2022 In Film Day One: The Awful

And so begins our annual end-of-year round-up. As you can tell by the title, these are the worst films of the year. Unusually for me, most of these are fairly obvious, I don’t think there are any here that people will be too surprised/offended by. Although I did use to know someone who genuinely said Fant4stic was one of her favourite films, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if these did have fans. I’d be disappointed, yes, and would definitely judge that person, but I wouldn’t be that surprised. For most people, these will be fairly obvious.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore

Ups: Has some good visuals

Nice to see some of these characters again

Jacob is still entertaining.

Downs: Whilst Jacob is entertaining, they need to think of a better way to get him into the story as it feels forced.

Villain is neutered

Incredibly dull

Ezra Miller is in it.

They released a “homophobe-friendly” version in China, all it took was removing 6 seconds. But no, it’s “soooooooooo vital” to the plot.

Best Moment: There’s a moment where Jacob tries to get Queenies attention and she just ignores him, weirdly heartbreaking.

Worst Moment: The rescue of Newt’s brother. Just felt like padding. If you took it out wouldn’t effect the plot at all.

Best Performer: Dan Fogler

Opening: Dumbledore and Grindlewald have lunch together. A moment that’s so inconsequential that (as of writing) it’s not even mentioned on the Wikipedia page.

Closing: Jacob and Queenie get married, Dumbledore slowly walks down the street. Makes me think they should have changed the opening. The third main scene is on the same street, and starts off in the standard Harry Potter way of “Normal scene, then it turns out this character is magic”. So if they started with that, not only would it have kicked off the plot better, then it would have had bookends.

Best Line: “Our war with the muggles begins today!” A line that promised so much, in a film that delivered so little.

Original Review here

Firestarter

Ups: Good colour scheme

Downs: Incredibly stupid adults.

No sense of a cohesive style.

Feels like it was made to create a franchise.

Best Moment: At the old mans house. The only bit of the film with actual emotion.

Worst Moment: “it’s different for us we know what it’s like….”. That scene has THE worst piece of editing I’ve seen this year. Or a bad performance. The line is delivered as if it’s half of a sentence. She doesn’t get interrupted, she doesn’t slow down or lose her bearings, the camera just cuts away and there’s no sound of her talking anymore. It sounds like she’s been cut off by silence.

Best Performer: Ryan Kiera Armstrong. The biggest flaw with her performance is that she isn’t McKenna Grace.

Opening: They had creepy music over the production logo, I appreciate that. In terms of the opening of the film itself; there’s a baby in a crib, and when the parents walk away, a fire starts.

I actually typed that whole thing as soon as I saw the baby in a crib because I knew what was going to happen. I know it is a remake, but it’s a remake of a film I’ve never seen, so it should not be that predictable. It had a much better opening during the opening credits, and if it fleshed that out it would have been better.

Closing: She’s on the beach, and meets up with someone who tried to kill her, but who is no longer being telepathically controlled. He carries her. Emotionally lacking, not great narratively, and looks a bit dull.

Best Line: “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”. Definitely not the best line, but one that sums up how much effort went into the script.

Original Review here

Halloween Ends

Ups: It’s different.

Provides a definitive and fitting end to the franchise.

A good study into social grief and how demonisation of people can create demons.

Downs: Haddonfield doesn’t feel real.

Characters have changed personalities since last film.

So preoccupied with providing a twist, it forgets to have a decent story.

Needs more Michael Myers.

And more Laurie Strode.

So much wasted potential.

Best Moment: The opening.

Worst Moment: Corey and Michael locking eyes, which makes Corey evil. So stupid.

Best Performer: Jamie Lee Curtis, always.

Opening: Corey is babysitting a kid and accidentally kills him. Apparently, this is frowned upon in babysitting circles. It was an accident (and kind of the kids fault), but the town still blames him. The film never gets close to this level of small town paranoia and fear again.

Closing: The dead body of Michael Myers gets thrown in an industrial shredder. Perfect way to end this franchise. There’s a weird cult-like nature to the whole thing and it’s weirdly beautiful.

Best Line: “My son. This town turned against him after the accident with Jeremy Allen. They would’ve felt for him. They would’ve helped him heal. But because your boogeyman disappeared, they needed a new one.” This is the crux of the plot, but it’s handled as well as I handle things when I’m juggling.

Original Review here

Morbius

Ups: Show’s that Sony does have a plan for a future universe.

Something new

Downs: Terrible fight scenes.

Poorly written.

Leto is a prick.

Best Moment: Him testing out his powers.

Worst Moment: The fight scene near the end. An incomprehensible mess.

Best Performer: Matt Smith.

Opening: Morbius goes to a cave to get bats. Completely unnecessary. Could have been covered in dialogue. The scenes of them growing up would have been a better start.

Closing: Vulture somehow ends up in this universe. It may seem stupid at first, but the more you think about it and how it happened you realise it’s actually REALLY stupid.

Best Line: “Vampire bats weigh almost nothing yet can take down an animal 10 times their size”. This film thinks dialogue like that is smart. It’s not.

Original Review here

The 355

Ups: Some good performances.

Good editing outside of the fight scenes.

Downs: Incredibly bland.

Lazy.

Seems very netflix

The shadow of the villain doesn’t loom over the film.

Best Moment: There’s one piece of editing which is GENIUS. They go from a fight scene to someone slicing a tomato and the match-cutting is SUPERB.

Worst Moment: The ending where they all walked in the room to face not Bucky Barnes. Reminded me of that bit in Endgame where all the female characters ended up in the same scene. Just there to get a “woo you go girls” moment.

Best Performer: Fan Bingbang. Not in it enough but she’s incredible when she is.

Opening: Sets up Jason Flemyng’s character well, and the electronic macguffin. But then the film relegates him to the background. You never feel his presence.

Closing: The aforementioned worst scene. I’ll say again, the film did not need all the characters there. 2 of them only said 1-2 lines each, I can’t remember if Penelope Cruz or Lupita Nyong’o said anything, if they did it certainly wasn’t anything of substance. Jessica Chastain then explained what will happen for the benefit of the audience, in a very dreary monotone.

Best Line: When they explain the title. Completely unnecessary, but interesting nonetheless. It would be like if an Adele song was interrupted by a lecture, but a good one.

Original review here

The Bubble

Ups: Interesting idea.

Downs: It does a terrible job of juggling the performers’ time.

The hotel staff are the best part of the movie, and they’re not in it enough. Which is weird as it starts with them.

Tries too hard.

Best Moment: Beck’s dinosaur rewrite of Ladies’ Night. The only music sequence that actually works in the film.

Worst Moment: The TikTok dance section

Best Performer: Guz Khan

Opening: Establishes the universe this film is set in. Does a really good job of setting the in-universe franchise. But I feel it would have been more useful if we actually saw footage instead of posters. Just seeing the posters feels cheap.

Closing: A documentary about the making of the film has been released. Seems a bit cruel, and not really that narratively satisfying.

Most Notable Line: “you remember the reviews from your last film Jerusalem Rising”. Terrible dialogue, clunky as hell, and is unnatural. That sums up this film.

Original Review here

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Quick synopsis: When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

This is a really hard review to write. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how I feel about this film, and what it means to me. I’ll try:

It’s a cunting masterpiece.

Crude, yes. But “masterpiece” does not do justice. “motherfucking masterpiece” also doesn’t seem strong enough to demonstrate my feelings for this. It’s astounding, a work of art. This is one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. Sometimes my end of year awards are difficult. Last year, for example, it was genuinely difficult to decide between Mouthpiece and Come True for best film. Quite a few were similarly difficult. I’m saying this now, this will be nominated for A LOT in the end of year reviews, and will win a lot of them. It’s already pretty much a dead cert for best film. It’s over two and a half hours long, and my first thought when I left the cinema was “I can’t wait to see this again”.

Directed by duo called Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who have a big history in music videos. You can tell this with how they direct some of the action sequences, there’s a flow to them which works perfectly. It’s not just “sound playing alongside music”, it’s part of the film. It works alongside the images to create a collective whole vision (apart from the scenes with the bagel, then it’s a hole vision. You know, because a bagel has a hole in it). The only feature film they’ve created before this was Swiss Army Man, which I’m yet to see but I’ve heard it’s very strange.

Now I’ve seen this, I can believe it. The story is weird, and there’s a strong sense of “look, just go with it” throughout the whole thing. But it actually makes sense, in a weird way. It’s written and directed in a way that even when it does go completely off the rails, you are able to follow it. Don’t know if you saw Mad Max: Fury Road, but that managed to do something great in that it was full of action, but because the action was nearly always in the centre of the frame, no matter how chaotic it got, you were able to follow it. This does the narrative equivalent of that and I love it so much.

All the performances are on point. Michelle Yeoh continues to be one of the greatest physical performers in the world today, she must be a dream for choreographers to work with as they don’t need to set up cameras so they can film each bit individually and edit them together. They can just set a camera up and let her do her thing. Her role was originally supposed to go to Jackie Chan, and that would have worked, but it would have been different. I’m not sure it would have been quite as good. The mother/daughter relationship is key to this film working, and I’m not sure it would have worked quite as well with a father/daughter one.

Speaking of the daughter, Stephanie Hsu absolutely nails the performance. Giving her the right amount of rebellion and need for acceptance. Certain plot points could you make you dislike her, but she’s played with enough vulnerability that you want what’s best for, while also recognising when she does awful things. Originally it was going to be Awkwafina. Now, I LOVE Awkwafina, she’s often the best part about most things she stars in. But again, I think it’s best it wasn’t her. I don’t think she would have been as effective as Hsu is.

It’s also good to see Ke Huy Quan back, best known for his role as Short Round in the Indiana Jones movies. Hopefully, this leads to a career resurgence for him as he has a really difficult role in this, it’s both physical and emotional. He has to make you believe he can beat the crap out of you, but also make you believe he’s the kindest, meekest person on the planet. He manages this, he’s talented enough that you can tell which universes version of him he’s currently playing, just by his body language. In a lesser film it would be the best performance, in this, he’s just a VERY VERY good part of an excellent ensemble.

As you can guess. I loved this. It had everything I want. It had laughs, it had heart (I heard genuine tears from fellow audience members many times), it had character, it had meta references, it had action, it had fingers made of hot dogs, it had a dildo being used as a weapon, it had glitter, it had bondage, it had pizza, it had Jenny Slate, it had Jamie Lee Curtis, it had a racoon controlling someone, it has despair, it has hope, it has everything.

Everywhere

All at once.

Halloween (2018)

Before I start this review I should state: I’ve never seen a Halloween film. Well that’s a lie, I might have seen the first one, but when I was like 10 so I wasn’t really paying attention to it. As such my knowledge of the film series is stuff I absorb through pop-culture osmosis. So I know a little bit (He’s called Michael Myers, the third one is unconnected to the rest of the series and was originally meant to be the second one, THAT music etc), but not enough that I feel emotionally connected to. Despite that; I still REALLY enjoyed this. It seems to ignore all but the first one, and is all the better for it. You don’t need to have watched a lot of films to get this, as long as you know the basics of the character you should be fine, actually considering how well scripted this is I don’t even think you’ll need that. It does a great job of bringing you up to speed, explaining what’s haunting certain characters.

The script for this is actually really good, the kills are simple. He doesn’t go around doing elaborate traps, he just kills them the simplest possible way. There’s one scene in particular which is a masterclass of horror film-making, it’s just him walking through houses, massacring the inhabitants. There’s one moment during this where I knew the film had me; where he’s in the house with a baby still in its seat, and I panicked for it, I panicked for the fictional character. There’s usually child immunity in horror films, it’s like an unwritten rule; children in horror movies are safe. This is not the case in this; Michael Myers kills a child. Not the baby, but one of the first deaths in the movie is a child so he can take his dads car. If I remember correctly it’s the first death we actually see as well. It’s a great way of saying that all the usual horror tropes are off, so anything goes.

The downsides of this film; there’s one death which is kind of embarrassing to watch. It’s where Michael Myers stamps on someone’s head, it looks incredibly fake and is almost comical. It breaks the tension completely and takes you out of the moment. There are also issues with the characters. The ones who survive are fine, it’s the ones who die that you don’t really care for. There are some characters with promise who then die before they get to fulfil that promise. And there is a twist which is completely unnecessary and stops mattering after a few minutes, it seems like it is only there because it was the only way they could think of to move the plot from one moment to the next. Luckily the moment that builds up to is superb. The final setpiece of this film is amazing to see. Incredibly tense, great character work, and it subverts a lot of what you know from the original film, recreating scenes from it but with the roles reversed. This is all accompanied by a FANTASTIC soundtrack, with an obvious debt to the original music, but updated to a modern sensibility.

So yeah, I loved this movie. It was tense, gripping, superbly made, and just all-round fantastic. And Jamie Lee Curtis gives the performance of a lifetime, reclaiming her crown as the queen of horror.