‘Army of the Dead’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What do you get when you combine Zack Snyder, zombies and a heist? You get one of the most entertaining films of the year! If you are a Snyder fan, this one sure caters to the fanbase. You are in for a fun ride through a zombie wasteland in Las Vegas. It is larger than life, loud and action-packed with stunning visuals, courtesy of the man himself. Snyder knows how to create tension quite effortlessly, and more importantly, he knows how to mix in a wicked soundtrack that juxtaposes certain scenes. From the very beginning, as Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ plays, while newlyweds are on a joyride, the lyrics, ‘we’re caught in a trap, we can’t walk out…’ sets the tone for the entire film.

We get a typical Snyder opening credit sequence detailing what happened to the Las Vegas strip, while a slow version of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ plays out. It is one of his strongest opening title sequences, and I won’t lie, I had a gigantic smile on my face. At the start of any Snyder movie, we all think to ourselves, ‘What does he have in store for us this time?” and majority of the time he exceeds expectations. Snyder went back to his zombie roots with this film. It wasn’t that gory, or overstuffed with kills, it just flowed really well. It didn’t rely on the zombie conventions, that we are used to because that part was sidelined. This was a heist film straight through and it had great balance combining both genres.

This film wouldn’t have been as entertaining without its cast of characters. First and foremost, Dave Bautista needs to be recognized as the lead in this film. Bautista has been sidelined for majority of his film career and hasn’t been taken seriously as an actor (until Blade Runner 2049), Snyder put him at the forefront and he carried the film quite well. His character Scott had to endure some traumatic moments when the zombies tore up his town and has been trying to reconcile with his daughter. Bautista nailed the emotional moments and left me impressed. The other standouts were Marianne (Tig Notaro), Vanderhoe (Omari Hardwick), Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) and Lily (Nora Arnezeder), they each had their time to shine and brought so much to their characters.

Army of the Dead is filled with great action sequences, fun character banter, and plenty of zombies. The film did suffer at the end because even though the runtime went a bit long, the ending still felt rushed. Did I enjoy the ending? No. It left such a bitter taste in my mouth. But don’t worry, there is another ending, that will also leave you questioning what the point was. At the end, it was all about the journey and it sure was a wild ride. I can’t forget to mention the Junkie XL score because he keeps putting out such great pieces to accompany action scenes. If you love Snyder, you’ll set aside the small issues with the film and enjoy the zombie spectacle for two hours and twenty-eight minutes.

‘Monster’ Movie Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Monster on Netflix is a poignant story about a 17-year-old aspiring filmmaker in Harlem, who is being accused of a robbery that he was not a part of. The film stars Kelvin Harrison Jr, ASAP Rocky, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and John David Washington. This film was truly a surprise for me because I didn’t know what I was walking into. The performances from everyone in the cast were emotional, powerful and really effective. It had a unique structure, a well-written script and interesting narrative choices to move the story forward.

On the surface the film seems like it is a generic courtroom drama with a story that we have seen quite often. The difference, in my opinion, is the execution of this story. What I found really interesting was the use of the voiceover from Steven Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), as we first see him in his jail cell. He expresses his internal thoughts as we his journey unfold. The voiceover works perfectly because it gives a different meaning to what the viewer is seeing on-screen. Since Steven is a filmmaker, the execution of this story mirrors his director’s lens in his mind and externalizes his emotions.

The film explains the negative perception that comes from the systemic racism embedded in the legal system. The film is titled, “monster” because it is one of the words used to describe Steven Harmon when he is on trial. Harmon is haunted by this word because he has never seen himself as one, and now he is questioning, what does it mean to be one? This is the emotional basis of the film and then, there is another layer of perspective, from a filmmaking standpoint that compliments this theme.

Monster is a film that is structured incredibly well because it uses its flashbacks properly. This is a very balanced way to show the events leading to his arrest in the past and then showing the trial in the present day. The performances drive the film and the direction from Anthony Mandler was intriguing. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is one of the most talented young actors working today and this is another project where he truly shines. Make sure to catch Monster on Netflix this weekend!

To All The Boys: Always And Forever Interview With Trezzo Mahoro


By: Amanda Guarragi

We all seem have our own traits that we want in a best friend. Majority of us want someone who is the opposite of who we are so they can ground us. As we’ve seen Lara Jean (Lana Condor) evolve over the years, we know that she is very reserved and lives in her own romantic little world. Her best friend Lucas (Trezzo Mahoro) is the total opposite of Lara Jean but that’s why their friendship works so well. Lucas is always the one to add some fun to her life, even if things aren’t going so well for her. In the To All the Boys trilogy, Lucas acts as the universal friend for everyone watching. The one we can relate to and the one who reminds us of our best friends.

We see Lucas grow with Lara Jean and I think that is why we love seeing their friendship. He is someone who just pops up when you need him most. Trezzo Mahoro loves Lucas, as much as we all do and after playing him for a while now, he feels even more connected to him,

His sense of fashion, he’s great but besides that he’s just, he’s a great friend. He’s a friend that I think we all need right now. Especially in this pandemonium we’re in. He would be a very cool person to have and he’s diverse and I love him. I love playing him because I could be his friend. 

Courtesy of Netflix Film

The reason why this trilogy is so wonderful is because it brings back the teenage rom-com in all its glory. There are many romantic comedies that people secretly love and call it a ‘guilty pleasure’, when it shouldn’t be considered one. We can enjoy all genres for what they are. For example, my favourite romantic comedy is When Harry Met Sally. Yes, it’s a bit dated, but for me it’s THE blueprint for all rom-coms. When asked about his favourite romantic comedy, Mahoro answered with 50 First Dates. He agreed that Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have great chemistry, much like Noah Centineo and Lana Condor. Sometimes people just click on screen.

This third instalment makes you feel like you are back in high school because of the senior trip, college applications and the most important event, prom. Mahoro does think that everyone can relate to this trilogy because we have all been through the similar situations as Lara Jean or, even Kavinsky in our early days,

I’m sure we can all think of that one crush that we had back in grade six to eight or whatever grade we were in. So, 100% I related to all of the material in there BUT at the same time it was kind of hilarious because when I did take myself back there, I was like oh geez, I can’t believe that is what I was doing at that time. So Lara Jean definitely did it better than I did. 

Courtesy of Netflix Film

Even though we all suffer from secondhand embarrassment, I’m sure we all enjoyed feeling all of those emotions again through these characters. We can all learn from these characters and that is the most important thing, these teenage romantic comedies can give us. We can’t learn about life experiences through a textbook in school, we need to be grateful that movies can give us these lessons, no matter how old we are. Mahoro also learned a lot from this trilogy,

This trilogy taught me how to be more patient, that’s for sure. The same way that Peter and Lara are with each other. They definitely taught me that and also to just have fun and have a good time. That is very, very important. I feel like people have forgotten how to do that now. That is an important aspect in our lives right now. 

Patience is always the key and can be applied to how you handle everything in your life. Mahoro also goes on to say that Lara Jean and Kavinsky’s relationship can help everyone take chances. To not be be afraid in taking the first step. That if you want something, to just go for it and put your all into it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about relationships but this is what the trilogy has given everyone. It spreads love and gives us all hope that romance isn’t dead, that people will love you for who you are and that any relationship can be a great love story.

To All The Boys: Always And Forever Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

To All The Boys: Always and Forever is a pretty fun final installment to the trilogy. After watching our girl, Lara Jean Covey choose Peter Kavinsky over John Ambrose (which was a mistake), we all wanted to see how LJ and PK would end up. Let’s face it, even though some of us (especially me) dislike Valentine’s Day… we still love our romance films. The beauty of rom-coms is that they can take you out of reality for a bit. They can give you a wonderful lead saying the cheesiest, most romantic lines, and we’ll buy it.

What is so wonderful about this trilogy is that it brought life back into the genre. For the past three years, LJ (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) have grown together BUT they have also grown as individuals. This film also takes you back to your senior year and how stressful everything can be. Their relationship is put to the test but they never fail to be absolutely adorable with each other. That’s the magic Lana Condor brings to the screen, so the way Noah Centineo looks at her is totally relatable. Condor holds this film together. She has carried the trilogy from the very beginning because of her spirit.

Like any other teenage romantic comedy, it comes with difficult decisions and life lessons. It is no lie that teenagers are too young to make these life changing decisions but they are all forced to. How are they supposed to know what we want in life? The one thing that I really appreciated from this film is the focus on Lara Jean’s future and what she wanted. Sometimes relationships can cloud your judgement and affect your decisions. Teenagers are constantly faced with difficult decisions and are even more emotional than adults. Everything feels like the end of the world but life is just beginning. When we see Lara Jean take her schooling seriously, instead of thinking about Kavinsky, we see a different side of her that we haven’t seen.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is Lana Condor’s trilogy and without her none of it works. She has this bright, beautiful, compassionate spirit and she will make you fall in love, with love. As we all know, I am a sucker for the friends to lovers trope and this trilogy started out with a contract. The way this film ends ties everything together and it is a full circle moment. Romantic comedies have been revived through this trilogy and hopefully we can get more of these films. We need more fun, sweet and heartwarming films in our lives.

Malcolm & Marie Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie is a very interesting watch. This is the first movie, in a very long time, where I still don’t know how to feel about it. Am I supposed to enjoy the film based on the performances alone? Am I supposed to dislike it because the screenplay is absolutely bonkers? Levinson masks his own insecurities as a filmmaker, by combining his personal grievances towards critics and writing from the perspective of a Black filmmaker… which didn’t make sense. Sure, John David Washington and Zendaya give fantastic performances but the film is just an endless cycle of arguments.

First and foremost, why is Sam Levinson writing from the perspective of a Black filmmaker? The dialogue that he gives Malcolm (John David Washington) is oddly specific. It was as if he scrolled through reviews of other films and tried to find the most ridiculous ones to put in the script. I wish Levinson just kept it general instead of criticizing reviews from a perspective that he doesn’t know much about. As you watch Malcolm rant for the entire movie, over one review, you see it through a white lens. Levinson literally made a film criticizing white critics, for using the same language, when reviewing Black-led films and accuses them of “trying” to be progressive. Yet he made a film from the perspective of a Black filmmaker, addressing these issues, when he could have been generalizing the rant instead. So if you think about it, it’s contradictory to what he was trying to do.

Courtesy of Netflix

If we remove the endless rants about critics knowing absolutely nothing about the art of cinema, Malcolm and Marie (Zendaya) have a very toxic relationship. They are constantly badgering each other, provoking the other and jabbing each other with the most hurtful things. It’s as if Levinson thought about the worst possible things he could ever say to a person and just threw it in every single argument. The film was exhausting to sit through. Every single time they would calm down, Malcolm or Marie, would bring something else up and start all over again. By the third argument, you’re just blown away by the fact that they’re still going. It just drags on and leaves you with a headache.

It’s entirely possible that I liked Malcolm & Marie but I can also acknowledge all the flaws. The performances carry it all the way and in all honesty the film wouldn’t have worked without Zendaya or John David Washington. They elevated Levinson’s words (as absurd as they were) to make you want to listen to what they had to say. However, the way Levinson addresses white critics reviewing a Black filmmakers work just doesn’t feel authentic. It felt like he had all this pent up rage and he wanted to express it but he also didn’t want to make it about himself. The script is incredibly narcissistic and just left me asking, “but why? what’s the point of this” and now I’m realizing, maybe there was no point. He just wanted to rant and he expressed it in the only way he knew how, through the art of cinema.