Henry Poole Is Here is directed by Mark Pellington and stars Luke Wilson, who plays a troubled man who has recently discovered he has a rare form of cancer. He has a very limited time to live, so he moves and decides to buy a home to live out his final days in. When his home gets a new stucco job, a flaw in the workmanship reveals an image resembling Jesus Christ himself. It becomes the focal point of the entire film, as the whole neighborhood thinks it can work miracles with the simple touch of the hand.
Luke Wilson drives the movie forward in almost every scene. He is definitely the shining star here. The supporting cast is serviceable but nothing special. Wilson is a talented actor, we all know that. Playing Henry, he exemplifies a man dying of cancer to a tee. It’s going to take a miracle to save him, and a mark on the wall of his house may give him one. As a Christian myself, it’s easy for me to sit here and proclaim that Poole is a top-notch Christian film. A film of this quality with religious undertones would make any Christian movie lover drool. However, I’m not going to do that. Poole has some great components to it. It has almost every piece it needs to make one cohesive, good-quality production. But it’s really lacking in the entertainment category. The pacing here is not very good. Like, at all. It brings the whole thing down a notch and I can’t let that go unsaid.
Will this movie convert the unbeliever? Sadly, probably not. There may not be enough physical evidence to do so. Most skeptics will say that a premise that involves people touching a stucco stain on the side of man’s house and having their lives instantly changed is ludicrous. Yes, maybe so. But things like this happened thousands of years ago when Jesus was here on the Earth. Not only that, little miracles happen every single today in the world around us, sometimes we just don’t notice or they never get the headlines in the news. Despite this, Poole does a solid job of not being too preachy and handling the premise in an admirable way. Wilson is a fantastic lead and he makes the movie even better than it would be without him. This is a definite rental. Give it a shot at least once. If anything, you’ll come out of it a happier, more uplifted person.
Suburbicon is a thriller written by the Coen Brothers, directed by George Clooney and stars Matt Damon, Oscar Isaac and Julianne Moore. How can a film with these names be anything but great? Well, Suburbicon is quite the mess, if you ask me.
The film takes place in the 1950’s where a home invasion changes the shape of one family in an all-white community. The movie juggles all types of topics such as race, crime, thrills, comedy, culture and more. There are two stories at play and neither of them really ever come to a satisfying conclusion. They just kind of happen. With a cast consisting of stars such as Damon, Moore and Isaac, you would think some of the performances would stand out, but sadly none of them do. They aren’t bad, something is just amiss. Whether the Coen brothers had a lackluster outing or Clooney just isn’t that great as a director, it’s anyone’s guess. It’s like the 03-04 Lakers: A star-studded group that falls short of everyone’s expectations. With all of the different things taking place in the film, and trust me, there’s a lot…nothing ever becomes genuinely entertaining. It’s all just a mishmash of events. The cohesiveness is missing. That’s what is so tragic about this movie.
There are some solid relationships gong on here such as the one between Nicky and Uncle Mitch. Suburbicon is also very stylish. The set pieces, wardrobes and make-up are all top-notch. The cinematography is point as well. But good looks can only get you so far. I feel as if it tries really hard to be great, but doesn’t realize that its missing some simple key components. When the film tries to say something meaningful about race, it fails. When it tries to be funny, it fails. When it tries to be thrilling, it fails. Not much of anything works here. But hey, it’s a beautifully-shot film and it’s slick as can be. I can only recommend a rent for this one, if that. Nice try Clooney, maybe next time.
Detroit: Become Human is the latest “movie-game” from the mind of Quantic Dream‘s David Cage. His previous works include Fahrenheit, 2010’s Heavy Rain and 2013’s Beyond Two Souls. Heavy Rain was my first Quantic Dream title. I purchased it the first month of release and that game really won me over with its unique gameplay style approach and fantastic storytelling. I may be in the minority here, but I also liked Beyond quite a bit. It had some major flaws, but I plan on playing again. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Detroit takes place in the year 2038 and centers around three androids named Markus, Connor and Kara. Markus serves his owner, who is an elderly painter. Connor is an advanced prototype serving as a special agent. He assists his human partner, Hank and helps solve crimes, search for Android deviants, perform interrogations and handle hostage situations. Kara serves as somewhat of maid to an abusive father and his daughter. Androids are becoming so advanced that they are starting to display human tendencies such as emotion and critical thinking. The United States is a mess, with rising unemployment, a horrible presidential approval rate, bad foreign relationships and a bevy of other things. This premise has been seen countless other times in media, but Detroit really nails it. It helps that it’s in video game form because you become enamored and engrossed in everything happening around you. The game has a way of sucking you in, grabbing you, and never letting go.
Detroit has much to say when it comes to thought-provoking topics such as politics, religion, morals and so on. It handles these things well in a general sense, but it really lets the player decide how these things play out. The player has ultimate control. One small move can have a huge effect on the outcome of any given situation. At the end of each chapter, you’ll see a flowchart that shows you your choices and how they led to different outcomes and situations. You will also see other player’s choices throughout the world in the form of a percentage. During my first play through, I was surprised to see some awfully low percentages at the end of certain chapters. That’s a good thing, meaning I was in the minority. It makes you question your decisions, which leads to excellent replay value. This game can be played multiple times. Each of the three protagonists can live or die in the end. It’s all up to the player.
Detroit is just like previous Quantic Dream games, where the gameplay consists of watching a lot of dialogue and performing quicktime events via button prompts. To me, it’s a perfectly fine approach because it fits so well with this type of game. There are enough QTE’s to keep the player focused on the story, so you aren’t tempted to look away or multitask while playing. Player engagement is key and David Cage knows that. I was very surprised to find that throughout my experience with the game, my decisions had massive weight. At times, I had to pause it because I just couldn’t make up my mind. I had to ponder it for a few seconds before pulling the trigger (sometimes literally). The game makes you feel like not only the character, but you, are making each decision. Not many games can say that.
From a performance standpoint, the game is a marvel. I played it on a standard PS4 using a Sony 4K TV. I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be if it was running on a PS4 Pro. The excellent game design contributes to the visual fidelity on display. Facial animations, the little details when exploring each area, it’s all beautiful and exquisite. The attention to detail in the game makes the world come alive, such as digital newspapers scattered throughout, news reports on televisions, billboard advertisements, and so on. It makes you feel like this is what Detroit would look and feel like in 2038 if technology rapidly advanced. In the game, Canada is known as a safe haven for Androids as there are no laws banning them from entering the country. It’s things like this that give Detroit a realistic feel.
Overall, Detroit: Become Human is everything you can ask for in a Quantic Dream game. David Cage and company have made an amazing game and wonderful experience. It’s just so different than anything out there right now. The same went for Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. The game touches on political and social issues that we are dealing with in today’s America, and even things we previously dealt with in history. It is absolutely stunning, and has an excellent cast of characters. You have Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Clancy Brown (Shawshank Redemption) and Valorie Curry (Breaking Dawn) just to name a few. The performances are great, but certainly not perfect. It’s what you would expect from a Quantic Dream game. I think Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page did an even better job in Beyond. The decision-making will lead players to multiple playthroughs. The replay value is a big selling point for the game, and that should applauded. I am already looking forward to my second playthrough to see what will be different. I enjoyed every moment with Detroit. There was never a dull moment. The 5-year gap was well worth the wait. I highly recommend Detroit: Become Human. It’s one of the best single player experiences of 2018 and I am sure it will win several awards when it’s all said and done.