Netflix Movie Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

An interesting take on the Ted Bundy story, this was well acted and effective in its tone and messaging. Rather than focus on the crimes, this film is all about the trial and events surrounding Bundy’s captures. There is more emphasis put on the impact of these events on his girlfriend. This shift in focus allows for heartier performances from the two leads, Zac Efron and Lily Collins.

Both Efron and Collins give good, solid performances. Collins can sometimes lean toward the melodramatic but she is convincing as the emotionally abused, naive Liz Kendall. It is Efron, however, that steals every scene he is in. Obviously he is the focus of the film but he deserves the credit. He is egotistical but charming, and he is incredibly delusional. Efron fully immersed himself in this role, and the result is a captivating performance that carries the film.

While the performances are good, the pacing doesn’t always work. Whereas The Deliberate Stranger did a thorough if not necessarily exciting job of laying out a detailed timeline of Bundy’s attacks, this film jumps around to try and hit certain “highlights,” so to speak. It plays more with style rather than paying detailed attention to accuracy. As such, it is an interesting experience in entertainment but not as any sort of historical commentary. The editing choices were also a bit odd at times. Again, I think this was a style choice that ended up making some things a bit hard to follow, if not pretty or interesting to look at.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the film are the reactions from people during Bundy’s trial, and his “celebrity” status. The film doesn’t shy away from casting Efron as Bundy in a good light but it also makes a point to contrast his charming personality with the violence of his behavior. Thus when his fans show up at the trial, they are not presented in a flattering manner.

Despite some pacing and editing issues, as a performance piece, and commentary on murder obsession culture, I thought the film was effective and insightful.

Top Ten Films of 2017: Honorable Mentions

I recently posted this video counting down my Top Ten films of 2017.

In it I mentioned that there were several films that did not make the list but deserved some recognition. These are those films, in no particular order, with some brief commentary on why you should see them.

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The Greatest Showman
Who doesn’t love musicals? If you don’t you must hate music, and joy because that’s all that they are. They are pure joy, and musicals featuring Hugh Jackman are especially joyous (even Les Miserables, though admittedly less so). This loosely follows the story of P.T. Barnum’s life. It’s an original story, with original music. It’s uplifting, the songs are catchy, and it’s so pretty to look at.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Of course after I talk about the joyous musical, I must mention the depressing comedy, which sounds like an oxymoron but really is perfect for describing this film. It is marketed as a comedy but it is a dark comedy. It deals with some very serious issues, and it isn’t always pleasant. The performances were great, and the story was quite moving.

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Thor: Ragnarok
I have not been a big Thor fan but after this, he just moved up in my Avengers rankings. This film was hilarious, and took to heart the lessons taught by Guardians of the Galaxy, which were that you can have fun, and create a hell of an entertaining film that still adds to the greater Marvel universe. Plus, Jeff Goldblum!

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It
This is how a horror film remake should work. It takes the original material, doesn’t mess with it excessively, and builds a solid story with quality actors to deliver one of the year’s creepiest films. The opening scene sets the tone for the entire movie, and left me with some very strange nightmares.

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Get Out
Speaking of horror films, Get Out was a surprise hit earlier in the year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought it was very tense, and had a clever premise that played out very well.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming
Yet another Marvel film, and essentially another remake. Finally someone got Spider-Man’s story right. I love Andrew Garfield, and liked Tobey Maguire’s take on Peter Parker but this role needed to be cast younger, and turing it into what is basically a teen movie that happens to star a superhero was the perfect approach.

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The Hero
Sam Elliot is awesome, and should narrate everything. This was a small film that gave Elliot a chance to show audiences just how good an actor he really is, while also tackling a sobering story. If you missed it, definitely check it out on whichever streaming service you subscribe to.

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Wonder Woman
I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as many other people did but I definitely thought it was a step in the right direction for the DC films, and Gal Gadot was perfect in the title role. It still suffers from a weak third act, and CGI villain but overall it is a really entertaining superhero movie.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Couldn’t do an Honorable Mentions list without including Guardians Vol. 2. This was a perfect follow up to the galactic hit original, and upping the game by having Kurt Russell as the villain was a sure way to make it leave a lasting impact. Can’t wait to see the gang again in Infinity War.