A Brief Word on Recent Releases: “Nerve”, “Revenge of the Lost” and “20th Century Women”

By Andrew Buckner

Nerve

Rating: *1/2 out of *****.

Though incorporating sporadic moments of intrigue, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Nerve (2016) is but another generic, superficial and over-stylized teens and technology thriller. The plot concerns a high school senior, Vee (in a likable enactment from Emma Roberts), who becomes caught up in an increasingly dangerous online game. The risks of this financially beneficial amusement, which consists of a variety of outrageous dares, are controlled by an anonymous group of participants. They are called The Watchers.

Throughout the ninety-six-minute runtime, Joost and Schulman build no true suspense. Likewise, the script by Jessica Scharzer fails to break out of the routine arc and one-note characterizations of so many similar genre entries. Shot in New York, this forgettable affair does boast eye-popping cinematography and is carefully paced. Still, it isn’t enough to overcome its detracting elements. Based on a novel of the same name, published in 2012, by Jeanne Ryan.

(PG-13). Contains adult language, violence and brief nudity.

Revenge of the Lost

Rating: ***1/2 out of *****.

Co-writer, director and star Erik Franklin’s dinosaur flick, Revenge of the Lost (2017), is a roaring good time. It is also a full-bodied, engaging and breakneck-paced B-movie from the first frame to the last. The eighty-nine-minute tale, which suffers from a by-the-numbers story arc, focuses in on a sudden outbreak of prehistoric creatures in modern times. Our central figures, all of whom are satisfactorily developed archetypes, are a band of survivors who attempt to make their way to a government base for safety.

Though unimpressive special effects and a predictable finale hinders matters, it does little to dissuade the spirit of delight which hangs over the proceedings. Franklin’s guidance of the project and screenplay (co-penned by producer Daniel Husser) are sturdy. Regardless, the impressive variety of extinct giants that fill the screen, as well as the constant sense of excitement and impending doom Franklin instills, helps the effort triumph immeasurably over these previously-stated shortcomings.

(Unrated). Contains adult language and violence.

20th Century Women

Rating: ***** out of *****.

Brilliantly written and directed by Mike Mills, 20th Century Women (2016), is life-mirroring cinema at its finest. Set in Southern California in the 1970’s, this one-hundred and nineteen-minute gem concerns the influence Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) derives from his mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening). Such an impact also extends to the two young ladies who live in the same home. They are Annie (Greta Gerwig) and Jamie’s childhood friend, Julie (Elle Fanning).

This humorous, poignant and intimate masterpiece showcases gorgeous cinematography by Sean Porter. The same can be said of the music from Roger Neill. Stirring and impassioned, the heart to the rousing success of the feature is the powerhouse performances all-around. The result is undoubtedly one of 2016’s best films.

(R). Contains adult language and themes.

*All three of these motion pictures are now available on Amazon Prime.

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