Tag: Movie Review

Impossible to Miss

Impossible to Miss

There were many reasons why DC’s 2017 cinematic film Justice League was a critical flop.

Amongst them was the fact that some of the CGI was kind of wonky. The fight scenes, particularly during the climactic fight against a dark red backdrop, were mostly hit-or-miss.

However, arguably the most disastrously well-known CGI mishap in the movie was Superman’s mouth.

See, as the story goes, Henry Cavill moved on to take part in Mission Impossible: Fallout after he finished recording his scenes for Justice League. The part required him to grow a bushy mustache.

Then DC decided to reshoot parts of Justice League after Joss Whedon took over as Director. By then, Cavill was full mustache mode and not allowed to shave due to Paramount stepping in.

So much money was spent digitally removing the mustache, and everyone universally agrees the effect was awful.

True story.

While that may have become one of the downfalls of DC’s big crossover event, now that I’ve seen the new Mission Impossible… I think it was worth it to save this movie.

Fallout, the latest in the long-running Tom Cruise tentpole series of action-adventure spy thrillers, is a great movie. Action-packed, well-acted and full of some gorgeous cinematography.

Yet… The whole isn’t necessarily a sum of its parts. For all of the wonderful things within Fallout, it feels incredibly bloated at its two-and-a-half hour runtime.

Frankly that was the biggest complaint my family pretty much collectively came to after leaving the theatre. Each scene on its own was pretty wonderful, but a good chunk of them could have been easily left on the cutting room floor without losing anything. Making the film better, somewhat more concise in fact.

For instance, as the trailers show, much of the movie is set in Paris, France. However, the climax of the film takes place in Kashmir. There’s an entire sequence between those two locations that takes place in London, England which could have easily been cut down wildly and happen in Paris as well.

There are also far too many action scenes. The most prevalent ones in the trailers, a fight including Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill in a bathroom, happens early in the flick. It’s wonderfully choreographed and edge-of-your-seat intense.

But then there are easily six or seven massive action scenes throughout the rest of the film which all give the same rush without a break. It’s exhausting in practice, despite the fact that each fight or chase is memorable on its own.

Peter Rosenthal puts it best in his three-minute review of the film for the Onion honestly:

But action is what’s expected of a Mission Impossible movie. Tom Cruise will always be doing his own stunts. It’ll always, always be fun and exciting — even if slightly overdone this time around.

What I hadn’t necessarily been expecting out of Fallout were the wonderful interactions between Cavill and Cruise, as well as some of the actually stunning shots in the film.

On the first point, watching Cavill come into the MI universe with such a robust, fun role actually made me mad. He is a great actor who really sells a complex (though somewhat predictable) character who fits right into an already well-established canon.

I really wish DC utilized him better. Because if I’m showing my cards, the DCEU Superman isn’t really that great in my opinion. But now I know that he could be fantastic if he was given a better set of circumstances to inhabit.

As a side note, when I mention Cavill’s character being predictable, the same could essentially be said for most of the movie. Many of the plot beats are set up well in advanced and fairly easy to read for anyone who has enjoyed their fair share of spy thrillers.

But I feel it’s a testament to Fallout’s screenplay that even when early film predictions one might have, do come out correct by the end, it’s still a wild ride getting there. A ride which takes those predictable ideas and does utilize them in ways which still have surprises and intriguing twists.

Honestly I think a good reason for that is the chemistry between Cruise and Cavill. While the other members of Ethan Hunt’s crew do still have significant roles, they take more of a backseat to Superman and he really steps it up.

The other thing I loved about Fallout were a number of the action set pieces throughout. As I mentioned, much of the movie takes place in Paris and boy do they make good use of that locale.

Fallout showcases a variety of things in Paris, from famous landmarks to smaller alleyways that paint a real picture of what can be seen.

Their use of landmarks in particular are very well done. Probably my favorite action scene in the film was a chase between a motorcycle-riding Cruise and the Parisian police. In it, there’s a long tracking shot of Cruise driving backwards through traffic in a circle around the Arc de Triomphe.

It’s a gorgeous shot and really well-paced within the scene to be exciting and cool without lasting too long as to lose its luster.

There are scenes like this all over the movie that are captivating… But like I mentioned before, falters in that there are arguably too many of them. There was enough content in Fallout to easily fill two movies, and a more hefty editor would have been appreciated.

The climax of the movie is especially bloated and honestly jumps the shark to a ridiculous degree. Which is saying something considering we’re discussing Mission Impossible.

I won’t give too much away. I’ll just say it was the clearest case of ‘they should not have survived this’ in the movie, which winds up highlighting how many times the characters should have died throughout the entire rest of the flick.

In spite of that, even the climax takes many clichés of the genre and presents them in a way that’s engaging. So I’ll give the filmmakers credit in that regard.

In all honesty, if the Mission Impossible franchise is something you enjoy, it’s likely you’ve already seen the movie. It’s certainly a re-watchable guilty pleasure of a series for my family. In that case, I’m sure you enjoyed this movie as much as we did.

Because in spite of its somewhat glaring issues, it’s still a fantastic Mission Impossible movie at heart. One with great action, stunning visuals, some well-crafted character moments and an intriguing collision of at least five-or-six different groups that doesn’t really lose focus or become confusion.

If you are new to Mission Impossible, however, just know that this particular entry in the series is very long and very draining to sit through. A good amount of it could have been cut out, even if it was great.

Basically the movie was too much of a good thing, but still good all the same.

Plus, as far as I was aware, it managed to have a number of beautiful female characters involved in pivotal action and character-driven scenes — and none of them got undressed once during the movie.

So good on you MI crew. Glad to see you had some restraint.

Ant-Man 2 shrinks the MCU’s scale with minor success

Ant-Man 2 shrinks the MCU’s scale with minor success

Ant-Man and the Wasp is, frankly, a mediocre showing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has some brilliant stuff within it, as one might expect from the studio that has revolutionized the idea of a connected universe of films for the last 10 years. However, that brilliant stuff is marred down by a weak plot with awkward pacing and some noticeable problems balancing the movie’s comedy and heart.

Now as usual I’m not planning on putting any spoilers in this mini-review here. Though all things being equal, I would argue there isn’t too much to spoil outside of the end credit stuff that isn’t already shown in trailers and advertisements.

I do wish I could talk about that end credit stuff, because I’m still overjoyed at how my post-Infinity War fan theory was made true in a big, bad way.

But I won’t. Just know that Marvel has no chill right now and I love it.

The first Ant-Man movie was something of a surprise hit for Marvel along the same wavelength as Guardians of the Galaxy. Nobody expected much of anything out of a superhero film with a premise that the hero can shrink down and be really small.

However, by mixing together a lovable main character, some well-done comedy, a few clever visual spectacles and a heist film plot, the movie was a fun little success.

It led to Paul Rudd, the titular Ant-Man, becoming something of a darling in the MCU. He turned into the kind of character whose cameos improved other films like Civil War. As a result, people were a little disappointed when Rudd and Jeremy Renner (the universe’s Hawkeye) did not appear in the crossover blockbuster Infinity War due to a somewhat weak excuse.

That they had “other things going on.”

So Ant-Man and the Wasp, the second MCU film starring Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as our other titular hero, promised to hopefully be the compelling story of just what was so damn important that we couldn’t have shrinking powers assisting in the big fight against Thanos.

What we got was a product that, like I said, was rather mediocre. But not because of its explanations regarding Rudd and Lilly’s absence from Infinity War.

As something of a side-discussion before I jump into where Ant-Man and the Wasp faltered, I want to dive into the reason why I love the opening premise to this film. Even going back to the original advertisements for it, I knew I was looking forward to Ant-Man 2 because it’s a movie that’s predicated on the consequences of other movies.

The aftermath of Civil War, where Rudd is part of the group arrested for siding with Captain America against government restrictions on superheroes, plays heavily into the plot of Ant-Man 2. Much of Rudd’s struggle is having to help his friends while also trying to serve his last three days of house arrest so he can be free to see his daughter more. Meanwhile, Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym and his daughter Hope (Lilly) are also on the run from the FBI because their tech was what allowed Rudd to take part in that battle.

I love that Ant-Man is being used as an example of how actions in their universe have consequences going forward, much like Civil War did. Just a little less heavy-handed due to its smaller scale story.

Puns.

As much as I love the way the movie is set-up, the plot it rolls with given that establishment isn’t the most stellar one we’ve seen. The first third of the film is great and the resolution is decent. But the middle of the movie is bland and forgettable, in part because of the way it tries to balance at least six different stories at once.

That’s right, if the back-and-forth of those three or four driving plot points I’ve already laid out aren’t enough, there are also a couple of separate things going on with all the side character. That’s not even mentioning the film’s villain Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen.

She does alright with what she’s working with, but for the most part Ghost feels like a more one-note throwaway character than most of the other Marvel villains we’ve seen lately. Her personal story arc also has a vague conclusion in the film that seems sidelined in place of Rudd going after his happy ending.

They do offer John-Kamen room for possible inclusion in sequels, but not enough was done to encourage me to be excited for her to show up again.

The way Ghost’s inclusion seemed choppy was kind of emblematic of the problems with Ant-Man and the Wasp as a whole. Because so much was being done all over the place with each character, it felt like a lot of the film was left on the cutting room floor. Many of the scenes feel rushed, with quick cuts that seemed more jarring than stylized in the overall package.

Balancing all of those aspects also created tonal issues. There are a lot of attempts to be comedic that fall flat. For every funny bit, like relating Ghost to an old Russian folktale, there are two or three returning bits from the original Ant-Man that seem to be there just to reference the original Ant-Man.

The lackluster comedic bits hurt especially so because they are interjected around emotional moments that work damn well. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a movie about family, and each character struggles with familial issues in some way or another.

Rudd’s character shines far brighter whenever he’s with his daughter than when he’s the ‘dumb, goofy everyman’ archetype stuck in a room trying to pretend he understands what’s happening.

Every moment his daughter, captured expertly by Abby Ryder Fortson, was on-screen made the movie that much better. You can tell she and Rudd had an electric chemistry together that left the whole audience saying ‘aww’ throughout the film.

Lilly’s relations towards her mother, another driving motif in the film, are also quite heartfelt. I actually teared up a little during the film’s cold open, which was surprisingly well done and emotional.

Ant-Man and the Wasp should have spent more time deciding whether it wanted to be a comedic movie or a heartfelt one. Either path likely would have led it to more success, but the balance is skewed badly in its current state.

It did have some decent action scenes to stand on, especially when digging back into the things that made the original so good: Playing with size.

I won’t spoil too many specific bits, but probably the most memorable moments outside of Ant-Man with his daughter were the moments playing with making big things small and vice versa.

Though my personal favorite ones involved a salt shaker and some hot wheels cars.

Like I said at the top, there were some great things throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp that were wonderful. The family moments, some of the comedy and the visuals especially… Plus the spoiler-y stuff I won’t go into.

However, it was so bogged down by much larger problems that the high of the end-credit scenes quickly fade into a lukewarm reception at best.

Oh, there is one more thing I can think to mention. But my friend Lissete put it best, so I’m going to let her handle this:

Yeah… Arguably the most egregious use of product placement I’ve seen in a Marvel movie thus far.

It’s pretty noticeable all over, though I won’t say it ruined or improved the movie for me in any significant way.

If nothing else, I’ll just say it’s worth seeing the movie – either now or later on cable – to understand why I now want Paul Rudd to be both my Dad and Mom.

‘Baby Driver’ will drive its way into your heart

‘Baby Driver’ will drive its way into your heart

So I haven’t really done this sort of thing for a movie that isn’t brand new yet. But a combination of not having too much else of note from the day and thoroughly enjoying this flick has led me to the conclusion that, yeah, I could stand to talk about some more filmography around here.

When Baby Driver first came out, all I heard was praise for it across the board. Yet I was never really interested in seeing the movie just off the trailers alone, so I passed it up.

Now that I’ve seen the movie, it has occurred to me that perhaps that was a mistake.

Despite it being about a year old now I don’t necessarily feel obliged to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. After all I hadn’t seen it until now and feel spoilers may have still… Well, spoiled the experience. So I’ll try to be sparing with my plot details.

That said, for the context you’ll need, Baby Driver is the story of a kid named Baby who got himself into trouble with a crime boss and is forced to serve as the getaway driver for a number of robberies to repay his debt.

Just based on that description alone you must imagine the movie has a cliché premise. To be fair, it kind of does, right down to the way it winds up tackling the ‘innocence to hardened edge’ and ‘love over all else’ story arcs.

But even if the premise was clichéd, that doesn’t take away from how brilliantly it’s presented and handled by Edgar Wright and everyone else involved in the production.

Ansel Elgort, as Baby, makes for a lead that truly pops in every sense of the word.

His interactions with just about every other character in the movie offer him the chance to display a range of emotions. He goes from being a fun-loving, dancing fool with his deaf guardian to a silent, demure and downright prodigal criminal assistant to, as I mentioned before, a hardened badass. Yet, he never loses the good-natured core you see all throughout the movie.

He’s a truly lovable character to root for in spite of the concessions that tend to come alongside a criminal child prodigy story.

Though I would also be lying to say that his prodigal driving, a somewhat clichéd idea on paper if you replace that talent with basically anything else in an action movie setting, isn’t wildly entertaining.

In fact, every action scene in the film is thoroughly engaging. The driving stunts are insanely well choreographed and feel as distinct as the character himself.

Part of this comes from the way music is integrated into the movie. Only my sister knew this coming in, but most of the movie is actually paced alongside the soundtrack. The driving scenes and most of the on-foot action, both actually action-packed and mundane (things like laying out money in stacks), all follow the beat of whatever piece is playing over it.

The effect is well-done when imagining the scale of the job it took to capture scenes with very specific motions and tempos. However, it’s even better when seeing just how well that musical overlay is intertwined with Baby’s character on top of the scene direction.

There are lots of moments where the film makes it obvious that the music playing out is being listened to by Baby in real-time, which ties the character’s thoughts and actions directly into what you can see him doing on-screen.

Perhaps that’s hard to explain through text, but I’ll just say it helps to bolster the already strong engagement I had with the protagonist by seeing the movie around him play beautifully to his character.

The musical overlay representing real-time listening also opens itself up to other neat tricks.

Similar to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” from earlier this year, the film uses its sound design to represent a main character’s disability in key moments. Baby’s tinnitus, which he tries to hide with the music he so often listens to, becomes the film’s sole soundtrack at a point where he can no longer listen to music.

Frankly it’s a brilliant moment that requires no explanation in the film itself because of how much they develop his character naturally leading up to it. It’s the kind of thing that happens and allows the audience to go ‘oh hey, I see what they did there!’

Sound design is the thing to talk about when talking Baby Driver, in my opinion. The action scenes are also great, but mostly because of how the audio plays into them.

However, there are other great qualities to talk about from the film. The characters are all well-acted, and the ultimate antagonist of the film isn’t quite as predictable as one might expect walking in (which is, thankfully, a nice surprise).

It’s also a very pretty movie, using lots of fancy swipe cuts to transition scenes and similar effects that create a cinematic style that stands out in its own right.

While I could go into more, I feel it would only be right to say that you should go see the movie yourself if you haven’t already. I had not been interested prior, like I said, but all of the wonderful things you’ve probably heard everyone say about Baby Driver is definitely true.

It’s worth a view, or even a few. It feels like the kind of movie that could be watched over-and-over if caught on cable in the middle of the night.

Trust me, for my family that’s probably the highest form of compliment that can be bestowed on a film.

Incredibles 2: It’s incredible, too

Incredibles 2: It’s incredible, too

Forewarning. I do my best not to address anything beyond what can be seen in the trailers for Incredibles 2 in very specific detail in this pseudo-review. But just in case, consider this a spoiler warning, as I may throw some minor details around that I wouldn’t personally consider overtly spoiler-y.

You have been warned.



Full disclosure walking into this one: I absolutely adore the first Incredibles movie. Like I have no qualms admitting that my rose-tinted glasses were on securely when hearing this particular sequel was coming out.

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the first movie, but as I found out while discussing things ahead of showtime with my friend Juan, I can still recall most of the film in striking detail.

I also recall a lot of things that happened surrounding the original movie’s release. I took a class field trip when I was in elementary school, where we all got to go to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to see a screening of The Incredibles together. I don’t quite remember why we had that field trip or who I was there with, but I distinctly remember doing it.

There was also a game based on The Incredibles for the Gameboy Advance that I played to death, not even fully aware of the fact that it was my first exposure to the ever-popular side-scrolling, arcade-styled beat-em-up genre.

So yes, I was pretty pre-disposed to enjoy Incredibles 2. It’s a universe I was excited to see on-screen again.

I absolutely loved this movie for what it was: A really fun family-centric movie that knew how to balance comedy, heart, a number of plots and — mostly — keep what I really liked about each character alive.

A lot of that love certainly comes out of the nostalgia factor. Seeing the characters I loved on-screen again was like visiting an old friend, and I was excited to see how their stories continued.

Being 14 years wiser meant I could see past the nostalgia enough to address what I didn’t necessarily like about the film as a film, both in terms of the overall plot and in terms of how the characters were treated. But I still really enjoyed the overall experience.

Where the movie primarily failed for me was in the fact that… Well… It’s a kids film.

Yes that’s an obvious thing to say when we talk about a Disney Pixar flick, but that fact really stood out to me.

It was obvious how I was well above the general demographic for the movie, as Juan and I were literally surrounded by eight-to-10 year-old children.

Pretty close to how old I must have been when the first film came out 14 years ago, to be fair.

But hey, you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy a Pixar film. That’s one of the big draws of them after all. So what exactly hit me about Incredibles 2 specifically?

Well… It’s incredibly, incredibly predictable. Pun somewhat intended.

The second the plot gets into motion, I knew exactly where it was headed in regards to the big bad of the film, and I was (mostly) spot-on. For anyone old enough to have some movie-going experience under their belt it’s telegraphed in an almost annoying manner.

There were a couple of times where I groaned seeing the characters on-screen not realize what was about to happen.

In a sense, that skepticism and older knowledge base somewhat ruined about a third of the movie for me.

That makes for a fairly good segway, actually. When you walk into Incredibles 2, you should expect to see three major divides in the movie.

After a great cold open making good on the cliffhanger ending to the first film, the plot splits in twine. Alternating between Elastigirl, Helen Parr, Mrs. Incredible — whatever you’d prefer to call her — going off to do superhero work while Mr. Incredible has to watch the kids, dealing with insecurity over being upstaged by his wife and dadly duties like math homework and boy drama.

The Elastigirl superhero portion of the film is the weakest part, in my opinion. There’s a lot of cool action scenes, mostly involving the sweet motorcycle she rides that can split in two as a way to use her powers while driving, and has some sweet moments watching her be successful.

However, the obviously telegraphed plot development makes her side of the story drag, as I constantly found myself waiting for the reveal I was expecting to be revealed.

I much preferred the Mr. Incredible side of the story, which was focused on the family’s dynamic. Particularly regarding the youngest Parr, Jack-Jack. While all of the children’s problems weighed heavily on Bob, trying to figure out how to deal with a baby that has every super powers with no control comprised a majority of the run time.

You watch Mr. Incredible descend into madness and it’s pretty funny the whole way through. As are the reactions of side characters like Sam Jackson’s Frozone and Brad Bird’s Edna. Jack-Jack really stole just about every scene he was in.

I had a particular fondness for Violet and Dash from the first movie, but they were somewhat sidelined in the second.

Violet’s portions of the film are excellent representations of the angsty teenager archetype, clichéd but well-done and very funny each time she has (frequent) angry outbursts.

Violet also winds up being the crux of the family’s dynamic and spurs much of the emotional moments for the rest of the characters. The interactions between her and her father are particularly lovely and stand-out. But her scenes are few and far between.

Dash, however, is somehow shafted further. There’s no moment in the second film that embodies the same youthful childlike wonder of Dash discovering the extent of his abilities, like when he runs on water for the first time in the original.

Instead Dash is very one-note: He’s bad at math/generally not responsible and he’s obsessed with cool gadgets.

I also have some gripes with how long Mr. Incredible seems to stick on the ‘jealous of his wife’ train for a lot of the film. It’s somewhat in-character, but there’s so much more he does in the movie that’s compelling that his jealous moments stick out like a sore thumb.

All of that may sound like I didn’t enjoy the film, but frankly it’s probably closer to accumulated nit-picks based on wanting more out of characters I’ve loved for a long time.

Eventually the superhero and family portions of the movie converge, and when they do, Incredibles 2 seriously kicks it up a couple notches.

I could’ve watched an entire movie just seeing more fun superhero family shenanigans.

Beyond the plot, Incredibles 2 is a gorgeous movie. Everything is crisp as hell after 14 years and does justice to the 50’s art deco comic look that I’m sure is partially why everyone remembers the first movie so fondly.

One example early on is a scene where Helen and Bob are sitting in front of a pool, and the animated water effects glowing up against them make for a great visual.

The only scene where the visuals really hurt more than they helped involved a room full of flashing lights where Helen fights the main villain. The lighting effects on the characters look amazing… But unfortunately it’s hard to focus on them with how much the screen flashes.

I’ll definitely recommend that anyone and everyone should go see the film, as even with my gripes against the story and certain characters, it’s an incredibly fun and engaging experience through-and-through.

One that I would say was 100 percent worth the 14 year wait.

I’ll look forward to Incredibles 3 in 2032.

Deadpool.

Deadpool.

Alright look. I don’t have any sort of deep, philosophical thoughts that are way up my own ass today about human psychology or the value of sentimental material goods. Haven’t exactly done enough today to warrant that kind of thinking.

All I’ve really done was clean the downstairs bathroom and watch Deadpool 2.

As much as I have spent time talking about my cleaning habits in the past, there’s clearly a much more overwhelming force taking up brain space right now that I need to vent.

An X-Force, if you will. Because movie humor.

So I’m going to blather on for a while to debrief after that rollercoaster of a movie. Cool? Cool.

If I get into anything spoiler-y I promise I’ll let you know ahead of time. I’ll also put it under a ‘read more’ line on the blog here just in case. Continue reading “Deadpool.”

April 2, 2018 Articles Published

I have an unexpected two-for-one deal for everyone in the audience today.

That’s right, one newspaper, two Jason-branded stories. Deal of the century folks, I can tell you that much now!

… Okay, so I guess that’s not really a novel situation for me to be in all things considered, but it really did come up at the last-minute in today’s case. See, it all began with an unfortunate bit of timing.

Though it wasn’t exactly ‘unfortunate’ for me necessarily. But I’m overly qualifying each statement at this point so I’ll stop fooling around.

Last Friday, my family had plans to go see the new Steven Spielberg film “Ready Player One.” We all absolutely loved the book, so it has been on our list of things to do together pretty much since the film was first announced. Our tickets were purchased well in advance…

But then my Dad got stuck with work at the last-minute. Since he couldn’t go, my sister and Mom didn’t want to go either. The only issue with that was I had already promised our Lifestyle editor Hannah a review of the film. Plus we had four tickets already bought.

So I did the next best thing and brought my friends to a free movie.

As much as I wound up being disappointed that I couldn’t gush about how much I liked the movie with my family that night, it was a pretty dope day hanging out with my friends, playing video games and seeing a movie.

Also, as I just mentioned, I really liked “Ready Player One.” It’s not exactly a heavily story-driven film by any means, and the actors aren’t anything to write home about… But visually the film is just gorgeous, especially for the way it diversified each world the heroes travel between.

Plus, despite not exactly being super accurate to the book, the different take on Cline’s overall framework is pretty cool in its own right, so I’d argue the movie is a perfect companion to the book rather than being a replacement for it.

Sort of like the characters going through similar situations, but in alternate universes. That’s the best way I can think to put it.

I obviously don’t want to play all my cards here and not direct you right to the review, so you can see my thoughts on the film through this link here. All I’ll add at this point is that I highly recommend seeing it just for an enjoyably pretty moviegoing experience.

Especially with the Stanley Kubrick scene in the middle of the film that just continues to blow my mind with how gorgeous it was.

However, as promised, I still have more to go into.

See my first day back from Spring Break in the newsroom was a busy one. I was essentially juggling five different things all at the same time.

Not only was I fact checking and section editing stories as usual, I was also helping to set everything up for my movie review, transcribing out a 47-minute-long interview for a profile I’m working on (more to come on that soon enough), studying for two exams I have this week and working on a completely different story I was thrown at the last-minute.

Over the break, a 19-year-old man who does not attend CSUF was visiting some friends in the University House apartments near campus. At some point, for one reason or another, he fell off the third floor balcony and was hospitalized in a  “critical” but not “life threatening” condition.

Even though the event happened early on into the break, our advisor wanted us to do some sort of follow-up. That responsibility went to me.

I tried to get in touch with our University Police department, but they were not involved in the case and directed me to Fullerton Police.

So I called Fullerton Police and had to cycle through multiple different departments, likely because people were off thanks to Easter. Eventually I did manage to get in touch with Sergeant Dan Castillo, who gave me some real basic information but directed me to the officer who was a watch commander that night.

A few hours later, when Lieutenant Michael Chlebowski was in the office, I called back and talked with him for some more specific details about the case and why the Fullerton Police won’t be following up on it.

It was an easy 300 words to write, and even then my editors cut it down quite a bit from the looks of the final piece, but I can’t really complain. With Comm 471, easy points are easy points.

If you want to read that story in its entirety, check it out here.

You can also see my full archive of writing for the Daily Titan over on the right!

Jason’s Take on “The Post”

Jason’s Take on “The Post”

Editor’s Note: For anyone who may be confused seeing this style of review show up here, let me explain. This article was one I had originally written for the Daily Titan’s first spring 2018 issue. Though the movie had its official wide release on Jan. 12 and we find ourselves in the midst of Oscar season, it was decided a review of this particular flick wouldn’t be timely enough to go in print by the time we hit production.

But of course, as luck would have it, I had finished writing the article before finding out it wasn’t running.

So I decided to cannibalize my own work and put it out on my personal blog with some additional bits added on. After all, what would be the point of having a blog for my writing if I didn’t do that sort of thing, and what better time is there to share something like this than the day Oscar nominations have been announced? It is a best picture nominee after all, amongst other things.

Plus I figured this movie in particular fit the theme of my blog given that it surrounds an important part of journalism history.

That said, I’ll stop blabbing and let you get to my opinions. If you enjoy this sort of thing let me know, since I have been considering doing this kind of personal publishing more often.



In 1971, a series of classified documents known as The Pentagon Papers were leaked to and published by The New York Times, revealing multiple presidential opinions on the futility of the Vietnam War despite its escalation.

When the government attempted to censor this sensitive information publishing, other papers like The Washington Post stepped in to continue the job.

Steven Spielberg’s latest movie “The Post” captures this important period in American and journalistic history that brought The Washington Post to mainstream popularity while offering viewers a more intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the paper’s struggle with deciding whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers.

Trailer available from 20th Century Fox’s YouTube channel

This struggle is chiefly characterized by the film’s two lead characters, The Washington Post’s publisher Katherine “Kay” Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).

Throughout the movie Graham must come to terms with being the first female publisher of a major newspaper after she inherits the business from her deceased husband.

Her inner turmoil comes from having to make the decision to potentially betray old family friends in the White House’s previous administrations so the public can learn the truth, while subsequently dealing with the “boy’s club” of publishers and investors who don’t believe a woman has what it takes to handle the job.

Meanwhile, Bradlee has to deal with the humiliation of losing such a huge scoop to The New York Times despite being the editor of Washington D.C.’s local paper, as well as the immense amount of work it takes for his team to secure a copy of the documents and go to print in a limited timeframe.

Eventually Bradlee also must come to terms with the fact that the potential illegality of publishing classified government documents may backfire on his longtime ally and friend Graham, who has much more at stake and much more to lose.

One of the standout means of building tension in the film comes from the way it showcases the more limited technologies available in the 1970s that led to more of an involved newsprint production process.

For example, one scene that comes to mind has a copy editor asked to do all of his red pen corrections on a physical printout of the major article in 30 minutes before sending it off in a pneumatic tube to be laid out on a more traditional printing press.

However, as interesting as it is to see the time period captured, where “The Post” truly shines is in its performances. It is hard to compare Hank’s depiction of Bradlee to the classic 1976 performance of Jason Robards in “All the President’s Men,” but Hanks does hold his own as a leading actor.

However, Hank’s performance is clearly overshadowed by Streep, who does an incredible job capturing the internal debate and eventual paradigm shift of Graham to support her staff and the First Amendment in spite of what the government would prefer.

Her arc is also given some clear signposts throughout the movie to show her role as a historically significant feminine figure, which Streep nails in facial expressions alone in scenes like her emergence from the Supreme Court toward the end of the story. In that moment she seems to ignore the primarily male-dominated crowd of journalists to instead focus on the passing businesswomen who have stopped to watch the commotion.

While Streep’s performance is undoubtedly the takeaway Oscar-nomination in “The Post” (and as it turns out, she did get nominated for it), there is hardly anything bad to say about the surrounding ensemble of characters either.

Unfortunately, performances are really the only place that “The Post” stands out. Despite having the legendary team of Spielberg as director and John Williams as composer, nothing about the presentation is necessarily exceptional.

The movie looks nice and sounds nice, is well-cast and well-written, but one would be hard pressed to walk out of the theatre after watching it and remember a particular image or score from the experience as something special that stays with them.

Even with this caveat, the performances and socio-historical importance backing up the movie make it undoubtedly worth seeing.

In an era begot by cries of “fake news” and the divisive presidency of Donald Trump, it is especially important to see this story come to the table in such a high-profile form to remind the world about the importance both of newspapers as a government watchdog and of the public staying informed with a higher degree of news literacy.

On top of that, “The Post” also fits in wonderfully with the strong legacy of journalism-based films.

Because of the way Spielberg uses the same Washington Post office set piece and ends the movie on a sort of cliffhanger teasing the start of the Watergate scandal, “The Post” and “All the President’s Men” could literally be watched in seamless succession to give anyone who did or did not live through the 1970s a clear understanding of the importance of newspapers, particularly The Washington Post, in American history.


Featured Image taken from imdb.com

September 12, 2016 Article Published

Alright so the title of this post might be a little misleading.  Technically, I did have another article published for the Arts & Entertainment section of the Daily Titan this issue.  It was just published solely online, not actually in print.

This article was also a movie review rather than a look into an art exhibit on campus.  After getting to see the film early through Alt-101, a College of Communication’s program on campus, I wrote a review for Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers”.

Probably the hardest part about writing this piece for me was that, ironically, I had to inject my own specific opinions into my writing.  As someone who writes hard news almost exclusively, I’m much more used to sticking to the facts and not letting my personal biases slip through.  For a review, however, it was almost entirely my personal feelings about Smith’s movie on display – even if I had to write everything in third person either way.

As a fan of some of Smith’s other flicks, including “Clerks” and “Dogma”, as well as his podcast “Hollywood Babble-On”, I was pretty much predisposed to enjoy this movie walking in.  However, as I try to articulate in the review, the same probably couldn’t be said for everyone.  It’s full of crude humor and referential jokes that only devoted fans will probably pick up on, and  I would argue that most people wouldn’t like the movie even if I did – something that Rotten Tomatoes agrees with me on.

If you want to see the review in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan through the link over on the right!