‘Prey’ Movie

By: Amanda Guarragi

The Predator franchise has been going strong for years, and not all of the films in the franchise have been winners. Many were apprehensive about Prey being a prequel, but it worked. Director Dan Trachtenberg went back to the roots of the meaning of predator and reworked it to fit the natural way of life on Indigenous lands. In the Comanche Nation in 1719, a fierce and highly skilled warrior named Naru (Amber Midthunder) learns the prey she is stalking is a highly evolved alien with a technologically advanced arsenal. Fans of the original franchise have seen what the alien is capable of, but this prequel showcases its skills differently. Even though they went back to basics, Trachtenberg added another layer to the franchise by using basic animal instincts and survival in the wild. 

The reason why Prey works as a prequel is because of how simple the story was. It wasn’t overstuffed with political jargon that is linked to the government. It felt like an open world with survival mode on high for these characters. Also, it bodes well that the highly skilled warrior is a woman and Midthunder did a great job carrying the film alongside her brother and the rest of the tribe. It just felt like the most natural form of storytelling for a predator film. Naru is highly skilled in tracking and they utilized that when going out into the wild trying to find their friends. The tension that was built throughout, just by them walking through the forest was really strong. The score and sound design also helped amplify those moments of nervousness from Naru. It was so well-paced because of the instincts and pathway to tracking the alien. 

The action scenes were impressive because of how the VFX artists played into the character design for the alien. The invisibility and thermal vision were both effectively used throughout. The invisibility is what impressed me the most because of the way the kills were executed. It almost shielded the viewer from witnessing the brutality against the animals. It added so much tension to the scenes with Naru’s dog because he could have been next. From the action set pieces to the quiet, more intimate moments in the forest, Trachtenberg immersed the viewer into Naru’s world for the entire runtime of the film. This prequel does the Predator franchise justice and if anything, made it more intriguing to a new generation of fans. 

Prey is one of the biggest surprises of the summer and, unfortunately, it won’t be getting a theatrical release. If you’re a fan of the Predator franchise then you will love what Trachtenberg did with this prequel. It gives roots to a franchise that had so much success over the years, only to validate its place in sci-fi action history as one of the strongest out there. Midthunder was the standout all the way through and carried the film on her shoulders. Without her compelling performance, especially her tracking the alien and adapting to its movements, it could have been a different movie. She draws you in with her eyes and then locks you in with her subtle movements. As someone who has never been a fan of the franchise, this prequel has made me want to go back and watch them all. 

Prey will be released on Hulu and Disney Star on Friday, August 5th.

‘The Dropout’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

When we study history and look at the idealists that bring forth something new, they genuinely believe in their idea at first. And many of them lose themselves in greed instead of their original idea. What was so interesting about Elizabeth Holmes’ story is the fact that she just kept pushing to prove everyone wrong and that is what cost her, her credibility as a scientist. This series shows the tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong. Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) developed a healthcare technology that put millions of patients at risk and she managed to lose everything in the blink of an eye.

The one thing that impressed me the most about this series was the pacing of each episode. There are only seven episodes and it feels like each hour is packed with so much information and drama. The series begins with the deposition as they asked Holmes important questions about her time at Stanford, prior to dropping out. Then there’s a flashback showing how eager of a student she was and how meeting one person, Sunny Balwani (Naveen Andrews) changed her perspective on how to move in this business. The editing for the deposition and the flashbacks became inconsistent, as they got lost in the actual story, but that’s just a minor issue.

While watching the series, I also gained a new appreciation for Amanda Seyfried as an actor because she completely lost herself in this role. As each episode went on, Seyfried fully formed into Holmes and it was interesting to watch. There are moments when Seyfried is speaking to herself in the mirror and dropping her voice to seem more authoritative, which would be empowered on a surface level, but it was just questionable because of what Holmes was doing. If you don’t know her story, then this will be an eye-opening experience to see how poorly the healthcare system works in America. Greed in pharmaceuticals will be the death of so many and it’s so clear to see why people dropout of college with a simple idea.

The Dropout is a slow burn series with steady pacing that will keep you glued to the screen. Seyfried is incredible in this role and she will constantly surprise you with how deep she goes to embody Holmes. The supporting cast is strong and towards the second half of the series, there are many moving parts that take spiralling out of control to a new level. What starts out as a simple, helpful idea, turns into a million-dollar idea, with no concrete project that works. You can pour money into anything and have it fabricated it; thus presenting that money doesn’t truly exist and it’s just based on how well you manage it.

‘Dopesick’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We are currently living in a time where questioning pharmaceutical companies and the government is a must. Even though their intentions may be appear to be good, there could be underlying motives. These questions have always been prevalent, no matter which decade in America we choose to look at. In the ’90s, when dopamine, or oxycontin became the biggest drug on the market, things seemed to change. In the new series Dopesick we take an in-depth look at how the system was actually working against the doctors and their patients.

The focus is on the opioid addiction in America and how it all started. The first three episodes were released on Disney Star in Canada and have stayed in my mind ever since. The build up and the execution of the opioid crisis in America was really eye-opening and kind of paralleled what we are currently going through with the vaccine debate right now. I found it interesting to see the different perspectives from the lawyers, the pharmaceutical companies, and most importantly the people who blindly became hooked on one of the most dangerous drugs known to man.

It does feel a bit disjointed in the first episode but once it finds its footing and really sticks with certain characters, that’s where it shines. This entire cast, which consists of Michael Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter, Rosario Dawson, Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg all truly shine in their roles. They are completely committed to this story and want to tell it in the most honest way possible. In the first three episodes, Dever, Keaton and Stuhlbarg are the most important pieces of this puzzle and offer three different perspectives. They are the standouts so far and their characters add layers to the crisis.

Dopesick will have you glued to the screen because of detailed this story is. There are so many factors to think about for the opioid epidemic and this series puts it on full display. We dive into the backstories of all parties involved and try to understand their thought process when creating, administering, or taking these drugs. It is one of the most honest and grounded storylines about this subject matter that I’ve seen in a while. It is also very informative and will help many understand how important educating yourself on your government and substance abuse can be.

Happiest Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Tis the season to get your onesies out, drink some hot chocolate, and settle around your nearest screen to watch some Christmas movies. Thankfully Clea DuVall made a Christmas romcom that has been long overdue for the LGBTQ community.

Happiest Season is the film that all lesbians have been waiting for. It’s lighthearted, funny and a well rounded romantic comedy. For once there is no sadness, no yearning and no heartbreaking ending. The title of the film says it all and it is such a beautiful movie. Not only does it speak to, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ community but it touches upon family issues that are universal.

The reason why this film is refreshing is because lesbian characters are at the forefront. Two women are in a romantic relationship and they are following all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy. It was just great to see a romantic story about two women in this setting. It is definitely a feel good movie and the speeches in the final act of the film will leave you sobbing until the end. The cast is perfect, everyone fit like a puzzle piece in telling this great story.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis were adorable together and their chemistry was great. It felt completely natural and that is the difference. Kristen Stewart was in her element, she was fun, playful and gave a very emotional performance as Abby. Davis gave a complex performance because of the duality of her character Harper. She lived one life with Abby and was another person when she returned home to her parents. What really resonated with me was the idea of perfection and how some families expect so much from their daughters.

I do have to mention the brilliant comedic timing from Dan Levy because it was just effortless. There would be such tense moments and then Levy would just swoop in and make you bust a gut laughing. He was the perfect choice to play Abby’s best friend. Stewart and Levy also bounced off each other, even through serious moments.

Normally, I don’t compare films in my reviews but out of all the lesbian romance dramas we’ve seen, this one definitely felt the most realistic than the others, mind you the other ones were really sad, so maybe that’s the difference? Thanks to Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, they wrote such a great screenplay and brought forth many important conversations.

Happiest Season is a great Christmas rom-com that will hold a special place in your heart and will definitely be added to your annual Holiday watch list. It is a film that explores individuality and acceptance through a lens that the LGBTQ community deserves. Please make sure to watch Happiest Season on Hulu November 25th and it will be available on iTunes November 26th!


Pictures Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

‘The Great’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

The Great is a series, that is based on the play created by Tony McNamara, which focuses on the history of Russian Emperor Peter III and the fearless Catherine the Great. It is a satirical, comedic drama that follows Catherine’s (Elle Fanning) journey as an outsider, as she navigates her way to solidifying her position as a ruler. It is a fictionalized series, that details Catherine’s early twenties and her plot to kill her deranged and sadistic husband. The Great on Hulu is completely unhinged, daring and humorous because of how exaggerated their behaviour is.

It is a series that is so bold with its storytelling because of how honest and vulgar the dialogue is, especially when Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) is speaking. It is a strong piece on the Catherinian  Era that really has not been done before. It is incredibly entertaining, charming and does not shy away from the possibility, that people in that era, would have been just as heinous in their personal lives. It is eye opening because it is believable that the murder, torture and poor treatment of women in the Russian Kingdom, under Emperor Peter III’s rule, would have been that brutal.

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Courtesy of Hulu (left) Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning 

The character development for Peter and Catherine, shift immensely from the beginning of the series and it is almost as if they began to pull traits from each other. At the start, Catherine is this love struck, naive, young woman, who is pulled into the authoritative, violent hands of Emperor Peter III. She was taught that love conquers all and that her kind heart will serve her well in this life. She had this romanticized perception of the palace life, until Peter broke her innocence. Catherine’s loss of innocence was probably the most moving aspect about this series because she had to quickly adapt to the situations unfolding around her.

Peter, on the other hand, did not care about anyone else but himself and his narcissism got the best of him. He has a gigantic ego and pleases himself in anyway he can. He does not care for his Kingdom, or his subjects and did absolutely nothing to help his people. He would drink, eat, torture and have affairs with whomever he wanted. Catherine took notice of his unbearable behaviour and any romantic feeling, that could have developed between the two of them, seemed impossible. The sex scenes between Catherine and Peter, were cold, rigid and neither of them felt anything, they went through the motions because it had to be done, in order to conceive an heir.

The first half of the series shows Catherine’s crushing realization, that Peter was not a normal human being. In fact, he is one of the most peculiar characters I have seen on a series in a while. He is so complex, in an obscure way and just when you think he falls into some kind of normalcy, he surprises you. Catherine builds up her power and forges a plan to take down Peter, through her network of people that have sided with her and against the Emperor. Catherine slowly develops the same raw, animalistic and daring traits as Peter, but utilizes them against him. She was cunning and knew that in order to take Peter down, she had to feed his ego and in doing so, she became more powerful than he could ever be.

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Courtesy of Hulu (center) Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great

The humour was also quite refreshing and honest and I think that’s why I fell in love with this series. It is definitely unconventional and Nicholas Hoult gave one of my favourite performances of the year as Emperor Peter III, his line delivery and presence on screen really carried the series and made it so entertaining. The script was filled with dirty one liners and ballsy dialogue, that you normally would not hear in a comedy today. Hoult and Elle Fanning had such powerful chemistry, that with every scene they shared their feelings became more palpable and the closer that their characters got to each other, created more playfulness that resulted in a great finale.

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Courtesy of Hulu (left) Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult 

Elle Fanning was a dream as Catherine the Great, she embodied her perfectly and had a fantastic performance alongside Hoult. It was just such a beautiful portrayal because of her journey and her development as a ruler and a woman. She was fearless, ferocious and stopped at nothing to get what she wanted. She perfectly manipulated him with her intelligence, wit and faux naivete that proved she would be the better ruler. The finale was well written and executed so well, that the final shot of Catherine, obviously left me wanting more and thankfully there will be a Season 2.

The Great on Hulu is one of the best series that has come out this year; it is fun, sexy, hilarious and unique, which will leave you wanting more after each episode. The energy from Hoult and Fanning is infectious and their chemistry carries the entire show. The endless cycle of manipulation creates a very entertaining atmosphere for the ensemble and everyone wants to take a jab at Emperor Peter III. It is incredibly binge-worthy, that you will be able to hopefully finish it in one sitting. If you loved this Era of history, then this show is definitely for you!