Saturday, January 21, 2017

Split showcases a fantastic James McAvoy

Movie Title:  Split

Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG-13, 116 minutes

In a Nutshell: James McAvoy thrills in this psychological horror story by M. Night Shyamalan, a director who knows how to take his time unfolding a story.  

The camera work by cinematographer Michael Gioulakis adds to the intrigue.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “We are what we believe we are.” – Patricia
  • “Have these individuals, through their suffering, unlocked the mysteries of the brain?” – Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley)
  • “The thrill is whether you can or can’t outsmart this animal.” – Casey's father (Sebastian Arcelus)

Things I liked:
  • McAvoy delivers an amazing performance.  He displays 24 distinct characters, not with simple costume changes, but more with transforming accents, facial expressions, and impressive physicality.  The audience got a kick out of Hedwig and Patricia in particular. Watch them as if they are an amalgam of animals in a zoo...
  • M. Night Shyamalan has been beaten up by movie critics for many years.  I’ve always enjoyed his work and appreciated his talents, so I’m happy that he has been receiving praise for this new film.  I love how he always puts himself in a scene in each of his movies.
  • There is a fun surprise at the end that made the audience gasp.  Hint: You’ll want to watch the Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable as a refresher.  If the ending means what I think it means, then we're in for an extremely interesting sequel that takes us back in to the Unbreakable universe.  Mind blown.
  • Some of the characters do really dumb things, so I loved it when the audience would yell, “No!”  ha ha
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder is addressed.
  • There are some fun Easter Eggs in the movie that point to other Shyamalan movies.  For example, did you notice Mr. Pritchard's name on the computer screen?  That's a character in the movie Signs, which I thought was brilliant.
  • I thought Casey Cooke's character arc was really well done.  Anya Taylor-Joy did a great job and out-shined the other teen girls.
  • Hedwig's dance scene was pretty awesome, etc.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Bone-crunching sounds.  The entire audience groaned and squirmed in their seats.
  • I hate it when victims sit around crying.  Stop crying and make a plan! Don’t be a victim.  Get out of the car and run! Everyone needs to learn how to pick locks.  Here’s a crazy tip: Look up from your cell phone to see what’s going on. Check out my son’s class called Spy Escape and Evasion.

Interesting lines:
  • “Only through pain can you achieve your greatness.” – Beast
  • “The broken are the more evolved.” - Beast
  • “There must be limits to what a human being can become.” – Dr. Karen Fletcher  
  • “You like to make fun of us, but we’re more powerful than you think.” – Dennis
  • “I’m trying to be good.” – Barry
  • There is an interesting discussion of the “light” that is used when characters emerge.  Patricia said, “In the sun, we will find our purpose.” 

Funny lines:
  • “You guys lied to me.  You made me scared, etc.” – Hedwig (The audience laughed every time he said “etc.”)
  • “You might be pregnant now.” - Hedwig after an awkward kiss
Tips for parents: 
  • There are some dark themes that are not very family-friendly, such as bullying, child abuse, kidnapping.
  • Blood, violence
  • Profanity, including 1 F-bomb.
  • Some of the girls are forced to take off their clothes, so you see them in their underwear.

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