Sunday, February 4, 2018


What? You're still here? I'm not! We've moved to! Now before you go, I want to let you know a couple of things.

The NEW Adam's Final Cut is the site I'm going to be updating and writing on, but perhaps you're wondering how to keep up to date with all the new reviews, news updates, and features. First, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Then, once you visit Adam's Final Cut, make sure you subscribe through the yellow box at the bottom of the home page. This way you'll be sure to never miss an update. Also, share the site with your friends and family. That would be a kind gesture.

I don't want to keep you any longer! Please explore the site and send me feedback as we work out the kinks. It's been a pleasure writing for you here, but "another story must begin!" So get on down to the NEW Adam's Final Cut: a Greatest Showman review awaits you there!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Second-to-Last Post

I'm quitting. Thanks for the ride. Thanks for the memories.

Of course, I'm only quitting Blogger. Beginning February 4, 2018, I will no longer post on Simply put...

Truly, it's been a long time coming. I started on (this very site!) with Adam J (aka Pianoman)'s Blog on May 28, 2007, as a wee lad. If we want to get all MCU up in here, this began Phase One. After a dedication to the then-bloggers in the family (one of them has since dropped that for the much nobler pursuit of theology and ESL education), the blog, essentially, was the imaginarium of a kid, as I would post whatever was on my mind, whether it was a vacation, a big event in my life, or terribly-written fanfiction. It was also a space where I would complain publicly that no one reads or leaves comments. You know, guilt-tripping my audience like a Sarah McLachlan commercial. And for three years, my loving family (who, let's be real, were the only ones who cared to read this) suffered through it. Even though you can go to the sidebar and find all of these remnants of the past - don't. Just don't. It's not worth the pain.

November 19, 2010 began Phase Two - or Part Deux, as I called it because that French word is cool (little did I know the sequel to Hot Shots had originally used it far more cheekily)! This phase, marked off with my 100th Blog Post, was largely the same as the first, since it only consisted of content I was interested in. However, almost entirely due to age and a bump in maturity, the writing was generally better. In essence, I was publicly transitioning . . . as a writer. Towards the end of this unofficial phase, similarly-themed posts foreshadowed Phrase Three . . . .

Adam's Final Cut. After I published my review of The Dark Knight in July 2012, the blog as you know it today began. As I focused more on movie reviews - inspired by Roger Ebert, Chris Stuckmann, Jeremy Jahns, and the Schmoes Know - I wanted to separate my new writerly identity from the old. Kind of. In 2013, I wrote a manifesto (themed to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, truly the sign of a teenage film nerd - but at least it wasn't the typical Tarantino tirade!) detailing my plans to move Adam's Final Cut to a brand new website and leaving Blogger behind (for the most part) only a few months. As you can see that plan failed spectacularly because we're still here almost five years later.


Friends, a new and sleek world awaits us just beyond the riverbend. I now have a domain name and a brand new website. In the next few months, I'll be reuploading all of my Phase Three content up there while adding new content. So if you've been wondering why I haven't reviewed The Greatest Showman, Darkest Hour, The Post, or Lady Bird even after raving about (most of) them on Twitter, this is why. Those reviews are gonna be over there! I'll share the link on Sunday with my final Blogger post when I'm ready to share the new site with the world.

Until then, here's the new logo!

See y'all real soon. After we change the reel, anyway.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Adam's Final Cut Awards Nominations Announcement

You may have noticed a tremendous lack of reviews coming from me, and if you follow me on Twitter (@adamj_film), you would know that I have been seeing quite a bit. The reason for this extended hiatus is that I am currently working on moving this blog over to Wix as a full-blown website. It is almost at the point I am ready to open it, but it's not quite there yet. However, I thought I would have it up sooner to publish my reviews for films like The Greatest Showman, Darkest Hour, The Post, and Lady Bird on that site first. I'm still debating whether to review them here or there, including my top twenty list of favorite films, but until then, I wanted to do something fun.

As you may know, the Oscar nominations come out today. While I will have my thoughts on them soon (since I'll hopefully have seen many of them), I figured I'd do my own awards contest since I feel that there were films that were overlooked by the Academy and maybe you, dear reader. While many of these categories will resemble a typical awards show roster (Best Picture, Actor, Director), I cannot and will not get into the nitty-gritty of sound design and visual effects: I'm not an expert in that field nor did I pay enough attention to them while watching the field. But there will be some original categories that make it fun. Keep in mind that there will be some differences between the lists you see here and my personal Top 20 list since in my Top 20, I'll include films that were 2016 limited releases that weren't made available to me until 2017. Here will only be films that were eligible for this awards season (although films I missed like Three Billboards, The Shape of Water, Kedi, and Molly's Game won't be featured on here).

Check out that new logo!
 And the nominees are.... 

The Big Sick
Darkest Hour
Get Out
The Greatest Showman
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Lady Bird

Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Joe Wright, Darkest Hour
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, IT
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour
Hugh Jackman as Logan, Logan, and P. T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb and The Horde, Split

Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, Split
Jennifer Lawrence as mother, mother!
Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, All the Money in the World
Octavia Spencer as Papa, The Shack
Saoirse Ronan as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, Lady Bird

Dafne Keen as Laura, Logan
Holly Hunter as Beth Gardner, The Big Sick 
Laurie Metcalf as Marion McPherson, Lady Bird
Lily James as Elizabeth Layton, Darkest Hour
Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, IT

Christopher Plummer as John Paul Getty, All the Money in the World
Elijah Wood as Tony, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Lucas Hedges as Danny O'Neill, Lady Bird
Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, Logan
Ray Romano as Terry Gardner, The Big Sick

The Big Sick by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan
Get Out by Jordan Peele
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore by Macon Blair
Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig

Blade Runner 2049, Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch
Darkest Hour, Dario Marianelli
Logan, Marco Beltrami
The Post, John Williams
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams

"A Million Dreams" from The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
"Evermore" from Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken and Tim Rice)
"Remember Me" from Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
"The Greatest Show" from The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
"This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

Now come the Special Awards to honor genre fare, underrated films, artists with the brightest potential, and the studios that put it together.

Dafne Keen, Logan (Acting)
David F. Sandberg, Annabelle: Creation (Directing)
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird (Directing)
Kelly Marie Tran, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Acting)
Sophia Lillis, IT (Acting)

BEST HORROR FILM (I saw too many this year that I had to honor them!)
Annabelle: Creation
Get Out
It Comes at Night

The Big Sick
The Greatest Showman
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
It Comes at Night
The Shack

And finally, along with the winners of these prestigious internet awards, I will announce the sole recipient of the STUDIO OF THE YEAR award in recognition of excellence in entertaining audiences, pursuing innovation, promoting new industry voices, and achieving financial successes.

What do you think of these nominations? What's missing? Who do you want to see win? Is it better than the Oscars (ha!)? Do you think all this is a bunch of hullabaloo? What should I do in the meantime? Whatever you have to say about me or the movies, comment below!

Friday, December 29, 2017

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" Is the Defining Chapter of the Saga

We are knee-deep in the new age of Star Wars. The Last Jedi is the eighth episode, the ninth live-action theatrical film, and the third film without creator George Lucas (though he served as a consultant on Episode VII, most of his ideas were ignored). After The Force Awakens revisited the Hero's Journey arc of the original film and Rogue One dramatized the prelude to the original film, it was time for the Disney era to show us what the new age of Star Wars would offer. In a perhaps controversial opinion, I believe Rian Johnson has given us the answer with Episode VIII as the defining chapter of the Star Wars saga.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, easily the most divisive film in the franchise, takes place almost immediately after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her penultimate film role), is pursued throughout the galaxy by the First Order after a disastrous mistake, making their escape a last stand for survival. Lightyears away, the Force-sensitive Rey (Daisy Ridley, Murder on the Orient Express) struggles to convince the once-legendary hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to come out of exile to save the Resistance and help her find her place in the galaxy, while Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, Paterson) resolves to sever his ties to the light forever.

Ever since I saw The Last Jedi opening weekend, I've been wrestling with it. I can tell you I definitely liked it, but I'm not sure how much so. The movie is dense, especially for a Star Wars film, and there are many things I have yet to unpack to come up with a conclusive opinion on it. I've watched multiple videos, read many articles, and had a few conversations and debates with friends on it since seeing it as I try to decipher how much I liked this new chapter in the saga. And I am certain about a few things.

For one, The Last Jedi is visually-stunning. The film has some of the best shots in the entire franchise, especially during a showdown at the end. There were times the frames on the screen were so beautiful--not merely exciting or awesome, but beautiful--I was speechless. When I think of this movie, these shots are burned in my brain, and they make me want to go back to a theater to see them on the big screen again.

While not much time passes over the course of The Last Jedi and its predecessor, Rian Johnson packs a lot into his installment. However, this "a lot" doesn't equate to events in the way it did in The Force Awakens, a planet-hopping adventure. Rather, Johnson chooses to focus on critical points in these characters' lives. Rey and Kylo Ren have to decide what roles they will play in the fate of the galaxy--the dark, the light, or the grey areas. Finn (John Boyega, Detroit) must decide whether he will continue to run from conflict or go all in with the Resistance. Leia's Resistance must make critical decisions to ensure their survival after the First Order makes moves to fill the power vacuum left after the destruction of the New Republic. Luke must confront his philosophy of the Jedi when Rey arrives with dangerously untapped power. In showing the characters' decisions at these critical moments and the immediate consequences, the film is not content to merely be Act 2 in the trilogy's story, so much so that some have wondered what's left for the trilogy. That is to say the film is probably the most complete-feeling Star Wars film since the original. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, though The Last Jedi is not perfect.

The Kylo and Rey "A"-plots are always invigorating, and I could watched them develop more or at least see longer chunks in the film. Yet the Canto Bight scenes Johnson cuts to in the meantime, while in theory are important for the plight of the Resistance and the development of Finn's character, feel off. Most of this, I feel, was due to overt messages regarding the aristocrats that run the planet's metropolis. Yes, animal cruelty is bad and the subject is used to give us some insight into Rose (Kelly Marie Tran, CollegeHumor)--but it seemed the overemphasized of Canto Bight's sins, which include child slavery. (The sequence did introduce a new favorite John Williams theme, though!) I was fine with it while watching the film, but it is the weakest part in retrospect. Still, during the movie, I just wanted to get back to anything having to do with Kylo and Rey. Also worth noting is that Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones) is still the worst character in the trilogy, maybe even in the franchise, and shows that Lucasfilm should never have tried to manufacture the popularity of Boba Fett. However, there is no overwhelming fault in the film, that I could tell anyway, in the way one can call out a script or acting or direction. As my friend said, the film is slightly bogged down by little things. For him, those little things added up. For me, I'm not sure how much they add up, but they are still there.

I loved Grumpy Luke's arc, and it paved the way for surprising story moments.
As this overlong review comes to an end, I should revisit my claim that this is the defining chapter of the entire saga. This film explores the thematic concepts of power, hope, and balance and orients them around everything that has come before this story. We see Kylo Ren corrupted by hate and his lust for power, and Supreme Leader Snoke (the scene-sealing Andy Serkis, The Lord of the Rings) blinded by the pride of power. Luke mentions that one of the reasons the Jedi need to end is because, despite their seemingly good intentions during their association with the Republic, they too were blinded by power and allowed Darth Sidious to conquer the galaxy. This was further developed in The Clone Wars series. Leia fights to save the Resistance to keep hope alive in the galaxy in spite of the darkness of the First Order, a theme emphasized in last year's Rogue One. Luke, the Resistance believes, will be the beacon of hope that will light the spark of rebellion. Will he accept his role as a legend or let his cynical philosophy rule? Finally, the saga always has dealt with the idea of bringing balance to the Force, but this is the first installment that acknowledges that Star Wars's balance means there can't be only light or only dark but an eternal coexistence of the two, the continuing star wars, the duality of the yin and yang.

Perhaps controversially, Star Wars has defined itself for the future. The Last Jedi brings together themes that have been building across the saga while also showing what other thrills and twists the franchise can bring. Some things work, some things don't, and some things make me think. Its worldview is front and center now and challenges the idea that one side can and should prevail. Hopefully, these ideas will be discussed and further challenged by fans and audiences. If not, Star Wars will still be celebrated and enjoyed as a consistent source of stories and entertainment from a galaxy--and a mouse--far, far away. But should that be all that Star Wars is?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ridley Scott Is a Freakin' Beast: "All the Money in the World" Review

All the Money in the World was not even on my radar before Kevin Spacey was removed from the finished film in the wake of numerous worrisome sexual harassment allegations. Shortly after the Spacey allegations came out, though, director Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien) announced that all of Spacey's scenes would be reshot with Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, Beginners) assuming the role--one month before the film's release, which it still met. Did the film's quality get lost in the shuffle?

Rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images, and brief drug content
In short, no. All the Money in the World tells the true story (with some embellishments) of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, Boardwalk Empire), grandson to legendary billionaire Mr. John Paul Getty, Sr. (Christopher Plummer; no relation) When the young Paul's kidnappers put him up for a $17 million ransom, it seems obvious to his mother Abigail (Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea) that the extravagantly wealthy Mr. Getty should take it upon himself to pay the expensive ransom--to him, it's chump change. But Mr. Getty refuses, and stubbornly stays so, even as the stakes get higher and the young Paul's life is on the line. With the help of Italian police and Mr. Getty's security advisor, former CIA op Fletcher Chase (Mark Whalberg, Patriots Day), Abigail resolves to save her son at whatever lengths possible.

This is a story of greed--money as the root of all evil. Mr. Getty's love of his money masks any semblance of love he may have for Paul. He refuses to pay the ransom yet spends extravagant millions on pieces of art and land development projects. He justifies his decision by saying that paying the terrorists' ransom would endanger the other grandchildren with similar schemes. In this, we can hate him and empathize with him, but as the film continues, it becomes disgustingly clear his top priority is preserving his billions. On the other side of the coin, Paul's kidnapper Cinquanta (Romain Duris, The New Girlfriend) appears to start to care for the boy as the film progresses, giving him chances to escape and stressing that he leave Rome as soon as possible. Yet the ransom never disappears, and he shows no regret for allowing Paul to be tortured mentally and physically in graphically disturbing ways.

The film, the crew, Ridley Scott, and the cast have to be commended. To reshoot a good chunk of the film and reedit it within a month was considered an impossible task, yet they pulled it off without a hitch. If someone was unaware of Spacey's previous involvement in the film, they would have no idea that this was not the original version. Christopher Plummer devilishly commands the screen as Mr. Getty. It is crazy to think he only looked at the script a month ago and produced this masterclass villain performance. Though he is unbelievably despicable, Plummer shows that there is a logic and sincerity to every word Getty speaks and every action Getty performs. For the past several months, I have been crossing my fingers that Sir Patrick Stewart would get a Best Supporting Actor nod for Logan, but seeing this film last night makes me believe this is Plummer's award to lose. The rest of the cast is also great. Whalberg is unusually understated as Chase, and Williams brings a quiet power and firm resolve to Abigail that makes us care for her desperation.

All the Money is not flawless. While there are incredibly tense moments, such as the torture scene, there are moments where the film waddles in a place where Paul's survival is not immediately at stake and his family has nothing to go off of to find him. The film introduces a wrinkle that questions the authenticity of the kidnapping, but I was not enough convinced of it, partially because the film does not show enough of the line of thinking that leads to this conclusion and because we are given the dramatic irony that the kidnapping is genuine. Dramatic irony can work for suspense, but the other storytelling elements at this point are not strong enough to make it work alone. The film understandably takes liberties with the real story, but I am disappointed that they do not focus on the psychological impact these events had on the real Paul. Doing so would have added more complexity to the sins of Mr. John Paul Getty and how an evil lust for money can destroy someone else's life in irreparable, nonphysical ways. Still, the film is gorgeously shot, marvelously performed, and captivating enough that the flaws, while not ignorable, do not detract from the strengths.

While time will tell what he will win, Plummer rightfully earned his Golden Globe nomination.
As it turns out, All the Money in the World is another flag of victory for the Weinstein effect. The film is unafraid to objectively call terrible men of power out on their wrongs; it simply shows them for who they are without overstating it through angles or lighting. By replacing one of those men despite the odds, it shows we do not need them and we will not tolerate them. Darn good pictures can and will be made without them. And Ridley Scott, at the ripe age of 80, is a freakin' beast for leading the charge with as much skill as he does.

All the Money in the World opens nationwide Christmas Day.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Coming Down the Home Stretch 2017: The Upcoming Movies I Still Want to See

I did this segment last year, and I greatly enjoyed doing it. There's only two months left in the year, meaning the last blockbusters are filing in and awards season is upon us. I've made it known that since I don't do this professionally and am a student, I won't be getting out to see every single release in the next eight weeks. That said, there are some good-looking ones coming soon that I know I want to see and you may not have heard of either. Consider it a more truncated "Most Anticipated" list! Speaking of my Most Anticipated movies list, some of those movies will pop up here as well. But as an update to that list: God Particle has since been moved to 2018; I have seen and loved Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (some day I'll write about it); and Song to Song was never in wide release so I'll be checking it out soon since it is currently available on Amazon Prime. This list also reflects films that have not yet been released, so films that have already come out will not be included here. So let's get to it!

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Are IT's Oscar Chances? - MOVIE NEWS

There's been quite a bit of news that's come out in the past week. From the death of a career, to a return to Middle-Earth, corporate shakeups and even Pennywise the Dancing Clown with a golden statuette--let's dive in!

Kevin Spacey's Career Is Kaput

(Not) Adam's Final Cut

A blog (formerly) dedicated to film: reviews, news, and everything in between.