Tag Archives: movie review

The First Purge (2018) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


the first purgeIt’s the one night America gets to celebrate and unify as a nation. No it’s not the Fourth of July but a new tradition that sparked attention around the world, the Purge. After three films the franchise goes back to its roots and explores the origins of the night that changed the country forever. This marks the fourth entry in the series by Universal and stars Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, and Marisa Tomei. Will you survive the night?

The Purge franchise is unique in the sense that when it first arrived to audiences in 2013 it caught many people’s attention. Though it stumbled in execution the one thing it had going for it was the concept. It being that for one night a year, for 12 consecutive hours, citizens are allowed to commit any crime; including murder without penalty. The movie however cheated itself by staying confined within a home as a family fights off intruders and an un-welcomed guest. The sequel, Purge: Anarchy would take full advantage of what didn’t work for the first film and turned into a fun action thriller. Then finally, ‘Purge: Election Year‘ delved into the politics behind purge night and saw a battle for survival as an appointed candidate races to end the night of the purge. It leads us now to the origins of the purge and how this yearly tradition came to be.

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As a new party rises to power an experiment is introduced to showcase the benefits of American citizens acting out. With a monetary reward citizens of Staten Island are given the opportunity to participate in this controlled experiment. But as the night descends upon the island its citizens are in a fight for survival and the real motives behind the event begins to unravel.

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With anticipation I went into the movie with low expectations and the possibility of being let down. The marketing didn’t sell me completely as the trailer led me to believe it was a purge movie but also felt like it could be a street drama. And as one could expect my fears became reality as the movie was a little unbalanced. So much has been speculated regarding the New Founding Fathers of America and how the party rose to power; along with the idea behind the purge itself. What started out as promising very early on in the opening of the film it later descends into familiar territory. And that’s where it became a wasted opportunity.

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So much of the film is focused on character development and each of the story lines that it slows down the movie. If we had to compare films it would have to be that ‘Purge: Anarchy‘ did a much better job in managing three or four story arcs without sacrificing the pacing. The main focus in ‘The First Purge‘ should have been on the people behind the purge and not of the citizens of Staten Island. Because we have already been exposed to a purge night in the previous films it defeats the purpose in repeating a similar plot but with different purge victims. This answers my initial problem with the marketing of the movie and the trailer as it focuses a lot on the victims and not the origins aspect.

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Let’s focus now on the people behind the scenes as we’re introduced to the lead architect of the experiment, Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei). When the movie focused on her character and the motive behind the purge as it was unfolding was fascinating. Unfortunately, the movie decides to do something at the mid-way point and it cheats the audience which to me wasn’t cool. Again, the focus is unbalanced and felt wasted when characters just suddenly disappear.

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By the films end the movie concludes the night of the purge with the survivors of the experiment. And to make matters worse the movie decides to forgo the aftermath as to enacting the purge as an annual event. However if you stay for the credits there is a quick snip it of how the purge is born. Again, the movie suffers from a wasted opportunity in focusing on the perpetrators behind the purge.

To rank ‘The First Purge‘ it would come 3rd or 4th in the series behind 2013’s ‘The Purge‘. The movie was such a disappointment and was foretelling in the trailer as already explained. It’s not to say there’s nothing to enjoy but you walk out of the movie wanting more. Maybe the television series will address the New Founding Fathers in more detail. As a fan of the franchise I would recommend to go watch because of the origins component. But for the general audience I would wait till it comes out on demand or DVD.

Rating: 6/10

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Are you planning on watching ‘The First Purge‘? How would you rank the films in the franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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A Cure for Wellness (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


cureforwellnessposterComing from the director who brought us ‘The Ring‘ and the first three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Gore Verbinski returns to direct a psychological thriller in ‘A Cure for Wellness‘. The film stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, and Mia Goth as the movie centers around a representative of a company, Mr. Lockhart, who is sent to retrieve a fellow colleague, Mr. Pembroke, who is staying at an institution due to health reasons. However, once he arrives and discovers that the institution is keeping their motives and methods of operation in the dark, Lockhart scrambles for answers before he himself gets stuck there forever.

The trailer got me interested in seeing the movie mainly because Dane DeHaan was in it and the startling imagery that gave me the impression that the story was going to be good. Gore Verbinski is a great director and can find ways in getting under the audience’s skin. This is why his latest film, although had some decent performances out of DeHaan and Isaacs and some creepy visual effects, struggled from a narrative point of view and wasn’t always in focus.

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One of the things this movie reminded me of was of ‘Shutter Island‘ (2010) and how Dehaan’s character, Lockhart, is sent to a location that’s isolated and gets caught up in a scheme. Of course, the main characters of each film had different motivations but they did share similar character traits. And just as we saw in ‘Shutter Island‘, there is a girl involved but only this time she is an innocent who unbenounced to her is in danger. So given there were similarities between the two movies I did enjoy some aspects nonetheless by Verbinski.

This is a visually appealing film to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed a scene that shows Lockhart arriving to the institution by car. Just that scene alone and the locations in which the movie was filmed took my breathe away. From an aesthetic point of view everything looked amazing. We then get into the performances by Dehaan and Isaacs who individually held their own up until the very end which is where there were problems in the narrative that needed to be addressed.

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When watching the film it really took its time building the narrative and for subsequent events to occur. Sometimes the movie dragged on a little bit too much and there were times when I wondered when something would happen. A lot of the suspense scenes you see in the trailer is unfortunately given away and thus makes the movie feel even more of a drag. As we approach the climax of the movie and after all the talk about the townspeople and how there’s been fear of the institution it leads up to a big ball of confusion. And that’s where the narrative failed to weave the needle in a coherent way that eventually fails in its own mess.

It’s not to say the movie is terrible because Dane DeHaan was great along with Jason Isaacs. And as mentioned earlier the locations in which the film was made are stunning to look at. However, with the narrative mess and inconsistencies throughout I just couldn’t appreciate it as much as I could have. I’d say this not as good as ‘Shutter Island‘ nor does it succeed as a whole from an entertainment point of view. Go into ‘A Cure for Wellness‘ with low expectations and just enjoy the visual appeal that it presents.

Rating: 5.5/10

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What do you guys think of ‘A Cure for Wellness‘? Are you planning on seeing it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The Disappointments Room (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


v1-btsxmjixmteyottqoze3mta2ozeymda7njqxozk0oqFrom Relativity Media comes the story about a family who move into their new home in the country side. When a room is discovered on the attic floor it reveals the grueling details of the secrets families kept as it regarded kids with disabilities or deformities. Soon after, Dana must find a way to keep her family safe as a vengeful entity terrorizes her and her family. The film is directed by D.J. Caruso and stars Kate Beckinsale.

Based on true events we follow Dana, an architect, as she stumbles upon a room in the attic that leads to a disappointments room where children were put in when families tried to secretly deny their child’s existence who has a deformity. The concept and loose tellings about such events caught my attention when a trailer was released and didn’t give away too much about the plot. With that said, this was such a disappointment as the title of the film suggests. There apparently weren’t any early screenings for critics nor are there many reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes which suggests an embargo may have been put in place. Even without going into detail so far, you’re probably thinking where this review is headed.

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The premise of the film caught my attention and what I wanted to learn more was why or how such rooms were constructed and the families involved. Unfortunately, very little is told in the movie and what’s even worse is how hollow the story involved with the home Dana and her family move into. We then get into the movie itself that is unsure what it wanted to be as it goes from being a mystery to a drama and then at times goes into a thriller. This reminded me of ‘Cold Creek Manor‘ back in 2003 as far as the pacing and where the movie was headed. A promising start just spirals into chaos and just gets worse and worse and worse.

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Let’s talk about Kate Beckinsale because her character is a mess. She’s a caring mother who suffers from depression after a traumatic events that persuades her husband in moving the family to the countryside. Dana starts seeing things and eventually you as the viewer aren’t sure what you’re seeing which then leads into bigger problems as the movie progresses. And how the movie handles her past to dealing with the room and the ghosts that follows is mind-boggling numb to watch. There is no clear connection between her depression and the ghost that is terrorizing her nor is it cohesive from a narrative sense. Many times her performance was cringeworthy; especially during the times when she is confronting her husband when something happens to her.

It’s hard to continue on bashing the film because there’s just so much to talk about without giving away any spoilers. Again, the premise got my attention and what I wanted to get was a story – thriller or horror- that would build up the suspense as the lead character pieces together the clues that would make you want to care for them. Unfortunately, ‘The Disappointments Room‘ is packaged in mystery but once you dig into the film it becomes a jumbled mess from story to character development to the resolve at the end. If you want to do justice it’s best to research the disappointments rooms rather then paying for something that you’ll get very little in details.

Rating: 3.5/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘The Disappointments Room‘? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Sausage Party (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


v1.bTsxMjE5Njg0NDtqOzE3MDYxOzEyMDA7MjAyNTszMDAwFrom the mind of Seth Rogen comes a raunchy R-rated animated feature about food that once taken off the shelf they expect to go to the great beyond. But when they’re told the great beyond is actually fabricated and is really a place of bad things, the store bands together and fights back. The movie is directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon and stars the voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, & Michael Cera.

Just off the first trailer for ‘Sausage Party‘ I immediately was curious as to what this movie was going to be about. There were references to sex, orgies, and visuals that most certainly gets taken to another level. That said, this is an original piece of comedy that had me laughing non-stop. Yes there was an abundance of vulgarity to which can push people away but it managed to balance itself with the different food groups that implied so many cultural references. With a simple premise the movie could have struggled but with comedians such as Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig they managed to carry the film.

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One of the best parts in the movie is also the most over-the-top as the film is coming to a close. It was so crazy that it had me laughing and wide-eyed for a good 2 minutes. As the movie implies in the trailer you knew what you were getting into and it was about that time that the film took it to that point. Now with the things that didn’t work a lot of it had to do with the verbiage as it felt as the F-bombs were dropping like crazy. And sometimes there would be lulls to where you wondered why certain things could have been cut out to reduce the runtime. However, with a movie that runs 89 minutes you can tell the filmmakers wanted to have enough that would entice all audiences.

This movie is definitely not for younger audiences and should not be mistaken for your typical animated feature. ‘Sausage Party‘ knows what it is and runs with it that does not disappoint. For being different and original this was a surprise and Sony is already looking to green-light a sequel pending the results of this weeks box-office run. If you’re looking to have fun and laugh yourself out the door then go watch this movie. There’s a little bit of everything to satisfy even the most skeptical.

Rating: 7.3/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning on watching ‘Sausage Party‘? Do you hope to see a sequel? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterIt’s the most anticipated movie of the summer as Warner Bros. rolls out David Ayer’sSuicide Squad‘ into cineplexes. As the story goes, a group of the baddest criminals alive are banded together by the CIA to undergo a secret mission to stop a powerful metahuman that plans to end the world as we know it. With their lives on the line they can only complete their duties and failure is not an option. The movie stars Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and Jai Courtney as DC introduces the next chapter in the growing cinematic universe.

There’s a lot going for ‘Suicide Squad‘ considering the reaction of Zack Snyder’sBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ that opened last May. Many complained the movie was too dark and suffered from a lack of a narrative that gave any understanding for the characters motivations. The biggest complaint was the fact that the movie was no fun and disappointed many of the DC loyalists. It’s not to say there weren’t any fans of the movie but overall there was a consensus that ‘BvS‘ could have been so much better. So we head into ‘Suicide Squad‘ where it’s a little different this time around as villains take center stage and hopes to turn things around for the studio.

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My initial reaction to ‘Suicide Squad‘ is that it was entertaining and fun, which was lacking sorely in ‘BvS‘, so that’s definitely a bright spot. The introduction of Jared Leto’s Joker was even a surprise because they went a different direction with his character that worked. His chemistry with Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, was to me the best in the whole movie and makes me want to see more of them together. Now as it’s been reported the studio made cuts to the movie involving the Joker and may be saving them for an extended edition, if and when that should happen. On the one hand it’s a shame because Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker was awesome but on the other hand it may work to its advantage by not revealing too much and will give us something to look forward to in Ben Affleck’s Batman solo film.

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That brings us to where Batman makes appearances in the film and for what he does isn’t crucial nor forgettable. All that can be said is that it was cool to see Batman in the movie and whom he may run up against in his solo outing. We even get to see another DC hero for a brief second but that’s all that needs to be said. One man who certainly takes a commanding role in the film is Will Smith as Deadshot. Even as a villain and after everyone he’s killed that led him to prison is the relationship he has with his daughter. Deadshot can even be considered the leader of the team as they work with CIA in stopping the world from getting destroyed. For Will Smith I’m looking forward to seeing more of him and hope he’ll have some involvement with Batman somewhere down the line.

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Where the movie makes strides in being fun and watching these villains team up with all their own unique powers to save the world, it does suffer from the storytelling and trying to cram every character’s backstory. For a good part of the movie we get a lot of backstory into their characters while also trying to introduce the threat that ends up in Mid City. Because so much attention was put on the villains we got very little into Enchantress and what her motivations were. This even hurt some of the other members like Jai Courtney’s Boomerang or even Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc who didn’t have much to do. I would’ve liked to have seen more of them be involved in some way but ultimately it wasn’t  meant to be.

Coming off of the studio’s reaction to ‘BvS‘ the studio decided in having reshoots to lighten the mood per say. This becomes evident as the movie looked like it had trouble balancing between being dark and having that edge factor with levity. For instance, some of the character’s backstories like Deadshot and Diablo, played by Jay Hernandez, dealt with some heavy material that almost didn’t fit with the tone of the movie. Tone is what threw the movie off and makes you wonder what David Ayer’s version of the film was before the reshoots. The editing was choppy where at one moment your introduced to Enchantress as the main threat and then some 30 minutes later you see the city in chaos without seeing it come to be.

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There’s a lot to admire of Director David Ayer’s take on ‘Suicide Squad‘ with Jared Leto as the Joker. The world we’re introduced to with these villains gives us a good indication of what we can expect when Ben Affleck dones the black cape. Visually the movie grabs you; especially from the opening and end credits. And speaking of the end credits don’t leave too soon or else you’ll miss the tidbit that may lead into future films. But it has to be said, you can’t help but overlook the choppy editing, lack of storytelling, and a desire to see more of Jared Leto and Margot Robbie together as the dark prince and princess of Gotham tearing the streets. This movie is surely better then ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ and entertaining for everyone who watches it. If Warner Bros. is hoping to win over their fans, they best listen to the criticisms and not interfere with the directors who make their movies because their hopes of building a DC cinematic universe is as tender as it gets.

Rating: 6/10

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What do you guys think? Are you looking forward to ‘Suicide Squad‘? If you’ve seen the movie share your thoughts below and if DC can right the ship.

Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Mike_and_Dave_Need_Wedding_DatesFrom 20th Century Fox comes a comedy from Director Jake Szymanski that stars Zack Efron and Adam Devine. After a fallout between Mike and Dave’s parents over their unflattering family gatherings and the impending wedding of their sister Jeanie, Mike and Dave are put to the test to find reasonable wedding dates to end their relentless shenanigans. But when they encounter two up-to-no-good women themselves it takes us on a ride where respectability becomes too much for them all and may draw disaster yet again. The movie also stars Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sugar Lyn Beard, and Sam Richardson.

If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that this movie is much more tolerant then ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ (Read review here) which starred Zac Efron and Robert Dinero. We see Zac Efron return in a new comedy with co-star Adam Devine as they search to find two grounded women to go with them to Hawaii in preparation for their sister’s wedding. What follows is a combination of laughs mixed with oh they didn’t just go there moments and an ending that has been played out in so many other films that you can see it coming from a mile away. Although it wasn’t a terrible experience it also wasn’t memorable either as some of the performances were over the top with head scratchers to go along with it.

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What’s interesting by now is how Efron has been in few other comedies prior to this release and how he seems to be type-cast for these roles. His performance as Dave Stangle, who’s the brother along-side Mike Stangle, was not as distracting as some of the other characters whom we’ll get to in just a bit. Dave was more of the compassionate one of the two whereas his brother would resist to change as his parents had hoped for. By the end you were rooting for Dave then you were for Mike when he along with the girls try to mend fences for the bride to be. As far as the performance by Adam Devine, he was just a little too much for my liking as he would overreact to certain situations or would come off as a whiny brat when things don’t go his way. For the co-stars, the brother battle shall go to Dave.

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This leads us to the two females we encounter with Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick who lie their way into getting a free vacation to Hawaii with Dave and Mike. It’s been said before in ‘Dirty Grandpa‘ and now in this movie but Aubrey Plaza plays these over the top snobs who puts herself out there in demeaning or unflattering ways. She wasn’t fun to watch nor did I care for her. Her co-star in Anna Kendrick could be said the same but in a different perspective. When it comes down to it, both Tatiana and Alice were unflattering from the start. But it isn’t until you learn why Alice has fallen so low to the point of her personal hygiene and antics reflecting her sorrow that she gives herself the chance to right the wrongs from previous relationships. For the co-stars, Alice wins the battle single-handedly.

There were some funny moments in the movie that had me and other audience members laughing pretty hard. One scene in particular takes place inside of a hotel hallway between Mike and Tatiana in an ear to ear conversation. Another moment takes place inside of a day spa where the bride to be gets an unexpected surprise from a male masseuse. Finally, don’t leave once the movie ends because the end credits have gags that will leave you rolling to the exit.

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Unfortunately it’s difficult to get behind any of the characters even with Dave and Alice who ultimately lead the performances. Because both the male and female pairs are trying to play it off as decent individuals yet are totally the opposite in their own ways it was difficult to see even Mike and Dave believing Tatiana or Alice were innocent. Worse yet is the fact that both parties were acting so that they make everything seem okay when in fact their behaviors were so off the wall. How could anyone not notice the warning signs considering their personalities are almost identical.

With some character development towards the latter end of the film it doesn’t make up for the outlandish antics that ran from the start. There were moments of laughter that kept my focus but it all just didn’t seem believable for me to care for any of the characters. Not enticing nor a total letdown, you’re going to get what you’re asking for when it comes to ‘Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates‘. Let the decision be yours.

Rating: 5.8/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates‘? Are you planning on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The Purge: Election Year (2016) Review

PG3_UncleSam1Sht_0518_1SM.0This is not a test. This is the commencement of the annual purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government. With Universal successfully coming off of the sequel with ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ after a rocky start to the franchise, audiences bare witness to the next event. From the director who brought us the first two Purge films is James DeMonaco, who surprisingly has  only directed four movies including this one. As America enters into election season, a Senator running for office threatens to suspend the annual tradition if elected as President. This catches the attention of the founding fathers as they set out to eliminate any threats that would bring an end to their agenda.

It’s not ironic that with an election coming up we’d see Universal take advantage by returning with their eye catching property ‘The Purge‘ while adding their own message to the mix. Frank Grillo returns for ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ and is Senator’s Charlie Roan’s  (Elizabeth Mitchell) protector when the annual purge slowly approaches. Coming off the last film where Leo Barnes was going to go after the man responsible for the death of his son, returns here in a role where he too wants to see the purge come to an end. While the Senator is put in a safe house it soon is found out that it’s all a set up from the inside to kill the Senator. This sets both Leo and Roan on the run while danger awaits them on every corner.

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The first Purge movie was met with mostly negative responses and was in due part to the action taking place in one location. As a viewer we weren’t able to take in the concept which is that a country would for 12 hours see an event where all crime is legal; including murder, and the carnage that would follow. Later we’d see the sequel in 2014 where it made up for what lacking while also adding more to the founding fathers and why the purge was created. And with a standout performance by Frank Grillo as the Sergeant, he takes in survivors of the night while trying to lead them to safety. So it brings us to the third installment where it’s for all the marbles and the country’s soul is on the line.

Let’s start by saying that seeing Frank Grillo return was a great call and seeing him in this movie brought us back to how great he was in the last outing. He doesn’t stop a beat when insider’s turn bad and he has to escort Senator Roan to safety. This leads us to Elizabeth Michell’s performance as the Senator who believe it or not wasn’t a distraction. You were sold into her character who was running to end the violence and tradition that was only fueling the agenda’s of the elite. There are instances where people are uncertain of her true motives as she can be seen like all other politicians.

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It would be crazy for me not to deny there wasn’t a political tone to the movie when it comes to rich versus the poor and is how the tradition of the purge helps to eliminate a certain class. A more disturbing take was how we see tourists from other countries coming to participate in the purge. This brings to light the ongoing fight in today’s world where terrorism is arriving or showing up all over the world. But for the sake of the film it works to it’s benefit and shows how powerful a voice can be if one or not all takes action. Of the three films thus far, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ is the most politically telling of them all and may leave you with mixed reactions.

As was the case with the last two films, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ has it’s fair share of problems. The concept still has holes that it can’t manage to overcome considering the scale of such an event. No matter how hard the movie tries focusing on the political aspects of the event, it ends up cheating itself from being a more thought provoking idea. The violence is surprisingly little, yet we see a lot of blood and death if that were to make any sense. There’s plenty of ammunition to be spent here and is what we see most of. In the end, it struggles between being a horror film or an all out action feature. One last thing I’ll say is that in the last films we’d see a time frame of the purge taking place. In this one the movie doesn’t place too much attention to how much time has passed from once the purge starts to when it ends. Though it may not make a difference it does feel absent and leaves you wondering why that decision was made.

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With that said, the ending does leave with potential for another sequel and will ultimately depend on the returns at the box office. The production budget for this movie was $10 million* so it can easily make a profit. As Universal and Blumhouse productions continue with a winning track record, it’s safe to say their trilogy is a success. And when I mean success, it’s in regards to the concept that is the purge and how it caught the attention of movie-goers since its inception in 2013. Give it to Director James DeMonaco as he not only made a franchise but also isn’t shy in making a statement as well.

Rating: 6.8/10

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Source: Box Office Mojo

Do you plan on watching ‘The Purge: Election Year‘? What do you think of the franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.