‘The Adam Project’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

As we get older and we learn how to accept our past, the idea of being able to talk to our younger selves is always floating around. What would you say to your younger self? How could talking to the 12-year-old version of you affect your future decisions? Well, The Adam Project taps into that very idea in a sci-fi film that is grounded in human emotion. Director Shawn Levy constructs a heartfelt story about time-travel that revolves around childhood trauma and grief. It does have the charming Ryan Reynolds with his usual sarcasm, but this is a well-rounded sci-fi, action adventure that balances the humour and drama quite well.

We meet Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) who is wounded while he is trying to steal a ship in order to go back in time to stop time travel from being created. Unfortunately, he crash-lands in the year 2022 and bumps into his 12-year-old self, played by newcomer Walker Scobell. As we know, Reynolds has his own dry sense of humour that he carries with him in all of his characters, but what was so impressive was that Scobell matched his delivery. It was like two peas in a pod, and their dynamic carried the entire film. On the surface, it may look like any other sci-fi film, but the time travel storyline and how it affects both Adams is really emotional.

Time travel can always get a bit messy and it can be difficult to understand. If you just follow the rules placed within the movie itself, then it isn’t so bad. The futuristic weapons and armour combined made the action scenes really fun. Of course, there are references to other films like Star Wars, but it was fitting. The VFX work was strong and the soundtrack they used to really pack it on that there wasn’t that much time left worked really well throughout the movie. Any movie that utilizes “Foreplay/Long Time” from Boston gets a high grade for me. This movie was fun when it needed to be and it had really beautiful, emotional moments between family members.

The Adam Project is one of the best Netflix films in their library and the entire team should be proud of this film. It is a family-oriented film that touches upon grief and how every little thing that happens in your childhood can shape you into the person you become. The cast works together so well and having a 13 Going on 30 reunion with Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo is something we definitely needed. It is a wholesome film with so much love and an important message that time really does heal everything. What everyone can learn from this film is that it is important to feel these emotions in order to grow as a person, and I think that is what makes this film so wonderful.

‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Due to the popularity of other slasher films making direct sequels to the original film in the franchise, Texas Chainsaw Massacre decided to take a stab at it. Now, the difference between this slasher film and the others is that they had a distinct final girl. We have Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott, both of who have been the central focus in their designated franchise. Texas Chainsaw Massacre never really had a memorable final girl, but they had Leatherface. No matter how many sequels they make with Leatherface, nothing compares to the original film and the stunning cinematography. The kills in the original were brutal and the film itself had more tension because of the camerawork alone. This direct sequel doesn’t really add much to the story and it doesn’t even have a strong enough motivation for its characters.

In order to make Leatherface relevant for this generation, the story needed to be centred on influencers. After nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town. These young kids have no idea what they are getting themselves into, as they step into the house owned by an elderly lady with some demons of her own. Director David Blue Garcia does some good work in building anticipation but the story just doesn’t pan out as well as it should have. The story is straightforward and feels recycled, but we are all really watching this for the kills, aren’t we? It doesn’t matter if any of these characters survive because they are just placed in this town to get murdered with no prior knowledge of Leatherface.

This is the type of sequel where you’re just waiting for the kills to happen. Texas Chainsaw Massacre has some of the most brutal kills I’ve seen in a while. There’s so much blood and gore, that even the close-ups of anything piercing someone’s skin will make you cringe. The kills will also make you laugh because of how bold they are. You can definitely feel every single blow to the head or axe to the chest. It does get a bit ridiculous in the third act because it could have ended in three different spots, but it kept going. They tried to make a final girl out of Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré) but it just didn’t make any sense because no one is connected to her enough to make this feel like “one last time” heading out to kill Leatherface.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a sequel that tries to recapture the same essence of the original but falls flat. The characters are hollow and there is absolutely no reason to even root for them. Leatherface has always flown under the radar and his backstory was always weak. If we compare his story to Jason, Freddy, or Michael, each of their stories is a bit more developed, which created well-rounded antagonists. In this case, it felt like they were mimicking the importance of other franchise villains with Leatherface in their place. Fans of the franchise will definitely appreciate the kills but at the end of the day, it’s just a recycled story trying to cater to this generation to make it relevant again.

‘The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Before you sit and binge-watch this limited series in one sitting, make sure to have a glass (or a bottle) of wine ready to go. It just fits in with the story that unfolds in The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window or the shorter version The Woman in the House. This limited series explores grief, big life changes, and mental health through a well-thought-out murder mystery that will keep you glued to the screen. It is filled with dark humour, a lot of wine, and is a satirical slant on the psychological thriller. Majority of the time you’re trying to make sense of what is actually happening and then it just shocks you entirely at the end. This will definitely be one of the most enjoyable series to binge-watch on Netflix this year.

We meet heartbroken Anna (Kristen Bell) and every day feels the same to her. She sits with her wine, staring out the window, watching life go by without her. But when a handsome neighbour (Tom Riley) and his adorable daughter (Samsara Yett) move in across the street, Anna starts to see a light at
the end of the tunnel. That is until she witnesses a gruesome murder… Or did she? This series does a great job in keeping the audience guessing whom the killer is throughout the entire run. Everyone can be a suspect, and even when things get resolved, something else comes in and throws everything out the window. Bell gives a great performance that has you connect with her on an emotional level and she brings you into Anna’s little bubble.

Why this show works is because the episodes are half-hour long and each episode ends on a cliffhanger. We want to see what Anna does next and if the handsome stranger across the street is actually someone she can trust. It’s the definition of a Friday night binge after winding down from a long workweek. Sure, it is satirical but when the show deals with grief, it really grounds the story. You have the over-the-top murder mystery running simultaneously as a woman dealing with a massive loss and trying to find the courage to live life to the fullest again. The series is fairly balanced and never loses its audience once. It flowed extremely well and it filled the eight episodes nicely.

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is a great binge and it’s really fun to sit through. It’s one of those series that will have you questioning everything with the lead character and have you talking to the screen. It does get a bit hectic towards the second half of the series, so if you’re not a fan of seeing bloody murders, this is your warning. The show has everything that you could want from a murder mystery, especially one surrounding a mom. Let’s face it, we all love to people watch but this show takes things to a whole other level. So make sure to grab that bottle of wine, wrap yourself up in a blanket this weekend and enjoy this fun series from start to finish.

‘The Royal Treatment’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We would all love to fall in love with royalty and be whisked away to a new country. Since that can’t happen to all of us, the new Netflix film, The Royal Treatment will make you believe in fairytales again. When New York hairdresser Izzy (Laura Marano) seizes the chance to work at the wedding of a charming Prince Thomas(Mena Massoud), sparks between them fly, will love — or duty to one’s country/family — prevail? Both Izzy and the Prince have lost their way because of their duty to their family’s, but once they confide in each other, they both realize what they need to do.

What I really appreciated about this movie was the authentic Italo-American lifestyle that was presented to Izzy and her family. Within seconds of meeting Izzy, there’s a comfort and sense of ease that Marano brings to the character. She offers such warmth to everyone she meets and is very kind as well. Marano gave such a great performance and it was nice to see the Italian family dynamic within the hairdressing shop ‘Bellissime’. To Izzy, family is very important, but sometimes that attachment holds her back from actually pursuing her dreams. It’s a really difficult situation to be in and many people can relate to her.

Like any romantic comedy, there is a miscommunication and our two leads meet unexpectedly. The Prince resents his family for keeping him from actually making his own decisions, similar to Izzy, but their families only want what’s best for them. Even though they don’t have the same lifestyle, they understand each other on a different level. The best part of any romantic comedy is the chemistry between the two leads. Marano and Massoud were dynamite together and played off of each other so well. Sparks were definitely flying and their genuine admiration for one another came through.

The Royal Treatment is a very sweet, heartfelt, and grounded romantic comedy that has two of the cutest leads falling in love with each other. The authentic Italian nature of the family and the New York City attitude makes for a fun encounter with royalty. Laura Marano is a total sweetheart and Mena Massoud is a very charming leading man, they were perfect together. The supporting cast was entertaining as well. The love and friendship was definitely felt. If you want to feel all warm and fuzzy, then this one is worth checking out on Netflix!

‘Brazen’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We all love our mystery thrillers, and Netflix has a brand new one just for us. Brazen, directed by Monika Mitchell, dives into the life of prominent mystery writer and crime expert, Grace (Alyssa Milano). After her sister Kathleen’s divorce, she hurries back to her family home in Washington, D.C. because her. When her sister is killed and her double life as a webcam performer is revealed, Grace ignores the warnings of cool-headed detective Ed (Sam Page) and gets involved in the case. A mystery writer, solving a case that’s a little too close to home, with a cool-headed detective sounds like a pretty interesting story.

Mitchell gets right into Kathleen’s story in the opening of this film and sets the tone for how easily accessible women are in the digital age. Kathleen is going through a divorce, possibly losing her son, and still trying to keep everything together as a schoolteacher. It feels like her life is spiralling out of control, but when she’s Desiree, the cam girl online, she has power and complete control over her clients. On the other hand, we have Grace who is headstrong, determined and is not afraid to speak her mind. She has full control over her life and definitely overpowers her sister. Grace has no idea that her sister has an alter-ego and is taken aback when she finds out.

Apart from the actual crime that was committed, I found the connection between Grace and Ed to be the most interesting dynamic in the film. Pairing a mystery writer with a detective is a match made in heaven. Page and Milano had a very natural chemistry and bounced off each other quite effortlessly. Their connection made the film engaging and pushed the story along. Watching Grace try and solve the murder of her sister, using her own writing skills was actually empowering considering Ed told her to stay away because it’s a little too close to home. The story did run a little long and loses traction in the middle, but that third act reels you back in for a strong reveal.

Brazen is adapted from the Nora Roberts novel, ‘Brazen Virtue’, and director Monika Mitchell read this book three times over because of how she connected with these characters. They are all very likeable and Alyssa Milano was the perfect choice for Grace, as they share similar character traits. Even though it may seem like a generic crime thriller, the story itself is important and should start a conversation about the safety of women in the online space and men’s accessibility to them. If you enjoy mystery thrillers, then this one will be right up your alley and it may even surprise you.