2021 In Film: Day Two (The Bad)

Films that are bad, but at least have one part that I would recommend watching it for.

Antlers

When watching a film like this I don’t just look at what it is, I look at what it could have been. And this could have been great. Local folk horror can be absolutely sublime when it’s done right, IF it’s done right. I don’t feel it’s done right here. It feels like it’s taken inspiration from folklore, rather than adhering to it. So something which could be interesting and informative becomes shockingly pedestrian.

+ The use of shadow and scale to create some really good looking shots.

-Feels unfocused, places dominos it has no interest in toppling.

Best Moment: There’s a shot of a kid walking through a tunnel, it’s very pretty.

Worst moment: The ending. Means the story isn’t complete, and not in an entertaining way.

Best Performer: Jeremy T. Thomas. Very young but great potential.

Worst Performer: Cody Davis. I know he’s young, but his performance annoyed the crap out of me and wanted me to turn the film off (which considering I saw it in the cinema would have been rude). Wasn’t even satisfying to watch his character die.

Best Line: “Lucas I’m Hungry”. A true “oh shit” moment.

Original review here

Army Of The Dead

Got released straight to netflix, and to be honest that’s kind of where it belongs. This tried to do something new by adding a heist aspect, but that never really comes off. It’s just not smart enough to pull off what it needs to. It kind of looks good but also doesn’t. Everything looks clear, but also somehow like scale models, nothing looks real for some reason. If you’re 13 years old, you’ll love it. I mean, it has zombie boobs. But if you’ve ever seen a film before, you’re not likely to see something you haven’t seen done before, and done better.

+ A solid idea, and it’s unique if nothing else.

– Never lives up to the potential

Best Moment: The opening credits.

Worst moment: The introduction of a possible time loop. Never followed up with.

Best Performer: Matthias Schweighöfer. Makes his character incredibly likeable.

Worst Performer: Nora Arnezeder, doesn’t really have the presence required for her role.

Best Line: “Everyone has a mum you cunt, but not everyone is an abuser lording power over quarantined women.” A shame the person who performs it doesn’t do a good job of delivering it.

Eternals

This was so close to being in the next section (the Meh). But then I actually remembered watching it, how utterly bored I was. Seen some reviews say “but it’s setting up things”, that’s not good enough. You can’t judge a film as good by what it sets up, you need to take it on its own merits, and this just isn’t good enough. The representation is pretty good, but the script itself is severely lacking. It’s trying too hard to be big, so we ultimately don’t care about the characters, which in a film as heavily character-based as this is a disaster. So much of the films run-time is wasted, most of the flashbacks are a waste of time and completely devoid of tension since we know what happens (very much like IT: Chapter 2 in that regard).

+ Shows off their powers rather than just telling us. Admirable.

-The action scenes are so pedestrian they’re at risk of being run over. There’s no sense of inventiveness or cleverness to them.

Best Moment: Hiroshima.

Worst moment: Conquistadors laying waste to an Aztec city. Should be a highlight, it should feel like it means a lot, but it’s a bit weak and doesn’t have the emotional resonance it should.

Best Line: “I’ve watched humans destroy each other when I could stop it all in a heartbeat. Do you know what that does to someone after centuries?”. THAT! That should be what the movie is about. The fear of how your inaction leads to disaster. That should haunt them, especially after Thanos (who is barely mentioned).

Original review here

How To Deter A Robber

I was worried about this before I sat down to watch it. The trailer both interested me, yet also made me worry that the pacing would ruin it. That did turn out to be the case. The first half of this film is such a slog to get through that you’d be tempted to turn it off. Resist that urge though, the actual robbery itself is a highlight. It’s really funny, incredibly well written, and flies by beautifully. But like I said, it’s REALLY let down by how poor the rest of the movie is.

+ It’s a good indication of the talent Maria Bissell has as a writer and director. She is definitely one to look out for in the future.

– The set-up really needs to be improved. Once the robbery does happen it becomes a much better film, but that doesn’t happen for about 45 minutes, which in an 87 minute-long movie is far too long,

Best Moment: Outside of the actual robbery itself (which is more a long section than a moment), the bit just before is delightful. You have the characters duct-taping knives to Roombas, generally showing what would happen if the kid from Home Alone had the same intentions but was drunk and not good at planning.

Worst moment: When the main characters think their neighbours’ house is being robbed so go inside the house and then do a seance. Really unnatural character-work and only seems to exist to make them suspects.

Best Performer: Abbie Cobb. Something of the Anna Kendrick about her (or Gillian Horvat depending on how much of a pretentious film-watcher you are). Her line delivery is perfect and I adored her performance.

Best Line: “beer with green food dye. Oooo nice”. Okay the line isn’t good, but the delivery is awesome.

Original review here

Mortal Kombat

Here’s an indication of the quality of this film: I can’t remember where I watched it. I might have watched it at home, I might have seen it at cinema, I genuinely don’t know. From a technical standpoint, it’s fine, but the script is so full of nonsense that it’s hard to enjoy. There are some weird choices made though, especially in terms of sound (why does Kano make a lions roar noise?).

+ Sub Zero, that character is chilling (pun not fully intended but I’ll take it). Basically a horror movie villain.

– The fighters are distinguished by a dragon-shaped birthmark, one which you can also get by killing somebody who has it (like conkers). Stupid. Very stupid. Nobody has accidentally been killed and then their killer suddenly notices a weirdly specific birthmark.

Best Moment: The opening. It’s a great fight and very inventive.

Worst moment: It has a fight in a pit, and then doesn’t recreate the pit fatality. Wasted opportunity there.

Best Performer: Josh Lawson. Makes a great Kano.

Worst Performer: Tadanobu Asano. Raiden is supposed to be a god, I don’t know who you should get, but it should be someone with a definite screen presence, which this actor just doesn’t have.

Best Line: I have risen from hell to kill you.

Original review here

Prisoners Of The Ghostland

Definitely the weakest Nicholas Cage film of the year. A film like this, with the talent behind it, has no right to be as utterly dull as this one is. I love that it is new, it is unique, and it is stylish. But there’s so little to draw you in once you get past the superficial. It should be a lot more fun than this. It doesn’t help that Willy’s Wonderland came out the same year, that’s also insane, and features Nicholas Cage. But it’s a lot better, and when you compare the two (which is inevitable), this looks a lot weaker by comparison.

+ Very one of a kind.

– Incredibly flat and one dimensional once you get past the surface.

Best Moment: Nicholas Cage’s balls explode.

Worst moment: When he meets up with Psycho again. Mainly because the editing was a bit weird.

Worst Performer: Bill Moseley. Far too Foghorn Leghorn to be taken seriously. Plus he moves too much which makes his character look nervous.

Original review here

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

These films seem to have somehow become a cultural phenomenon without actually doing anything new, and with deeply oversaturating their market. This film is probably the closest to being in the previous blog, it’s kept out by one AMAZING jump scare. But other than that this is a rather poor movie. It’s without the style of the others, the script is incredibly dull and there’s so little meat on this film it’s basically a decaying corpse of a franchise.

+ Some good directing ideas.

– These films refuse to look at the Warrens with a critical eye, taking everything they’ve ever said as the definitive truth.

Best Moment: There’s one REALLY good scare. (sadly, it’s repeated again so loses the impact somewhat).

Worst moment: The ending. “Yay, this person who DEFINITELY killed someone will be released after only a few short years, not learning that his actions have consequences. He gets to live the rest of his life happily whilst the family of the victim of his brutal attack have to see it unfold unscreen and be told how the murderer was a nice guy really. Yay” Fuck off.

Best Line: Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you are scared but you hang in there.

Original review here

Wonder Woman 1984

Not as bad as Justice League, but definitely more disappointing. The drop in quality between this and the first one is basically vertical. Two scenes, two scenes would have improved this. All it needed was young Bruce Wayne. He’d have been around 12 years old in this timeline, so his parents would be dead, but he wouldn’t be Batman. Now if you went up to a 12 year old Bruce Wayne and gave him one wish, it’s not difficult to imagine he would wish for his parents back. You’d have some emotion there, but then imagine the end, when he was to cancel that wish. He essentially has to kill his parents. Imagine what that would do to a person. Not only would that be absolutely heartbreaking, but it would also explain why he’s so wary of Superman. He’s seen what Gods can do when they interfere with humanity. The very existence of Superman is a constant reminder to Bruce of the worst moment of his life. It would also explain why he doesn’t kill, he’s done it before and it emotionally ruined him. That would have taken 15 minutes at most and would have given this film the depth and nuance it deserved. Instead, we get an opening of young Diane doing the Amazonian Olympics and cheating (in a scene that makes no sense once you look into it and realise they knew exactly how many people would reach each point). This film also ruins her character, reducing her to “a woman who just needs a man”.

+ Great colour scheme to the whole thing.

– If you think about some of the plot issues for more than one second, everything falls apart.

Best Moment: THAT cameo at the end. Would be game-changing if anybody paid attention to the film.

Worst moment: So, Wonder Woman raped a guy, right? She put Trevor in the body of someone without their consent, and put that person in danger. They had sex, which the original person did not consent to.

Best Performer: Gal Gadot, obviously.

Best Line: Welcome to the future. Life is good! But it can be better. And why shouldn’t it be? All you need is to want it. Think about finally having everything you always wanted.

Original review here

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

I really wanted this to be good. I want DC films to be good, and it annoys me that a lot of the ones in the main DCEU have been bad. The first Wonder Woman was great, and I absolutely LOVE the Shazzam one. But it’s hard to continue to support them when they make films like this. It’s better than the original, but that’s not saying much. The reaction to it has been baffling too, with DC fans claiming it’s one of the best films ever made. Someone tweeted that that, Batman Vs. Superman, and Man Of Steel are the best DC films ever made. So, better than Dark Knight, better than the first Christopher Reeves Superman, better than any of the animated films, better than Joker. No, that’s definitely not the case. This isn’t even as good as Green Lantern. A lot happens, well, I think a lot happens, what does happen happens so slowly it feels like nothing does.

+The idea of studios releasing original directors visions of films that failed is very exciting.

-Watching it feels like the whole thing is in slow motion.

Best Moment: Wonder Woman taking out robbers will always be great, and it’s really amped up here.

Worst moment: Okay weird choice but I’m going with a moment that wasn’t in the film. The moment in the original where Superman is being interviewed by some kids on their phone. That was the only time that character felt right. Wholesome, a symbol of hope and optimism. The fact it’s not in here hurts it.

Best Performer: Affleck still kills it as Bruce Wayne.

Worst Performer: Eisenberg, obviously.

Worst Line: “You won’t kill me. I’m your best friend. Besides, who’s gonna give you a reach-around?” Eugh, just no.

Original review here

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