2010’s In Film Day 7 (2017)

January – A Monster Calls

This month was STRONG. It had this, La La Land, Manchester By The Sea, Young Offenders (which is now a GREAT sitcom on BBC), so yeah it was a pretty good month. Okay, it also had Assassin’s Creed and The Bye Bye Man so it didn’t have everything. I chose this because it was the first film I saw that year, it’s also REALLY depressing. This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, one of the few films I’ve seen lately that seeks to emotionally blackmail the watcher. Reminiscent of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, can be best described as a modern-day fairy tale. Bayona did a fantastic job of directing this, whilst the Liam Neeson tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The book is beautiful too.

February – A Cure For Wellness

When I saw this at the cinema the ending of this film was met with silence. Not a “well that was shit” silence, more a stunned silence where nobody was sure what to do next. Everyone slowly came to their senses and walked out the screening, feeling like we’d been bonded by trauma. It was a unique experience, and one I loved. I didn’t love the film though, it had the unfortunate double whammy of being too long, and having underdeveloped characters. It is definitely worth a watch though. It’s ugly, but beautifully so. You may not like it, but I don’t think you’ll be able to turn away from it.

March – Logan

One of the few truly mature comic book movies. A lot of film studios (and audiences tbh) mistake “mature” with “violence” and think to make a mature film all you need to do is add tits and guns (or in extreme cases, penis’s and guns).

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Or this, a penis with a gun

This doesn’t do that, it deals with mature themes. It’s like the entire genre has grown up to lead to this moment. And they decided to follow this with Dark Phoenix? Oh hell no. THIS is where it should have ended. It provided a logical closing point to the franchise and gave it an emotional ending. It felt like closure, and that was shown even by something as small as the song that plays over the end credits. They didn’t pick a bombastic rock song, or a current pop song, they chose Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around. And it works. Comic book movies will never reach some of the heights this film hit again.

April – The Promise

I was going to talk about Table 19, because nobody talks about that film and it’s fucking great. Instead, I went with this, not so much because of the film, but the reaction to it. It’s a 2-hour film about the Armenian Genocide which is really good (the film, the film is good, not the genocide). But it seemed to annoy a certain type of people. By certain type, I mean genocide deniers, a.k.a; dickheads. This is one of those “debates” where there’s only a debate because one side refuses to admit they’re wrong, see also; drink driving (yes, there are people who think drink driving should be legal, at least one of which is a UKIP MP), vaccines, global warming, and the holocaust. The sides are basically this; the people who committed the genocide vs. everybody else. Well I say “everybody else”, America still refuses to officially call it one as they don’t want to upset Turkey (also their autocorrect probably changes Armenian Genocide to American Genocide and it makes them feel guilty when they think about the Native Americans, and the slave trade). This film was flooded with fake reviews condemning it, most of which came out before the film was released, so you know they were genuine. Sadly this film was a box office bomb, so it could be argued that the wrong side one.

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I’ll just post this picture again for no reason

May – Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as f*cking tedious as this was. You’d think a 90-minute action film set in Las Vegas would be exciting, you’d be wrong. The only reason certain things happen is because characters are idiots, for example at one point the villain points a loaded gun at the main character, now instead of shooting him, he takes a few steps backwards and gets run over a van (which he somehow didn’t hear coming, in an empty parking lot, the emptiness of which I have a problem with also). I’ve seen defences of this say “yeah but as long as you don’t think too hard about it it works. It’s just dumb fun”. And they’re half right, it’s dumb. It’s not nitpicking to point out that someone who has been stabbed (and for whom the wound continues bleeding for 4 hours) should be weakened by that. But nope, the only indication of it is that he occasionally stops and goes “ah”. A stab wound has the same effect as an ice cream headache. It’s a shame as the cast do their job well, it’s just the script is kinda dumb. There are some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shaky cam fight scene” that the Bourne movies use? They do that here, only they do it for EVERYTHING in the fight. Someone walks away after the fight; Shaky Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shaky Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time. This film somehow ended up with a B rating from audiences, which just goes to show you can’t trust the general public.

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Again, posted without context.

June – Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been. I mentioned this, and not, say, Wonder Woman for this month because of how nobody knows it. And for when Mckenna Grace officially becomes one of the best actresses of our generation it will make it easier for me to find this blog and be like “I fucking told you”.

July – The Big Sick

Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. I’ve seen horrors where a few people have sat there not flinching or jumping in fright, I’ve seen spectacle films where people are bored, and I’ve seen comedies where nobody is laughing. Everybody in the screen I was at reacted to this. They laughed at every joke (to the point where the laughter in the room was louder than the laughter on screen, in a scene set at a comedy club), people “awww’ed” at the right parts, it couldn’t have been more perfect if the film studio paid them to react like that. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film. I highly recommend everybody watch this film, it’s still one of my favourites.

August – Atomic Blonde

Essentially a companion piece to John Wick. It looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks in a long time And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single-shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before the impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. It’s just so damn impressive and I want more.

September – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

It’s pretty much the first film again, but I liked the first one so it doesn’t matter. It is a very good film, and the use of Elton John is perfect. It’s just missing that something to make it different. Maybe it’s the underutilization of some of the new cast, maybe it’s the way fan favourite characters are disposed of too easily. Or maybe it’s that the villain kind of has a really good point when she points out sugar is more deadly than a lot of drugs. I was going to put “Almost Heaven” for this month, and then just sing “Take Me Home Country Roads” instead of typing anything. That would have made more sense as a video blog though.

October – Happy Death Day

Yeah I had no idea whether to go for this or The Death Of Stalin. Both are REALLY good but for different reasons. Despite not being a horror, Death Of Stalin is more horrifying. But this? This has something about it. The script is incredibly clever and brilliant, plus it’s helped by Jessica Rothe’s performance. She adds JUST the right amount of emotion needed for the role. This is probably one of my favourite horror movies of all time, I have so much love for it.

November – Murder On The Orient Express

Because fuck you this is a great movie. I knew the murderer going in and still highly enjoyed it. There was building work going on at the cinema when I saw it so every few minutes you could hear the faint sound of hammering (and not the sexy kind) going on, and I still enjoyed it. It’s so well done and I am genuinely excited for the sequel.

December – Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

I HAD to talk about this. Not because it’s good (but it is), but because it’s the only film released that month that I’ve actually seen. I was busy with stupid stuff like working two jobs so I didn’t get time to do really important things, like go to the cinema. It’s a shame, and is a regret that will forever live with me. The world has punished me for missing The Greatest Showman by making me listen to songs from it EVERYWHERE I go lately, so I believe my debt has been paid.

Trust me, SO MUCH has been missed from this blog: Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Colossal, Lego Batman, AND HOW COULD I NOT MENTION GET OUT! WTF Lee?

IT: Chapter 2 (2019)

Is this the best horror movie of the year? Well it’s definitely better than Ma and Escape Room, and scarier than Happy Death Day 2 U and Child’s Play. The only one that can really match it is Us, which I loved. I think this Us is better, but only marginally. It’s not so much what this film is lacking which brings it down, it’s what it contains; far too much. This film is far, far too long. It’s almost 3 hours long and doesn’t need to be. There’s a lot of padding, a lot of repeating what we already know, and a lot of things that don’t go anywhere. Not just scenes, there are entire sub-plots which aren’t really necessary. Yes, it was good to see Henry Bowers as a psychopathic adult, but it barely adds anything to the plot and if you cut it out it wouldn’t really affect the plot. He may have been important in the book, but they’ve changed over things, and he was so ineffectual that I don’t think anybody would have really missed him. The opening is also a waste of time, if I’m being honest. It’s about two gay characters being attacked by a homophobic gang, ending in one of the two being thrown off a bridge where his partner witnessed him being attacked by Pennywise. It looks like the gang of homophobic assholes are going to be a big fixture in this film, like Bowers was in the first film, but they never appear again. Also not appearing again; the surviving character. He witnesses his partner being eaten by Pennywise, and is never seen again in the film. He could have been an important part, an outsider in the Losers club.

Despite the excessive runtime, there are a lot of things that are underutilised, one of which is Pennywise himself. There is also a problem with consistency, you’re not quite sure whether things are real or illusions, so you don’t know whether things have consequences, and it’s arguable about whether the film itself even knows. It also features possibly one of the most embarassing scenes in 2019 horror when a really tense moment suddenly has a really out-of-place use of the song “Angel Of The Morning” in a way that I think was supposed to be comedic, but it didn’t really work at all as it was the coda of a really intense section.

Arguably, I think this film would have been better as a trilogy. The first one as the younger characters, the second one as the older, and the third switching between the two (or switch the third and second one). There’s too much story to tell so you can’t do it all in this period of time. For this to have worked they would have needed to make all 3 at the same time, which would be fine. It also would have cut down on the flashbacks in this movie, which threaten to overrule the story. It’s hard for a lot of the flashback scenes to work that effectively because they lack tension. The reason for this is because we know the characters survive as we’ve seen the older versions of them, so we know that no matter what, nothing too bad will happen.

Despite that, despite ALL that, I did really enjoy this film. When it was creepy it was incredibly unsettling, and when it was funny it was very funny (with two notable exceptions). The performances are also great, McAvoy continues to be one of the best performers in every movie he’s in, all the cast from the first movie continue to be great too. The real MVP though; Bill Hader. I didn’t know he had this performance in him, he nails every aspect of the character. His jokes, his guilt, and his insecurity are played perfectly by him.

It does also feature a semi-distracting Stephen King cameo though. Although that cameo does consist of him telling a character who is clearly based on him “I like your books but your endings suck”, which made me laugh. So yeah, definitely go see this, preferably at the cinema for the best experience.

Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

First off, applause for that title. It’s the best/worst sequel title ever and I love it. Now, I LOVED the first movie. Yeah it wasn’t that scary, but it had a great plot and terrific performances, was truly one of the highlights of 2017. I heard initial reports that this one was a disappointment. Personally I liked it. I get why people wouldn’t though. It’s quite different from the first one, with a different emphasis which takes it away from the horror genre somewhat. It also wastes what would be a great plot in the opening 10 minutes where another character is trapped in the same day. Although part of me thinks that that plot wouldn’t have worked because it would have been incredibly similar to the first one. The moment where they find that character from another universe is in this one and trying to kill them definitely would have worked and it’s a shame they didn’t use it. I mean, the plot they used was incredibly good. She wakes up on the same day as the first one, but in an alternate universe where things are different. One of the major differences is that her mum is now alive. This sets up a brilliant sub-plot of whether she wants to stay in the new universe or go back to the one she knows.

I’m under no delusions that this is a great film. But it is a film I love already. Jessica Rothe  is damn amazing in this, and Phi Vu handles his increased duties incredibly well, stepping up from a one-note character to a fully-fleshed out supporting character. Quite a few minor characters from the first movie have increased roles this time. I mean, yeah it’s not the same as the first one, but it works great as a companion piece. They don’t feel too separated, they feel like they belong together naturally. Like this wasn’t a sequel, but was the second part of the first one. Crucially it didn’t need to do this. When you watched the first one it felt like a whole movie, you left it with questions, but not questions that distracted you from how much you liked the film. Your thoughts weren’t “but why did x happen?” it was “I liked that”. So this film wasn’t needed, but you’ll be very glad it exists.

Hasn’t been my longest review, or my best. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. It’s really weird and worth your watch; even if only for Jessica Rothe’s performance. And the music. And the editing. Editing in movies are like drums in music, I tend to only notice them when they’re really bad (There’s a scene in Bohemian Rhapsody in particular that’s a mess) or really good (this). The montage editing is superb, flows brilliantly and has a great rhythm to it. The emotion this film manages to bring to the table should be commended too. Has genuine tear-causing moments. Which in a film THIS funny is something special. So yeah, go see it, especially if you loved the first one.

2017 In Film: Part 5 (The Amazing)

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up, beautifully done. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this

+Claustrophobic

-Getting a sequel. Because sequels to shark films always go well. Advice; don’t go 3D and hire Michael Caine.

A Monster Calls

This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, almost seems like it’s attempting to emotionally blackmail the audience. It’s kind of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, sort of a modern-day fairy tale. There are moments whilst the tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) where the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of the director was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel

+The art styles when the monster is telling the story

-Longer than it needs to be. Sigourney Weaver’s accent wavers.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.

+THAT scene. Also the soundtrack.

-Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable.

Baby Driver

The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators. Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm continues to exist.

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Even Jamie Foxx agrees

The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

+A technical masterpiece.

-The plot is wafer thin. And the female characters are woefully underwritten. Oh, and it’s got Kevin Spacey in it which makes it an uncomfortable watch.

Blade Runner 2049

I have not seen the original film, don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the film, and it’s importance, and I understand a few references to it. This, combined with lots of people saying they didn’t understand this film and that it was too complex, made me think that I would hate this film. Not because of what the film is, but because I just wouldn’t get it. My response was going to be “it’s good, it’s just not for me, and I was really confused”. Well, I was confused, I was confused by the confusion. People are talking about it as if it’s a really complex plot where you have to pay close attention to everything in every scene and do a lot of research beforehand to understand, I knew nothing and still knew what was going on, it’s not that complex if you’re paying even the smallest amount of attention. I mean, I understood it and I’m basically a moron.

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“that fourth raindrop from the left is actually vitally important, if you miss that you miss everything”

Was surprised that Harrison Ford didn’t appear until MUCH later than I thought he would. I expected him to make an appearance at about the 1/3 mark. Nope, it was more like the 2/3 mark. Which was a bit strange as he was all over the marketing campaign and was the lead in the original, so a lot of people would have been waiting around him to appear. Although I suppose this did mean that by the time he did appear, everybody was already invested into the story, so he didn’t really take away from Gosling. Make no mistake, this is Gosling’s film, and he nails it. Although the supporting cast does a great job too, So many of your new favourite actress’s will be in this film. A lot of unknowns were cast, yet gave amazing performances. Ana De Armas and Carla Juri deserve special mentions. They both portray their characters with enough vulnerability to make them believable, yet enough determination that they fit this universe. Their characters were great too, you imagined they all had lives outside of this film, they exist on their own terms, not just related to the story.  It felt like you could write entire novels based around them.

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This scene is actually genuinely quite touching in the final film

The world itself was beautifully created as well, not just visually (although it was visually stunning), but also in terms of believability. Those of you who read the review of Valerian will know how important I consider world building to be, particularly in this genre, for films like this the universe it’s set in is almost a character in itself, so if you don’t do that well it really effects it. Done really well in this though, everything looks just dirty enough to be real, yet clean enough to be futuristic. On that note; this film looks SUPERB. You could pause this at almost any point in the film and use that as a poster. This, combined with Arrival last year must surely make Denis Villeneuve one of the best-regarded directors around.

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I also liked how the story threw a genuine curveball in the closing stretch. I do like a good twist if it’s well done. That’s the trouble with a lot of plot swerves, they come out of nowhere and make no sense. A good one makes sense, a GREAT one will be so logical you’ll feel stupid for not realising it sooner. So in summary, this is going to be one of those films that pretentious film buffs constantly try to show you, let them.

+LOOK AT IT! Seriously, just look at it.

-Not a “popcorn film”, in the slightest, so won’t appeal to everyone.

Colossal

Oh, it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.

+Unique story wonderfully told

-As creepy as the guy is, his motivations never really ring true.

Free Fire

“You know how films have gunfights between people? Imagine if that was an entire film” “you’re fired”. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we got this, and it is glorious. Definitely worth a watch as a curiosity. It is essentially a gunfight in a warehouse, for an entire film. But it’s done so well that you’re never bored, you never sit there waiting for it to end. It helps that the gunfights are really well choreographed, not every bullet hits, people conserve ammo when they need to, and bullets to the arms actually do damage as opposed to just “ouch, that arm is slightly weaker now”.

+It works. As a concept it really shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s superb.

-Very unlikeable characters. Slightly unsatisfying ending.

Get Out

There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

 

There’s a lot of VERY good eye-acting in this film. I know that sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. A lot of times things that ordinarily would take a lot of dialogue to say is done just via an eye movement. Tremendous showcase of acting skills, and luckily it’s in a very important film. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. One which is like “think what they could do if they had the mind of a white person”. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well done.

GetOut

This film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively. I was wrong, he did brilliantly, I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very very funny and the mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced. Usually in films like this you run the risk of having the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.

+The sense of unease that’s present throughout. Its greatness increases on second watch.

-There are not more films like it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one.

+Has the emotion that the first one was lacking.

-Apart from that, it’s not that different. Also, the pacing is all over the place.

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

+Incredibly funny, and with a compelling central mystery.

-Not scary enough.

IT

Oh this was good. This was very good. Get Out was more of a social drama, and Happy Death Day was more comedy, but in terms of pure visceral horror, this one wins hands down. Eye openingly scary. So scary that clowns complained, yet manufacturers of red balloons didn’t, probably because it’s led to an increase of people buying them. Horror remakes are always hard, because they will be compared to the original, and people hate change so usually will detest anything different, but if you don’t do it differently then you end up with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. So essentially you need to keep same tone, but add a new take on it. This does it, and does it well. Oddly enough it’s kind of sweet as well, but it does have to be because it’s SUCH a character driven film so you need to care for these characters.

John Wick Chapter 2

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.

+Masterfully well made.

-Does occasionally seem like it was just done to set up a sequel.

Logan

This film was what I expected to be, and to be honest it’s what it needed to be; which is the first truly mature comic book film in a long time. Some people would say that Deadpool deserves that accolade, but I wouldn’t count that as mature. It had lots of blood and adult content, but it was very silly and lowest common denominator, don’t get me wrong, I do love that film (it was one of my favourites from last year), but it’s not mature at all. One of the best compliments you can give this film is that it is a fantastic film, not “fantastic for a comic book movie”, on its own terms it’s a fantastic film. There’s going to be a lot of people who find this film dull, it takes quite some time for certain things to happen but it’s brilliant. Not every film has to be fast food, designed to be satisfactory but finished quickly, this film is more like a three course meal at a restaurant, you savour every moment and really take your time with it, so that when it’s over you feel completely satisfied and all you can do is sit there and recover from the brilliance you just consumed. The ending of this film will be talked about, not here as you can’t without spoiling it. It is brilliantly done though, it’s an ending which this series has truly deserved, and it ends with a Johnny Cash song, which most comic book films wouldn’t be able to do but for here it fits. It is pretty much a modern western, a tale of a retired gunslinger coming back for one more gunfight, the last outlaw, in a time and place without purpose and that has moved on without him, causing him to need to go out in a blaze of glory.

+The first comic book movie I’d describe as a true cinematic masterpiece.

-Very underwhelming villains.

Spider-man: Homecoming

The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.

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I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character, in particular, is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with Parker already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.

+Tom Holland is perfect.

-Not entirely sure it works as a standalone film. Bit too heavily indebted to other MCU films.

Table 19

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I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me, it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.

+Really, really funny.

-Attempt at emotional heartpull seems a bit obvious.

The Big Sick

Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.

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Probably because it’s based on his real relationship with his wife (pictured here
I know in these blogs I do come off as deeply cynical and incapable of love or any positive emotion towards others, but I do have a soft spot for the romantic comedy genre. I just hate a lot of them because they’re done badly, they’re usually really cliche and unoriginal. I like them when they do something new. Definitely Maybe is the film that fully cemented my Ryan Reynolds obsession, and Chasing Amy did the same for Ben Affleck. I think I like these films it’s because they’re usually very people-based. Action films are about the set-pieces, horror films are about the effects, but for a rom-com to work you need two things:
  1. Believable characters.
  2. Great dialogue.

They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue. It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, visual spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with. So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in six years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.

+Will make you laugh cry.

– As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

+Satire that bites so hard it leaves teeth marks.

-Historically innacurate at times. Also, Jeffrey Tambor in it can make it difficult to watch in light of recent allegations.

The Last Word

Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.

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+The dialogue. Specifically, as it relates to the lead. So fantastic.

-Not promoted by the studio, like, at all.

The Lego Batman Movie

Usuall, it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. From the opening narration:

“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous. And logos. Really long and dramatic logos. DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite”

That sets up exactly what type of film you’re about to watch; a film that’s very silly, and gloriously so. It then gets sillier, there’s an odd faux-mance between Batman and the Joker which culminates in Joker teaming up with Voldemort, Sauron, Godzilla and King Kong. Yes, this film is silly, but you can tell that whilst the film-makers are making jokes about Batman and the mythos, they do have a genuine love for the character and his world, they’ve clearly done their research. References to not only previous films, but also very very obscure villains (who’d have thought that Condiment Man would finally make an appearance?). The story is really good too. There’s a tendency in comedy films to think the story isn’t important, this is very very wrong. Perfect example of this is Airplane, that film only works because of the story, yes the jokes are funny, but they’re funny within the context of a serious situation, the story itself isn’t comedic, but it has comedic situations in it. My rule of thumb for determining whether a comedy films story is good is this: would the plot also as a serious film? I think this one would work, it’s a story about a lonesome superhero dealing with his isolation whilst also maintaining a mutually destructive rivalry with the Joker (which is also one of the themes from the seminal piece The Killing Joke). Since I saw it I’ve been trying to think how to sum it up in one sentence, and I think I’ve finally found it. The sentence which best describes everything about this film, so here it is: this film is basically Deadpool for children. And we all know how great Deadpool was.

Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.

+Trying to list all the references this film makes will make your head explode in nerdgastic joy.

-Not much of a sense of tension at any point.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.

+The ending that this trilogy deserves.

-The realisation that the trilogy has missed out on a lot of opportunities it will now never take.

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a watercolour painting. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing, like they want to take every possible moment to leave a good impression on the audience. This film is every bit as fantastic as BvS was critically reviled.

+Gal Gadot. This is her film and she owns it.

-Pretty bad villain. Which I’ve just realised is consistent for a lot of superhero films lately. That’s odd as normally villains are the most interesting part, yet for last few years a lot of them have been really bland.

 

So, that’s 2017 in review. Next week will be the 2017 film awards, then it’s back to usual with random reviews and opinion pieces every monday. And to answer the question; I never got to see Disaster Artist.

2017 In Horror (From Worst To Best)

13. The Bye Bye Man

This was originally going to be a bit higher, but then I realised this has a few advantages over the one in 10, and as such should have been better. It had a higher budget, a wider cinema release, and an actual advertising campaign. Was actually kind of looking forward to this as it seemed intriguing. I thought at the very least it would be an interesting watch. I was wrong. It was boring, pointless, and did the whole “scary thing, scary thing, actually those scary things didn’t actually happen so nothing matters, repeat” thing that I hate about modern horror. Also, it has a stupid name.

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Don’t Watch It (and with that this film wins Easiest Diss Of The Year award)

12. Wish Upon

Have you heard of this film? No, there’s a good reason for that. It’s not great, the story is stupid, the characters are annoying as hell, and it’s not even original. Every idea it has comes from a better film. It also meant that I could no longer put Joey King’s performance in Going In Style in my “end of year notable mentions” list, which I’m sure she’s absolutely devastated about.

11. The Belko Experiment

Not the worst film, but definitely the most disappointing. I expected this to be either fun or smart, it was neither. Didn’t help that it completely ran out of ideas before the trailer ended. If this was 20 minutes long I’d have loved it. It just didn’t have enough ideas to stretch to a feature.

10. Annabelle: Creation

Well it was a LOT better than Annabelle (or as I call it: Annabelle, fuck that movie). But it’s a prequel to an origin story, which makes me uncomfortable. Some very good performances in it, but ultimately rather forgettable (very forgettable actually, I only just realised that for some reason this wasn’t on my list of films seen this year).

9. Rings

Only ahead of Annabelle based on thing: the PHENOMENAL opening scene. Sadly almost negated by the ending being in the trailer.

8. Split

A fun film, albeit kind of disposable and not one I ever really need to see again.

7. Jigsaw

If you bring back a dead franchise, you best do it well. You need it to justify it’s own existence. This doesn’t really do that, it seems like just the next step in a yearly franchise. It doesn’t need to exist, adds nothing new, doesn’t really do much. This does something worse than being bad, it’s pointless.

6. A Cure For Wellness

This film disturbed me. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I liked it, but wouldn’t really say I enjoyed it. Pretty gross, but a fascinating watch. Seriously, this film has a visual style and it just runs with it. I’m not sure whether Dane DeHaan is supposed to be creepy at the end, or whether it’s just because he looks kind of creepy. Either way, it worked, he was great in this. As was Mia Goth. This is one of those films I would definitely recommend you watch at least once. Actually, you don’t really watch this, you experience it.

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

5. Prevenge

As I said in August: “The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen.”. 

Still the case. A great British horror quirky slice of cinema. Definitely worth a watch.

4. The Ritual

The book is now on my “to-read” list. Not a nice watch, but a very very good one. Chilling to the bone with a great story and remarkable performances. Probably going to be one of those films that are going to be really hard to find on DVD, I hope not as it would be a great Halloween watch.

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3. Happy Death Day

This was hard to place, as a film it was great, as a horror it was good. This is mainly here to break up the depressing creepiness of this list. Also, it was a new idea that was risky and worked, I like to reward things like that.

2. It

Holy crap! Holy crap this was great. Everyone needs to not just watch this, but to own it and cherish it. This had a lot working against it, mainly because it was a remake. If this failed it would have failed spectacularly. Luckily it succeeded, and it’s easy to see why. Good story, fantastic setting up of the universe, great performances, and most importantly, it’s fucking terrifying.

1. Get Out

This was close. Very, very close. If you asked me to do this again on a different day there’s a good chance the top two on this could be switch around. Today I’m favouring this because what’s on my mind is that weird feeling I had when watching this film. It wasn’t “arrrrrrgh” it was just 2 hours of everything being ever so slightly off somehow. Deeply, deeply unsettling and should win ALL THE AWARDS. Yup, even best musical, it’s that damn good.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

The 5 Most 90’s Movies Of 2017

Baywatch/Power Rangers

As I’ve said before, who exactly were these films aimed at? People who liked the originals won’t want to watch these as tonally they’re completely different, and it wasn’t as though there was a huge demand for them. Now if they did it in the 90’s, that’s a different story. Those two shows were both at their peaks and films released at cinema based on those would have made big money. But 90’s was a weird time for TV films, they tended to have terrible reputations (not entirely because of all the terrible films based on Saturday Night Live skits, but they certainly didn’t help). The only one that comes to mind that REALLY worked was South Park, which seemed to be the tipping point for the show and changed it from “this show will cause harm to children” to “cultural icon”.

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On the plus side, if this was made in the 90’s, it wouldn’t have attempted to be “dark” and “gritty”

Kong

Ideal director: Roland Emmerich (again)

Again, why exactly was this made? This would have made A LOT more sense in the 90’s. Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Dragonheart (google it) showed what could be done back then, and the capabilities of creating a realistic looking giant ape (which is trickier than other giant animals mainly due to the hair, seriously, hair is REALLY hard to animate without looking fake as hell) was possible on a fundamental level, as proven by that classic film, Mighty Joe Young. Come on, you know that film. Oh, you don’t? Nobody does? Oh, okay, maybe that’s why a Kong 90’s film wasn’t made.

Spiderman: Homecoming

Ideal director: John Hughes

Very specific time of the 90’s, early 90’s. John Hughes 90’s, that time when films aimed at children seemed to still be suffering from an 80’s hangover. The perfect time for this would have been around 1991. With Batman Returns about to be released, and with the success of the first live-action Batman still in minds, studios would have bought up more comic book properties and used them in unique ways. A Bush/Reagan-inspired ultra American Superman movie would have been made to try to make people try to forget about Quest For Peace, a Terry Gilliam Watchman would have been made, with David Bowie doing the soundtrack (and probably playing Dr. Manhatten), and to cater for teens a John Hughes Spiderman would have been made. Okay, it would have been better in the 80’s, and casting an 80’s Spiderman Homecoming is a whole different conversation altogether (that’s called foreshadowing).

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Happy Death Day

This would have killed in the late 90’s. Just after Scream landed but before horror got all serious and torture-porn-ey. Probably with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead, with a soundtrack consisting of The Offspring and Blink 182. The more I think about this the more I think that would have been fucking awesome. Basically like Idle Hands, which is one of the most 90’s horror films I’ve ever seen in my life (and is quite funny).

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Actually love this image

 

Geostorm. 

Ideal director: Roland Emmerich

Here we go, the film that inspired this entire list. I showed someone the synopsis to this and their response was “are we sure this wasn’t made in the 90’s?”. Kind of cheating as this film was delayed horrifically and wasn’t originally meant to be released this year, although not massively cheating as it was supposed to be released in 2016, which wasn’t a massive difference, although it does explain the obvious reshoot moments. It’s not just the story where this is 90’s, a lot of the story beats seem to come straight from a 90’s perspective; English villain, a moment where a dog nearly (but doesn’t) die, a small child, a needlessly happy ending that seems to come out of nowhere and completely ruins the notion of self-sacrifice.

 

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I guess this should have come earlier. Whoops