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Best MK Adaptation Thus Far
This was way better than I expected, although I should have known based on WBs work in the DC animated films. This film is easily the best adaptation of the games' story we've gotten thus far. Although some plot points can feel rushed or incomplete, all the characters are done wonderfully with smooth and engaging animation. The game references are very present without taking one out of the movie. The use of the x-ray moves to give Scorpion's combat a unique flare is a great idea done super well. THIS is everything the 2021 reboot film needed to be but wasn't. As far as I'm concerned this series is the definitive MK movie experience.
'Mortal Kombat: A Journey Begins' is direct-to-VHS "movie" that mostly follows the events of the theatrical film's first act as an excuse to dump endless amounts of exposition in your lap, as a way to unnecessarily fill gaps in the film's lore. The feature is mostly 2D animated with a quality no worse than what you would get on cable at the time, just with worse audio mixing and blurred/missing frames to simulate slow-motion. A series of action sequences, however, is 3D CGI containing the most lifeless models I've ever seen as they stiffly slap each other like Raggedy Anne dolls. Even the crew of people who made this thought these sequences were too dull as Raidan explains everything that is happening in real-time so you don't miss anything.
It's boring and nearly unwatchable.
Great Visually - Maybe I Missed Something
This film is... good,... but a little disappointing.
Let's start with the positives. This movie looks incredible. The Chinese elements and Asian-American influences give this film a wonderfully unique style. The fight choreography is some of the cleanest ever seen in the universe. It all looks incredible and clear, with clear lessons learned from the works of Bruce Lee. Simu Liu does an amazing job and I ADORE Shang-Chi and a character. I cannot wait to see more of him in the future.
Unfortunately, the writing really lets this movie down in a lot of ways. None of the characters in the film feel like they learn or grow throughout the story, including Shang-Chi. Shang starts out as a trained fighter who loves his dad but condemns his actions and he finishes the film in the exact same spot. I similar thing can be said for his father who also feels very stagnant. Shang's sister is unbelievably one-dimensional filling in as the badass woman type with no further depth beyond her painful American accent. The comic relief characters very much overstay their welcome and become grating as things go on. This is very apparent for the return of Trevor who should have remained nothing more than a 10-second cameo.
The story itself is very messy and cliche. At the beginning of the film, we are presented with an amulet that is treated as being very important but disappears at the end of the first act. Shang's journey isn't really motivated with himself, but through an urge to stop whatever his father is doing. It all feels very hallow.
I appreciate what this movie will do for Asian representation, but am underwhelmed by it simply as a film on its own, not unlike that of Black Panther.
Better Than I Remembered
I first watched this film with a few of my friends in high school after they spent a good hour or so praising the picture, and mostly wrote the whole thing off as nothing special, alike to 'Sleepy Hollow.' I must not have been paying much attention because this is a cult classic for a reason.
Tim Buton was the only real choice to make this picture as his trademark style lends super well to this kind of story. The way he keeps the film mostly dull with the notable exception of the spectacular and visceral scenes of blood is amazing. Other beautiful shots include when Todd looks through the furnace toward the end of the film, fully transforming into the demon barber of the title. I remember finding the vocals grating on my first watch, but the entire cast does an amazing job especially given many of the main cast had never sung before.
This is pretty much universally accepted as one of the best broadway adaptations and I have a hard time arguing. The poetic irony of the finale and the unique setting provide it a free ticket to live in one's mind rent-free, permanently. A picture I simply have to revisit every October.
Iron Man Three (2013)
Just Don't Think
I think my biggest problem with this movie is that, ultimately, nothing matters in the long run. Tony's struggle with PTSD after the events of 'The Avengers' is magically cured when he is reminded that he can build his way out of problems. The Mandarin, the man whose organization accidentally created Iron Man, is a ruse. Pepper is infected with Extremus but is cured almost instantly. Tony retires from being Iron Man only to show up in 'Age of Ultron' flying around with the rest of the team.
I do like things about this film. The fact that Tony is forced to function without or with a malfunctioning suit for most of the film takes the character back to the ingenuity we saw in the first film. Pepper taking the final blow to destroy Killian is also a badass moment. Admittedly, Killian using the image of the real Mandarin to excuse the accidental explosions as terrorist attacks is a great plot point - although it does pose the question of which Ten Rings actually kidnapped Tony in 'Iron Man'.
I find that there is a lot of fun to be had with this film if you don't think about what you're watching at any point. Don't think about what JUST happened. If you've seen the film before, don't think about what happens later. Just stay in the moment and don't ask questions.
Why didn't Tony use the House Party Protocol when he was being attacked at his home, or at least get a non-prototype suit for battle. Don't think about it. Why does everyone seem to be able to use an Iron Man suit the moment they step in one except when the president is captured? Don't think about it. Why does the Iron Patriot suit suddenly function fine once Rhoady takes it back? DON'T THINK ABOUT IT!
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Phoned In Sequel
In a single word, dull. Not that there aren't things to enjoy about this film, even the MCUs weakest entries have a lot to love, but there isn't any passion in this project. It feels like Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios were going through the motions to pump out a sequel after the success of the first film and try and expand the universe along the way. Pieces of the film's plot barely interconnect causing so many of the film's elements to feel disjointed. The way Tony cures himself near-instantly toward the end of the movie via a poorly explained hidden adam blueprint and just casually invents a new element is jarring and unsatisfactory. Whiplash is underdeveloped and stereotypical. Justin Hammer is akin to Venom in Spider-Man 3, a good idea on paper as a negative reflection of the main hero but poorly executed.
Not terrible, but certainly not great.
Just A Bit Off
I decided to watch this film to familiarise myself with more Asian superheroes leading up to Shang-Chi. Little did I realize that I was walking to a whole new cinematic universe of its own, the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe (BCU).
Now just about everything about this film just feels a LITTLE bit off. The acting is a bit wooden, the dialogue is a bit odd, the fight choreography is a bit stiff, and the effects feel like a Bat in the Sun VS battle. Somehow this all culminates into an extremely fun surreal film that has to be seen to believe... for the first two acts. The third act gets unbelievable obtuse a nearly ruins the entire experience.
Our main hero is very charismatic with a unique and interesting backstory. The main villain two is very interesting. The way he saves orphans and pushes them to pursue different arts as ways to express themselves only to keep them under his wing as an army of assassins with unique and differing abilities is a very interesting concept. If only his plan made much sense at all. He pretends to poison the rice supply with a drug that causes newborns to not have morals AKA know the difference between right and wrong (despite the fact it would be impossible to observe if this was happening in the timeline of the film) so he can ACTUALLY poison the antidote provided by the government that will give the newborns birth defects.... Seems like your adding a few extra steps there, mate. Ultimately this plan is thwarted when Gundala gets struck by lightning while holding two vials of the antidote which causes all the other vials to also explode; a moment I believe was foreshadowed with a single line explaining that thunder can shatter glass that is at the same frequency....
There is also a secondary background villain who only exists to further set up the interconnected universe. One who gets Sancaka's blood BEFORE he even makes his costume and becomes a known hero because he needs the blood of a hero to resurrect an ancient warrior. This ancient warrior is a nemesis named Gundala who Sancaka is the reincarnation. This means that Sancaka doesn't even know his own hero name in this film of which is the main title... WOW!
All this said, I still think this is a very fun watch but maybe smoke a blunt before you start the action sequences have a chance to be suspenseful. I anxiously await what else the BCU brings us next in 'Shi Asih.'
'Candyman' 2021 is a brilliant successor to the 1992 original 'Candyman' - why they feel to make sequels with the same name as the classic film I will never know, but that is beside the point - that takes the infamous spirit beyond the man and turns him into a legacy. While the original sequel films certainly dive into this theme, neither does it with such elegancy. Nia DeCosta and Jordan Peele masterfully add to the legend of the spirit showing how Candyman is a collective of many damned rather than the history of an individual. Nia's vision executes this massage with undeniable beauty, using reflection and negative space to make every shot a work of art. The shadow puppet sequences, above all else, stand as a work of genius to deliver exposition that has permanently etched its way into my sub-conscience. Of course, knowing the original film enhances the experience, but I believe all views will be able to take something great out of the picture.
This is one of the most emotional documentaries I've seen in a long while, telling a side of Bob's story that I never knew. Not only is the drama of Bov's life told beautifully but it is accompanied by gorgeous shots of landscapes in reference to the subject of many of his paintings. This alongside truly magnificent dramatical painting used to illustrate parts of the story that were not visually documented creates a truly engaging experience of truth. My eyes have seen a new vision of Bob Ross Inc. That will surely shape how I spend my money in the future, but also a new appreciation of Ross and his work.
FATWS is a new story that explores who Captain America is beyond the man, as an icon. While the series doesn't bring a whole not new to the MCU, its commentary on freedom and what is means to be black in America do help move the universe toward being a more fleshed-out and inclusive world. Bucky and Sam are both characters mostly reserved to the background up to this point so it is refreshing to see them get some real development into the true heroes we all knew they could be.
The action looks incredible with CG that is on par with what we usually get from Marvel Studios. The costumes also look incredible! Marvel has truly embraced the look on the comics with Falcon's new suit and I can't wait to see it more in the future. The series defiantly leans more heavily into the typical Marvel formula than 'WandaVision' before that but is not without its charm.
Great!... Except That Last Bit
WandaVision is a mini-series with a terrific premise fueled by a story of grief bogged down by an action-heavy finale and a poorly executed boner joke. I really enjoyed how the episodes shifted through different eras of TV to explore different aspects of how Wanda processed Vision death in 'Infinity War.' The exploration of whether or not our main hero is in the wrong is also something only briefly touched upon in the MCU previously and get's much more attention here. Unfortunately, this is mostly set aside by the end of the series for a generic CGI battle that is overall pretty forgettable. Putting aside any expectations of a Fox-Universe crossover or crazy fan theories, it is hard to argue that the series stumbled to stick the landing.
Spider-Man Tech (2007)
Fun Little Distraction
'Spider-Man Tech' is a 2007 documentary that I happened to stumble across while looking through movies on YouTube. Naturally, I purchased it on the spot because I am a Spider-Man shill. The film goes through the abilities of Spider-Man as seen in the original Sam Raimi theatrical films and compares them to real-world science to see if they are or could be plausible to recreate. While not a mind-blowing special by any means, it is quite entertaining and educational, even for being over 10-years old by now. The amount of explanation provided isn't super thorough, but it is enough to provide a launchpad for those who are interested in learning the real-world science. Overall, a competent little TV special.
Free Guy (2021)
Painful to Watch for Video Game Fans
'Free Guy' is an epic failure akin to that of 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' released earlier this year. It is clear that no one in the production of this film is even casually familiar with video game development or coding, which makes it very difficult to achieve the necessary suspension of disbelief. Unlike a film like 'Wreck-It-Ralph' where the character simply exists as a living being within the game world, Guy is actually a complex AI that achieves sentience... and unique game dialogue... and new game animations. Programmers are often seen manipulating the world to navigate through it rather than using a teleport or no-clip feature to navigate through the world more efficiently. The main programmer kid even mentions coding in binary at one point. NO GAME DEVELOPER IS CODING IN BINARY!
Ryan Reynolds is fun to watch, but his performance is a near carbon copy of how he plays Deadpool. He does manage to carry the film effectively enough to get to the finale which is just a series of references that only exist because Disney acquired Fox and they wanted to take advantage of the access to new IPs. The film's biggest problem is being unfortunately boring when it's not absolutely aggravating. At least we got to see Jacksepticeye on the big screen.
Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999)
I'll be honest with you, I can barely tell you anything about this movie despite finishing it literally minutes ago. This is the most bored I've been during a picture in a very long time. With the exception of Candyman himself, Tony Todd, not a single person puts on a convincing performance. This is especially true for our main actress who often behaves like a tired toddler with a pair of tits. This combines with the near non-existent plot that fails to take advantage of the Day of the Dead setting and Candyman's motivations making increasingly less sense the more you think about it and you have easily the worst film of the series. Most horror franchises slowly kill themselves with worsening quality over 7-10 films. Candyman managed to go from some of the best in the genre to absolute shit in only 3.
Mr. Cand'man, Candy A Man
Mr. Cand'man, candy a man. Make him the candiest man that you can.
The Candyman is back... and it's mostly pretty dull. Despite the terrific villain and near-perfect beginning to the franchise, 'Farewell to the Flesh' doesn't really do anything new. It mostly relies on half-assed parallel to the first film without any of the morals behind them. It does provide a little extra backstory for the sweet specter; explaining his connection to mirrors and how he got the name Candyman. Even then, the additions seem unnecessary and do not add enough to the lore to justify the dull story that served them. Sad day.
Easily the worse of the series I've seen thus far. It doesn't have any of the genuine intrigue of New Moon or the ironing cringe of the first film. Instead it just takes the dull madness of Eclipse and turns the annoyance up to 11. The birthing scene in particular really highlights how morning the characters are. They won't turn Bella while she's pregnant, despite the fetus almost killing her, because they are afraid of killing the potential anti-christ in her womb. This is even WITH the knowledge that drinking blood makes her stronger and feeds the child, implying the baby is already a vampire. Even then, once the child is born Edward stands around googling at the kid rather than immediately turning Bella to save her. This is just one example of the terrible leaps of logic this film takes. Personally, I think they could have killed Bella. Then Edward would have finally got penance for being 109, but still having the actual and emotional intelligence of a 14-year-old boy.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Way to make every character in your narrative unlikable (Alice, Jasper, and Charlie, this isn't about you). Edward is still full-throttle on his manipulative White Knight act. Jacob is a prick who can't take no as an answer because he's afraid of the friend zone. It is nice to see the wolves and vamps working together but that is the only real joy I got because the main three are so immature. Just be poly like you clearly already are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is probably the movie out of the first three that works best as an actual film, but it is far too annoying to be good and not nearly dumb enough to laugh at. Big sad.
Practical Magic (1998)
A Good Chance of Pace
I have a lot of nostalgia for this film so I decided to go back and give it another look. This film is definitely an underrated gem. It's not a masterpiece, but the Halloween fun is definitely to be had. The characters are fun to watch and it is nice to have a tale of magic that falls much closer to how witchcraft functions in real life. The soundtrack also SLAPS! I definitely recommend giving it a watch, even if it is just once to appreciate how great the Aunts are.
A Great Christmas Film For The Whole Family!
After seeing The Suicide Squad this weekend I needed to go back and rewatch this movie to determine which was the best in the universe. After a revisit, it's clear that this movie takes second place, but it is much closer than I thought.
SHAZAM! Is a great family Christmas movie! The theme of finding your family, even out of blood, and learning to appreciate the things around you is spectacular. The entire foster family is super fun and acted perfectly by the cast. I love the focus of the number 7 throughout the film combined with the unclaimed thrown to hint at Black Adam without calling him out by name. Unpopular opinion, but I also love the costume. The way it is over the too and over-padded really makes Shazam feel like a kid with superpowers.
Not all is great, however. The villain is incredibly generic. The sins are not much better. I could not tell which is which with the exception of Gluttony (and maybe Greed as he is called out by name in one scene). The CG is very rough at times, often very rubbery and improperly lit. The cinematography is also a bit flat. None of this really takes away from the fun of the film, but it is worth mentioning.
Overall, it is a fun adventure for the whole family and the SECOND best of the DCEU as of August 2021.
Suicide Squad (2016)
It could have been SO GOOD
When I first saw this film as an idiot 16-year-old I absolutely adored it; ever toating it as the "best DC movie of all time," every viewing since (with the exception of the second theatrical viewing because I was making out with a girl the whole time) I have found it more and more of a mess. I think the reason I enjoyed it so much is that my dumb little brain could only focus on the good ideas the movie DID have and not everything that ruins these ideas & elements from reaching their true potential. There is a lot to love in this film, but it is always paired with something equally bad or worse.
Overall the notable characters are well done on a surface level. Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, and Amanda Waller are all done well enough keeping in mind what they were given to work with. EL Diablo was very interesting and it one of the more developed of the bunch (Side note, I was CONVINCED that his death was a fakeout and he was going to appear again in the DCEU... guess not). Will Smith does a surprisingly great job with the character of Deadshot and I really hope we see more of him in the universe moving forward, even if it is just as a cameo. Most people would say Harley Quinn is the best-done character, but she is actually one of my biggest problems with the picture. While wonderfully acted by Margot Robbie, the character is a dumbed-down version of their comic counterpart. Harley is supposed to be a highly intelligent woman who uses a ditz persona to get a tactical edge in combat both physically and psychologically. While Suicide Squad does a better job at conveying this than Birds of Prey, she doesn't come off as more than a dumb, over-sexualized hoe. Irilocally, I much preferred the Joker. While a HUGE departure from what we come to expect, I love this Joker's absolutely chaotic mannerisms and think many people could grow to like him if he was given the right time to develop. The only character I truly have a problem with is Killer Croc due to ti his size, but I hope that they can find an excuse to beef him up and have him return in a better movie.
I love the neon-punk aesthetic and the concept of the fast-paced editing to convey the insane concept of a supervillain team, but the editing is so chaotic that it near makes the movie incomprehensible. The final cut was edited by a trailer house and it definitely shows, often including scenes out of order, skipping important development, and straight-up lying to the audience. This just makes the already bad story so much worse.
This movie not only underdeveloped the Joker as a weird B-plot side villain but also gives us the most generic villain of the DCEU in Enchantress. According to the film, Waller created the Squad to protect against potential meta-human threats only to have Enchantress rouge despite the fact he is controlled by the one who holds her heart (Waller herself) and is killed when her heart is destroyed. Despite these being the only two things we know about Enchantress, these facts prove completely false within the first act of the film. WOW. If this film was ever going to work, it should have gone in one of two directions:
A) Spend the first act of the film to establish the relationship between Rick Flag and Dr. Moon, eventually leading to Enchantress becoming a threat and forcing Amanda and Rick to gather the Suicide Squad to stop her. Then you could use the flashback montage sequences to establish each character alongside how they were brought into the team. This way we can keep the drama focused on Rick Flag and his conflict to save or Kill Enchantress. OR...
B) Have the Joker take over Arkham Asylum and hold the warden hostage with many smaller villains working with him to keep out the police. This would force Amanda to use criminals held in other facilities to create the Suicide Squad. We could use Harley Quinn as the main character as we follow her trying to leave the Squad and join the Joker but form a connection with the team and ultimately chose to gain her independence and bring Joker into custody. This way we can spend more time fleshing out the history of Harley and Joker with an emotional connection.
At the end of the day, this movie has a lot of cool ideas. The montages and the licensed music aren't really the problem, but a painful casualty of a lack of direction and focus. If only we could have seen the amazing movie this concept started when it was written. Unfortunately, this is all we have for now.
Fear Street: 1666 (2021)
The best of the 3!!!
'1666' is by far the best of the Fear Street trilogy, apparently inspired by the works of R. L. Stein??!?!??!!? The flashback portion in the first half is by far the most intense of the franchise. Something about the setting lends to a unique feeling of discomfort for one trapped in a setting where everyone is illogical has nowhere to turn. My only complaint is the accent can be a little hard to understand from time to time, but turn on subtitles and you'll be fine.
Things get a little more generic in the second half, but still carries the momentum of what comes before. The twist, while not wholly original, is very impactful and kept me fully engrossed until the last second. It does however leave me with one important question.
WARNING: The next paragraph DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS So the finale of this film concludes with Deena killing the Sherif to end the curse started by Soloman. It is stated that one person from every generation has selected a person from Shadeyside to sacrifice to the Devil. It is mentioned that Sherif's brother has kids so couldn't one of them continue Soloman's curse? I suppose the idea is it has to be a direct line of father-to-son, but perhaps this could be explored in further films.
Overall, this is an amazing final act to one of the best LGBTQA+ stories I've seen in a long while. Although I am intrigued by the proposition of this becoming a new horror universe, I'd be satisfied with it all ending right here.
Randy Writes a Novel (2018)
A Fantastic Ted Talk
'Randy Writes a Novel' is my favorite kind of comedy special. That is to say, it is not really a comedy special at all. Not unlike the works of Bo Burnham, 'Randy Writes a Novel' is a philosophy lesson decorated with jokes to make the learning more palatable.
Randy tackles some of the hardest questions of life, death, and legacy and mixes them elegantly with humor to create a piece of art that will make you cry tears of laughter, stealth your breath in shock, and squash your fears of death. If the humor is not to your liking, the meaningful message is sure to keep you engaged whether the novel is art or not.
Fear Street: 1978 (2021)
Nothing New But Still Fun
The second installment in Netlix's fledgling horror universe is nothing more than a filler episode for the folks who can't handle a little ambiguity. Not only does it not bring anything new to the franchise, but it also does nothing for the horror genre as a whole; leaning too heavily on pre-established slasher tropes including flat characters, an overused setting, and a predictable twist. Luckily, the corny nature of the series works to its advantage in this case, becoming a series not for hardcore horror fanatics but for newbies to the format.
This chapter is definitely sloppier than the first in many ways. The characters are far less interesting than in the first, partially because the conflict of both our main characters and the rival schools mimics the first part pretty much to a T. It being a prequel comes at the cost of stakes, as you know exactly who the killer is, who will live, and who will die within the first 30 minutes. The editing and effects also feel more mature. The biggest example being the odd choice to speed up the footage during the first action sequence. Lucky, this is the only time this appears.
While competently put together, Fear Street Part 2 is nothing to write home about. It is definitely worth a watch for the one or two important story elements, it can otherwise be tossed to the side.
Fear Street: 1994 (2021)
More Thrill Than Horror. Good None The Less.
Fear Street is not truly a horror film, failing to provide any scared, but more of a suspense thriller. In this category, Fear Street excels like few others in recent memory. It manages to create an aura of suspense from the moment the film begins with a cold open better than any other I can recall, rivaling that of even Scream. From there, things only get tenser.
The movie is able to get straight to the point establishing the conflict of both our main characters and the cities in which the story takes place. All the characters are incredibly fleshed out for a film of this nature. Rather than create cookie-cutter bodies designed only for slaughter, Fear Street creates characters that feel three-dimensional and building their suspense around your connection to these characters.
The supernatural element did feel a little out of place at first, but you fall into it quite quickly as it introduces a world of fun killers each intriguing in their own right. Netflix has shown their hand a confessed that they are looking to create a new cinematic universe of these films. If the other two parts are as good as this, I think they have a solid foundation to stand on.
Fight Club (1999)
About as good as I expected
Ah, Fight Club, the movie everyone seems to be obsessed with despite so many having never seen it.
I too had never seen this film until now. Unfortunately, no one can seem to follow the first two rules of fight club so I had the big twist spoiled going in. That said, I don't think that took away from the film. It simply made me do my second watch the first time around.
This movie is hardy trip, worthy of every film-school nut's obsession. I will say it did not blow my mind, but it is undeniably art. The cinematography, lighting, and editing are so expertly done. The passion everyone involved had is extremely present in the final film. It's unfortunate that so many seem to miss the clear message of toxic masculinity, but what can you do.
A must see for any movie buff.