as a viewer of those chaotic days of Olympic-non-glory, I did not believe it could do.  It humanized Tonya Harding.

We may never know for sure exactly the level of involvement or knowledge Tonya Harding had in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, but this film painted a picture of a troubled girl from a broken background who struggled with her own feelings of inadequacy and bad decisions.

Part of the reason Tonya Harding comes off in I, Tonya in such a sympathetic light is a multilayered and emotional performance by Margot Robbie.  Robbie captures every moment as the redneck skater to perfection, showing her confusion, her anger, her angst and her violent past.  Every time Tonya was physically struck, whether it be by her mother LaVona (Allison Janney) or her husband/boyfriend Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), it makes you empathetic for the girl and the toxic environment that she lived in.  It became as much a story of abuse, abusive relationships and the victim’s inability to remove themselves from the situation as it was about the attacks.

However, the film has a really neat technique to keep you from completely championing Tonya Harding.  The film continued to come back to the “present” day featuring interviews with the main players in the story, and  the current day Tonya Harding is anything but relatable.  She gives off a distinct “white trash” vibe each time the film comes back to her.  She is a beacon of negativity and excuses.  It creates a nice counter side to the person we see throughout the film.

A second technique that I was a big fan of was the breaking of the fourth wall. Within the film, characters would look to the audience and speak directly to them, emphasizing important parts of the story .  I found this to really add to the presentation and my enjoyment of the film.

Allison Janney won a Golden Globe for this role and she deserved it.  She is the most despicable character I have seen on screen in quite some time and Janney clearly is reveling in the chance to dive headlong into the cruelty of this mother.  You almost have to laugh at her, thinking that she must be a caricature of the woman, but it seems as if the film nailed her.

Sebastian Stan should be mentioned as well.  He does a great job as Gillooly, showing more than just a one note villain.  Jeff was complex and even likable.  You could understand how his charm could entice someone back to a relationship despite consistently returning to an abusive status quo.

I would like to give a shout out to Mckenna Grace, who appeared as a young Tonya Harding.  She was not in the film for very long, but her performance was exceptional.  Grace was wonderful last year in Gifted with Chris Evans and she showed once again that she is a young actress to keep an eye on.  She had some seriously difficult scenes to act through, including the day her father left her alone with her mother.  Each time, Grace made us feel for her, wishing there was a way to get her out of the clutches of her horrible mother.

I laughed several times during I, Tonya and I gasped at a few of the brazen occurrences the film showed us.  The two “hitmen” from New Jersey who came and attacked Nancy Kerrigan are as incompetent as any bungling criminal in any movie anywhere.  The fact that this was real life was even more amazing.

I, Tonya brought a new focus on one of the most infamous sport moments of the last 25 years and it does it by showing how human the characters within this moment truly were.  The film does not zoom in on the “incident” (as they call it), but presents it as a part of the story.  Yes, it had a mighty impact on her life, but it was not the only aspect that led her to the place that she wound up.  This was a strong film that felt fresh and original despite covering material the world already knew.

4.15 stars

The Commuter

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It is the Liam Neeson January movie of the year.

The Commuter is not reinventing the wheel.  If you are a big fan of Liam Neeson and his old man kick ass character, this one is for you.  As for me, I did not hate it, but there are several problems as one might expect.

Liam Neeson is Michael MacCauley, an insurance salesman and former police officer, who has to ride a commuter train every day for the last ten years.  Unfortunately, one day Michael loses his job, faces money issues as his son is heading to college, and has to figure out how to tell his wife.

So on the trip back home with all of these problems weighing on his mind, Michael is approached by a woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who presented him with a strange challenge.  She offered him a large amount of money if he could find one specific person on the train.

The first part of the film was pretty intriguing to me because there was more of a feel of investigation than a typical Liam Neeson film normally has.  As Michael is searching for the mysterious person, he has to eliminate the “suspects” on the train through discussion and investigation and I liked that.

The third act, however, really springs into Neeson action flick genre and it is a real stretch.  There are things that happen that are not really possible and these things can take you out of the film.

The film started out with a confusing situation.  They show Liam Neeson leaving his home and getting on the train and it flashes to him in different clothes and different weather and it was a bit confusing.  I realized that it was meant to show that he did this same thing for years, but, honestly, the first thing I thought was… is this showing me some kind of alternate timeline?  Yes, I know that is silly, but I really thought for a moment that we were getting something really creative.  Then I realized the truth.

I love Vera Farmiga, but she just is not in this movie much.  Neither is Patrick Wilson, who plays Michael’s former partner Alex Murphy.

The plot is basically implausible.  It has so many moving parts and requires Joanna to be nearly omnipotent that if you think too much about the plot, you could be completely confused.  It could have been more interesting if they had kept the focus on the “who is it” mystery that they had set up.  I am really not sure how certain things happened and how the villains pulled off what they did.

Another issue is that Vera Farmiga works for, apparently, some kind of conspiratorial organization, but we never find out more about that.  The results of what this organization is trying to do seems fairly low key for a group that can do what they can do.

Liam Neeson is solid again and he should be since this is the same character he has been playing for years now.  He actually did some good work when he was struggling to determine what he had to do and whether he could morally commit to doing what the secret organization wanted.  He plays a hero well.  Some of the characters on the train were also fun and fit well with Liam.

This did not subvert what I expected.  In fact, it was pretty much exactly what I thought it was going to be.  The film was predictable (including the “twist”) and there were too many moments that pulled me out of the film.  Still, as a mindless time at the theater, it was not the worst thing you could go see.

2.5 stars

Paddington 2

The original Paddington was such a wondrous surprise despite the trailers looking like trash that I could hardly believe that they could do it again.  The few trailers I had seen for Paddington 2 reminded me very much of the trailers for the original that I disliked.  I was afraid that Paddington 2 was going to be like those direct-to-DVD sequels that fail to catch the charm of the original.

However, those fears were unwarranted, because Paddington 2 was awesome.

Paddington (Ben Whishaw) wanted to get a gift for his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) for her birthday and he came across a pop-up book of London that would be perfect.  However, Paddington is not the only one who wants it.  The villainous actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) stole the book and framed Paddington for the crime, sending the bear to prison.

There is so much great about Paddington 2.  The charm of the character, the cast, the story is just wonderful.  It is funny.  It is charming.  It has a great feel throughout the film.  The story is well worked out and runs with very few hiccups.

The characters we meet in the prison, including Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson) which is a fantastic character who has an amazing relationship with Paddington.  Some of the sequences in the prison are so fun that you can’t help but smile as they happen.

There are so many great performances by so many awesome British actors in a remarkable ensemble cast in Paddington 2.  Everybody knows their role and they blend together into a wonderful story.

And, while not as emotional of a film as Coco or some other films like that, Paddington 2 did have me welling up near the end.  It was such a entertaining movie that is perfect for a whole family to watch.  It has something for parents as well as speaking to kids like they are intelligent.

I doubted that they could create another film as surprisingly awesome as the first Paddington, but they proved me wrong.  Paddington 2 is a whole lot of fun and worth the time.  By the way, stick through the credits because there are some cool extras there.

4.4 stars

Proud Mary

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Nothing says mother figure like a hitman (hit-woman?) who can kill you in any number of ways.  I wonder what she would put down on the adoption form?

Proud Mary is a film about contract killer Mary, who works for one of the crime bosses in Boston who happens to be Danny Glover.  Glover raised Mary from a child and so he is like a father to her.  However, things go astray one day when, after killing a man in his apartment, Mary realizes that his young son is at home playing video games.

This filled her with guilt and made her keep an eye on the boy, Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston).  When Danny winds up working for a drug dealing mob boss of his own in Xander Berkeley, she makes some decisions that might put her job and her life in jeopardy.

There were some problems with Proud Mary, but let’s start with the positives.  Taraji P. Henson is entertaining and she plays a bad ass well.  She had an interesting relationship with both Glover and Glover’s actual son Billy Brown.  Neither of those relationships received enough time to justify them, but the potential was there.

Mary seemed to be a real wild card here, but the film seemed to also show here as a remarkably capable hit woman that Danny Glover could not go on without.  That was strange since Mary appeared to shoot first and think later.

Jahi Di’Allo Winston was good as the young boy Danny as well, but I had a hard time swallowing the relationship between him and Mary.  The film could have used some more examples with these two characters together before I accepted how much they were supposedly bonded.

The action was fine, though Taraji P. Henson fell victim to the “I-am-the-star-and-I-will-wade-through-an-impossible-amount-of-gunfire-without-being-in-danger” cliche that you usually see in other action movies.  This being a female led example of that cliche is, I suppose, a positive.  Of course, it stretches credibility constantly as Henson apparently can shake off gunshot wounds with a quick nap.

This is not the worst movie you will ever see and if you like the old shoot ’em ups, this might even appeal to you.  There is not the depth here one might expect.

2.6 stars

The Post

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When you mix Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep together in a film, it makes sense that the expectations would be high.  Throw in a dramatic time in history that has immediate relevance with what the world is going through today and you should anticipate a tremendous film.

I enjoyed The Post very much.  I would not say that it was the greatest film ever, but I did enjoy it.

In the months prior to the Watergate break-in, some top secret papers (The Pentagon Papers) fell into the hands of some journalists at the New York Times and they started the ball rolling by publishing some of it.  The papers revealed details about how much the government knew about and lied about with Vietnam dating back to Eisenhower, and this threatened to be an embarrassment for the USA.  However, President Nixon got an injunction to prevent any further publication.

Then, the papers found their way to the Washington Post, where owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) had to make a decision on whether or not to publish these stories.  Editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) hoped she would say it was okay to publish, but there were plenty of opposition to her making that choice.

The strongest part of this movie is the performances of Streep and Hanks, as if that is a surprise to anyone.  These are two masters who were given some serious material with which to work.  The best scenes of the film include the two stars on screen together.  I would have liked more with them.

There were solid supporting work as well here with actors such as Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon and Alison Brie.

The film started kind of slowly and did not really take off until Bob Odenkirk’s character found himself in possession of the top secret files.  Odenkirk was especially excellent throughout the film and carried a good chunk of the story.  After that point, the film was full of energy and excitement.  The first 45-60 minutes did feel slow to me.  That would have been weakest aspect of The Post.

The film effortlessly compares to the political climate of today in a couple of different ways.  The attempt to silence the press by Nixon can easily be compared to the way the press is being vilified today. We also have the empowerment of women, as Katharine Graham, who was the first publisher of a major American newspaper, comes into her own before our eyes.  Streep creates a remarkably compelling character from this historical figure.

Though I enjoyed this movie, I do not think it reaches the level of a film such as Spotlight.  There is too much drag in the early part of the film that weighs it down despite the engaging performances.  Still, Streep and Hanks are wonderful here and help to elevate the second half of the movie into greatness.

3.85 stars


Molly’s Game

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This is the first movie of 2018 that was actually released in 2017.  Each year, there are several films that are released in December (or before) in limited release in order to qualify for Oscar consideration, but are not released anywhere I can see them until 2018.  This year there were actually a bunch of these (The Post, Shape of Water, I Tonya, Call Me By Your Name etc).  A couple of years ago, I dubbed these films as ineligible for the best of the year list since they were actually from the year prior.  So much so that I made its own category list for the year in review section.

Molly’s Game is the first films I have seen from that list of movies, and it should have a place near or at the top of that list next year because it is tremendous.

Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom, a near Olympic level skier who had to retire after a devastating crash only to begin running high stakes poker games with big name celebrities, athletes, and eventually, gangsters.

In this biopic, Molly (Jessica Chastain) tells the story of her life to her lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) and to the audience.  The story is told both in current time and in flashbacks, where see see a young Molly bickering with her father Larry Bloom (Kevin Costner) and how her transition from athlete to “Poker Princess” came to be.

This is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote the screenplay. Sorkin is well known for his amazing dialogue writing, and this is no exception.  There is a monologue delivered by Idris Elba during this movie that I literally sat in the theater with my mouth agape in wonder.  I love listening to the dialogue during a Sorkin movie.  This is all the more impressive as Sorkin has done a great job in the director’s chair as well.  The film, which is quite long, flows very well and does not feel like it is 141 minutes.

The performances are out of this world.  Jessica Chastain is great with everybody, but her scenes with Idris Elba truly steal the film.  These are two actors at the top of their game with this material.  Kevin Costner is better here than he has been in many years.

The character of Molly Bloom is shown as being loyal, honest and true, despite running this poker game.  Molly is arrested by the FBI and offered a deal if she would turn over the information she had on the famous names that had attended her games; she refused.  The film shows Molly as a caring individual who would watch out for her players as well as allow money they owed her to be forgotten.  Chastain plays this woman as a great role model and he implies that she is someone to look up to.

Molly’s Game is smart, funny, and dramatic, featuring some awesome performances, especially from Chastain and Elba.  The writing from Aaron Sorkin is right up there with some of his best films.  I love listening to these actors speaking the lines written by Sorkin, who also knocks the director job out of the park.  Molly’s Game is a great movie with an inspiring character.  It certainly would have made my best films list from 2017 had I been able to see it then.

4.2 stars

Insidious: The Last Key

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Well, here we are with the first movie review of the new year.  It is January, which means we will be getting a bunch of crap dumped in the month.  And it always starts off with a horror movie.

This time, it is the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise.

The thing is… this isn’t that bad.

Who’d a thunk it?

Once again, as with the third film, we focus on Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her two goofy ghost hunter buddies (Leigh Whannell, who wrote the film as well, and Angus Sampson) as she returned to her childhood house to deal with the ghosts that tormented her as a little girl, but who is now doing the same stuff to the new guy living in the house.

The film begins with a rather well done flashback sequence to the young Elise (Ava Kolker) who was slowly learning about her psychic abilities in a house full of spirits.  However, her abusive father (Josh Stewart) did not want any daughter of his seeing spectres and spooks, so he would beat her with a stick.  After one of the nastier of the spirits tricked Elise into opening a door freeing it and killing her mother, Elise was left alone with her little brother Christian and her father.  Time passed, but Elise continued seeing spirits and finally could not handle it any longer as she ran away, leaving her brother, and never to return again.

Until now, that is.

Starting with the strengths of the film, Lin Shaye is wonderful.  She was a clear standout in the first Insidious film and she has shown the ability to carry it on her own.  The last two films have been prequels to the original and direct sequel and have told Elise’s story and Lin really brought i the goods.

There are a lot of jump scares here, but they are not over used and they are actually somewhat effective.  The shots are set up well and typically are actual scares that are supposed to be scary.  There are few fake out jump scares involved here.  In fact, there are some clever uses of them, including one involving some suitcases.

I also thought the design of the monster was very solid and very creepy with the keys-for-fingers motif on display.

There is a side plot involving Elise’s brother Christian (Bruce Davison) and his remarkably attractive daughters that feels okay, though perhaps somewhat tacked on.  The two actresses (Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke) stood out on screen, though we do not get a lot with either.

I could have used less of the two Ghost Hunters because most of the comedic aspects of these two did not work very well.  They had a creepy connection to Christian’s daughters and, if I were Christian, I would be getting ready to kick some Ghostbuster ass.

There is also not a whole lot that would be new or original here.  This film fits very easily in with the other Insidious franchise films without making anything much different.  That familiarity is both a positive and a negative.

I did like how this film wound up circling back around to the beginning of the original movie and showed us where it actually fit in the timeline.  This film is decent, especially when comparing it to other year horror movies released in January.  I was surprised.

3 stars