Black Adam (2022)

Quick synopsis: What if Superman was Middle Eastern, and kind of a dick?

I’ll admit, I’m not that familiar with the Black Adam character, but I get that he’s a big deal, especially to black comic book fans. That appeal is why The Rock has been trying to do this film since 2007, so my ignorance is on me. The film actually does a good job of explaining who he is, so even newcomers won’t be lost. You can go into this having not seen any other DC films and get the plot, and the main character (and as good as Black Panther is, this is one element where this film wins. Spoilers for that review btw). The other characters? Yeah, you’re gonna have problems. There are some you can work out from context clues what their powers are, but it definitely needs to do a better job, there’s one character in particular who is severely underwritten to the point where I’m still not entirely sure what they were. So, after The Rock spent so long getting this made, is it actually worth it?

Kind of. It’s one of the stronger DC films, behind only The Suicide Squad, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman, but that says more about how disappointing (or in the case of Wonder Woman 1984; outright terrible) the rest have been. The worst thing you can say about this is that it’s kind of bland. I know this is a passion project, but that doesn’t seem to come through in the script. The whole thing feels like a tribute to better movies. It’s not really bringing much that’s new to the table. I think it’s supposed to be “morally complex anti-hero”, but that’s not new, that’s most heroes in modern films. At this point it would be more notable if a hero was actually pure light and good (that’s part of what made Shazam stand out to me so much). I mean, in this movie universe, Superman has killed someone, and attempted to fight the rest of the Justice League, you’d have to be very dark to beat that, and this film doesn’t want to go there. It may not fully “go” there, but it does approach it at times. The Suicide Squad was shockingly violent, and so is this, but in a different way. There’s not really a lot of blood and gore, but the violence is impactful enough that it feels like physical fights actually have consequences.

On the downside, the villain is incredibly underwritten. He doesn’t actually matter for 90% of the film. He never really feels like a threat, either, meaning the whole thing doesn’t have much jeopardy. The human characters are well-written though, but that’s not quite enough to make up for the lack of stakes the whole thing seems to have. The plot is quite basic, although it does have a reveal which came as a genuine surprise to me, and makes you re-evaluate everything that came before it (like a good reveal should).

All the performances are good, not really many “wow, I am really impressed by that”, but none that draw you out of the film either. The only note I have on performances is that I watched Brooklyn 99 the day before, and a lot of The Rocks delivery in this is very reminiscent of Captain Holt, and now I can’t stop thinking about Captain Holt in different superhero films, not the actor, the character, replacing others. Everytime I think of a new one it makes me laugh, seriously, Captain Holt being Thanos would be incredible, admit it. Annoyingly, that may be the best thing I got from this movie. Which is a shame, as it’s important, and could be better. If I hadn’t seen a superhero film before, I would be impressed. But this being released during a potential aftermath of a superhero boom, can’t help but feel a little dated. It does bode well for the future of the DCEU though, which is a good sign.

2021 Film Awards

So we’re two months in, and it’s time to finish the summary of 2021 films in the way I usually do: randomly bitching and praising shit nobody has heard of. Some really tough decisions made, and some really easy ones. You might disagree, ask me next week and I might disagree with my own choices, but I had to make them, and here they are. Side note, there’s no “worst film” this year, there were a lot of bad films, but truth be told nothing felt quite bad enough to earn that.

Best Looking:

Blithe Spirit

One of the few things this film did well. It has a great colour scheme so that the visuals really pop. If the film itself was as good as it looked, it would have been one of my favourites of the year.

Censor

Almost entirely due to how the final third was directed, film geeks will love what they did with it in terms of how it looks. One of the best examples of using visuals to tell a story.

Come True

Just to warn you, this film is going to come up A LOT in this. I just loved the blue colours over everything. It perfectly matched the music and made the whole thing feel like you were watching it on a CRT monitor. Really unique and I love it.

Cruella

Striking colours, combined with great costume design. The visuals for a lot of this film consist of dark or boring backgrounds, then bright and stunning foregrounds/clothes to create striking images that you’ll love. There’s something weirdly retro too, makes you think of the time period, and is perfect for story.

Godzilla Vs. Kong

Purely for the sense of scale, this series has been a great showcase for spectacle cinema, and this is no exception. There are obvious plot issues, but I can’t deny how much I loved just sitting there staring at this film.

Love and Monsters

Yeah it’s a surprise to me too, but I love the director brought the world to life. You don’t watch this and feel you’re watching something obviously fake, the CGI is pretty damn good for a film like this. Everything looks and feels like it belongs in that world. It’s so good that sometimes you don’t really notice it, you’re not sitting there going “wow, look at that creature”, the creature is just there, and fits so well into it that it can pass you by.

Malignant

There were so many times watching this where I thought “yup, that would make a good poster”. Just let down by one of the special effects not really working for me.

Raya And The Last Dragon

The way that Sisu is animated is glorious, a solid character that flows through the air like she’s swimming. I love the way this looked, the little references to Southeast Asian cultures, the amount of water (which is notoriously hard to animate) which looks gorgeous. I just love the way this flows visually. Because of how similar they were I had to choose between this and Luca, this JUST inches ahead due to the building designs.

Soul

Mainly for the use of space, well, lines really. The fluid nature to the animation is reminscent of classic disney at its best. The whole thing just feels like an otherworldly dream. You look at it and you can almost hear the music.

Winner:

Last Night In Soho

Yes, the neon look is great. And the final sequence is a masterclass in visuals. But the day-to-day stuff is great too. The lighting is done in a way that looks natural but has a sharp focus, almost like a spotlight. And the scenes in the club are full of visual beauty.

Most Disappointing

A Quiet Place Part 2

This is where they’ll be a big difference between “Bad” and “disappointing”. Just on its own, this might have been an okay film. But as a sequel to one of the most unique films (horror or otherwise) of the last few years, can’t help but feel this is a poor effort. The new characters don’t feel like they’ve always been a part of this world, and the shadow of the dads death from the first one doesn’t hang as heavy over it as it should.

Antebellum

I had really high hopes for this based on the trailer, particularly one completely bad-ass moment of her running through a warzone. It just didn’t work for me though. The pacing was way off and it has no idea how to keep the momentum going. I feel you could edit this, take out some of the fluff, change the order of some scenes around, and you could get a really good film. But starting on the plantation for about 40 minutes, doing a near thirty-minute flashback to her before she got there, then going back to the plantation makes the whole thing feel disjointed. Tbh you don’t need to know that much information about her before she got there, just a few minutes to establish her life and who she is, then have her wake up in the plantation, look at the horror around her, then credits. It has nothing to say about the past, and as such says nothing about the present. A lot of it is just misery porn.

Lucky

I was fully on board with this for a lot of it. Sure there were a few moments where I felt “ouch that’s not good”. Bad music choices, the visuals looked too fake and stupid. And then the ending happened, and shat upon all the goodwill I had. It’s a shame as the concept was promising, and it had some good scenes. But it set up questions it had no intention of answering.

The King’s Man

Not exactly a bad film, but nowhere near as good as the previous ones. I really hope they do a sequel to this one because otherwise, it’s completely pointless. It didn’t set up the other two films or answer any questions we had. It’s just to set up something else, it feels like this is Iron Man, and the original 2 Kingsman films are Infinity War and Endgame, like we’re missing a lot of stuff in the middle. It’s nowhere near as stylish as the other two, with no real stand-out scenes.

Black Widow

I avoided spoilers for this, I assumed it would be game-changing. Nope. It just sets up a new Black Widow, something that could have been a tv show. In Taskmaster it features one of the most underutilized villains in the history of the MCU (and all feels way too similar to what they did with Ghost in Ant-Man And The Wasp), I suppose the real villain is Ray Winstones character, but the true villain is his acting coach. Not quite as dull as Eternals, but I had much higher expectations.

Winner

Wonder Woman 1984

I remember talking about this with someone before it came out, I mentioned how this reminded me of Thor: Ragnorak and was looking like it was going to be a technicolour ball of fun, as it is it’s just technicolour bullshit. It’s turned a strong independent female character into “I just need a man”. It’s not even an original story, it’s just another soft adaptation of The Monkey’s Paw, which has been done much better in other media. Also, I genuinely can’t remember that much about Kristen Wiigs character, she’s ridiculously underdeveloped, she’s given barely anything to do once she becomes a villain. It still looks good, but the script is diabolical. This is a BIG film, released just over a year ago, and featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, yet nobody talks excitedly about it.

Best Performer

Amy Nostbakken/Norah Sadava in Mouthpiece

Cheating a bit as it’s two performers, but they’re both playing the same character so I’m counting it. For a lot of these, I’m counting things like believability, facial expressions, dialogue delivery etc. They do all of those things well, but sold this for me was how unbelievably in-sync they are throughout. This goes beyond acting into performance art. The way they physically interact with each other is almost ballet-like in its precision and use of space

Riz Ahmed in Sound Of Metal

I mainly know him from Four Lions, he was in Nightcrawler but that was mainly Jake’s film let’s be honest. This? This was incredible. I didn’t know he had this in him. The pain, the torment, the frustration. His character is suffering, and his performance lets you know that.

McKenna Grace in Ghostbusters Afterlife

If she’s in a film I watch, she’s likely to be nominated in this category, every year. That’s how good she is. It’s not bias either, I didn’t recognise it as her while I watched this, all I thought was “I have no idea who that is but she is absolutely nailing every piece of dialogue here”. The way she delivers bad jokes makes them funny, her comedic timing is impeccable, and she’s talented enough that she carries the emotional setpieces too. She’s in a film with Paul Rudd, and outshines him.

Magdalena Kolesnik in Sweat

All the way through she gives a good performance, but the scene near the end where she’s being interviewed and she just breaks down completely. She’s helped by some tremendous dialogue which she conveys beautifully. But there’s a moment in the end where she realises that it was pointless, that nobody cares, that she just needs to smile and get back to work. It’s heartbreaking, and she nails it.

Katja Herbers in The Columnist

The second foreign language performer to be nominated here, both fully deserved. This one slightly edged it out because of how wordless some of her best moments were. You could tell her character was trying to hide her annoyance. It’s a difficult role to do as she has to be likeable, but also a serial killer. So she has to have that weird mix of danger and sweetness. It’s a testament to both her performance, and to the writing, that it works as well as it does.

Billy Crystal in Here Today/Anthony Hopkins in The Father

This is going to be tricky making this work for both but the reasons they work are so similar for both I feel okay consolidating them into one. So here goes: Normally they’re actors who play characters who lead a film, in control of every scene. So to see them play somebody so vulnerable is devastating. It’s so unlike them that it really hits home their situations.

Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman

Read a review which said she looked “like bad drag”. Fuck off. Besides, the important thing is how good she is in this role, and she’s great, her body language in each scene showing who’s in control. You can tell she’s instantly changed a situation to her advantage just by the way she’s standing. Plus she has an unsure confidence, she has to believe she’s doing what’s right, but there’s a part that’s not.

Rebecca Hall in The Night House

She’s always had a lot of promise but somehow manages to find herself in slightly disappointing roles (Iron Man 3, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Dorian Gray), in this she lives up to the potential you always knew she had. She plays a character dealing with intense personal loss, and that loss is written through every fibre of her performance. So even in the horror moments, you are always fully aware that this is a character tinged with sadness and regret. It’s the kind of performance that would be talked about for oscar nominations if they didn’t hate horror movies for some reason.

Niamh Algar in Censor

Occasionally you get a performer who you truly feel is representing the directors vision, and I feel Algar is doing this here. Her performance feels like it suits the character, the film, everything about it. I really hope her and the director work together in the future as they compliment each other wonderfully. She looks broken throughout and it’s amazing to watch. Even when she’s saying things she’s certain about, her face still seems unsure. It’s perfect for the character and I want to see her in more stuff.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night In Soho

This could not have been an easy performance for her to deliver, the emotional range needed is off the charts, and she had to do it all in a Cornish accent, and how did they even explain that accent to someone from New Zealand? Have to say, I never noticed though. I knew I recognised her from somewhere, but I couldn’t place where and I assumed it was some random Channel 4 show. The fact that she is this good, and is only 21 is terrifying and exciting.

Winner

Julia Sarah Stone in Come True

Already known to cinephiles in Canada due to her award-winning roles in The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom and Wet Burn, this is the first I’ve seen of her and I now want to see more. Her performance is utterly captivating. This is without a doubt one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in my life. Her performance is seen in every moment of her performance, from her body language, her facial expressions, everything is filled with little nuances that sell her character.

Worst Performer

Ray Winstone in Black Widow

You’d think he’d be great at this, he’s basically a mob boss with access to superpowered beings. But his accent is SO bad it’s laughable. It’s so hard to take him seriously as a threat when his accent his travelling more than someone who doesn’t understand the rules of basketball. I haven’t heard accents this bad outside of someone being slightly racist.

Leslie Mann in Blithe Spirit

Again, the accent. I can’t tell what nationality her character was supposed to be, was she supposed to be British and couldn’t quite manage it, or was she just supposed to be posh and her mind automatically leant slightly British?

Winner

Lebon James in Space Jam

He can’t act. At all. His character admits that in the film, doesn’t make it better.

Best Soundtrack

Come True

Has one of my favourite songs I heard in 2021. If you listen to this you can instantly tell the tone of the film. Is great to listen to. But even outside of that song, it’s great. Haven’t heard a soundtrack this creepy this It Follows.

Soul

One of the best examples of music syncing with animation in a while. The whole thing plays like an art piece, the animation moving with the music in a wonderful flowing motion. Not quite sure how it would work independently, but it is marvellous as part of something bigger.

Nobody

Following the John Wick rule of using older music, and just like that it worked. It gives the violent scenes an air of beauty and class they wouldn’t have otherwise. Not exactly a soundtrack I would go out and buy, but it suits the film perfectly.

The Suicide Squad

Not quite as good as the others on this list at matching the tone of the movie, but the choice of songs is amazing. Probably one of the ones I’m most likely to listen to on its own.

In The Heights

Another musical, but very different from Annette. I’m not sure these would work on their own, not exactly the kind of soundtrack you’d show somebody who didn’t know the film, you’d needed to have watched this to truly get the songs I think. But once you watch it, you’ll love the music. The best one is probably the opening one, it does a great job of telling you who everybody is. This film had the advantage obviously of coming from an already established musical.

Last Night In Soho

Edgar Wright is one of those directors (similar to Gunn actually) who knows what songs to pick to make a great soundtrack. Definitely the case here, obviously the key musical motif is Downtown, but the rest of the film has songs that suit it too. They’re great at setting the tone.

Winner

Annette

Musicals normally have a sense of playfulness, except for adaptations like Les Miserables. This is dark, but in a beautiful way, and the music suits that. The opening number is probably the scene I’ve watched the most on youtube this year, when I watched it originally I rewound it multiple times because I wanted to feel the magic again. Part of that was the song chosen. It’s dark, but also playful, a Sparks song about how the film is starting, starring the cast, and the musicians. There are other really good songs throughout, actually I can’t remember any dialogue, in my head it was all music. Such good songs, there’s one where Adam Drivers character is just going on a rant on stage, and the audience are booing him and telling to go away, all in the medium of song.

Most Surprising

Mouthpiece

Assumed this would be one of those “oh it’s very well made for a low budget foreign indie film”, but this is genuinely one of my favourite films now. The emotion, the performances, the originality. I loved almost everything about it. Not going to go too much into it as will mention it later.

Love and Monsters

Probably not the best film in this category, a lot of the others I expected nothing and was surprised by them, this, I expected it to be quite bad. If it wasn’t for someone messaging me telling me to watch it I would have avoided it. This is much better than you may think it would be by looking at the poster. Heatwarming, funny, and just overall brilliant

Come True

Went into this knowing nothing, came out with one of my favourite films I’ve seen. Won’t be talking about it much in this one because I talk about it A LOT in other categories.

Winner

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Some of these I went in blind and surprised me that way, some I thought were bad, but then checked them out after being told otherwise. This? I went in thinking it would terrible. The early reviews were very negative, and lets be honest it looked like it could miss the point of the originals completely. The first few minutes I was still unsure, it wasn’t until McKenna Grace’s character was on screen and started talking that I started to realise this could be good. It was better than that. Others in this category are better, but none have had such a big difference between expectations and reality. Loved it.

Best Character

Mav1s – Love And Monsters

Not in the film for very long, not even human. But gives the film some more humanity in its actions. Provides emotion, depth, and some very heartwarming moments. Very reminiscent of Baymax.

Red Guardian – Black Widow

The film was disappointing but it was never down to him. His character was funny and added a weird sense of pathos to it. I know the MCU is moving towards focusing on Yelena moving forward, but I’d much rather see more from him, weirdly I’d actually really want a prequel focusing on him.

Christine – How To Deter A Robber

There’s something so goofy and loveable about her. The moments where she’s on-screen are among the best. Essentially the type of character that Anna Kendrick would play.

Peacemaker – The Suicide Squad

There’s a reason this character got a spin-off. A sociopath who believes he’s a good guy. He is basically America personified.

Winner

Podcast/Phoebe – Ghostbusters: Afterlife

With just one of these characters, the film would be good, with both of them it’s amazing. The chemistry between them brings to mind classic 80s films like The Goonies. They’re just so perfect together that I had to include them both. They’re both great for the same reason. Incredibly well written and very funny. But the jokes they make don’t detract away from the tension, they’re not cracking wise while staring death in the face, they’re also not making jokes that kids wouldn’t make. They’re goofy jokes, which reluctantly raise a smile.

Best Film

Mouthpiece

Oh, this is tough. I may regret this decision. Usually, I just list the films nominated and then put the winner. I know there were a lot of films in the best of the year blog, but when it came to what my absolute favourite was, in reality, it was between this and Come True. I felt it would be disingenuous to list films I know had zero chance of winning, pretending they had a chance, would be a waste of my time writing, and your time reading. It is really close by the way, for different reasons. Come True is a film-makers film, Mouthpiece is a scriptwriters film. In terms of look and technical prowess, Come True runs away with it. In terms of originality, this has it. Come True is better from an analytical and film student perspective, Mouthpiece is better from an emotional one. In the end, it came down to this: If I had to watch both, which would I watch first? And the answer is Mouthpiece, it hit me harder.

So, that’s it for 2021, a surprisingly strong year for cinema. 2022 will probably have more foreign-language and independent reviews, so look forward to these getting a lot more pretentious and finding more obscure stuff. Should be fun.

2021 In Film: Day Two (The Bad)

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

Antlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original review here

Army Of The Dead

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

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

– Never lives up to the potential

Best Moment: The opening credits.

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

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

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

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

Eternals

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

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

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

Best Moment: Hiroshima.

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

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

Original review here

How To Deter A Robber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original review here

Mortal Kombat

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

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

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

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

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

Best Performer: Josh Lawson. Makes a great Kano.

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

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

Original review here

Prisoners Of The Ghostland

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

+ Very one of a kind.

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

Best Moment: Nicholas Cage’s balls explode.

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

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

Original review here

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

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

+ Some good directing ideas.

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

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

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

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

Original review here

Wonder Woman 1984

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

+ Great colour scheme to the whole thing.

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

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

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

Best Performer: Gal Gadot, obviously.

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

Original review here

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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

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

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

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

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

Best Performer: Affleck still kills it as Bruce Wayne.

Worst Performer: Eisenberg, obviously.

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

Original review here

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

I really enjoyed the first one. Probably one of the best all-round superhero movies of the last few years. When I saw the trailer for this I thought it looked a lot of fun, it brought to mind Thor: Ragnarok. I felt sure that this would be incredibly fun, just balls out insanity and slickness. Then it came out, very quietly, in December, I think. That was not a good sign. If it was a film the studio had faith in, they would have delayed it until the cinemas were open (like what happened with A Quiet Place 2), or made a bigger deal of what streaming sites it was on to purchase (like Disney+ have been doing with their stuff). The way they released it had all the hallmarks of a “let’s quietly put this out and hope nobody notices”. I delayed watching this as I was certain it was going to get an actual cinema release when they re-opened.

So yeah, that put a few worries in me, and then those worries increased when I heard people talk about it. Well, they didn’t talk about it much, which was the problem. The only time I’ve heard it mentioned was when I made a reference to The Monkey’s Paw in an earlier review and someone asked if it was about this film. The fact that nobody talked about this film is not a good sign. Now I’ve seen it has my opinion changed? Well I’ll say this, the fact that I knew NOTHING about the post-credits cameo is a sign of how few people discuss this film. I’ll spoil it here, it’s not really relevant to the plot so I think it’s okay. It has Lynda Carter do a cameo, the original Wonder Woman, she turns up, saves a child, says she’s been doing this a while, then winks to camera. Holy crap the implications for this and the future of the DCEU are huge, yet nobody talks about it.

Turns out there’s a reason for that, this film is not great. It seems like the type of sequel that was made by completely different crew from the original, which is weird as it had same director for both. Although it has to be said that Patty Jenkins only directed the first one, she didn’t write it, whereas she did write this one, so maybe that’s the problem. The script is just so poor, full of logical inconsistencies. A big issue is that it is a prequel, yet the events of it were not mentioned in Justice League or Dawn Of Justice. Nobody seems to have remembered the time a guy gave everybody in the world a wish and how it led to chaos. It doesn’t seem like everything from it was forgotten, just the effects reversed (although considering a few people died due to wishes, do they come back? The film doesn’t say). Also, she doesn’t use some of the things from this film again, and they would have come in very useful.

Also the way the film plays with the wishes is inconsistent. At one point the villain says he can give out any number of wishes he wants because he is the wish-stone, yet before that he asks someone to make a wish on his behalf. And some of the wishes only seem to work in a way that advances the plot, it’s like it knows it has a narrative to fulfil. It’s a shame as it could have been interesting, if they made it smaller. Having it all over the whole world makes it TOO big. If it was focused on one city it would have allowed the audience to get a better look at the effects of the negative side of the wishes. Instead we spend way too much of this film in watching people travel. Plus, it would have given plausible deniability for this film never being mentioned again. You’re telling me that a worldwide event like this wouldn’t have caught the attention of Mark Strong’s character from Shazam?

Here’s the thing; if I wasn’t thinking, I might have enjoyed this film. It looked good enough and the performances were good. But as soon as you think about this movie for more than a second, the flaws are too apparent to ignore. Some are just basic storytelling mistakes like how the main villain had a difficult childhood, a fact which informs a lot of his decisions during the movie. Also a fact which isn’t properly explored until right near the end of the film, bit of a weird choice, and not a good one. Also the opening scene isn’t needed. There’s a whole opening set during an athletic event in Wonder Woman’s childhood where she got caught “cheating” and admonished for it. seems to be just so they can tell her about the dangers of not putting effort in, but there must have been a much more natural way to do that, and one that doesn’t take about twenty minutes. The film is two and a half hours, and does not justify that length at all. I could have forgiven the film not making sense, but I can’t forgive how dull it is a lot of the time. Looks great though.

So in summary; see it if you must, but there’s nothing saying you must.