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.
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 capture 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. 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 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 question ourselves if we would believe the people and kill one of our 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 the 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?
I think the only thing this movie is lacking 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.
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 instantly 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??).
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 that few jokes 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. is 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 like 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, and each feels significant and 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 it’s rock. However, the execution I think 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 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 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’s 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.