Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Little Women (2020) - Movie Review

Time to continue with the reheated leftovers of the previous year, consisting mainly of what wasn’t good enough to be released in 2019 (hello, Dolittle) and the remainder of the Oscar nominations that didn’t fit the schedule, and we’re dealing with a legacy remake. I get the feeling that, if not reading the original classic source material, I should have at least glanced at the book’s previous adaptations. However, since there’s six pre-existing films based on this work, one of which done by PureFlix, I don’t particularly feel the need to overplay the story for myself under the pretence of doing research for the new one. I want to give this its fair chance, and after Greta Gerwig’s last success with Lady Bird, I’m more than comfortable with letting this stand on its own. Tl;dr Don’t expect any adaptation comparisons; this is strictly about this version on its own.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Dolittle (2020) - Movie Review

When you’re someone who’s railed against the cinematic plague that is family films about talking animals for as long as I have, reviews like this are inevitable. A look at what can be considered the initial harbinger for the favourite kid-pleasing gimmick of hacks around the world: Doctor Dolittle.

Big-budget adaptations of the original series of books are… basically cursed, from what I can tell. From the hype disaster of the 1967 version with Rex Harrison, to the admittedly decent Eddie Murphy version (that would end up spawning a league of straight-to-video sequels, making whatever merit its beginning had pretty much moot), this isn’t a story known for doing well at the box office. And fresh off of his linchpin performance in what is now the highest-grossing film of all time, Robert Downey Jr. is the latest to try his hand at this infamous character. And it seems like we have somehow reached a new low for this property.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

My Spy (2020) - Movie Review

In 2008, when Dwayne Johnson’s star as an actor was beginning its initial rise, Peter Segal’s take on the classic spy show Get Smart gave The Artist Who Wants Us To Stop Calling Him The Rock a proper shot at the mainstream, beyond his previous stardom as a wrestler. A little over a decade later, Segal seems to be on a similar tear, stepping back into the comedic spy game with Dave Bautista, the latest success story in that WWE-to-the-big-screen transition and, between crowd-pleasers like his work as Drax The Destroyer in the MCU and critical darlings like his opening role in Blade Runner 2049, this should be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, this latest attempt at carving out Bautista’s place in a more family-friendly lane is a major fizzler.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) - Movie Review

Within the first minute of Aardman’s latest feature, there is a shot featuring a shop named Milliway’s. Thirty seconds after that, a sign for H.G. Wheel’s Auto. This sets the pace for the 87 minutes to follow, as the studio’s usual penchant for visual gags, both foreground and background, takes on a rather niche dimension, filling pretty much every moment with some form of tribute or reference to the older sci-fi canon. This seriously makes Ready Player One look like amateur hour for films designed to make film nerds look through every frame with a fine-toothed comb, and it certainly got me more attentive than usual to spot as many as I could.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The Gentlemen (2020) - Movie Review

I’ve been ragging on Guy Ritchie as a filmmaker for a few years now, and I feel the need to clear some things up. For as much as I’ve taken issue with his more recent efforts, I don’t want to come across like my objections are coming from some knee-jerk “how dare he try and do something different” shit. Rather, I keep pointing this out because I’ve seen enough of Ritchie’s work to know where his strengths lie. He’s a Brit-crime storyteller, and a damn effective one when he plays to what he does best. But as soon as he reaches for something bigger, his limitations present themselves.

Whether it’s coating his usual style in philosophical wankery like with Revolver, adapting classic stories that clash with his sensibilities like with King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, or just plain doing what he should know by now isn’t his strong suit like with Aladdin. I bring all this up because I want to see Ritchie deliver satisfying cinema again, and it’s why I’m very happy with his latest.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Spies In Disguise (2020) - Movie Review

After years of bewildering popularity and success, it seems like Blue Sky Studios has finally found their own lane in the modern animation market. Yeah, I easily would’ve just assumed that their raison d’etre was being entirely disposable, between the weak Ice Age films to the downright dreadful Rio films, but between this and their last feature Ferdinand, they seem to have found their niche that doesn’t involve boring the audience into a collective coma. If Disney is the standard, Dreamworks the alternative, Laika the retro haven and Illumination the home of all things villainous, then Blue Sky is the place to go for family-friendly treatises on pacifism.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Top 20 Best Films Of 2019

I’ve gotten into some of the prevailing themes that tie a lot of 2019’s cinematic releases together over the course of these lists. The overwhelming sense of disappointment, the harbingers of what could be even worse movies to come out in the new decade, the inevitable efforts that manage to defy just how much of a letdown the year turned out; that kind of thing. But the main thing I got out of 2019 was that it was the end of the decade that made me the critic I am today.

It has been a wild ride these last ten years, and not only has this blog gone through some major changes in that time in regards to format and length (why I ever thought a 1000-word minimum for my reviews was a good idea is beyond me; I blame Principal Vernon), it has exposed me to films that have helped to shape and give form to my perspective of the entire world. And man, did 2019 give me a lot to think about in that regard, to the point where it might hold some of the most personally formative features of my entire ‘career’. So let’s close out our look at this bizarre year with a countdown of my top 20 favourite films of 2019.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Top 10 Most Surprising Films Of 2019

With how low 2019 set expectations not just for its art but for its world at large, it’s a matter of basic probability that there were going to be a few pleasant surprises to make it to theatres and home streaming. Not only that, but what made for pleasant surprises were quite varied, from films that I had given hope on being any good to films that had potential value that very few other contemporary releases could ever hope to carry, right down to a couple that pretty much defy description. So, as we ease ourselves out of the thick haze of frustration of the last couple lists, let’s take a look at the top 10 most surprising films of 2019.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Top 20 Worst Films Of 2019

Where 2018 as a year was characterised by filmmakers looking back on the past and seeing where they could improve, 2019 was characterised by filmmakers looking back and seeing how much worse they could do. The main theme with the worst of 2019 was films that made me look at films I had written off years ago as bad ideas, and making me realise I didn’t know how good I had it because the new take is that much worse. These are the films that defied the prevailing sense of disappointment that populated the rest of the year, but only because the main response was “how did you screw up this badly?!” Strap in for some raw anguish fuel as I count down the top 20 worst films of 2019.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Top 10 Most Disappointing Films Of 2019

The 2010s, the decade that made me into the critic I am today, has officially concluded. And man, did it conclude on a whopper because 2019 was not a good year for movies. It certainly had its highlights, and we’ll definitely be getting into those later on this week, but for the most part, it was one marked by near-consistent disappointment. Middling features, underperforming productions that should’ve done better than they ultimately did, and Disney dominating the box office even more than any year previously; it’s been getting worrisome. So, to kick off our look at one of the bleaker years in recent cinema history, let’s count the top 10 films that, for one reason or another, didn’t match up with my expectations.