Kevin Strange’s A Quiet Place Movie Review

A Quiet Place is that rare modern Hollywood horror film which manages to, either by accident or by clever design, promote strong family values, tradition, and masculine ingenuity almost unapologetically.

Ostensibly a silent film, A Quiet Place tells the story of one of the last remaining families in a town ravaged by blind monsters who hunt using sound-sensitive organs built into their armored heads.

If the premise is easy to swallow, the teaser scene before the credits is even easier to relate to. The family, out on a scavenging expedition to the local supermarket is confronted with one of the most common problems families face in such circumstances: The little boy wants a toy.

Only the stakes here are much, much higher. The toy space shuttle he picks up is the battery operated kind that makes a lot of noise. If he presses the button, the family dies.

Luckily dad manages to get the shuttle away from his son before disaster strikes and here we begin to see the family dynamic solidify among an amazing strong cast of actors who must emote and tell their story with almost no dialogue between them

Writer/actor/director John Krasinski sells this moment with his son, both sternly admonishing the child for nearly getting the family killed and showing warmth and understanding while curbing the child’s disappointment before the family sets off back home.

Tragically, the boy’s older sister Regan, played by Millicent Simmonds, gives him back the toy in secret when they’re left alone in the store leading to his death a few minutes later and setting the stakes for who lives and who dies in this tense and action packed thriller as high as they come.

What follows is a tightly paced 90 minute tour de force of clever ingenuity and monster mayhem as we live several days in the life of a family that cannot make any sound, lest they be savagely eaten by monsters always lurking just out of sight.

Our story picks back up at some point in the future with mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real life wife) in the final stages of pregnancy. It’s during this time that we learn that Rean is deaf and the whole family knows sign language, probably their reason for surviving the monster apocalypse in the first place.

We learn their routine which includes laying down powder on all of their foot paths and traveling barefoot so as to not make any sound, communicating danger by way of changing the lighting in and around the house to red to alert other family members of the presence of a monster, and the addition of a sound-proof basement designed for mom Evelyn to give birth to the new baby.

Where A Quiet Place holds most of its appeal for me, personally, is in its emphasis on the traditional family dynamic, as rare in modern Hollywood as the silent films it pays respect to. Dad is not absent, dead nor a buffoon here. He is not a flawed villain. He is crafty, protective, compassionate, a true patriarch in a world of “toxic masculinity.”

In fact, other than a few logistical issues I had with the film (such as why the creatures stick around a vast, rural area after they’ve already eaten all but seemingly 6 people) my only complaints come in the third act of the film where we see all the common trappings of Hollywood come into play.

It’s here that we see Regan’s new hearing aid turn out to be the one weakness that will stop the monsters. Of course it is. It wouldn’t be modern Hollywood if the STRONG FEMALES didn’t take up masculine roles and discard their feminine strengths in order to thwart the evil.

Dad’s ultimate sacrifice to save his children falls flat for me, but that’s just a personal preference. I was rooting for him to live the whole time. Sacrifice is part of the hero’s journey, and while I thought little Beau’s sacrifice at the beginning of the film was more than enough, I understand the need to make the stakes and the loss even stronger at the end of the film in order to satisfy mainstream audiences.

In the end, while A Quiet Place is a masterfully told horror film with amazing acting and very cool monsters, I have to take several points off for know-towing to modern feminist pop culture and ultimately ruining what up to that point had been a fantastic send-up to traditional family life. A Quiet Place gets a strong 3 out of 5 strangeheads from me. It’s a great horror flick to enjoy with the family if you’ve got kids old enough to handle suspense, gore and monster mayhem.

Kevin Strange’s Bright Movie Review

I decided to give Bright  a watch. Not because I give a fuck about a Will Smith Netflix Shadowrun ripoff, but because I love David Ayer movies.

This is the dude who Wrote Training Day but became most famous for directing Suicide Squad. I don’t love his movies because he makes great movies, I love his movies because he makes a lot of bad ones.

My favorites are Keanu Reeves in Street Kings, Christian Bale in Harsh Times and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage. These are all gritty cop movies with entirely too much macho bro talk, extreme violence and corny plot lines. So all of the bad reviews going around about Bright only make me more likely to enjoy it. All of the complaining seemed to be exactly what I like about his flicks.

To be honest, the trailer didn’t do much for me. The Will Smith action/joke routine has gotten old several decades after he endeared us as the wise cracking fighter pilot and alien puncher in Independence Day and solidified his place as an action hero with the Bad Boys movies.

The aesthetic of the trailer reminded me far more of Underworld than Alien Nation which it’s endlessly been compared to. There’s something about original properties in the age of social media. Audiences just can’t handle the idea of a stand-alone film which does not reference their nostalgia either by being a direct sequel to an 80s movie/show/comic or by setting its narrative in that era.

The same thing happened to Chappie a few years ago. The movie was senselessly attacked by boobs on social media as a “robocop/short circuit” ripoff. My take on this phenomenon is that the people accusing these movies of being too much like some random thing from the 80s/early 90s haven’t actually watched those movies from the 80s/90s or if they have, it’s been decades since they viewed the material and are just desperate to anchor this new property onto something they remember.

So now that I’ve done my own anchoring by comparing the look of the film to Underworld and the plot to Shadowrun, let’s just throw that right out. The movie is nothing like Underworld or Shadowrun. In fact, it is an unabashed David Ayer movie. The batshit crazy high-concept script by Max Landis only enhances Ayer’s film making style and I suspect that Ayer re-wrote the dialogue as he’s done many times in the past to fit his own preferences for how city cops talk to one another.

I was happy to see beats so similar to the Ayer films I mentioned up above. For being such a high-concept film about fantasy monsters who have evolved side-by-side with humans for two thousand years, Bright ends up being a gritty inner city cop flick about reluctant partners just trying to survive the night after they stumble upon a magic wand, making them target number 1 for everyone from the corrupt cops to gang-banger humans, an Ork clan and of course those crazy ninja-like Elves.

For fans of Ayer, watching him work in this huge world of racial tension between fantasy creatures as well as a whole magic mythology while sacrificing none of his street-talk dialogue and frenetic action violence is just a delight. This kind of movie is so unique not in its high-concept attempt to blend fantasy with reality, but by giving it an R rating and allowing such amazing lines as “We gonna get killed, let’s get titty-bar-shoot-out killed!”

This type of R rated banter allows the world to seem fully lived in even if it is never fully realized. We hear talk of epic Ork battles, dark lords and magic wands that grant its users limitless power. But what we get is one night with a pair of cops who don’t like each other but have no one else to rely on but each other.

By the end of the film, these two characters are riffing off one another in hilarious fashion that just begs to be sequelized so we can see more adventures between Jacoby and Ward.

I give Bright 5 Strangeheads out of 5 not because it’s a perfect movie but because it’s a bold, uncompromising movie with an original premise not connected to nostalgia, totally willing to forge its own path ahead in these dark cinematic times.

Kevin Strange’s Passengers (2016) Movie Review

Critics hated Mortem Tyldum’s 2016 science fiction romance film PASSENGERS. The movie currently sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and is generally regarded as an abysmal failure of cinema.

Choice criticisms like “Disappointing at best, problematic at worst.” and “Passengers is an incredibly creepy movie in which a woman succumbs to Stockholm Syndrome and falls for her stalker and stays with him even though the stupid ending wants to be ambiguous but it’s not, this movie never met the concept of subtlety.” show just how disgusted critics were with the story of PASSENGERS.

But what if the problem isn’t the movie. What if the problem is with our culture?

Just on its surface, PASSENGERS is fundamentally “problematic” to post-modernists. It is the story of an intelligent and capable white male with useful skills and an independent, career-minded yet vulnerable white female who fall in love with one another despite being handed the awful fate of living isolated and presumably dying alone on a space ship full of other people in cryogenic sleep.

Feminist alarms are going off just from this simple explanation of the plot.

But oh, it gets worse! Pratt’s Jim is accidentally woken from his sleep after a catastrophic asteroid collision knocks his cryo-tube open. After a year of slowly going insane, Jim decides to manually pry open the pod of the most beautiful woman on the ship.

What. A. Fucking. Creep. Am I right, feminists?

You see, in post-modernist/feminist doctrine, feminine personality traits in females are considered patriarchal cultural oppression at best, and at worst internalized misogyny on the part of the feminine woman in question. And ALL male behavior that doesn’t expressly capitulate toward STRONG FEMALE values, i.e. masculine/dominant personality traits in women is considered toxic masculinity.

So it doesn’t matter that Pratt’s Jim is at the weakest, most vulnerable point in his life when he makes the selfish decision to wake another person and end his loneliness. His loneliness doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that he spends the rest of the film trying to make it up to Lawrence’s Aurora.

Nothing matters except that women be exalted above men at all costs in the current year because in the 1950s, some women felt like they weren’t being allowed to achieve their career goals with the same fairness as their male counterparts. In the 1950s. The 1950s.

Feminism has done its level best for the better part of the last century to continue to make women feel like they’re second class citizens that need to be coddled and protected by the government in order to achieve some kind of abstract cultural parity with the males of our species.

Ironically, they’ve just replaced the protection and guidance of their fathers, brothers and husbands with taxpayer funded programs that have changed little if anything in the process (mostly because women are 100% equal to men in the rights department and have been for a long, long time. There ain’t nothing left to change.)

What’s so compelling about this film is that Jim withholds the fact that he woke Aurora up on purpose for as long as he can. It’s only when android bartender Arthur accidentally reveals Jim’s secret that Aurora is clued in the reality of her situation.

Personally? I think she freaks out a little TOO much about her circumstances. At one point after another system failure wakes up Laurence Fishburne’s Gus, Aurora confides in him that she believes what Jim has done is tantamount to murder.

Um, hello? Ungrateful much? Out of more than 5,000 passengers, Jim chose YOU to spend his life with. And Jim is absolutely the archetypical romantic lead. He’s perfect in every way.

She’s lucky some dumpy schlub who was set to be a janitor on the new planet didn’t wake her up. These people gave up their lives to be put to sleep for 120 years. Aurora’s plan was to hang out on Homestead II for a YEAR, then sleep for 120 more years and go back to Earth to publish a book about it.

So it ain’t like he woke up somebody who had a family with her or anything. Everyone she’s ever known is already dead when Jim wakes her up. Her reasons for staying asleep were purely career-based.

So Aurora’s overreaction aside, the film plays out in a way I personally never expected. With the way Hollywood writes films to fit its far-left post-modernist agenda, I fully expected Jim to sacrifice himself to save the ship and for Gus to find a way to put himself and Aurora back to sleep, after which Aurora would write a book about the brave man who saved the Avalon and the 5,000 souls aboard.

Instead, Gus kicks the bucket pretty quick after offering up the magic keys to the important parts of the ship (his ID bracelet) and telling Aurora she’s being a hysterical bitch. “A drowning man will pull you down with him. It ain’t right, but he’s drowning.” Or some such.

It would be easy to gloss over the “save the ship!” action third act as typical Hollywood drivel, but essentially, Aurora is faced with another moral quandary: Work with Jim to save the ship and live, or die along with him.

It’s in these moments, when Jim’s skills as a man and as an engineer come into sharp focus for Aurora. He’s planted her a tree. He’s expressed his love for her. He’s done everything he can emotionally for his woman and he’s still rejected. It’s not until his fundamental masculinity is Aurora’s final life-line that she accepts Jim’s decision to wake her up and forgives him.

At one point while he’s outside the ship, facing death to save the woman he loves, Aurora tells him she can’t live without him and that she’d rather die with him than be alone.

This is powerful stuff, folks. This is the masculine and the feminine in their purest forms. Aurora has given up her career ambitions to help her man face down the dragons outside the cave which may very well kill him. This is primal. this is the meaning of life.

Again I was surprised when Jim didn’t die outside the ship, bravely sacrificing himself. Aurora is able to use all of her feminine cunning and guile to get him inside a medical pod and bring him back to life.

Here’s the key part of the film, for me. After a while, Jim is able to rig the medical pod to mimic cryo-stasis. He wants to put Aurora back to sleep and give her back her life and career. And Aurora refuses.

At this point Jim has paid dearly for his sin of waking up his girl and ruining the life she’d planned without him. The bond they’ve created by living, fighting, making love and nearly dying together has changed the course of their lives and now Aurora wants no part of living without Jim, even if it means willfully leaving her dream life behind.

Isn’t this fundamentally what all relationships and marriages are about? Living, loving and being willing to die for one another? Constantly re-focusing our life’s ambitions to include those we love and cherish?

No wonder the post-modernists and feminists hate this movie! Traditional family values, marriage and white relationships are the weakness of post-modernism. If happiness, love, wealth and prosperity are possible without government intervention and the destruction of masculinity, then the feminist has nothing to bitch about. She’s powerless in the face of traditional love.

My final complaint about the film, and the reason why ultimately I had to give it 3 Strangeheads out of 5 is that at no point, even though these people are faced with 80+ years of living in isolation on a space ship, does the talk of children ever enter into the equation.

Oh how the feminists would have howled at that! A WHITE FAMILY thriving against all odds. An entire new generation to explore the brand new planet. That is just about the only way the film could have been more romantic. To end with that panning shot of Jim’s fully grown tree and the amazing life and world that Jim and Aurora had created together on the Avalon with a dozen or so grown children tending to the farm raised up by the love and ambition of their hero parents.

That would have made PASSENGERS a 5 out of 5 for me.