Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Scream (2022) - Movie Review

With how often I bang on about metafiction in these reviews, this will likely come as little surprise but I fucking love the Scream series. Yes, even the much-maligned third and fourth films; I love all of them. Not only do they serious scratch a lot of my metatextual itches, I like how each instalment thus far has been able to stand out from the others in their own ways (and I mean in good ways). The first one is undoubtedly the most iconic and the scariest; that opening scene remains one of the greatest sequences in any slasher film. The second is the most creative, both in its set pieces and in its reflexivity as far as commenting on its own impact on the very genre it spent so much time poking at.

The third film… yeah, it has its problems, but I’d argue that it’s the most scathing with its observations about horror cinema and the industry that creates it. If you haven’t seen it before, or haven’t watched it since before 2017, I’d advise giving it another try; time has added some new layers to that particular narrative. And as for the fourth film, maybe it’s because the inclusion of Kirby appealed to my previously-mentioned statement that women who love horror movies are awesome, but I consider it to be the most fun, as well as containing my favourite ensemble cast thus far.

With long-time director Wes Craven tragically passing away back in 2015, the idea of a new feature-length continuation being made without him (ignoring the existence of the TV show) kept feeling like a bad idea. Between the Scream films and New Nightmare, the man had a better understanding of meta-horror than most of his peers, and indeed most filmmakers that have sprung up in his wake. But if one had to be made, I’d argue that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have a better chance than anyone else. These are the guys who made Ready Or Not, a film whose thick veins of subversive humour and awareness of genre tropes made it a surprise hit when it came out. And with one of Ready Or Not’s co-writers also in attendance with Guy Busick, and James Vanderbilt finally finding a solid team to work with again, this has some real promise. And the extent to which that promise is delivered on here is staggering.

Monday, 24 January 2022

The Addams Family 2 (2022) - Movie Review

While it didn’t really hold a candle to Barry Sonnenfeld’s live-action films, I liked the first animated Addams Family movie. It made proper use of its new 3D environment, the voice acting was fun, and it even managed to find a way to make the family’s Goth outsider aesthetic resonate in the modern day, when their entire way of life has been wholly embraced in popular culture. I won’t begrudge that film for being popular enough in its own right to warrant a sequel. But looking at what we finally got, I can’t help but think the filmmakers have walked back every step they took with the original.

Friday, 21 January 2022

King Richard (2022) - Movie Review

I was worried that they were going to balls this one up. A biopic about the Williams sisters, tennis players so famous that even I know who they are, told from the point-of-view of their father and coach. Not gonna lie, as soon as I saw that setup and the Will Smith-heavy marketing for the thing, I assumed we’d be in for another Dangal, where the attempt to be inspiring with the dramatisation of a real-life woman’s sporting story gets railroaded to give all the emphasis to a particular man in her life. And while that is definitely the perspective given, I’d argue that this works out much better than in Dangal’s case, as using that specific perspective affords the film many opportunities for resonating material, almost all of which are utilised.

Friday, 14 January 2022

The King's Man (2022) - Movie Review

I have been both anticipating and dreading sitting down to watch this feature in the cinema. And for reasons beyond the larger-scale “Sarge, we keep getting orders to let the virus win” idiocy that is the third year of the pandemic. On the one hand, it’s the latest Kingsman film, a series I have grown to love in all its suave ridiculousness, and having seen all of Matthew Vaughn’s directorial efforts to date, the man is yet to make a bad film. Flawed films? Oh, certainly; The Golden Circle had its share of issues. But never anything outright bad. As such, I’ve been hedging my bets on this film as my first review (on this blog, at least) for 2022, wanting to start things off on a good note.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Top 20 Best Films Of 2021

2021 was definitely a disappointing year in a lot of ways, and one of the harder ones to deal with in many others, but honestly… forget how I ended my last list: For all the bad that happened, I’m glad that 2021 happened the way it did. I went through a lot of difficulties with my own work and life situation, true, but the latter half of the year had me reaping the rewards for the previous eleven years’ worth of grinding I’ve put into this little endeavour of mine. Not only did Universal Studios start contacting me directly to go to preview screenings, but I finally stopped being an intern with FilmInk as I have been for the last few years, and became a paid contributor. After spending so long doing all of this, resigning myself to this just being a hobby, I achieved one of my life goals and have made it as a professional writer.

In light of all that, and for as sour as my Worst list turned out, I find it difficult to really hate the last twelve months. As such, rather than doing my usual Best Worst Film Of The Year mention (which, for the second year in a row, went to an After sequel), I’m going to start this off with a quick rundown of ten things (in no particular order) that I loved seeing this year… that aren’t attached to films already in the list proper.

1.       Symbolic BDSM in an R.L. Stine adaptation

2.       Twitter Cinema

3.       Gay Venom

4.       James Wan going completely bugfuck

5.       Hugh Dennis in a James Bond movie

6.       Ridley Scott releasing two of his best films in a single year

7.       Chloé Zhao releasing two of her best films in a single year (Eternals was fucking brilliant, I don’t care what anyone else says)

8.       In a sea of nostalgia bait, a much-needed reality check

9.       A collaboration between Troma Studios and Saban Entertainment (well, damn near it, anyway)

10.   A new Clint Eastwood movie that didn’t make me feel like I would rupture a major artery

Yeah, a lot of good shit happened at the movies in 2021, when all the big fuck-off blockbusters that the studios had been sitting on for well over a year finally saw public release, along with some killer indie features. So, before we completely leave 2021 in the rear view, let’s take one last look at some of the best that the year’s cinema had to offer. Here are my picks for the twenty best films of 2021. (By the way, *SPOILERS* for Spider-Man: No Way Home ahead)

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Top 20 Worst Films Of 2021

Like a rubbish sequel to an already miserable original, 2021 was not a great year. More of the same time-haze where every day just seemed to blur into each other from the isolation, only it seemed to hit me harder the second time around because I wound up with a bad case of quarantine brain. I spent a fair amount of the year in creative burnout, meaning that I wound up seeing significantly fewer films than usual. And yet, because running on half power (or no power, as was the case for a few days in December) still isn’t enough to stop me, I still managed to see enough films to fill out my usual end-of-year list.

Sure, making such a list is just pointing at unpleasant things from the past just to point out how unpleasant they are, and it’s not as if the world is deprived of things to feel bad about these days. But quite frankly, making fun of bad movies with this annual list is pretty much the only joy I get out of still remembering that these features happened at all. One of the side effects of writing about every new film I see is that my memory of them is tied to something tangible, and they tend to be easier to recall as a result. And since forgetting about wrong things is a pretty sure-fire way to ensure that they keep happening, I reckon it’s worth taking some time to reflect on what I can only hope will be mistakes that are learnt from rather than repeated. As such, let’s take a look at my picks for the Worst Films of 2021.