Transversing the science fiction archetype with a engaging mystery/thriller draped heavily in ideals related to transhumanism, Leigh Whannell's Upgrade implores an ingenius and economical visual aesthetic to its mild budget, effectively transporting the viewer to another world while providing an experience both in narrative and theme, one fixated on the mutual concessions and compromises we as human-beings make with technology for the promise of a better life.
While Psychokinesis is relatively by-the-numbers when it comes to the superhero genre's origin story archetype, Sang-ho Yeon ability to balance tone makes the film far more emotionally resonant and engaging than most films of its ilk, as Psychokinesis delivers dramatic heft while still managing to recognize the silly, reflexive comedic elements intrinsic to the superhero story.
A post-apocalyptic thriller which feels more align films of the 1970s than anything of today, John Krasinski's A Quiet Place is a simple, taut genre film set around an ingenius premise, one where survival is dependent on maintaining absolute silence. Characterizations and the emotional journey of A Quiet Place is nothing one hasn't seen before, but the film's assured, lean design makes it a thrilling addition to the post-apocalyptic survival genre, one which uses sound design to elicit a highly visceral experience through a near silent feature.
While the coming-of-age story has become borderline gratuitous in its overuse among contemporary cinema, Carla Simón's Summer 1993 manages to distinguish itself, subverting some of the traditional aspects of this archetypal story by introducing an aura of danger, a quiet sense of subversion which hangs over the story. Offering a tragic and tense film about a young girl who is forced to live with her uncle in the Spanish countryside after the death of her mother, Summer 1993 is far from nefarious, yet it effectively crafts a portrait of a young woman whose unrestrained nature creates a sense of uncertainty, strengthening its overall tale of love, family, responsibility, and the harsh realities of life.
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