2021 In Film: Day Three (The Meh)

Films I could take or leave. I didn’t like, but I didn’t dislike either, they just existed.

A Quiet Place Part 2

Nowhere near as good as the first one. Part of that, for me anyway, is that it used music. The first one didn’t, it played everything in silence so that every sound was story-based and realistic. It felt like you were alongside these people on the journey with them, because they use music in this one it meant it felt like you were watching a film. It really took you out of it.

+ It still has the ability to shock you.

– The fact it has music. Ruins the tone. The first one was made by the silence and this film seems almost scared to have it.

Best Moment: The opening scene, a flashback to when the event first happened. Wonderful chaos, and to be honest I wish we saw more of that stuff.

Worst moment: The sub-plot back at the base. It just distracts away from the main plot. So easy to deal with, if you killed the kid. It would have improved the pacing, added stakes, and broke the audience.

Best Performer: Millicent Simmonds, obviously.

Worst Performer: Djimon Hounsou, a good performer, but he’s way too big for such a small part in this film.

Best Line: “The people that are left, they’re not the kind of people worth saving”. A line which made me feel the film was going to be much better than it ended up being.

Original review here

Candyman

This is on me. I probably would have liked it more if I had seen the others, if I had more history with the franchise. But I didn’t know I’d need to do homework, and the way it was advertised made it looks as if it was something new and was more of a soft reboot. I recognise this is just a personal opinion but this lacked tension to me. There was no chance of a fightback for the characters, so it was just people you had only just met being killed, repeat. Another 15 minutes or so to flesh out some of the background characters would have really helped it.

+Nia DaCosta is one hell of a director. Visually it’s a real feast for the eyes.

-Don’t really care about secondary characters

Best moment: When they use shadow puppets as a way to tell the story. Very creative, and perfect for this film.

Original review here

Coming 2 America

I’ll say this, this film is VERY fortunate I watched the cinemasins video for the original a few days before watching this otherwise I wouldn’t have got half the references it makes. It’s so in debt to the original that it doesn’t carve out its own legacy. It also seems unsure how to treat Eddie Murphy’s character, is he a sensible mature king who has grown into the role since we saw him last? Or is he the cocky slightly immature character that he was? This tries to play it both ways and it doesn’t really work. Available on Amazon prime so if you have a subscription already I’d say watch it, but don’t hunt it down.

+All the cameos, sure to raise a smile

-Feels a little lazy at times

Best Moment: The celebrations for the current king. Showcases just how out-of-touch the current king is, the hero-worship of someone who’s only real achievement is being born is brilliantly hilarious and so bombastic.

Worst moment: The conception of his son. Let’s not split hairs, it was rape. He was drugged to the point where he can’t even remember it. The fact that nobody pulls the woman up on this is, well it’s problematic.

Best Performer: Kiki Lane. She isn’t given a lot to do but she plays her character perfectly. You can sense the internal battle of tradition vs. worthiness.

Worst performer: Arsenio Hall. His performance isn’t bad, but there are moments where he plays it a bit too comedically. We’re talking live-action Disney sitcom level of overacting.

Best Line: You’re dressed like a slave from the future.

Original review here

Gunpowder Milkshake

I had high hopes for this. Looked like it would be slick fun. It’s not, it feels very derivative of Edgar Wright’s work. It should not be as forgettable as it is, and that’s a shame. It should at the very least look gorgeous. I mean, it looks okay at parts, but in a Snyder way, where the visuals of the shot are more important than writing how to get there in a logistical way. The whole thing feels like a video game, and not a good one. A cheap one from the late PS1 games where putting women in latex outfits and having the camera focus on their arse in a game was considered “progressive”, even when the game was called something like “Phwoar! Look At Those Tits” and the tagline was “It’s okay to masturbate over this, women aren’t people”. The fight scenes are predictably overedited. Also, the sound design is a little “off”. It feels muffled so that some hits don’t land quite as hard as they should.

+ When it leans into what it actually is, it works.

-Trying so hard to make every image seem “cool”, that none do.

Best Moment: There’s a great fight where Karen Gillan’s character loses the use of her arms, so she gets someone to tape a knife to her hand and fights like that, just swinging her arms around. It’s incredibly creative, can’t remember the last time I saw a fight scene like that.

Worst moment: She bowls a bowling ball at someones head, it smacks against it with a dull thud. With the right sound effect (and obviously the correct levelling of it against the music) it would have been a lot better. Plus it would have confirmed whether it knocked them out or killed them. It could have done either and that scene alone doesn’t do a good enough job of indicating which one it is. It later turns out that it did just knock them out

Best Line: “There’s not a single person on earth that I’d rather kill people with”. That’s my chat-up line btw.

Original review here

Red Notice

One of the last films I watched last year, but I still can’t talk at length about it. It’s the film equivalent of mediocre cod and chips. You don’t know what else you expected, but you know you expected better. It was in that weird middle ground where it didn’t have enough twists that you were constantly on your toes admiring the genius, but it had enough that when there was another one you just felt it was a bit stupid.

You know how when you used to play Tony Hawk games and everything in the levels would be lined up so that you could skate it in one continuous motion? That’s how the action scenes feel here. Like the world was specifically designed to be in an action film. There’s no sense of realness to it.

+ It’s highly unlikely you’ll be bored while watching it

-Nothing stays with you

Best Performer: Gal Gadot

Worst Performer: Ed Sheeran

Original review here

Spiral: From The Book Of Saw

I admire what they tried to do. Making it more of a procedural buddy cop drama rather than a straight-out horror is a great idea and at least shows they’re willing to do something new rather than sit on the same old tired stories this franchise is known for. But the non-Saw parts are probably the weakest sections. The buddy cop elements aren’t given enough time, we don’t buy the central friendship so we don’t feel anything when the partner “dies”. That’s in quotes for a reason, scriptwriters must know by now that in a film like this when a cops partner dies and we don’t see it, we all know they’re not really dead. It’s basically cliche at this point. Nobody is shocked by it anymore, apart from people who have never seen a film.

Also, horror doesn’t really mesh well with Chris Rocks style. He’s a good performer but he’s too “I need to prove I’m funny and cool” to pull it off. It’s so necessary for him to swear and make jokes that it’s hard to buy him as the lead in a horror movie (it’s why nobody has cast Will Ferrell in a similar role).

+ A film that goes this hard on police corruption is incredibly brave to do in the current political climate. It shouldn’t be, “police shouldn’t shoot unarmed people in the back of the head” shouldn’t be a controversial position, but sadly it is.

-Tries to do too much, and doesn’t manage to do any of them that well.

Best Moment: The first kill, really sets up how psychopathic the killer is.

Worst moment: The ending, cool at first, but then when you think about it it just becomes stupid.

Best Performer: Marisol Nichols. Perfect in her role, and her death is the most brutal.

Worst Performer: Max Minghella, his voice is just not intimidating.

Best Line: “Listen up. I know some of you guys think I’m a rat. Some of you think I’m a snitch. Some of you are mad I fucked your mother.” funny, but also weirdly emblematic of the issues with the dialogue in this movie.

Original review here

The Nowhere Inn

I was on board with this film for a portion of it. But as the film went on I just stopped caring It was being weird for the sake of being weird. I like weird, but narrative will always be the most important thing. For a mockumentary to work it needs an element of truth to it. More so than any other method of telling a story, you need the characters to feel real, otherwise, it breaks the whole immersion and just feels like people acting in front of a camera they’ve borrowed (yes, I know they are acting, but a good film makes you forget that). There are moments where it feels like it’s going to examine the characters, but then pulls away. Last year, St. Vincent made an album called Daddy’s Home, about her fathers release from prison. That’s a better method of examining who she is than this film is. O

+ The music is amazing.

-Feels a bit too staged and “quirky”

Best Moment: When she’s being interviewed by a journalist who clearly isn’t listening to her, and who just wants her to send the journalists girlfriend a voice message.

Worst moment: The sex tape with Dakota Johnson, it’s a good scene, but it comes very soon after the previous scene I mentioned and the tonal shift in terms of character is too jarring.

Best Line: “From now on I need more say in how people are going to act” “let’s only document things I can control”. Great at showcasing her delusions.

Original review here

Undergods

Liked the idea, and technically it was good. It’s just the story was dull and I didn’t really care for the characters. The issue with an anthology film is just as you’re getting used to certain characters, their story is over and never referenced.

+ Very good on a technical level. Very well directed.

-Leaves audience emotionally cold

Best Moment: An absolutely brutal double murder at the end

Worst moment: The opening could do more to draw you in. The opening to a film like this should shock you, it should make you think “holy shit” either in surprise or horror. You should be able to show someone it and have them want to watch it. In this, it’s, well it’s kind of dull.

Original review here

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I really wanted to like this, but it’s far too short. It plays like a film that has already set up Carnage/Cletus as characters. In an ideal film, we will see a world where he is a serial killer first, then have Brock be the one who takes a picture of him which leads to him being put in prison. This would mean that the characters actually have a personal connection before Carnage makes an appearance. As it is it just feels like “Cletus is obsessed with Brock because plot reasons”. To be honest you didn’t even need Carnage in this. Have the film be about Brock/Venom hunting a serial killer, and focus the plot on the separation of Brock and Venom. Have it end with them catching Cletus, THEN go into Carnage in the next film. That way when it comes along we’ll have that feeling of “oh shit, this guy was a psychopath before, he’s going to be even worse now.”

+ Looks great, and the performances are brilliant throughout.

– It should be an 18 rated film. Too bloodless. Ironically, the film never lets there be carnage.

Best Moment: Cletus talking about his childhood, very disturbing, and uniquely told.

Worst moment: I’m still not entirely sure if Reece Shearsmith’s character died.

Original review here

Candyman (2021)

Quick Synopsis: An artist delves into the Candyman mythos and it starts to slowly take over his life.

I will freely admit, I haven’t seen any of the original Candyman films, so I am going into this mostly blind. Pretty much all I know is the basic plot, and that Tony Todd is in it (or to give him his full name: Tony Freaking Todd). That might have made it harder for me to enjoy this film as there are quite a few returning characters who I just didn’t get. On the other hand, if I did know, then it might have ruined one of the “twists” as it would have been obvious what had really happened, so it would have been only an internal reveal, the audience already aware.

I’m not really sure who this was aimed at, the lengths they go to to include all those references to the original make me think it’s aimed at seasoned fans of the franchise. But the fact it was advertised based on creating something new, that it didn’t talk about a “return” made it seem new, even the name made it seem like a new start and a reboot. Compare this to Halloween. Which firmly established itself as a sequel that ignored all but the first film. I also hadn’t seen any Halloween films before I saw that one, but that did a much better job of establishing who the character is, and what he does. This doesn’t really do a good job of establishing what it is the character can actually do. It focuses a lot on “say his name and he’ll appear”, but it doesn’t establish whether he feels physical pain, whether he can be reasoned with, or even deal that much with the mirrors. The character mostly exists in mirrors, unable to be seen in the real world. This means that the film is missing that core aspect of a horror film: the fightback. At no point does any character even begin to look like they can fight back, there’s no “will they survive” to any of the deaths as you know they won’t. So there’s no tension, every death is the equivalent of a train approaching somebody tied to a railway track, you know they’re going to die so the slow nature of it just draws out the inevitable.

It’s not as though the film itself is slow and drawn out, there are moments where it’s painfully rushed. 90 minutes is not long enough to tell a story like this. The film has to do A LOT. It has to introduce the main character in his normal life, then introduce the lore, have the character be uncertain then be presented with evidence, then research it more etc. You need to do a lot for a film like this, and that requires time, and this film just doesn’t have it.

The third act in particular really suffers from the rushed nature. The third act reveal could really work, and the concept itself is exciting and could lead to a great sequel. But the way it’s handled in this is shockingly bad, with REALLY important details rushed over in a sentence or two, so the true implications of the reveal don’t have time to breathe. I’m not asking for a five hour horror film, just another 15 minutes or so would have really helped this.

Now onto the good, it looks amazing. Nia DaCosta is lined up to do The Marvels film, and I’m really excited about what she could bring visually to it. There’s some very cool concepts in this, the idea of the shadow puppets being used to tell some of the stories is interesting, bringing to mind the works of Lotte Reiniger. Her use of angles too are interesting, making even standard scenes have a sense of dread. It’s also suitably gory, and the score is pretty damn intense too. Would I recommend this? It’s hard to say, I feel if you go see a few films a year, maybe skip it. If you want to just sit and be scared, go see it. Also, if you’re interested in film-making I’d go to see it purely so you can study the techniques they use. I’d say it’s more important than it is good.

It did give me one of the stupidest comments I’ve seen on film twitter though:

Yeah, stupid woke Hollywood, taking a story about a former slaves son who was lynched and tortured for falling in love with a white woman, and somehow making it about race. What’s next? Making a film where we actually are supposed to sympathise with the creature in Frankenstein? Or a Nightmare On Elm Street film where it turns out Freddy Krueger is actually the villain just because he kills people? Snowflakes!

2010’s In Film Day 9 (2019+2020)

Something a bit different today. I’ll be doing the end of year roundup at the end of the month. I’ll also be doing the end of year awards too, as such I’m going to talk about the films I saw in 2019 quite a lot in the next few weeks. So if I talk about them here then I feel that will be too much repetition in a short time. So I’ve decided to approach this differently, I’m going to talk about films I didn’t see, whether my missing it was intentional, and whether I’m going to see them at any point. Because I feel that might be a short blog, I’m also adding films from 2020 that I’m looking forward to. Enjoy.

January

2019 – The Favourite

This won SOO many plaudits and awards, and that’s why I didn’t watch it. I felt if I came out and didn’t like it, and then publicly said so, a lot of people will think less of me. I probably will like it, and I will watch it at some point when I don’t have to review it, but I felt like I didn’t want to be the only person who disliked a popular film (oddly enough, I felt fine disliking Once Upon A Time In Hollywood).

2020 – 1917

Damn this is a tough month. There is SO much good stuff. Uncut Gems, David Copperfield, A Beautiful Day In This Neighbourhood, The Lighthouse. It’s a packed schedule, most of which probably won’t be shown at my local cinema because reasons. This is the film I’m most intrigued by though. I was going to avoid it because I’m so bored with war films. Then I heard this was presented like it was one long shot, and I was instantly sold. I like to reward creativity in cinema, so I have to see this.

February

2019 – Boy Erased

A film about a gay teen being forced to undergo conversion therapy. The only reason I didn’t see this is because it wasn’t shown at my local cinema. Very annoyed by that and I will watch it at some point. I thought I had seen it but then realised I watched the OTHER really bleak and depressing Lucas Hedges film.

2020 – Sonic

Will it be shit? Will it be okay? Will it be great? It will definitely be one of the first two, but either way it’s going to be a lot of fun to write about.

March

2019 – Dumbo

Unlike Boy Erased, the cinema did play this, a lot. I purposely avoided it. I don’t really remember too much from the original Dumbo, I remember enough to make weird references to it, but not enough to feel an emotional connection to it. So I had no desire to watch a live-action version. Plus, live-action Disney remakes are something I’m trying to avoid on principle, on the principle they’re unoriginal and stifling creativity in cinema.

2020 – A Quiet Place Part 2

I’m really interested to see whether this will fuck up my love for the first one. I’m hoping it won’t and I am genuinely interested to see where they go with it. It does seem to have quite a few flashbacks too, which could be nice.

April

2019 – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

I didn’t see this because I didn’t know it existed. I wish I did and watched it now as I get a feeling my review would have been a lot of fun to write. It looks like it’s either going to be schlocky fun, or just terrible. Either way, would have been fun to write about.

2020 – The New Mutants*

That has a star next to it because, let’s face it, it’s probably going to get delayed again. Film in 2017 and not released until now, which is always a good sign for a movie. It can’t be worse than Dark Phoenix though, can it?

May

2019 – Aladdin

Again, purposely avoided this one. I sometimes feel like the only person who didn’t really care about the animated Aladdin movie (or The Lion King for that matter), so I definitely wasn’t going to see a live-action one. I saw a section from it where Will Smith sings the Prince Ali song, and it just made me more determined to not watch this film. It was too visually slow. I maintain they should have had a film crew with more experience in Bollywood cinema, even if it was only just for that scene, to give it the vibrancy and life that it needed. It just seems so plodding and dull.

2020 – Artemis Fowl

I fear this. I love the books and all indications show they haven’t really paid attention to them. For one thing, they’ve got Commander Root played by Judi Dench. Now I LOVE Judi Dench, but it ruins one of the story arcs from the book which is that Holly Short is the first female LEPrecon officer, if Root has already been there then it ruins not only that arc, but also their dynamic. I will admit though, the director is the right choice, as is Josh Gad as Mulch Diggums.

June

2019 – In FabricA

Didn’t even know this film existed until I was looking through the launchingfilms.com page for films released in 2019. I’ll share with you the synopsis: IN FABRIC is a horror-comedy in which an enchanted dress wreaks havoc on the lives of those who wear it. Why do I not already own this on DVD? I now have to see this at some point.

2020 – Candyman

It’s Candyman written by Jordan Peele, you damn right I’m going to see this.

July

2019 – The Lion King

Wait, that was this year too? Damn Disney with the remakes. This film came out about 6 months ago now, it had Beyonce in it, yet I haven’t heard anybody talk about it. The live-action version has made no impact on popular culture.

2020 – Morbius

This seems like a vampire horror movie set in the MCU. I am all for that. The MCU needs to get more diverse and have different genres. It has been unable to do that until now because all the films needed to be linked, you needed to watch them all to fully get Endgame. Hopefully, now that’s finished they can be separate and they can take more risks.

August

2019 – Playmobil

Again, this could have been a vitriolic masterpiece review. But I would have felt a bit weird being the only childless adult in the cinema watching this. Plus at this point I realised I really needed to stop watching bad films, I had seen enough (this was after Dark Phoenix and Hellboy, but before Wolf, so it was going to get worse).

2020 – Bill And Ted Face The Music

I need this. I need this so much. I loved the first two movies and I really hope this lives up to the hype.

September

2019 – Ready Or Not

Now, this annoyed me. It came out just after the worst film I’ve ever seen, a film that was so bad it put me off cinema for a short while. As such I missed the REALLY brief window that this film was at the cinema. Shame as it looked good, and I’ve heard great things about it. Who knows, maybe if I saw at the cinema I would have realised it wasn’t actually Margot Robbie in it.

2020 – The King’s Man

I’m curious about this. A lot of the fun about spy movies are futuristic gadgets, so I’m curious how this is going to work. The trailer didn’t leave me as excited as it should have done. I have faith though, it could be amazing. No matter what, I’m looking forward to it.

October

2019 – Gemini Man

Hahahaha yeah I wasn’t going to see this. It looked stupid, and not fun enough to make up for it. My favourite thing about this film? The poster for it had the cast at the top, which was just Will Smith. But to show that he was playing two roles (well, three) they had his name twice. So it was “Will Smith Will Smith”, which is a grammatically correct sentence enquiring whether Smith can will someone else called Smith to do something

2020 – Death On The Nile

A surprisingly packed month really. You’ve got this, the Halloween sequel, and the remake of The Witches. This is the one I want most though, I loved Murder On The Orient Express. I loved the direction, I loved the performance, so I REALLY want more, and I’m so glad it’s happening.

November

2019 – Last Christmas

I was going to see this, then I had a realisation that I think I knew the ending. I looked it up and it turned out I was right. That instantly turned my feelings on the film from “warm christmas feeling” to outright cynicism.

2020 – Godzilla Vs. Kong

Mainly as I’m not entirely sure how this is going to work. The last Godzilla movie made him really overpowered, so I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to make Kong his equal. Interested to find out.

December

2019 – Cats

This is the only film I’ve heard of that required a day one patch. If the studio doesn’t care about quality, then I don’t give a shit about watching it. And it wasn’t just “small ironing out of issues”, it was this:

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That is unforgivable. There is no excuse for releasing the film in that state.

2020 – Coming 2 America

I’m going to need to rewatch the first film before this, but it could be weird. The only film that beats out Bill And Ted for “sequel in 2020 we’ve been waiting the longest for”. I get the feeling people will either love this, or it will bomb HARD. Either way, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a trailer.