Across the Spider-Verse is the absolute best multi-verse Spiderman movie of the last two years (maybe even of all time!). But, this movie actually makes me think most of The Dark Knight as the second movie in a trilogy that doubles down on its themes and style for even greater impact. Across the Spider-Verse perfectly encapsulates the difficulties of proving who you are to the world, and it does so with a beautiful mixture of animation flavors never really seen on this level.
The characters and story-building are top-notch as we see Miles trying to fight for his existence among a beautiful blend of different spider-people. Even with so many voices included, the writing is focused, with everyone playing a key part in Miles' journey. From beginning to end, you can really feel his progression through the exciting new world that opens up but then slowly turns, forcing him to fight back. This movie wants us to question who Spider-Man really is and thoughtfully carries us through as we explore that answer.
Not to mention that the art is stunning the whole way through, with plenty of nods to all the ways Spider-Man has been animated over the years. There are so many unique choices in how everything looks from scene to scene that make watching every sequence feel very fresh and interesting. The more emotional beats in the story are complemented by abstract, impressionist-style frames that suddenly swing back into comic-book action effortlessly. It really seems unlike any other animated film to date.
There's so much good to say about this, and the only real caveat is an over-emphasis on music at times. We don't always need something loud and pumping to make us understand the moment, and sometimes it became a distraction. I think just picking their spots more selectively would add more gravity to their need for bass.
At least Blackberry can hang their hat on the fact that their movie is better than any of the movies about Apple so far. Matt Johnson's first major film as a director is hilarious, smart, and entertaining from end to end. Through the brilliant pairing of a loudmouth, obnoxious Harvard business school graduate acting as co-CEO to a bunch of gamer nerds, we see the tragedy of how Blackberry's inventor lost his soul.
There are so many great decisions in this movie. The timing of when to go where while jumping between comedic and dramatic beats is superb. Every piece is purposeful. So well cast too, including the director himself, who very much holds his own at every opportunity. There's not anything you can fault Blackberry for other than maybe a lack of true emotional punch - I can only feel so bad for people who are all still basically billionaires ultimately.
20 years on, Galaxy Quest still feels like a unique and original comedy that features a lot of big names in their primes. It relies heavily on its premise, aliens believe the show "Galaxy Quest" is a historical document and want Tim Allen and co. to save them. Instead of telling the aliens that they are just actors, they decide to go on the adventure and just wing it - what's the worst that could happen?
From there, it's basically a Star Trek parody. The jokes are funny, but also about what you would expect. The acting is pretty on-point for the main cast with Alan Rickman really coming in especially strong with his annoyed expressions while also wearing a purple alien cap the whole movie. I would say this still holds up and is worth a watch just to see everyone doing their thing and the couple of unexpected faces before they became more well-known.
This is very much a movie that has two distinct parts that are mirrored. Gyllenhaal as Sergeant John Kinley plays opposite Dar Salim as Ahmed, taking turns saving each other's lives in different ways, but with just as much dedication. However, I was much more with Guy Ritchie on the first half than I was on the second. A lot of the real action takes place in the beginning, focusing on Ahmed's physical trials through the Afghanistan mountains and his sheer power of will to keep he and Kinley alive. When we change gears, it's a lot of bureaucracy, and Kinley's trials of being left on hold for hours on end... doesn't quite have the same punch as Ahmed's journey. On top of that, we get these strange monologue scenes with Gyllenhaal that are a little overly poetic. I think this is done to try and give some weight to the mental toll on Kinley, but it didn't really land and came off a bit over-played.
It's well shot with great action choreography, and Salim and Gyllenhaal do manage to hold this film through the dialogue sequences. There just unfortunately is a lack of anything more meaningful happening to keep me engaged past the amazement of the main characters managing to stay alive.
This movie comes out swinging with the intensity and intrigue of a city crime drama and contrasts that well with the problems of a small town cop who's just there to keep the peace. On the one hand, you get to have a non-stop, cocaine-fueled thrill ride with a trio of bad guys trying to avoid the police. On the other had, we get Bill Paxton playing the sheriff to Star City, Arkansas avoiding his fatherly responsibilities to enjoy time with some big-time LA cops.
From this premise, the film does a good job of revealing the layers as to who everyone is and bringing more clarity to their motivations. This plays well with the police descriptions of the villains getting more detailed over time and the characters learning their relations to each other. It's a movie that feels focused, with lots of exciting twists and turns to go along with great performances from a majority of the cast.
However, I also think in the end that I was still questioning if I really cared about any of it. Everyone's story is dramatic, yes, but I don't know that I get enough by the end other than the feeling that this was all so very tragic.
Air is one of those historical movies that needs to find a way of drawing you in even though we all know what's going to happen in the end. We know that Michael Jordan and Nike teamed up to make the most iconic sneaker of all time, but how did it happen? Well, like any product, it simply came down to signing a contract, and Air may be the most exciting movie about putting pen to paper that I've ever seen. Though I don't know if that's saying much?
The essence of the 80's office is on full display here, and we get a good sense of what it was like working for Nike's basketball division back before they became the behemoth they are today. Air does a good job of making Nike feel like a true underdog, and I was genuinely rooting for them the entire time. Close-ups of the Nike principles are sprinkled in, and to Phil Knight's credit, the principles are worth championing. The film kind of plays like a giant Nike ad, but an ad that doesn't make you feel icky at the end.
Now for the actual plot, which is very well constructed in its beats, laying breadcrumbs along the way as to how it everything will come together in the end. Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro does a good job of making everyone, including the audience, believe in his conviction. Granted, we always knew MJ was going to be great, right? As we get farther and farther into the movie, you can feel the belief growing amongst the Nike team that they have what it takes to get it all done.
Well acted by the full cast with impeccable pacing that keeps you engaged - the only thing that kept me from falling in love with this movie is that it's still just an office drama. It's cool to see how a deal like this got made, but I'm never as emotionally invested as Sonny appears to be.
80's rom-coms are always going to be filled with plenty of corny moments that make you roll your eyes, but Bull Durham at least made sure to offset that with some genuinely hilarious writing and real character development.
Kevin Costner as Crash is basically told his career as a catcher is over when the movie starts. Now a seasoned veteran, he is to coach Tim Robbins as 'Nuke' LaLoosh. The two play opposite ends of the spectrum, with Nuke being a young, arrogant star who has yet to learn about anything real (as evidenced by his belief in being able to breathe through his eyelids). Crash and Nuke's back and forth throughout the movie provides some engaging character development, but this is a rom-com after all, so we have to make sure and backtrack so that Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy can get her moments too. Personally, I felt the romance scenes detract rather than give context. It's purpose is simply to highlight the difference between Crash and Nuke in matters of the heart ..and sex.
Bull Durham is held back by its need to follow along with what are now classic rom-com tropes, but the floor is raised by some well crafted characters, great acting, and some truly sensational one-liners. If you ever need a wedding gift idea, candle-sticks are always nice.
True to the games, this movie has got plenty of character and charm, but I was left feeling a bit empty after it was all over. I think there’s a bit of magic that’s lost for me when you are just watching Mario instead of playing as him. And when the movie is sprinting as fast as it can to pack itself with references, it starts to feel a bit like an ad.
However, at times this movie is allowed to breathe a bit and has genuine moments. The entire intro to the movie showed a lot of promise presenting Mario in a new light - as an actual plumber. Seeing Mario as a person with a family really brought the character to life, but we lost that once the adventure took over. Or should I say when Bowser took over. Jack Black’s Bowser is the one real bright spot for me once we enter the Mushroom Kingdom. Giving Bowser time to show himself as a romantic, goofy villain provides some of the most fun bits in the movie. I wish similar opportunities were given to Luigi as Charlie Day’s talents seemed almost wasted with the minimal screen time the green brother got.
I almost feel like I would have had the same enjoyment if I had just a vague awareness of the Mario universe. The elements are all there, including characters voiced well by the whole cast (even Chris Pratt), but something is missing. If it’s supposed to feel like the game brought to life, I think it should give me more of a sense of wonder as I had when I first played Super Mario 64. I know that’s hard to replicate, but that’s the feeling that made me fall in love with the character in the first place. I don’t necessarily want to just see everything I remember as fast as possible.
Isn't every fantasy movie Dungeons and Dragons? I guess that's the point of making this appear like it's going to be a franchise of various tales in the DnD universe. The Hasbro team definitely makes sure there are enough instances that make this feel as though it's friends sitting around a table acting out the characters and we're just watching it in movie form.
That aside, I think this movie is a very fun time, correctly leaning into comedy over trying to make this a deep and dramatic fantasy tale. There's enough memorable and stand-out bits in the movie that are held together by a simple, yet effective plot. I thought the cast was mostly chosen well, allowing the lead characters to shine when given their moments. It is a lot like Star Trek in the sense that it's Chris Pine leading a ragtag team on a mission and having fun while doing it - a formula that is applied well here.
Otherwise, the main thing about this film is that it appears very self-aware, for better or worse. The tropes are acknowledged, but used appropriately and in comedic fashion; however, it's when the story seems to wander aimlessly that I get a bit lost along with the characters. I know in DnD it's classic for the party members to go off doing something completely off-track, but I'm also not listening to a DnD podcast - this is a movie. This leaves a chunk in the middle where I'm not quite sure what we're doing other than making a meta joke about getting sidetracked that plays out a little too long.
Still, there are enough pieces here that make for an enjoyable time watching, and I would love to see the concept expanded into different kinds of DnD stories.
A crime movie that clearly takes a lot of notes from The Departed, which I know has been said a thousand times, but it begs the question - why did we need this film only four years after Scorsese nailed this idea? Well the answer seems to come down to one thing, Fenway Park. How can you have a movie about Boston and never go to Fenway? Luckily Affleck is here to save the day by putting his own spin on Boston crime drama, and making sure to include all the Boston sports scene iconography that was left out of Scorsese's vision. Other than that, The Town leaves a bit to be desired as to why I should really ever care what's happening.
The casting is great for the most part, however Affleck soaks up all the interesting points in the story. Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm all do well in their respective roles, but they mostly just serve to give Affleck's character a bit more juice to work with. In the scenes without Affleck, I'm usually left a bit uninterested. I think The Town wants to be this bigger drama with lots of interwoven stories and motivations that lead to an intense showdown between all the parties, but the writing doesn't give much depth to anyone aside from the lead. The love story is honestly a bit forced, the family tensions a bit weak, and the 'mob' never really get much time. I'm left with Join Hamm chasing Affleck to Fenway..cool.
But to end positively, at least The Town still gives you the essence of a big crime drama that keeps you wondering how it's all going to turn out. I was still curious to see if the A-Team would ever get caught flying too close to the sun. How was Affleck going to get himself out of all the sticky situations he was finding himself in. In the end, there is still some definitive direction in this movie. I just wish I cared a little more.
The aesthetics of Minority Report keep it from falling into a trap of just spewing sci-fi nonsense that I’m expected to take at face value. There’s a sense of self-awareness that makes Minority Report an exciting ride. Underneath the craziness, there’s deep thoughts about religion, technology and their intersections on determining right from wrong.
Everything about this movie is creatively conceived, no matter how crazy it gets (especially for a film that precedes the tech advancements we’ve experienced to date). All the questions asked still feel fresh - what if we allow computers to tell us who is a good person or not? Do we as humans have a certain dogma when it comes to our faith in advanced technology?
There’s maybe a few overextensions with plot points and how good 2002 CGI special effects would look, but for the most part Spielberg shows off his storytelling and presentation prowess. Minority Report remains a captivating sci-fi tale. And Tom Cruise is still a must-see action star.
I think it’s important to note that I’m watching this movie on the heels of finishing The Last of Us. In fact, I think comparing the two best explains ny thoughts on the movie. Both are stories about a father burdened by thoughts of their real daughter as they help their new circumstantial “daughter.” In 65, instead of Joel, we get Mills. Instead of Ellie, we get Koa. Instead of mushroom zombies, we get dinos.
However, while I’m truly invested in everything taking place in The Last of Us, I feel not much of anything watching this movie.
In TLOU, the relationship between the main characters is what drives everything - the engine to the whole show. In 65, Koa and Mills don’t even speak the same language and the translator is broken, so Adam Driver basically does all the talking in this film. 65 tries to reel you in with some emotional appeals early, but nothing really lands since they fail to build up the story or characters in any way.
The TLOU story is also well designed, outlining the characters place in the world and why what they are doing is so important. In 65 the story is simply, “we crashed, let’s try to escape.” I can’t really fault 65 too much for that decision, but it’s ultimately a tough choice when I already have so little to go off of.
Finally, TLOU has plenty of tense, dramatic action sequences that instill a clear sense of danger by grounding us in some reality. 65 does not instill that same sense of danger, and doesn’t do enough to ground the world. Mills breaks all of his bones but also can still do a full sprint, jumping obstacles, and whatever else before going, “oh yeah, still hurt tho actually.”
65 just didn’t give me much of anything to like. Aside from the above, the dialogue seems so forced, pacing is slow for a 90min quickie, and there are some goofy choices in some scenes that you can’t help but laugh at. Not really for me.
I think if this movie was just Jonathan Majors breathing in heavily through his nose while staring straight ahead menacingly, it would of still been alright. The third installment of the Creed series is at its best when it’s focused on building Majors into an increasingly intimidating foe for Michael B. Jordan to face. The backstory is well conceived and you genuinely want to see the two face off in the ring for the title (though Majors is so big in this movie I almost can’t take the idea of him losing to MBJ seriously). Where C3 has issues though, is with everything else, mostly in just how cookie cutter it seems at times. Mainly, I don’t feel much for Adonis Creed except for a few key moments. It’s almost like we are just going through the motions until we can get back to Majors looking more lethal. It’s at least still entertaining in presentation, using lots of real life crossovers to sell us on the fight, but when it’s just Creed and his family… pretty whatever. Great if you just want to see some really killer punches.
RRR is an absolute blast of a Shakespearean tale done in classic Tollywood fashion. Fantastic action sequences, splashy musical numbers, heartwarming romance, and a deeply grounded, compelling story about two rivals battling for what they feel is right. What makes RRR so fun to watch is how well it balances the many exciting pieces to the puzzle. Everything is well-motivated and always adds necessary detail to the story, making the payoffs feel even more earned. Despite being long enough to include an intermission, nothing is wasted. It’s like a beautiful broadway musical with big screen sensibilities. It doesn’t necessarily take any major risks, but you can’t really say the ride wasn’t fun.
Quantumania seemed to be a movie that is trying to keep too many plates spinning at once. From the jump, it appears to be a simple story about a typical superhero-father/daughter relationship. However as we travel further into the Quantum Realm, more characters and layers are added, but nothing ever gets resolved in a satisfying way. Throughout the whole movie, I could almost feel the writers going, “oh yeah, we should probably go back and say something about this plot we introduced,” as characters would suddenly drop bits of related dialogue. This leads to everything being held loosely together, and I was unable to find myself rooting for anything in particular. The only thing I held on to was the hope that the villain would do some incredible show of power, but I was left disappointed there as well. Aside from some good jokes here and there, Ant-Man largely comes up short.
As someone who once worked for a toy company and am now in tech, I feel like this movie was made for me. What M3GAN does so great is capturing what is so funny about making cutting-edge technology to be used in toys. What if the biggest advancement in AI was used to make the most fun toy on the planet? M3GAN also does well playing off the tropes of the horror genre, creating tense moments that are also self-aware about the concept of a life-size AI doll trying to kill people. The style of writing and choice in actors really drive home all the tongue-in-cheek moments that make M3GAN such an enjoyable watch.
M3GAN doesn't really try to be much more than an entertainingly funny movie. There's not some deeper examination of the consequences of AI that I think would have probably only taken us out of our enjoyment. It's just a good time that's only drawback is a few loose plot points.
Knock at the Cabin I think is best summed up as a movie with a lot of promise of suspense, but that's completely unable to follow through on that promise. There's a central question the entire film, "save humanity or your family," as seen all over the marketing; however, that question results in an overly straightforward plot. Early on, the family decides not to listen to the crazy people telling them they need to make a sacrifice to stop the apocalypse. The intruders keep pressing the issue, but they can't kill the family themselves, so the protagonists are never in any real danger. This leads to a movie that keeps acting like it's upping the anti, but never really changing.
Not to mention, there's are also plenty of aspects of the movie that are almost laughably bad? Some of the acting and dialogue seem unsure of how serious we are supposed to be taking everything. I think this comes from Shyamalan maybe wanting the characters to appear out of their minds while still making everything seem real. Shyamalan wants us to ask ourselves the question, "would I believe the people and kill one of my own?", but it ultimately just feels a little silly. It doesn't help that the movie is rated R, but still cuts away from any of the more gruesome parts as though to still make it ok for kids.
Infinity Pool is what happens when you cross The White Lotus with 2001: A Space Odyssey and put an epilepsy warning at the start. We start in a beautiful ocean resort with the scent of seduction and affairs in the air, but quickly get taken to a gorey, hyper-sexual, sci-fi light show. Brandon Cronenberg certainly knows how to make a movie shocking and visually entertaining. I'm not sure though if he knows how to sustain a complete narrative about... morality? identity? This movie seems like it wants to say something interesting about our humanity, but I think it lacks enough focus to make that clear.
The performances we get from Andrew Skarsgård and Mia Goth, however, do add a lot to this film. Their interactions keep the feelings of tension going throughout as they continually escalate in intensity. As well, the mixture of human cloning and epic brutality makes for something that is both shocking and intriguing. I did find myself really wanting this movie to have some greater revealing ideas, but it just never really seemed to put all the pieces together. Does look good though.
Paddington, Paddington, Paddington.. a cult icon in the film nerd community. The original and sequel hold two of the highest ratings of all time on RT, an astounding fact given how many film geeks have also never seen the movie - myself included. However, now I’m a film geek who HAS seen Paddington, and I can say with authority that it deserves it’s cult status. I can’t wait to see the next one.
Paddington plays out much like any of the best Pixar movies, now with a lovable character in search of help finding a family willing to take a chance. However, we also get a lot of inspiration from Wes Anderson clearly, and it’s all done very well. Stylistically engaging, well-crafted characters, and a fun adventure - what else do you need?
Well, what else I might need is more of an emotional punch. We do get our moments at times, but they don’t last too long. It’s very well-written, but there is more of an emphasis on wonder and adventure than an emotional build into a finale. It’s assuredly more of a fun movie, which is still great in its own right.
Are people still buying time shares? This movie certainly thinks so, and that they are still just as scummy of a proposition as ever.
Time Share certainly knows how to make things seem ominous, and the artistic direction really drives the mystery of the film home. It’s a movie only about a time-share scam, but it makes it a lot more violent and dark than you would think at first. It’s also played excellently by the full cast of characters.
Plot-wise is where there are certainly some bumps, and maybe a little too much left for the audience to figure out themselves. But I still came away understanding the general idea, and it remained entertaining throughout.
A Knight’s Tale is an instantly comforting movie given the fact that it’s a comedy starring Heath Ledger. It’s hard not to smile seeing Ledger play a charming knight with a couple of goofy friends training him in the joust. The movie suckers you in with wit and action (who doesn’t love watching two men on horses go full-speed at each other with giant poles??) and rides that all the way through.
Ledger plays the role perfectly, both in his line delivery and his subtle expressiveness - keys for success as a comedy lead. The rest of the cast does a great job as well, and it’s really just a few jokes that maybe fall flat from a writing perspective that hold this back from being a top-tier comedy. Still, it’s an excellent example of what a popcorn movie can be.
Does putting on plastic glasses instantly make a movie worth $2 Billion? We have a limited sample size given the lack of new 3D films, but based on the data we do have..yes.
Now, the more important question (to me at least), can a film that looks this incredible overcome a lackluster story? No, no it cannot. And honestly, it looks good - but it also looks fake still.
I don’t need to go into too much detail about this one I think. The art direction is pretty much the impressive thing in the Avatar series. The landscapes and creatures still clearly have a lot of effort put in and it pays off. I was able to sit through all 3.5hrs of this simply because it’s at least different from all the other CGI films in it’s setting. It’s at least an actually different world.
Other than that, the characters/story/dialogue etc. are all forgettable. I still don’t know any character names aside for Jake Sully - family leader extraordinaire.
Now for the James Cameron social experiment to lay dormant until another sequel in 7 years or whatever. Moving on with my life now.
Glass Onion certainly keeps all the charm of the original Knives Out, but that also means it carries many of the same questionable, quirky moments. What’s great about the Rian Johnson whodunnits is that you get to have an actually FUN mystery, rather than a dramatic build as we mostly see in modern crime movies. There are plenty of great pieces of dialogue produced from Daniel Craig’s interactions with the cast in which he shows his supreme wit with clever word choice. We get taken on a wild journey in a wonderfully playful island environment that offers plenty of places for spying on others. Everything about the aesthetic for Glass Onion is perfect, and the beauty of it keeps you in.
However, some of the actual reveals and plot points still leave a bit to be desired. There are maybe one too many “oh, come on” moments. This leads to some of the intrigue falling a little flat and you are more or less waiting to jump to the next fun bit.
I still liked watching this a lot, albeit for the single time I want to watch it. Ironically this movie on a second watch I assume would be much like a glass onion with many insignificant layers to go through.
It’s funny how many movies feature Jake Gynllenhaal trying to track down criminals with a spunky sidekick. After chasing the Zodiac killer with Robert Downey Jr., we now see Jake with Hugh Jackman as they search for who abducted Hugh’s child. And this hunt is certainly a wild ride for the duo. What makes Prisoners a lot of fun is definitely the pacing, which always makes a mystery movie have more punch. The movie takes course over a few days, each feeling more significant as we learn something new that changes our focus to a new target.
Gyllenhaal and Jackman also perfectly clash with each other as calm, precise detective versus dad with the anger of Wolverine frantically searching for his daughter. Their relationship is what gives this movie a little extra something. You’re intrigued by the whodunnit, but you stay for the building tension between the featured leads.
I think the only thing keeping this movie from reaching it’s full potential is a few quirky plot choices. It’s very exciting, but a little messy.
I honestly have had a hard time knowing what I actually thought about this movie. On the one hand, it feels so serious with it’s direction and acting. On the other hand, they’re cannibals in love. I think in the end, this movie knows what it’s doing and actually does it quite well. At times, I can’t help but laugh as Russel and Chalamet kiss and then yell about the morals of eating people. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a complete satire, as much as it is just self-aware enough. Some things in this movie are so silly that I could only assume they knew exactly what they were doing with this movie. It hits all the classic hallmarks of the teen romance, but delivers them is such a unique way that you can’t help but smile. All while people are eaten.
In the absence of Boseman as the lead, this movie at least takes that opportunity well enough to tell the story of someone who may not be ready being asked to step up. Shuri already lost her brother and now Wakanda is asking her to bring back Black Panther - give her a break! This is at least a good premise for this film to stand on and gives it direction after losing its rock. However, the execution is a bit bumpy at times. Letitia Wright is unfortunately not as convincing a lead as Boseman. And while Tenoch Huerta does a good job as Namor, the villain doesn’t pose as much of a strong counter as Killmonger. This is a lot of comparison to the first movie, but Wakanda Forever does make a point to look back often at what came before.
Besides the main characters, the side stories and characters are hit and miss. The other established Wakandans bring more weight to the story, but some (one engineer specifically) really take away from any scene they’re in. Wakanda at least remains a well-grounded fantasy setting that feels like a legitimate place inside the real world. Overall the movie isn’t so ridiculous that it pulls me out, but I’m not fully engrossed in what’s going on either. It’s nice that they pulled off something well-made given the circumstances, but not something worth spending much more time thinking about.
The Menu is certainly a fresh take on horror, part of an ongoing trend to find unique settings for scary movies. It takes place mostly inside of one room, which helps in making you feel trapped alongside the dinner guests. More than that, the restaurant Hawthorne also perfectly captures all the over-the-top elements of high-end dining it wants to parody. You don’t *eat* at Hawthorne, you taste. There are characters that also add to that setting with hilarious representations of high-end chefs, food critics and connoisseurs. However, a few of the other minor characters seem underdeveloped and are more generalized to service the themes of the film. Similar can be said for some of the writing that, while funny, doesn’t always stick the landing on the larger ideas it introduces. Besides that, the acting from the leads is sharp throughout, and there were enough good jokes and twists to keep me engaged. Consider watching while eating to heighten the experience.
Everyone in this story gets what they want while everyone else suffers. Equality is at the center of The Triangle of Sadness with all the characters standing at different corners. Poor versus rich versus the middle class. Capitalism versus socialism versus communism. The Triangle of Sadness explores each corner, equally.
It’s well acted with amazingly fun and hilarious writing. A story that’s both beautiful and tragic with a great attention to every detail as it unfolds. It’s captivating in ways that keep you guessing the whole way through - who wins in the triangle of sadness?
And an incredible soundtrack to boot.
The Banshees of Inisherin is made in the vein of the other great Irish fables I grew up with as a little Irish boy - just now made for a little Irish man. It’s a story about the end of a friendship, leading to a feud between 2 of the 25 people in a small town off the coast of Ireland. Of course, this plays out in a hilarious way that only the Irish people can pull off. There is so much great dialogue between the characters as they gossip about the only interesting thing happening in their small town. Yet, it’s also deceptively deep and reveals the deeper meanings as the tensions in the relationships build. The leads keep you laughing the whole time, even when the action going on is best described as morbid and even violent at times. What makes this film great is it’s ability to draw you in with endearing characters that almost act as misdirection for it’s more serious themes. The weight of loneliness, war, and the meaning of life is made lighter by the wit and charm of the Irish townsfolk. It’s a beautiful piece that’s only ever brought down by how slow the burn is.
Causeway is a movie focused entirely on it’s characters for better or worse. It offers up a couple fantastic performances by Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry which carry the movie. Their conversations together create the most compelling scenes, but without them together is where the movie drags. With so much attention on Lawrence and Henry, little comes from the scenes with the other characters. The direction does a good job of setting the stage for key moments, but a lot of the movie is spent wondering when something is going to happen. Ultimately what does happen brings the movie together nicely, and the arc for Lawrence’s character is well thought out. Had we gotten more out of all the relationships she has, this could have been better though.
Perfect setting and pacing is really what makes a horror movie go from good to great for me. It’s the thing, I think, that always make Jordan Peele or A24 movies stand out above the rest. Horror is much more fun to me when it takes place somewhere that feels very grounded in reality and then slowly becomes more ominous and distressing. When it feels real, you get much more connected with whoever is being subjected to the mysterious evil. This is made even better when the mysterious evil is revealed seamlessly alongside details about our main characters. Barbarian is so entertaining because of its choices with where it takes place and when it chooses to show us more.
I like when movies start with people just walking up to like some ancient ruin and then just finding an artifact that everyone has spent thousands of years looking for. Black Adam has a lot of these fun tropes from action-hero movies, and they kind of just string those together for an entire movie until it’s over. It makes sense, just do a safe and familiar format, but now it’s The Rock™️!
Black Adam gets a midly interesting backstory, and it’s ultimately the only thing that really grabbed my attention. We hear about how his family suffered under the rule of an evil king, until they could break free by killing all their oppressors. Black Adam deals with the dilemma of being a liberator of an enslaved people, but doing so as a violent act of revenge. Still, it doesn’t ever really go past this surface level assessment of the issue.
Other than The Rock™️, no other character gets any interesting story. There are all these minor plot lines that just come and go where they may. I didn’t leave with much from any of their participation. So if you want to see a bland movie with The Rock™️, here ya go.
Rarely do we get to see a horror movie made from this perspective. Pearl is an origin story about a murderer, so we get a movie that gets more frightening as we reveal more about the main character. This was something really refreshing about ‘Pearl’. Rather than following a group of people slowly dwindling in numbers, Pearl instead focuses on one character’s descent into madness. Pearl wants so badly to leave her miserable life on the farm, and we watch as she is driven insane by this desire.
Pearl is certainly a movie that does well in making the horror genre continue to be a place for more unique ideas. However, going that route means you have to take risks, and this movie isn’t without some fault. Pearl is ultimately a simple character in some regard. This isn’t going to be the kind of origin story that shares all these interesting details about a character to make you eventually empathize with them. Pearl just wants off the farm real bad. It grew a little tiresome later when you feel like all the things that made Pearl interesting have grown stale.
Still, Pearl has so much else going for it that make it worth watching. Mia Goth’s performance is fantastic, and at all points Pearl feels like a fully authentic character. Director Ti West perfectly captures the 1920’s overly cliche farm, filled with all your classic farm tools for the perfect horror flick. Ultimately, I think there is enough style in Pearl that it outweighs the parts where it is just dragging along.