Saturday, 27 November 2021

In The Earth (2021) - Movie Review

There is more than one way to dramatise the… interesting situation we’ve been living in over the past two years. Sure, a filmmaker could go the literal route, have a story set during the actual COVID-19 pandemic as a means to connect the fiction to our own reality, but there’s also the less obvious way. Something that can use the veneer of fiction to brush against the thought processes and emotions indicative of this time, but without being as direct about it. And with the latest from writer/director/editor Ben Wheatley, a creative I’ve come to rely on when it comes to interesting material to write reviews for, we have a story that definitely has its cultural specificities, but is aiming for something more cerebral than the likes of Locked Down or Host.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions (2021) - Movie Review

I should mention right at the start that I’ll be looking at the Extended Cut, which has a completely different opening and ending to the theatrical release. Since they were both the same price for rental at the time of viewing, and this year has already proven me wrong on at least one other director’s cut, I figured I might as well check out the Extended Cut. Put simply, the key difference here has to do with the characters behind the scenes for the titular Escape Rooms, namely James Frain as the puzzlemaker for the shadowy Minos corporation, and Isabelle Fuhrman of Orphan fame as his captive daughter. I’m admittedly going off of plot synopses to parse out the differences between versions, but given the information available, I honestly think the changes made were for the better. Partly because they maintain a personalised touch to all of the escape rooms shown in the main film, and partly because any excuse to have Fuhrman on-screen is worth pursuing.

Now, as much as I could extoll how compelling the story of Fuhrman’s Claire is, her connection to the escape rooms, and how she adds to the overall theme of banding together to survive (as opposed to the ‘sole survivor’ theme of the first film), that would all fly in the face of how this is still a very niche thriller for a very specific kind of audience. And those who fall outside of that definition won’t care a whiff for the extra fluff if they aren’t already on-board for the patently ludicrous puzzle design and breakneck pace, the bulk of which remains identical regardless of the version seen.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Last Night In Soho (2021) - Movie Review

I’ve been looking forward to this film for a very long time. In fact, this goes beyond pure anticipation, as this film’s existence is tied directly to my big break into this film criticism gig. Long story short, when I got to interview Edgar Wright during the press tour for Baby Driver, he mentioned that he wanted to make a straight-up horror movie one day. For a while, everyone was abuzz about him possibly doing a sequel to Baby Driver which, while I like and is certainly the most technically polished film he's made yet, I wasn’t as hot on as his previous work. No, I was holding out on that raw genre experience, and sure enough, my prayers were answered once news of this film first broke. And even with the curious levels of backlash this has gotten thus far, I am incredibly happy with the end result.

Monday, 22 November 2021

After We Fell (2021) - Movie Review

What a curious little series this has turned into. The first film is still a garbage fire behind a gasoline refinery, but past that point, these films have basically turned into everything I wanted out of the Fifty Shades series: Silly, phenomenally stupid, but almost endearing in their asininity and willingness to entertain on those terms. And as the third of a proposed four (possibly five) film series, After We Fell is more of the same unhealthy junk food that came before, only it’s lacking in even the most basic of narrative fibre by this point.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Halloween Kills (2021) - Movie Review

Something about this film’s mere existence is bothersome, without even getting into the content. After how cleanly the 2018 film dealt with the franchise’s continuity baggage, and how it managed to tell a story that felt just right when put next to the original, the sheer notion of continuing from there feels off. I don’t like the idea of this turning into the very clutter it trimmed out last time, and unfortunately, quite a bit of this feels like clutter. And yet, even with that in mind, I still can’t bring myself to hate, or do much of anything but be satisfied with what I got. Confused yet? Yeah, me too, so let’s try and sort this mess out together.

Friday, 19 November 2021

Ron's Gone Wrong (2021) - Movie Review

A new contender has entered the ring for family-friendly animated films… kind of. This is the first feature release from UK-based Locksmith Animation, although the actual animation is courtesy of Double Negative, the rendering wizards behind a lot of Christopher Nolan’s bendiest works like Inception and Interstellar. They don’t usually dip into full-on animated works, usually just accompanying live-action films, but this shows them in pretty solid territory as far as visuals go. The animation quality is up to the mainstream standard as far as lighting and the like, the character designs are just goofy enough to work on the kiddie level without being distractingly stylistic, and the design for the titular robot is simplified in a way an actual tech company would engineer, and he's quite adorable the longer he stays in-frame.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

The Last Duel (2021) - Movie Review

I haven’t really gotten into this in past reviews of his work, but I have a serious admiration for the work of Ridley Scott. When he’s on point, he is capable of some of the greatest works that the medium has to offer, whether it’s Alien, Blade Runner, or (personal pick here) Hannibal. But even in his lesser films, there is always something in his productions that I just have to point to as being objectively brilliant.

Exodus: Gods and Kings? Yeah, that wasn’t great, but the casting for God was ingenious. Prometheus and Alien: Covenant? Michael Fassbender’s David is one of the most fascinating cinematic characters of the entire 2010s, even if those films didn’t make full use of him. Even All In The Money In The World, which I seem to be in the minority on as I found it quite inconsistent, has Christopher Plummer giving the performance of a lifetime that held everything together. The man’s talent shines through no matter what he’s working on, so regardless of how this turns out, I’ve been looking forward to it all the same.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

The Kissing Booth 3 (2021) - Movie Review

Time to get back on the Wattpad train and round off the Netflix trilogy of teenaged rom-coms that rank up there with the roughest movie-watching experiences I can recall since this blog began. I’ve gotten well past the point of thinking that it just doesn’t work for me because I’m not in the intended demographic. These are bad movies, and while I can accept that there’s an ample market for switch-brain-off trash on streaming sites (considering the numbers this series has been doing on Netflix alongside 365 Days), nothing about this series thus far has appealed to my cult film perspective. But hey, After We Collided managed to be a reasonably enjoyable irony sit (and yes, I will be getting to that film’s sequel soon), so maybe this series will go out with an easier ride than what led up to it. Well, it kinda does, but it’s mostly the same shit with a different number on the end of it.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (2021) - Movie Review

About six years ago, I looked at a little Aussie feature called Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead. Along with thinking it was terrific, and still one of the most all-out fun movies I’ve ever reviewed on here, that particular screening involved a Q&A with the directors, where they got into some of their ideas for a sequel. I said that I’d be right there when that sequel materialised, and lo and behold, they finally made that fucking movie. It is most certainly not the film I was expecting, though.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Malignant (2021) - Movie Review

This is going to be a tricky one to write about. Partly because a lot of the immediate impact comes from a plot twist that, if you pay close enough attention to what’s happening on-screen, is actually painfully obvious. But mostly, it’s because this is one of those special films like The Angry Birds Movie 2 where, at time of writing, I’m still trying to figure out whether this film is legitimately good or so-bad-it’s-good. As someone who has long since advocated for the latter as genuine entertainment, I’m not saying that as a detraction of the production itself. Just that trying to get things straight is quite the task, for something this unashamedly batshit.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021) - Movie Review

Now this is more like it! After how underwhelming Black Widow turned out, I was fully prepared for the MCU to be stuck in another middling point re: Phase Two, but I’m happy to report that this film turned out pretty damn well. Where that assessment gets a little odd is with how there’s a weird level of similarity between Black Widow and Shang-Chi. Like Black Widow, Shang-Chi was trained at an early age to be an assassin, and he has also been spending all the time since trying to separate himself from his past. Except here, it manages to correct the lack of personality that held back Black Widow, and it’s not just in the acting where that effect takes place.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Black Widow (2021) - Movie Review

“Better late than never” isn’t always the case. And when it comes to Black Widow, the member of the Phase One Avengers in most need of real character development, it arriving so long after that point is rather disheartening. Not to mention out of step with how thought-out the MCU generally is when it comes to story arcs over the span of several features. But now that it’s finally here, and the Marvel status quo is slowly returning after the COVID runaround, I can’t say that I hate it… but I can’t say I’m entirely into it either.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) - Movie Review

Back when I looked at the latest Tom & Jerry movie, I made an aside saying that I was looking forward to this feature. Well, after a good few months of reflection, and actually sitting down to rewatch the original for the first time in years, I want to wholeheartedly retract that statement. The original Space Jam is a film that didn’t need to exist in the first place, essentially serving as a feature-length adaptation of a commercial that is itself a highly commercialised product. There is not a single good idea to be found in it as a piece of art, but the reason why it remains watchable to this day is that everyone attached to it is having fun despite what they’ve been brought together to create. That, and the soundtrack is still fire after all these years.