Did We Really Need A 'Child's Play' Reboot? Here's What The Reviews Have To Say
AT LEAST HAMILL'S HERE TO HAM IT UP

· Updated:

To a newcomer, "Child's Play" might seem like the perfect candidate for a reboot. But Chucky's creator Don Mancini has been keeping the character alive all this time — the latest film debuted in 2017, and a TV show is in the works — and isn't involved with this reboot at all. This means the uninitiated and Chucky fans alike have a choice: check out this new take, or stick with the classic. Are you better off waiting for the TV show or seeing a different toy story in new Chucky's stead? Here's what the reviews have to say: 

This New Take On Chucky Swaps Serial Killer Possession Out For Artificial Intelligence-Gone-Awry

A disgruntled employee of tech company Kaslan Corp. removes all normal programming and safety protocols from a Best Buddi doll, which is then shipped overseas and onto the shelves of Zed Mart. The doll finds its way into the hands of Zed Mart employee Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza), a struggling single mom unable to afford a birthday present for her young teen Andy (Gabriel Bateman) after moving to a new neighborhood.

[Consequence of Sound]

Chucky (voiced with hyperbolic glee by Mark Hamill) has been designed to give Andy everything he wants, and for a lonely kid who resents his mom and her intrusive new boyfriend (David Lewis), that sort of wish-fulfillment can have deadly consequences.

[IndieWire]

For All Its #Relevance, This New Backstory Is Harder To Go Along With Than The Slasher Simplicity Of Yore

Remember the disappointment you felt that Christmas when Santa brought you an off-brand Cabbage Patch Kids counterfeit instead of the real thing? Well, if you grew up on the "Child's Play" movies, then brace yourself for more of the same, since Buddi's expression is wrong, his glimmering-LED eyes look wonky, and no child in his right mind would want this creepy robot as a toy.

[Variety]

The original "Good Guy" doll, which was possessed by serial killer Charles Lee Ray, was a send-up of 1980s commercialism, an era when parents would practically kill to get their hands on a Cabbage Patch Kid at Christmastime. The new Chucky, a "Buddi Doll," hews closer to modern trends, has a powerful computer operating system, and gets treated more like an exciting new iPhone than a child's plaything. (It's almost/exactly like the title doesn't make sense anymore.)

[Bloody Disgusting]

Initially it seems a bit of stretch that a goofy-looking humanoid gadget dressed in dungarees could become the latest must-have household accessory, but by alluding to the real-world gamification of consumer technology Tyler Burton Smith's script goes some way to explaining the Buddi phenomenon.

[Little White Lies]

Hamill Does A Respectable Job As Chucky, But Pales In Comparison To Brad Dourif's Unhinged Original

Hamill certainly has the chops to portray a crazed killer with a humorous edge – he even sings Andy a "best buddy" song that might be the highlight of the film's weirdness.

[Entertainment Weekly]

Hamill certainly delivers his best voice acting since he played the Joker on "Batman: The Animated Series," but his icy, calculated villain has nothing on the shrieking lunatic first brought to life by Brad Dourif.

[IndieWire]


At Least This High-Tech Chucky Opens The Door To Inventive, Outrageous Slasher Antics

The ability to plug into Kaslan Corp's other smart devices means that there's no shortage of weapons at Chucky's disposal, and he'll often use several at a time for maximum blood splatter. The more he learns from his surroundings, the more gruesome it gets, culminating in a Black Friday-style nightmare.

[Little White Lies]

While this reboot never shies away from giving sly winks to the original film, it certainly opts for laughs over the scares. It's a horror-comedy in the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, both onscreen and in tone. And just like Tobe Hooper's divisive sequel to a heralded classic, Child's Play ups the ante on the excessive bloodshed and dark comedy alike.

[Consequence of Sound]

The movie is suspenseful and funny enough that you almost forget you're watching a film about an evil Amazon Echo that bends over backwards, and nearly breaks, trying to look like a Child's Play remake instead.

[Bloody Disgusting]


It's Nice To See Aubrey Plaza And Brian Tyree Henry Here, But Better To See Them In Almost Anything Else

Several characters are such comic caricatures that it's hard to even take seriously as people, much less get emotionally invested in their brutal deaths. But on the other hand, you don't cast comedic actors if you don't want jokes, and Child's Play certainly has a lot of both. Plaza spices up the Karen character with some of her trademark deadpan sarcasm, while the always-dependable Brian Tyree Henry turns Detective Mike Norris into a pathetic cop who can't even get his own mother to respect him.

[Entertainment Weekly]

The new movie shunts [Plaza] to the side for no good reason, and also underutilizes a local detective played by Brian Tyree Henry whose mother lives in the same building as Karen and Andy. Henry, however, somehow manages to elevate everything in his career to date, and his grumbling about "a bunch of millennials" when passing Andy and his friends on the street is one of the movie's most satisfying moments.

[IndieWire]

Like The Tech Trends It's Parodying, Saying This 'Child's Play' Film 'Works Alright' Is Damning It With Faint Praise

Mancini has made his displeasure with this redo known. And the biggest knock against it is that the idiosyncratic qualities (up, down and in-between) of the other films in the series have been sanded and smoothed. Stem to stern, this 88-minute slasher runs like the clockwork bit of machinery it is, and that baseline competence effectively leeches it of personality.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

Despite all these upgrades, Chucky seems less intimidating than before. Part of this can be blamed on the ugly new character design, although he's really hamstrung by the inevitable limits of an animatronic character's performance[…] when you get down to it, his personality isn't all that interesting anymore.

[Variety]

TL;DR

If the story made sense, or even if it was a heck of a lot weirder, Child's Play (2019) would be an excellent new addition to the killer technology genre. As a killer doll movie, and specifically as a Chucky film, it can't help but seem lacking.

[Bloody Disgusting]


Watch The Trailer

 

<p>Mathew Olson is an Associate Editor at Digg.</p>

Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


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