Movies Reviews

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Directed by Michael Dougherty. Starring some blocks of wood.

Spring of Sci-Fi #10

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, released in 2019 and directed by Micahel Dougherty, is unfortunately not good. You would think that a movie featuring Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan would be a fun sci-fi romp, but instead, most of the film deals with Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s divorce. I am fine with human drama being the center focus of a Godzilla movie, but it needs to be good human drama. The original 1954 Godzilla deals heavily with human drama and the effect that Godzilla (as a representation of nuclear destruction) has on humanity but this movie’s plot dealing with divorce has no thematic significance to the monster plot of the movie.

Five years after the events of Godzilla 2014, Dr. Emma Russel (Vera Farmiga) is studying the Titan Mothra. She lives with her daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) who witnesses the birth of Mothra alongside her mother. After they calm the rampaging Mothra down with the Orca, a device that replicates the sonar frequencies of the Titans, they are kidnapped by Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), a former British Army Officer turned Eco-Terrorist. Madison’s father Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) is brought on by Monarch to help stop the terrorists who are hoping to destroy humanity to reverse the negative effects of the climate. After waking up Ghidorah, it is revealed that Emma is working with the eco-terrorists and is secretly the mastermind behind their plot; she wants to use the Orca to awaken the kaiju.

I have many problems with this movie, and most revolve around the uninteresting and one-dimensional human characters. This movie wants to be a human drama about dysfunctional families, and I honestly don’t understand why. Godzilla from 2014 has uninteresting human characters, but at least Gareth Edwards uses them to emphasize humanity’s insignificance to these beasts (who one could look at as representing natural disasters). The family drama in this movie in no way connects to the monster drama and battles. The character that should be our protagonist is Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). Ken Watanabe, the actor who plays Dr. Serizawa, even made the connection between natural disasters and the monsters, but the movie doesn’t emphasize that theme. My only issue with this character is his send-off in this movie–SPOILERS AHEAD. Godzilla is defeated by Ghidorah and sinks to the ocean floor to revive himself, this revival could take months or years, time the world does not have, so they plan to nuke Godzilla, reviving him with what originally awoke him in 1954. Dr. Serizawa goes into the cavern and detonates the nuclear bomb, dying to save Godzilla. I’m sorry, but I find it completely strange that this movie uses nuclear bombs to help save the day. This completely disregards the original concept for Godzilla as a comment on nuclear war and destruction. Essentially, nukes save the day, and a Japanese man sacrifices himself with a nuclear bomb to wake the beast that represents the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I wish I could like this movie just for the fights, but that only encompasses maybe 30 to 40 minutes of screen time with nearly 1 hour and 30 minutes devoted to boring human drama. The fights aren’t even the best looking either, marred by shaky cam and weather. I feel like this movie doesn’t even begin to understand what it needs or wants to be. Godzilla 2014 aims to be a drama representing natural disaster; Kong: Skull Island embraces the campiness and is fun to watch; this movie does neither and is a chore to watch. I don’t expect this movie to be the classic that the original Godzilla is, but it could have at least had some fun with its concept.

Rating 1.5/5 (I’m being generous with this rating too)

Movies Reviews

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Kong: Skull Island. Directed by Jordan Vogt Roberts. Starring King Kong (I could list the actors, but we all know what you are really here to see)

Spring of Sci-Fi Review #9

Kong: Skull Island, released in 2017 and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is the second entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse. Kong: Skull Island is one of the better entries in that universe, embracing the B-Movie concept. The movie begins with two fighter pilots crashing on a beach. It is 1944 during World War 2, and the pilots are American pilot Hank Marlow (played here by Will Brittain, later played by John C. Reily) and Japanese pilot Gunpei Ikari (played by Miyavi). We get our first glimpse at Kong as the two fight on the island and are frozen in their tracks by the massive gorilla. The movie then moves to 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. Monarch agents Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are trying to get to Skull Island. They recruit James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbel), and Cole (Shea Whigham). There are more people on the survey and military teams, but these are the most important. The human characters are insignificant next to Kong, who brutalizes their helicopters on entry. He attacks because they are using bombs to survey the area, killing wildlife and wrecking Skull Islands environment.

One thing about King Kong movies that always irks me is the human characters. They exploit and destroy whatever is in their path for their gain. Bill Randa, the Monarch agent, knows Kong is on the island and uses the bombs to get his attention. This causes Preston Packard, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, to seek revenge on Kong even though they are the ones who invaded his territory. Samuel L. Jackson knows exactly what kind of movie this is and gives one of the better performances in the movie. John C. Reily as Hank Marlow is also great. He serves as a slight comic relief but has an interesting story about wanting to get back home to his wife who he has not seen in nearly 30 years due to being trapped on Skull Island. Other than these two performances, no one else stands out. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson seem like they are set up to be the protagonist of the movie, but have little to no screen time at certain parts of the movie. The characters, like in 2014’s Godzilla, leave a lot to be desired. However, unlike that movie, this movie embraces the B-movie concept and to me is an improvement.

Kong: Skull Island is an entertaining monster movie–which is a lot more violent than I was expecting–with excellent special effects and two performances from Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reily which are entertaining to watch. The rest of the characters are serviceable to what we want to see, and that is the glory of Kong. I was surprised I enjoyed this one more than Godzilla since I have always enjoyed Godzilla’s previous movies more, but this movie was entertaining and fun.

Rating 3.5/5

Movies Reviews

Godzilla (2014) Review

Godzilla. Directed Gareth Edwards. Starring Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Sally Hawkins

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #7

We continue our look at The King of the Monsters with the 2014 American-made Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards. This was an enjoyable movie, but it doesn’t live up to the same quality that we see in the 1954 original. The original balanced the characters and Kaiju entertainment well, using Godzilla to tell an allegorical story about the destruction of nuclear war. This movie seems to try and follow the lead, balancing themes of human destruction with stunning spectacle, but unfortunately doesn’t live up to that promise.

The movie begins with clips showing Godzilla being sent back into the sea and the nuclear bombs that woke them. When then see two scientists, Ishiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (played by Sally Hawkins), who work for Monarch, which consists of scientists investigating Kaiju. The movie then moves to Japan following the character Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) an engineer who works with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) at a nuclear power plant in Janjira. Unfortunately, Sandra is killed after a tremor causes the plant to collapse. The area is quarantined and everyone is forced to leave. We cut to 15 years later and Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is a Navy officer returning home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). Ford receives a call that his father has been arrested due to entering the quarantine zone and has to fly to Japan to get him out. After an incident at the former nuclear plant–SPOILERS AHEAD–Joe Brody is killed, and a Kaiju known as MUTO is released. From here we follow Ford as he tries to make his way back home to his wife in San Francisco.

An immediate problem with this movie is the number of characters that it tries to juggle. Like Gareth Edward’s other blockbuster, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this balancing is unfortunately not handled very well and it leaves the characters one-dimensional and incredibly uninteresting. We spend most of our time with Ford as he bounces around the globe, but other than a few heroic acts–such as saving a child on a train so he can make it back to his parents–we don’t get to know Ford. If the movie spent less time on the characters and more time on the Kaiju action this would be less of a problem, but the movie wants the audience to see through the eyes of these bland and dull characters which make the movie’s two-hour runtime a slog sometimes. However, Gareth Edwards does pull it off in the third act creating an awesome fight between the MUTO’s and Godzilla that culminates in an amazing display of power from Godzilla. The creatures and their design are great, with CGI that is jaw-droppingly amazing.

Gareth Edward’s Godzilla is a flawed but epic monster movie. Edwards consistently creates interesting action sequences but is unable to create compelling characters that add drama to those scenes. If you are looking for some giant Kaiju fun check this movie out, but if you are looking for a more human drama mixed in with the Kaiju elements maybe just stick to watching the original. I know I had fun with this movie, but it was a chore in some parts.

Rating 3/5

Japan Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla. Directed by Ishiro Honda. Starring Takashi Shimura, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #6

Godzilla, released in 1954 and directed by Ishiro Honda, is a classic science fiction film. Godzilla is truly a landmark of cinema, a piece of history that has inspired numerous films that came after. The franchise that this film has spawned includes 36 films in total; 32 produced in Japan, and 4 produced in America. The most recent of these films is 2021s Godzilla vs. Kong (that will be reviewed on another day, today we focus on the original masterpiece).

Godzilla tells the story of a prehistoric beast awoken after an h-bomb test in the ocean. Godzilla serves as an allegory, dealing with Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s destruction after they were terrorized by nuclear bombs during the Second World War. The film dramatizes the toll that Godzilla’s destruction has had on the lives of the Japanese people. The movie begins with ships destroyed near Odo Island. A paleontologist named Kyohei Yamane (played by the magnificent Takashi Shimura) discovers not only a prehistoric trilobite but also a giant radioactive footprint belonging to Godzilla. It is at this moment that we get our first glimpse of Godzilla. The special effects created by Eiji Tsuburaya are legendary, iconically created a magnificent and terrifying monster that still presides over our screens to this very day.

Godzilla premiered at a landmark time for the sci-fi film. The sci-fi films of the 50s were inspired by the advancement made in science, as well as the destruction that it caused in the war close to a decade earlier. One of the things that makes Godzilla such a powerful film is the connection Japan and the filmmakers had to this destruction. The film serves as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the lives lost in this kind of destruction. Shimura’s Dr. Yamane gives a warning at the end, warning that as long as we continue testing nuclear weapons, Godzilla could rise again. We also get a representation of the nuclear conflict in the character of Serizawa (an excellent performance by Akihiko Hirata). He has designed a dangerous, and possibly a world-ending device that could destroy Godzilla and end his rampage, however; he is torn between helping rid the world of Godzilla but potentially awarding it a destructive weapon on the same level as the atomic bomb. His character’s arc throughout the movie is one of the most dramatically satisfying and helps give the story a soul.

The franchise Godzilla spawned ranges from serious to campy, but this first film is more than a monster movie, it serves as a reminder of the destruction caused at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the lives lost in its wake. Godzilla is powerful, awe-inspiring, terrorizing, and melancholic. It is truly a masterpiece that birthed The King of the Monsters, and he reigns supreme to this day.

Rating 5/5

Movies Reviews

Sci-Fi Review: After Last Season (2009): A movie so bad it needs to be witnessed.

After Last Season. Directed by Mark Region. This is a real scene from the movie. This movie also cost $5 Million Dollars and most of it was spent of the visual and computer effects.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #3

After Last Season was painful to experience. Something about watching this movie was the equivalency of having an anxiety attack. The production design is ugly, the music will make your ears bleed, and the direction, editing, and cinematography will make you question the reality of the project you are watching. For a moment, I thought I must have fallen asleep and dreamt this movie, but here I am typing this review trying to understand what I just witnessed. 

After Last Season‘s “story” seems to revolve around two medical students specializing in neurology who begin working on a telepathic test linking two minds together. During this experiment, the female student, Sarah, links telepathically with a murderer who killed a student, Craig, sometime in the last week. While that may sound like a decent enough plot it is not really used in the movie. Most of the movie features non-sequitur shots of ceiling fans and chairs. THERE ARE MULTIPLE LENGTHY SHOTS OF WALLS AND NOTHING ELSE! How does one go about making a movie as inept as this? The music sounds like it was composed by the director’s nephew’s double amputee dog. During the telepathic scenes, we get to witness geometrical shapes forming on our screen. These scenes look like screensavers from 1995 (the movie was made in 2009).

My brain cannot comprehend how bad this movie was. At one point I just started manically laughing. Not at the movie, not at anything in general, I just lost my mind momentarily. I honestly think this movie needs to be seen to be believed. The camera occasionally pans around to look at nothing and I jokingly said the killer would be an invisible man…low and behold, he was an invisible man. This is a strange movie masquerading as something experimental and abstract, but don’t let that fool you…it’s shit, pure shit.

No Rating. It defies the numerical system

Movies Reviews

Fade to Black (1980) Review: A clever psychological slasher movie.

Fade to Black. Released in 1980. Directed by Vernon Zimmerman and starring Dennis Christopher

Fade to Black, directed by Vernon Zimmerman and released in 1980, tells the story of young movie buff Eric Binford (no relation to Home Improvement), played wonderfully by Dennis Christopher, as he begins to spiral out of control committing murders based on movies that he loves. The movie appears to be a slasher on the surface but is much more of a psychological horror film with a dash of dark comedy.

Eric lives with his Aunt Stella in a cramped house. Stella is confined to a wheelchair and blames all of her woes on Eric, upset that she had to raise him. She despises Eric’s movie obsession and constantly reminds him of what a failure and disappointment he is. Not only does Eric have to deal with a controlling and abusive Aunt, but he is not treated much better at work where he is constantly berated by his boss, and harassed by two other employees Richie (played by a young Mickey Rourke) and Joey (played by Peter Horton). While out running errands for work, Eric meets a young girl named Marilyn who bears a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn is played by Linda Kerridge who looks as close to Marilyn Monroe as you can get and gives a great performance to top it off. Eric wins a date with Marilyn and then is stood up by her after he forgets about their plans. After Eric returns home, he kills his Aunt Stella by pushing her wheelchair down the stairs recreating a scene from Kiss of Death, released in 1947. A subplot in the movie features a Doctor named Jerry Moriarty (Tim Thomerson) investigating youth violence and sees a link between movie violence and adolescent violence.

One of the best things about Fade to Black is the callbacks to the classic movies that Eric is inspired by during his murder spree. Scenes from classic films are spliced into the movie to show the audience what is being referenced. Usually, I would dislike the spoon-fed scenes showing you what is being referenced but Vernon Zimmerman makes it work here using the references to let us get a glimpse into the mind of Eric as he goes insane.

The movie, at first glance, seems to be reinforcing the idea that movies cause violence, and at first glance that is what people would think about Eric. Eric is a loner who devours movies constantly and uses what he sees to inspire his foul acts, but the audience sees that his violent tendencies come not only from the movies he watched but from the psychological abuse that he has experienced at the hands of his aunt over the years–there is even some evidence that she is sexually abusive, requesting a back massage from him after she lends him money and requesting it grotesquely. Eric also comes across as misogynistic and entitled. He uses his movie knowledge as a way to hold power over people, thinking of them as idiotic if they don’t understand what he is talking about. His misogyny shows in his violence towards women and his objectification of Marilyn, who he obsesses over due to her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe.

Fade to Black is one of those movies that you know will only improve on multiple rewatches due to its more complex psychological slasher tendencies. This movie takes inspiration not only from the slashers that were being made at the time but also movies like Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and the many characters of James Cagney, whose movies make multiple appearances. Fade to Black is a complex semi-slasher that deals with themes of escapism, violence, and loneliness. Fade to Black was a much more complex movie than I was anticipating and what worth the watch.

Rating 3.5/5

Movies Reviews

Another Round (2020) Review: Mads Mikkelsen proves to be one of the greatest actors working today.

Another Round. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe

Another Round, directed by Thomas Vinterberg and starring Mads Mikkelsen, took me on an emotional roller coaster. I read the brief synopsis about four friends maintaining a constant level of intoxication and expected a drama that would explore the dangers of alcohol Leaving Las Vegas-style. While there are moments that explore the darker side of alcohol, I was surprised to find a much more heartwarming, comedic, and life-affirming movie.

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Martin, a depressed history teacher that is slowly losing his family and on the verge of losing his job. He and four of his friends–Tommy (Thomas Bo Laren), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and Peter (Lars Ranthe)– decide to keep a constant blood alcohol rate of 0.5%. Martin starts seeing some positive changes in his career. The constant stream of alcohol leaves him more relaxed and able to connect with his students and he begins trying again in his marriage. However, Martin and his friends are so blinded by their bet that they can’t see that their dependency is leaving everyone else out of their lives. The film is mostly shot in close-ups which highlights how everyone else is peripheral to the overall drinking game that Martin and his buddies have concocted. I appreciated that the movie had more to say about alcohol consumption than what we typically get. We do see through the character of Tommy how dependency can be created, and there are moments when it looks like Martin will substitute his depression for alcohol. I enjoyed how the movie portrayed self-medication and how it can lead to self-destruction if one is not careful.

Mads Mikkelsen gives a tremendous performance. He has proven time and time again with movies such as this, The Hunt (2012), and his performance on television as Hannibal Lecter that he is one of the most talented and versatile actors working today. The ending of this film is magnificent, and Mads Mikkelsen’s performance is what makes the film come together in the end.

Rating 5/5

Batman DC Comics Movies Reviews Superheroes

Wild Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I forgot to mention Wonder Woman in my review. She watches screens and helps set up the next movie. She helps fight and Batman says a terrible joke that makes no sense. Why is she on the poster? She’s not even a character, just a setup.

Batman V Superman, why did I rewatch you? The first time I watched this movie it was a miserable time. I was bored and stupified by what I saw on screen. There was nothing present in the characters of Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor, or Lois Lane that I admired from the comics. I’m fine with a movie or television show reworking characters to fit the times. I’m fine with directors placing characters in new and unique narratives that I haven’t seen before; in truth, I admire that in a director; hell, I admire that about Zack Snyder. One positive–other than the perfectly executed warehouse scene–that I can say about both Zack Snyder and Batman v Superman is that at least the movie is different, and the director is trying something different. (One glaring problem the MCU has is that it is too homogenized. At the start of the pandemic, I tried watching every MCU movie back to back and, other than a few, they all formed one big gelatinous movie that looked the same but I may expand more on that in another review) Now that doesn’t mean the movie is good it’s terrible, but at least it doesn’t feel stale. I’m perfectly fine with DC making dramatic, mature movies with a serious tone, but I would prefer if the director partially understood the characters and what they represent.

Batman v Superman opens up where Man of Steel ends, but this time we get to see the destruction from the ground, through the eyes of Bruce Wayne. The opening scene seems to be agreeing with the criticisms the third act Man of Steel received, which is confusing given the fact that Superman is supposed to be a hero in this movie, and in the last movie, he helped destroy a major city possibly killing thousands of people. The opening scene tries to recontextualize the violence and destruction that we witness in Man of Steel but I would argue that this only amplifies the negative parts of the previous movie, as well as making Superman look even worse than he already did. After we witness the destruction porn from Man of Steel the movie jumps 18 months later, skipping through time so we miss important character arcs such as Clark and Lois falling in love, or seeing Clark adjust to his new position at the Daily Planet. I feel like there should be another movie or two placed between Man of Steel and Batman v Superman to help build upon every character that we see in the movie. Anyway, back to the plot. Lois is in the desert investigating a radicalized group asking their leader such riveting questions like: “Are you a terrorist?” Also, Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Best Pal, is introduced in this movie and he gets his face blown off; Zack really respects Superman and his supporting characters so much that he puts a bullet in one of Superman’s best friends 3 minutes after he is introduced. (This review is already too long; I seriously don’t want to rant and rave and hate this movie so much, but holy shit, it’s terrible. Let me try getting back on track.)

I despise this movie. (Well shit, I’m back off the track. Might as well stay there.) I want to be fair and give an accurate fair review but my brain is on fire. Superman murders a man like ten minutes in the movie because he loves Lois Lane and is mad that she is being threatened. That is nothing good about what I just wrote but it happens in the movie. Batman murders nearly everyone he comes across but both he and Superman hate each other because the other murders constantly. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS MOVIE! Lex Luthor is playing with prequel Palpatine powers and somehow orchestrates future events to line up exactly how he wants. Also, Jesse Eisenberg plays the characters of Lex Luthor like Mark Zuckerberg on cocaine. Batman and Superman suddenly overlook the homicidal tendencies each other have because their mothers have the same first name, and…I can’t do it. I can’t be fair to this movie. I have tried to enjoy this. Many people love and adore Zack Snyder and his takes on these iconic characters and I have tried to see what the appeal is and I can’t…I just can’t. I feel like I have lost a part of my soul watching and reviewing this movie. I’m going to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League soon–I skipped Joss Whedon’s version–and I hope it is as good as I heard. I keep coming back to Zack Snyder movies for some reason, even though I only like 300…and Dawn of the Dead is alright (I just don’t care about it because Romero’s original is one of my favorite movies)

I’m broken.

Rating 1/5

DC Comics Movies Reviews Superheroes

Man of Steel (2013) Review: A flawed portrayal of an iconic character.

Man of Steel. Released in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and Diane Lane.

Man of Steel, released in 2013 and directed by Zack Snyder, shows us the origins of Kal-El and his emergence as Superman on Earth. I should start by stating that I have a strong bias when it comes to Superman, and this story isn’t my flavor. I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, and while not all those are great–see Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace–I feel like Reeve’s first two Superman films capture the spirit and magic of that character that is hard to replicate. I will give credit to Henry Cavill’s performance; Cavill not only looks the part but truly seems to love the character and works hard to embody that character even though the material is weak.

The movie starts off showing the demise of Krypton and what led to their fall. The people of Krypton have not seen natural childbirth in over a century. The citizens are preprogrammed from birth to fit a certain skill set and cannot depart from their programmed setting. Jor-El and Lara have a son Kal-El through natural means and place within him the genetic codex for their species. The villain of the movie, Zod (Michael Shannon), is sent to the Phantom Zone in penis ships, (Kal-El also gets his very own penis ship. There are too many penis-shaped ships in this movie to count) and escapes after the destruction of Krypton. He comes to Earth looking for Kal-El wanting to use the codex to wipe out the human race and rebuild Krypton in the dust. If that was exhausting to read, try watching the movie. One big flaw that this suffers from is that it is all plot and barely story.

I want to like this movie when I sit down and rewatch it, but there are just too many flaws that distract me and either bore me or make me roll my eyes. A few moments I do enjoy include: Superman learning to fly, young Clark Kent saving the kids on the bus (although this is slightly diminished by Jonathan Kent’s words after the fact), and I like the moments when you see Superman stopping Faora (Antje Traue) from destroying a plane and Superman rescuing a person falling out of a crashing helicopter. These moments are not prevalent throughout the movie, instead, we see Superman committing massive amounts of damage and killing people he has claimed that he is trying to protect by not letting Zod get ahold of the codex. The biggest offender of Superman acting out of character is when he breaks Zod’s neck. Now, if Superman were in a situation where millions of lives were in danger then maybe, and only maybe, could I see him taking a life, however; the movie has already established that Superman will destroy buildings bringing them down on innocent people and possibly killing them in order to stop Zod but for some reason, Zod directing his heat vision at four people puts Superman in a situation where he has to kill. I’m sorry I just don’t buy it, and no one telling me I just don’t understand the genius of Zack Snyder will convince me either. I hate to say it but even though I enjoy Henry Cavill as Superman, this is a bad Superman movie. Unfortunately, this movie’s sequel, Batman v Superman, makes this look great in comparison.

Rating 2/5

Movies Noir Reviews

Twin Peaks Day! Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) Review.

Sheryl Lee stars as Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Happy Twin Peaks Day! Today we are looking at the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Released after the cancellation of the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me tells the tragedy of Laura Palmer, leading up to her murder and right before she is found wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell, played in the series by Jack Nance. While the film is primarily a prequel, there are a few moments that make it a sequel to the series, but that wouldn’t be explored fully until Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017. It has long been known that upon initial release Fire Walk With Me was met with mixed reviews; I’m glad it has been reappraised after its release and given the acclaim, it deserves, because in my personal opinion this is one of David Lynch’s best works. It is a dark and tragic tale that explores the horrors and psychological trauma of sexual abuse and Sheryl Lee gives an amazing lead performance that should have been talked about more when it was first released. By the way, there will be some spoilers in this review not only from the movie but from the TV series that preceded it, so proceed with caution.

The movie starts with the investigation of Teresa Banks, a girl who was murdered similarly to Laura Palmer and was mentioned in the TV series. FBI Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch) sends Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Issak) and Special Agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to investigate. They go to the town of Deer Meadow, Washington which seems to serve as a dark contrast to the homely and Americana Twin Peaks. The police station is full of belligerent and rude cops and the diner the two agents visit is a dark counterpoint to the RR Diner, run by Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton). This segment of the movie acts as a prologue to the main story which follows Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) as she discovers the secret of who BOB is only days before her death. There are also some brief moments with Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), and a former missing Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) which is incredibly strange and brief and raises more questions that wouldn’t be fully explored until Twin Peaks: The Return.

The performances from Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are amazing in this film. Sheryl Lee plays the broken and tragic Laura Palmer which such intensity, anguish, and horror that she will nearly bring tears to your eyes. Her father, and eventual murderer, Leeland Palmer, also the mysterious BOB, does an excellent job playing what is essentially two roles. There is a moment after a tense confrontation between him, Laura, and Laura’s mother Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) where he switches from being BOB back to Leeland Ray Wise plays that transition so perfectly. You can see his personality changing while the camera holds on his face. David Lynch also does a great job directing, creating a horrifically noirish atmosphere that feels like you’ve been pulled directly into a nightmare. I wouldn’t hesitate to call this movie a horror film, some moments will make you want to cover your eyes or scream.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is an incredible follow-up and prequel to what was already an outstanding series. Featuring an iconic performance from Sheryl Lee, a transformative performance from Ray Wise and immaculate direction from the masterful David Lynch, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a movie that will stay with you forever. Make sure to check out the first two seasons of the series and Twin Peaks: The Return, although if you’ve made it this far in my review, I hope you had watched the series before.

Rating 5/5