Film Reviews with Excellent Storylines

Film and video storytelling create magic. They take your mind away to a fantasy land.

For almost the last half century, special effects and computer-generated imagery (the use of CGI) have not just crept into filmmaking and video production but have now practically dominated the industry. So much so that directors and producers cave to the demands of audience members to create projects that are so heavily based on post-production special effects, that storylines fall to the wayside. A few examples such as The Matrix and Avatar quickly come to mind. These are films, that in my opinion, missed a golden opportunity to tell a fantastic story, but instead broke new ground in technology rather than good storytelling. As amazing as those films were to create and produce, this blog will focus on films that may or may not have high-tech backgrounds, but in my opinion, take the time to truly develop the art that is storytelling. I’ll take a look at big Hollywood productions, as well as smaller low-budget productions. So long as the storyline is gripping, I’ll review it.

Too Many Special Effects Can Ruin a Good Story

Using special effects is as much an art as storytelling is, and more often than not, can run the risk of overtaking a production. Think Star Wars: A new Hope. The first three films created in the 70’s and early 80’s broke ground because the storyline was gripping. The concept of intergalactic adventures had never been told before. None of these films had any of the green-screen technology or CGI that has become standard in today’s movies and TV shows. However, when George Lucas went back and produced the trilogy leading up to those films, audience members walked out feeling cheapened and disappointed. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace may have made millions of dollars at the box office, but its fans tore it apart in online reviews, and it only ranked 6.5 /10 on IMDB. Now while I will concede that certain films can not be told without the use of CGI and other special effects, I will always maintain that it can not be allowed to replace a gripping storyline.

I am a very firm believer that no matter how many special effects or high-resolution cameras you use, a good storyline is better than any special effects trick you may employ. Even when Serious Moonlight is contracted to create corporate videos, the emphasis is always storyline, storyline, storyline. When you bring your concept for video production to Serious Moonlight, you let us tell your story.

If you have any idea for a movie you’d like to see me write about, please email me directly here. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Upcoming film reviews:

Judy IMDB Rating: 6.8 / 10
Contact IMDB Rating: 7.5 / 10
The Founder IMDB Rating: 7.2 / 10
The Usual Suspects IMDB Rating: 8.5 / 10
Memento IMDB Rating: 8.4 / 10
The Blair Witch Project IMDB Rating: 6.5 /10
Good Will Hunting IMDB Rating: 8.3 /10
The Sixth Sense IMDB Rating: 8.2 /10
The Others IMDB Rating: 7.6 / 10
MIller’s Girl IMDB Rating 5.3 /10

The Sound of Freedom IMDB Rating: 7.8 / 10
The Terminal IMDB Rating: 7.4 / 10
Being The Ricardos IMDB Rating: 6.5 / 10
The Trial of the Chicago 7 IMDB Rating: 7.7 / 10
Gattaca IMDB Rating: 7.7 / 10
Good Morning, Vietnam IMDB Rating: 7.3 / 10
Hall IMDB Rating: 3.6 / 10
Hypnotic IMDB Rating: 5.5 / 10
Miss Sloane IMDB Rating: 7.5 / 10




Bird Box (2018)

IMDB Rating: 6.6 / 10

To me, films like Bird Box is exactly the reason I started this blog. I think this is a fantastic dystopian movie, but for some reason I can’t wrap my hear around, it only got 6.6 / 10 on IMDB. True, it doesn’t stand out with special effects or a super high budget, but Sandra Bullock‘s performance is true and raw and at times gritty. There are many tense moments where they are walking around with blindfolds on outside (literally the whole point of the film), and I immediately kept wondering how many times did they possibly film that before they got it exactly right?

This is another movie based on a novel by Josh Malerman, that introduces a unique and chilling concept that sets it apart from conventional horror films. The narrative unfolds in a post-apocalyptic world where supernatural entities in the sky drive anyone who looks at them to madness and suicide. To survive, the characters must navigate their surroundings blindfolded, relying solely on their senses of hearing and touch. Now here is where I personally would have tried to emphasize the element of sound a lot more, a concept in film making that is severely underrated.

Nevertheless Bird Box really drives at creating an atmosphere of relentless tension, making the unseen threat as terrifying to the audience as much as possible. The decision to keep the entities invisible adds an extra layer of mystery and suspense, even after the film is concluded. As Hitchcock often explained, what the viewer images to be a threat is far more threatening than anything the director spoon feeds you. The film cleverly plays with the fear of the unknown, as the characters grapple with the challenge of surviving in a world where even a single glance could be fatal.

What makes this film so gripping is its exploration of the human psyche under extreme circumstances. While the film draws inevitable comparisons to other post-apocalyptic thrillers, its originality lies in the execution of the concept and its ability to keep audiences engaged from start to finish. Bird Box successfully combines horror, drama, and psychological thriller elements to create a cinematic experience that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. With its unique premise and stellar performances, Bird Box stands out as a noteworthy addition to the genre, and a must see.

The Promised Land

The Promised Land (2023)

IMDB Rating: 7.7 / 10

Done almost completely in Danish, Mads Mikkelsen delivers another emotional performance in this historical piece based off the book by Ida Jessen named The Captain and Ann Barbara. Oscar nominated director Nikolaj Arcel gives us a stunningly beautiful cinematographic representation of the Danish landscape. While the storyline is simple in and of itself, it’s the idea of portraying foreign land to a mostly Americanized audience that I find most intriguing. This is a historical drama based off a real life person and his struggle to farm difficult land in the 1700’s., and the challenges that are thrown against him both geographical as well as social that makes this so original.

The Promised Land delves with issues of social class, labor exploitation, and of course ethnic superiority. As the protagonist Ludvig von Kahlen, a retired captain from the army commits to cultivating an extremely unforgiving land to raise his crops, he is thwarted by another land owner claiming false ownership of the same heath. The landowner is merciless and unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t immediately recognize his natural superiority as an aristocrat, and attempts to out maneuver Kahlen while giving the appearance of benevolence.

What I loved in this character development is the duality of the antagonist who is at one point the moral superior to a mere farmer and anyone else socially beneath him, but at the same time inferior to other aristocrats above him. In many ways, he reminds me of Tim Roth’s character in the movie Rob Roy. With nothing but a horse, a pistol, and mental grit, Kahlen sets forth to prepare the harsh rock filled land, chase away bandits, and weather the extreme elements. Predictably, Kahlen refuse to bow or compromise, and thus needs to look deeply inward and make a series of sacrifices that most of us would never make today. This movie really stands out for me because it begs the question, who among us in our overtly comfortable lives would ever contemplate the sacrifices and compromises Kahlen’s character faces in order to simply … live off a frozen wasteland land?

Talk To Me

Talk To Me (2022)

IMDB Rating: 7.2 / 10

Become a Better Storyteller

As an experienced videographer in Montreal, I’ll be happy to work with you to develop a storyline for your video that will capture the attention of your target audience and then enhance it with eye-catching images and stunning motion graphics. Whatever your project, I’m here to answer your questions and guide you. Do not hesitate to contact me.

Ivan Presser

About Ivan Presser

Ivan Presser, the creative force behind Serious Moonlight Productions, brings over a quarter-century of digital imagery expertise to the vibrant cultural and business heart of Montreal. Specializing in video production, video marketing, as well as photography, Ivan’s approach is anything but ordinary. His expertise in video production is shown through his work on national television shows like Masterchef Canada, interviews with notable Canadian figures such as Brian Mulroney and Jean Charest, along with collaborations with various production studios in Montreal and clients globally, such as Microsoft, Bell, McDonald’s, and SAP.. Read More