December 24, 2022

“Get Back” is a Hard Day’s Night of Music and Friendship (Review)

Note: This review was originally published on SiftPop in December 2021.

After some experience with restoring old footage and reconstructing history in 2018’s They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson has graced our screens (this time on Disney+) with the biggest treat any Beatles fan could ask for.

The Beatles: Get Back 
is a comprehensive documentary about the making of their album Let It Be (done in under a month, all leading up to their iconic rooftop concert) from 60 hours of video footage, over 150 hours of audio, and four years of hard work on Jackson’s part. What I love most about it is that Get Back is far from a traditional documentary — it’s not burdened by a narrator or a specific direction; it just allows their creative process to flourish, while also giving us some insight as to the causes of the band’s inevitable breakup. Even though it may seem dull at points, I find it to be enormous fun just to watch The Beatles be The Beatles.

December 19, 2022

“Avatar: The Way of Water” Returns to Pandora in Spectacular, But Still Underwhelming Fashion (Review)

13 years ago, James Cameron revolutionized visual effects and 3D imaging technology with the release of Avatar, which quickly became the highest-grossing film in history. A sequel was inevitable, but few could have predicted that it would take a Disney acquisition and almost $500 million to make that dream a reality.

Even longer in runtime than its predecessor (and twice as filled with character and supplementary storylines),
Avatar: The Way of the Water picks up after a real-time jump on the alien planet Pandora, where former human Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has fully adopted the ways of the alien Na’vi after helping them defend their land from imperialistic human invaders. He’s started a family with Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their life seems as idyllic as can be. But unfortunately, the depiction of domestic life on an extraterrestrial world is not sustainable for three and a half hours of action sci-fi.

December 12, 2022

Disaster Unfolds and Seyfried Shines in “The Dropout” (Review)

Note: This review was originally published on SiftPop in April 2022.

The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her fraudulent company Theranos has been discussed in the news for years, and with Holmes’ trial having just completed and her sentencing still to come, this is the perfect time for a biopic series to be made.

Image courtesy of Hulu

This is Hulu’s The Dropout, which is based on a podcast of the same name. The Hulu series stars Amanda Seyfried, who is giving the best performance of her career so far as Holmes, a Stanford dropout who founded Theranos, a company which strives to make revolutionary health technology that will supposedly be able to test for a multitude of diseases and conditions simply from a drop of blood. Those who have followed this story know that that technology didn’t exist at the time, and still doesn’t, which makes Theranos’ recruitment of powerful men (mostly former politicians) to its board even more impressive.

December 6, 2022

“His Dark Materials” Concludes with an Ambitiously Impactful Coda (Review)

How could His Dark Materials be adapted as anything but a television series? The epic scale of the novels may suggest that it should be made for the biggest screen possible, but the sprawling narrative lends itself more towards long-form storytelling, which fits in perfectly with the seemingly unlimited medium of television. Perhaps that’s why the televised co-production between the BBC and HBO has proven to be so successful over the last three years while the 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass (the series’ first book) bombed at the box office and never got a continuation.

That long-form storytelling has now paid off in the semblance of the television series’ third and final season, which adapts Phillip Pullman’s third novel
The Amber Spyglass. It’s the culmination of dramatic season-long build-up which only began to make itself fully clear near the middle of Season Two, but which incorporates the series’ longer-running plotlines and characters thought to be long-forgotten. In this way, the final season does what any climax should, bringing together everything that has come before in an effort to tie it up in a satisfying manner.