Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Review - Doesn’t Fail You, Despite What The Name Says


I don’t remember the book being this good. I thought that a lot while watching this movie. I enjoyed reading the misadventures of the comically unintelligent Timmy Failure when I found those books in the library, but this movie takes that goofy kids’ book concept and mines so much heart and charm from it that I can’t shake the feeling that I really missed something while reading the book.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a Disney+ original about a fifth grade boy named Timmy Failure living in Portland, Oregon who runs an imaginary detective agency with an imaginary 200-pound polar bear named Total (gettit? Total... Failure...?). Timmy is stoic, professional and never says two words when one would do, which are all great traits for a detective, but not-so great when you’re a 10 year-old boy. This attitude strains his school performance and his relationship with his family and friends but even when things get rough and is asked to be a normal kid he steadfastly believes that: “normal is for normal people” a saying that his single mother (Ophelia Lovibond) taught him. 
Honestly there’s not a lot to say about this movie so I’ll keep it short. The cast is all pretty solid. There is some wooden acting from the child actors at points (that’s a demerit) but it’s all easily ignored. The plot is rather straightforward but is so full of heart and charm that you forget how straightforward it is while watching it and are constantly wondering what’s going to happen next. The ending is a bit forced (that’s a demerit) and the climactic car crash that serves as a sort-of cold-open doesn’t quite live up to expectations (that’s a demerit) but once again these are all easily ignored. 
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is very different from the source material. And that’s a good thing. What could’ve been a mediocre, whacky kids comedy that Disney put out to round out the Disney+ originals ends up being a really heart-felt, enjoyable hour-and-a-half that I wish more people were talking about. If you have the time, definitely watch this.

P.S. The one thing I do miss is the lack of Garbanzo Man (that’s a demerit)

P.P.S. Also “That’s a demerit” is going to find it’s way into my every day vocabulary.

Personal Rating: 8/10
Entertainment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆

Monday, February 10, 2020

Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn Review - That’s A Mouthful


Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn (not going to say that every time) is the new DCEU film directed by Cathy Yan in her second outing as a director and stars Margot Robbie, Rosa Perez, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ella Jay Basco. And this movie, more than Shazam, Joker or Aquaman, really shows the potential of DC movies. In a cinema landscape that is dominated by Marvel’s safe, fun, action movies, DC’s new business plan of putting out a bunch of totally different movie shows real potential. Birds of Prey is unlike any other super-hero movie we’ve ever seen, the closest comparison being probably Deadpool, but even that doesn’t quite do it justice. It does have the R-rated comedy as Deadpool at several moments, but it’s less quippy and is able to get a lot darker. That’s not to say that Birds of Prey is a bold new movie, because it’s not. But it is a well put together, very entertaining and memorable blockbuster to kick of 2020.
Let’s talk about it’s greatest strengths. Cathy Yan directs the hell out of the action scenes. There’s an insane amount of visual polish that goes into every big action scene that makes all the fight scene such a joy to watch beyond the fact that the fight choreographer from John Wick came in to make the actual fights insane. The stand out is easily the police station fight scene that is vibrant and exciting in a way that few other super-hero movies have ever shown. Additionally, Margot Robbie IS Harley Quinn in much the same way that Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans embody their roles in the MCU. The movie ticket to see this film is worth buying on the merit of watching her alone and both the script and Robbie do an excellent job of telling a story through Harley Quinn’s brain. The other stand out is Ewan McGregor who chews every single scene he’s in to a point where he gives Robbie a run for her money. McGregor’s Roman Sionis is such a delightfully ugly human being that you both love watching McGregor have a blast with it and hate it. The one problem I had with him was less a problem with him and more a problem with the script in that I felt like I never needed him to be “Black Mask” because I didn’t quite buy him as a named super-villain, to me Roman Sionis was enough of an antagonist without a scary mask. 
Following that trail into the mixed aspects of this film, it is a bit chaotic. For my part I was able to follow the film just fine, but there have been plenty of complaints that the crazy plot structure is confusing and unnecessary. There is merit to these complaints and if you want a linear plot-structure then you will have some trouble with this movie but not seeing it because of that will mean that you’re missing out. Additionally, this is not a Birds of Prey movie and it doesn’t really convince me as a backdoor Birds of Prey origin story either. The three Birds of Prey are all fine, but only really work as background characters to Harley Quinn and nothing about this movie makes me interested in seeing a stand-alone Birds of Prey movie. That’s not to say that any actress is bad (with the exception of maybe Ella Jay Basco, who at 12 years old, can’t quite keep up with the rest of the cast), but they just aren’t really engaging in the way that Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor are. That being said, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress is fun, but she’s so poorly drawn into the plot that we barely get a good sense of her character. 
Those nitpicks aside, there are no real movie breaking flaws with this film. The action is hella fun, the humor is on point 90% of the time, and it’s just a fun time. Honestly it’s a bit surprising how many people have taken grievance with this film because it seems to me as the type of movie that can whisk anybody up into itself if they’re willing. There have been a lot of complaints lobbied against this film, saying that it’s too much preachy feminism and to that I say, actually watch the movie, don’t just watch the trailers. Because the trailers don’t quite do the film justice. Sure, if you’re looking for a message that says “all woman good, all men bad” you can find that pretty easily, but that’s ignoring the smartness of the script. It is true that all the males in this film are psychotic a$$holes (with the exception of Doc, who’s adorable), but honestly everybody in this movie is kinda a psychotic a$$hole. It’s just that Harley and co. choose to be something more. This is a movie about defining yourself as a singular person while not isolating yourself from everybody else. It could be a bit more strongly stated but Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis is a character building himself from scratch after being kicked out of his father’s empire. The only difference between him and the Birds of Prey and Harley Quinn, who are all also defining themselves on their own, is that he finds himself unable to really befriend anybody and gets stuck being a sadistic a$$hole trying to create an army to control Gotham City. He’s so unable to trust that the very second time we see him, he’s cutting off a families’ faces because the dad didn’t agree to his deal. There is good stuff in this movie if you’re willing to watch it.
All in all Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is not reinventing anything. It’s not the best super-hero movie you’ve ever seen and isn’t the best feminist super-hero movie you’ve ever seen. But it is a well-crafted, fun roller-coaster that deserves all the support it can get at the box office, because DC needs to know to make more of these movies.
P.S. Also the title is evidently “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” now? It’s a good decision, but why wasn’t it made before the movie came out?
Personal Rating: 8/10
Entertainment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ 
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Tension: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Oscar Best Picture Nominations Ranked

Well the Oscars air tonight and the title pretty much says it all so here we go.

9) Joker

Yeah, this movie isn’t going to win best picture and there were other movies that deserved this spot more than Joker. That’s not to say this is a bad movie, it isn’t anywhere near that. However, it’s just not quite there as a movie. Everything in it is great, but with the exemption of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, there’s a distinct feeling like it’s all been done before and better. There isn’t anything bad about this movie, it just doesn’t really make itself anything more than a good movie. 

8) Ford V Ferrari

Full disclosure, I haven’t actually seen this movie, but this is where I’m guessing that I’ll place it. It looks like a great movie, it does, but it looks like it suffers about the same problem as Joker, that being that it’s very good, but not a lot more than that. The only reason why I’ve placed this higher than Joker is that I know Joker was nominated to get more people to watch the Oscars, and this doesn’t have the same draw which makes me hope that there’s a bit more to it.

7) Little Women

I’ve already written a review of this movie when I first saw it and my thoughts remain the same. It is a very good movie and would deserve the best picture nomination if it got it and it is definitely significantly better than the films behind it (well, I can’t really speak for Ford V Ferrari, but it is better than Joker) however, and this might just be because I am not really the intended audience, I don’t think it’s quite as special as the ones that follow.

6) Jojo Rabbit

I did not expect this to be nominated. I’m glad it did. Taika Waititi made something special with this film. Not only is it an Oscar nominated movie centering around a child actor, which sounds impossible but somehow he did it and Roman Griffin Davis is amazing, but also the fact that it balances the comedy so well with the fact that this is Nazi Germany is astounding. I don’t expect this to win best picture, because it isn’t the best made film of this year. But I am so glad that this movie exists.

5) Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The only movie nominated for best picture that had a theatrical release before October, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is good fun, but doesn’t in my opinion quite top the other movies on this list. Tarantino has made better movies than this one and while I admit that since I was not alive during the golden age of Hollywood and have no nostalgia for that period I am not quite the target audience for this movie, that kinda shows the problem with this movie. Despite it being Tarantino’s funniest film yet and being very entertaining, it is a movie for old white guys and doesn’t really have much to say in 2019 other than, “say remember the 60s? That was fun.” That’s not to say that this is anywhere near a bad movie or that it doesn’t deserve the nomination. I’ve put it at fifth place after all. Quentin Tarantino will always make great movies, and I really do love this movie, but I would be kinda disappointed with the academy if this wins best picture.

4) Irishman

This is a very good movie. Very few movies have the scope that this one does and watching these three characters (Frank, Russ and Jimmy played by Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino respectively) over the course of the forty-some years that this movie covers is something truly special. All the performances are naturally great, and so is the direction. Honestly, the only problem with this movie is that it did not have to be three-and-a-half hours long. It really felt like Martin Scorsese was given free reign by Netflix to do what he wanted so he didn’t have to trim down the movie as much as if he’d had put this in theaters. But this is a movie well-worth a watch, if you can find time to do it.

3) Marriage Story

There are very few films quite as real as Marriage Story. Sure, a lot of movies attempt for realism, but very few of them come anywhere close to what Marriage Story gives. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are phenomenal in this movie. Despite them both being A-list Hollywood actors, there’s not a single moment that you don’t completely believe that they are perfectly normal people going through this divorce. It’s a bit sad that Driver is going up against Phoenix’s Joker and Johansson was also nominated best supporting actress for Jojo Rabbit, because it probably means that they’ll both be snubbed best actor/actress when they both definitely deserve it. Even though the performances were the main draw for me, the directing is fantastic as well. Everything looks so real and you forget that you are watching a blocked and edited movie while watching it. Honestly the only reason this movie is held back for me is that it’s really difficult to appreciate just how good the acting and directing of this movie is simply because you forget about how good it is because it all looks so real.

2) 1917

This is my favorite movie on this list and of the year and it’s a testament to how good my number one is that this isn’t in that spot. I have never quite had a movie going experience like 1917. I’ve already raved about it in my review of it, but suffice to say, I will not be at all surprised if this wins best picture and it deserves it if it does.

1) Parasite

This is the best movie that has come out of this year. It’s not my favorite but there is no denying the absolute skill that went into this movie. Everything, from the script to the acting to the editing, is top notch. Like Jojo Rabbit it seamlessly balances comedy and drama together, but it gets so many more points in how it handles that transition. I have heard many people complain that they don’t think that Jojo Rabbit balanced its tones quite well enough but this movie switches from comedy to horribly dark drama in the blink of an eye and it still feels completely natural. The script is intricately layered with themes of class set up in a way that actually makes you think about class divides long and hard. This might not win best picture simply on the grounds of it being a foreign film which makes it a risky bet, but there is no denying that it deserves it.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Doctor Who Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terrors Review - Now This is Doctor Who


So, with last week’s terrible disapointment out of the way we can finally move on to some good Doctor Who and boy does this episode deliver. Now it is a single-part filler episode about Nikola Tesla so don’t expect it to be astounding. But this quality of filler episode has not been seen since... Flatline, I guess. It’s nicely paced, the cast of characters is well-utilized, the monsters are well designed and intimidating and it’s just all around a fun time. The opening was also one of the greater openings in a while with Tesla and his assistant hiding from a strange man with a strange gun and the Doctor suddenly just bursting on the scene. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed Whittaker but never really quite saw her as the Doctor but that opening and how she handles the rest of the episode made her the Doctor for me. I really enjoy her quirky amicability that really covers this cruel alien beneath. When she first began her run as the Doctor a lot of people were saying that she was the most human of the Doctors but I don’t think that’s quite the case, I think she acts the most human, but especially seeing her deal with the Skithra this week, you can see a cold, unforgiving alien beneath.
Speaking of the Skithra, they are fantastic. It’s rare that you see a new-Who created monster that becomes a recurring threat, but I would definitely be game to see more of them. They’re not quite as scary as the Weeping Angels or the Silence (which are really the only new-Who monsters that appear in multiple stories) but the design is fantastic, their characterization is fantastic and the episode leaves a door open for their return. The only real complaint with them is that I don’t understand why the queen (Anjli Mohindra) had to be bipedal, but the bionic scorpion look of the actual species is fantastic and while I don’t quite understand what the zombie ones are, they look pretty awesome as well. Plus, the whole concept of scavengers that scavenge because they think they’re too great to build anything themselves is pretty clever and connects well enough to the morals of Edison (Robert Glenister) in the episode.
Speaking of Edison, in his rivalry with Tesla (Goran Višnjić), he is presented as the one in the wrong, but never in a one-sided-Doctor-gives-a-long-monologue-deprecating-him kinda way that might have happened had this episode occurred in season 11. (I realize I’ve attacked season 11 a lot in these reviews, and I want to make clear that I didn’t hate any of those episodes but they did tend to get overly consumed in yelling a timely political message, not that political messaging should not be a part of Doctor Who, but it’s more often handled better than it was in season 11). Edison gets some good counter-arguments in on Tesla and the episode ends more in a compromise than a victory over Edison. He’s portrayed as not a great person, but he also is visible upset when he sees all of his workers killed (more so than the Doctor, more proof that she’s the most alien Doctor yet) and his only real punishment for being a bit of an a-hole is that the aliens want Tesla and not him.
Višnjić is also fantastic. It’s really nice to know that after the abysmal ensemble of last week that Doctor Who can still write compelling side characters in forty-five minutes. Višnjić portrays Tesla as if he doesn’t quite operate on the same wave-length as the rest of Earth. He acts like a man who believes intensely in his ideas, but is ridiculed by the rest of the world so that his only option is to retreat further into his theories and concepts. He also really fits into the plot, something that a lot of other historical characters that have popped up in previous Doctor Who episodes can’t say. I don’t really get why the Skithra still want Tesla after meeting the Doctor, but them wanting him in the first place makes sense and it’s his belief that he’s contacted Mars (which actually happened) that starts the episode and it’s his invention that wins the day. Plus it also gives us a sky-beam which is always fun.
By the way, let’s talk about the ending. The Chibnall era has been in large part plagued by it’s anti-climactic way of dealing with it’s villains (see Spyfall or Orphan 55 or almost any episode of season 11), and it’s really nice to see a classic good guys come up with a plan that arises from the information given in the episode, bad guys throw a wrench in the plan and good guys win with another bit of information that appeared earlier in the episode conclusion. And although the farewell to Tesla is a bit on the nose, it’s pretty traditional Doctor Who on-the-noseness so I can forgive it.
All in all, while this was not a great episode, it also felt like a massive assurance that Doctor Who can still deliver fun stories and what I put in this review so far isn’t even all of it. I like the extended time in the Tardis and that it was actually part of the plot rather than a convenient mode of transportation. I liked that the Skithra were obviously related to the Racnoss, but that it never had to outright state it. I liked that Yas actually felt like part of the story, and they weren’t just finding something for her to do. So yeah, this episode was good. Let’s see where season 12 goes next.

P.S. It did really bug me though that the Doctor kept calling the Silurians aliens, because they’re not.

Personal Rating: 9/10
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Depth: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Doctor Who Orphan 55 Review - BENNIE!!!!... ugh


On the bright side, this was definitely a Doctor Who episode, not some weird season 11 whoey-ish thing. On the not-so-bright side, it’s not a good one. The pacing is weird, the story is confused, the characters are one-dimensional and largely pointless. But hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had a good base under siege story, and at least that feels nice. 
Perhaps the best part about the episode is the beginning. Not how the plot begins, that’s largely just a serviceable Doctor Who get the Tardis team to the story opening, but the fact that The Doctor is still obviously dealing with last week’s reveal. It only lasts for the opening two scenes but it’s nice to know that that’s still going on. Also the monster designs are pretty cool. That’s about the only positives for this episode.
To begin with, let’s look at the large ensemble cast. And it’s large. You’ve got Jodie Whittaker who’s once again pretty great, honestly, Whittaker is easily the strongest part of Doctor Who right now and it’s a shame that she’s getting so many bad scripts. You’ve got the companions: Tosin Cole’s Ryan, Mandip Gill’s Yaz and Bradley Walsh’s Graham, who are all just kinda along for the ride, maybe not Ryan but definitely everyone else. You’ve got the “you thought that the Cats movie had a furry fetish” character who dies right away. By the way, I’m spoiling this because you shouldn’t watch this. You’ve got the no-nonsense military person. You’ve got the other military guy who dies. You’ve got the lady in the picture above who is kinda there until they decide she’s a terrorist and her mom is the no-nonsense military person because somebody had to do it. You’ve got the old couple who haven’t been married and then the old man gets carried off by the monsters and dies after asking the other one to marry him and then the old lady screams about him for a bit until she dies too. And then you’ve got the green haired dad and son, who exist.
You see the problem here right? They’re all dumb and there’s too many of them. 
Now let’s talk about the story. So The Doctor and Co. show up on this alien resort that quickly becomes attacked by the pretty cool monster designs. They manage to fend them off but the old guy is taken away by the things. So they decide to take EVERYONE OUT INTO THE RADIATION FILLED ATMOSPHERE TO GET A DYING OLD MAN BACK FROM AN ARMY OF MONSTERS. THAT INCLUDES A LITTLE BOY AND AN ELDERLY WOMAN. Can someone explain to me why they thought this script was a good idea? And that’s within like the first fifteen minutes. So they all go out in this truck and they have these special oxygen tanks that replenish in oxygen environments so they can survive. And then they get attacked by monsters so the Cats rip-off and other military guy die and everybody else runs away into a service hatch that exists. Also, in that time the no-nonsense military woman kills the old guy because he asked her too. So they’re all in the tunnels and it’s revealed that the lady in the picture above is the no-nonsense military lady’s daughter so the lady in the picture teleports away with Ryan to blow up the resort. Then the old lady dies. Then they find out that they’re actually on Earth. Then the military lady dies. Then Whittaker is about to run out of oxygen but she stands near a cool monster design and it replenishes her oxygen because they breath in CO2 and release oxygen (which by the way shouldn’t work, because you can’t stand by a tree in an otherwise CO2 atmosphere and just suck oxygen out of it). Then they get back to the resort and Ryan has convinced the lady in the picture above not to blow everything up because that’s what the script says. Then it’s revealed that Earth looks like this now because global warming and that the cool monster designs are mutated humans. Then the little green-haired boy runs off because he’s mad at his green-haired dad for dismissing him. So The Doctor and the lady in the picture above save him and then The Doctor convinces a cool monster design not to kill her for a bit. And then the green-haired dad is complaining that he can’t fix the teleported to get them out of there because he’s not smart like his green-haired son and then the green-haired son shows up and fixes it. But they can’t all teleport away and so the lady in the picture above sacrifices herself so they can go. And then the no-nonsense military mom shows up to help her daughter and the resort blows up and everyone leaves and then they don’t save the daughter and the mom even though they’re in a time machine. And then Jodie Whittaker gives a speech about global warming and then we’re done.
So it was dumb.
The thing is, I kinda get what they were trying to do. The whole green-haired father and son sub-plot, though dumb, is supposed to show how the younger generation is going to have to fix things that the current one can’t. And I think global warming is bad, but the message is kinda just crammed down the audiences throat at the end because there wasn’t enough set-up before about global warming bad. So yeah. Don’t watch this episode. Watch something good with your time.

P.S. What did you think about 1917?

Personal Rating: 3/10
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Depth: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Story:  ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆

1917 Review - The Mind Reels


1917, the new movie directed Sam Mendez, is a cinematic masterpiece and nothing less. The directing’s perfect, the acting’s perfect, the sound design is perfect, the cinematography is perfect, the script is, well the script is perfectly fine. It’s intense, it’s emotional, it’s stunning, it’s horrific, it’s a much-watch for everyone who exists. As you may or may not know, the whole movie is shot to feel like one take and it all serves to make you feel like you’re really down in the trenches with them. Everything is almost always in motion so the plot also always has forward momentum. There’s really not a single dull moment in this movie. It’s a treat to watch from beginning to end.
A lot of reviews I’ve read so far have praised the technical ingenuity of this film and I won’t go into that because they’ve all said it better than I could. Suffice to say, check out all of the behind the scenes stuff you can find because it’s almost as interesting as the movie. But one thing I really haven’t heard a lot about is the sheer brutalness of it all. The protagonists will be crawling through no-man’s land and you’ll see the corpses buried in the mud with ghastly holes in their bodies and an entire ecosystem feeding off of them. This movie is not for the squeamish. That’s not to say they shouldn’t watch it. In an industry all to preoccupied now with cramming fan-service and nostalgia down your throat or beating you over the head with a message or both (not that either are particularly bad things, I personally just feel like they’re over-played) It’s nice to see a film that just lets the story speak for itself. It doesn’t need Captain America wielding Mjolnir and it doesn’t need to scream at you war is bad, it just has to exist and it says everything it needs to and it keeps you engaged the whole way through.
Speaking of it’s anti-war message, that kinda leads to my one nitpick about the film. At one point, about halfway through, a character gives the protagonist a warning about his message that just kinda turns out to be nothing to worry about. That little scene felt like it was a remnant of a draft that was more explicit about it’s message and it just was never cut. Other than that the message works really well. The whole central conflict almost feels pointless (that’s not a knock against the movie, that’s a knock against WWI), and it really shows just how meaningless the war really was. There was one scene where the protagonists do a good deed and I quietly thought to myself, “Oh, here’s the scene that shows how great the British are” but no! The protagonists get punished for trying to be good people! And that’s the movie, it’s both nihilistic and optimistic in some crazy way. It’s literally shot so it looks like the protagonist got back to where he started! And yet, it also feels like some good came out of this. It feels like the protagonists helped people that otherwise would not have been helped and that even through the craziness of war there are still god people. It’s almost a shame that the technical aspects are so great because it means that not enough people are talking about the fantastic way it handles its themes.
The other aspect of the movie that is not talked enough about is the cleverness of how it resolves tension. It’s hard to get into specifics without giving spoilers, but basically the movie has its protagonist go through one stressful scenario that makes you worry about one thing, for example at one point early one they go through what they think is an abandoned German trench and the audience is on the edge of their seat waiting for the German army to pop up, only for the tension to be resolved in a completely unexpected way. It’s never clear until the very end if the protagonists are going to succeed on their goal because the movie throws so many wrenches, some little, some big, into what would otherwise be a very straight-forward plot into a riveting ride where you’re never sure what’s going to happen next.
The acting is also great. Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay were relative unknowns going into this but they are astounding in this. Their relative anonymity really makes them feel like actual soldiers and you’re not thinking of them as the actors, you’re thinking of them as young men in over their heads. In addition, the celebrity pop-ins, including the likes of: Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong and Richard Madden are all excellent. Most likely they were not getting paid a lot to do this and you can really tell watching them that they all really want to act in this movie. Nobody is holding anything back and nobody looks like their phoning it in. But HOLY SHIT Richard Madden! It’s one thing to not phone a performance in and it’s another thing entirely to own the movie with like two minutes of screen time. He probably was on set for like, half a day max, and he kills it. Like, whatever it is, he absolutely slaughtered it. He goes from excited and happy to absolutely devastated in just a couple seconds and he absolutely nails it. That one short scene has really cemented Richard Madden as a great actor and one that I excitedly anticipate following his career in the future.
But back to 1917. 1917 is a fantastic movie and definitely deserves the Best Picture nomination and would deserve to win it too if it can manage that. I walked out of that movie, my head spinning and my brain not working quite right. No other media has ever had that affect on me. So yeah, I mentioned before that this movie is not for the squeamish, but the squeamish should still watch it anyway. 1917 is not just a movie, it’s an experience, and it’s one that as many people should feel as possible. 1917 is a masterpiece.

P.S. This movie also has one of the most triumphant climaxes ever. Like, I found it more effective than Endgame’s massive CGI battle. Because it’s not about fictional superhero’s punching things. It’s about actual human beings pushing themselves to the limit and pervading against all odds.

Personal Rating: 10/10
Entertainment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: 💫💫💫💫💫
Directing: 💫💫💫💫💫
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friday, January 17, 2020

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

2020 is here and with it comes a brand new bunch of hopefully great movies. The following are my top ten most anticipated movies of 2020. This does not necessarily mean that I think all of these will be great. There are movies that I’m aware of that could easily be higher in quality than some of the ones on this list. But these are the ones that I’m most interest in seeing. Without further ado, let’s get into this.

10) Mulan

The Disney remake of the animated classic of the same title. Normally I’m completely against the idea of Disney remakes. I think that they have a propensity to be soulless cash-grabs with no purpose for existing. This however, looks interesting. Disney made the (I hope) wise choice of abandoning the shot-for-shot remake strategy and instead will create something new and different that’s also more culturally authentic. I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

9)

The prequel to the two movies of The Kingsmen franchise. I like the Kingsmen franchise. I liked The Golden Circle even though everyone else hates it evidently. I like World War I (like, not actually like it. Wars are bad. But I like it in concept. Like as an idea. I’ll shut up.). Kingsmen movies are just plain fun okay? I’m not going to try to justify this. This is my guilty pleasure movie.

8)

A horror X-Men movie about a bunch of mutants in a mental hospital. Wow. This movie has had a troubled production history. I’m honestly less excited for this movie and more just curious as to how well it survived the process. I am still excited to see it. An X-Men horror movie sounds amazing and I’m honestly surprised they haven’t done it yet. Although it is PG13, which is disappointing, but I still think that at the very least this will be an interesting viewing experience.

7) Dune

The brand new adaptation of the 1965 classic of the same title. I thought the book was pretty cool, and I’ve never seen the 1984 movie, but I’m very intrigued to see where this movie goes. We’ve got the director of Blade Runner: 2049 and Arrival along with an amazing cast with the likes of Jason Momoa, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Rebecca Furgeson, Oscar Isaac and Stellan Skarsgard. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

6) Free Guy

One day a bank manager realizes that he’s an NPC in a video game. So, full disclosure... this might suck. But, if it doesn’t... GUYS, this’ll be a crap ton of fun. Yeah, this is my guilty pleasure part II, but who cares? I’m a sucker for Ryan Reynolds... and also Taika Waititi... and Joe Kerry and Lil Rel Howery. This better be good.

5) The Invisible Man

A woman escapes her abusive boyfriend only to find that he’s following and torturing her because he’s found a way to turn invisible. So remember that terrible movie a couple years ago called The Mummy? So this is what came out of that and hopefully it will be worth it. No blockbustery Dark Universe with big CGI monsters which was what that dumpster fire movie wanted to do. But awesome psychological horror. So can this movie please do well? I would absolutely love a psychological horror franchise.

4) Next Goal Wins

It’s a soccer sports comedy directed by Taika Waititi. That’s like all I know about it but that’s enough to get me on board. Also Michael Fassbender is pretty cool.

3) Morbius

When Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of his rare blood disease he inadvertently turns himself into a vampire. I don’t know why this made it so high on my list but the trailer just enraptured me. If you haven’t seen it, watch it, it’s crazy. I don’t know, it just looks fun and creepy and awesome and maybe even scary at some points. Also Matt Smith is involved and he can do no wrong.

2) Last Night In Soho

I don’t know anything about this movie other than that it is: a) directed by Edgar Wright and he’s awesome b) a psychological horror movie, which is fantastic, and c) Matt Smith is involved and he can do no wrong. I feel like that’s all the reason I need to show up for this.

1) Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s next film with some timey-wimey stuff mixed in. Could it be anything else? Christopher Nolan is, without a doubt, the best director in the industry right now and he’s the only one that can pull together a several million dollar budget for some crazy film that has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of pre-existing franchise. The cast has the likes of John David Washington, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh and Robert Pattinson. It seems to be in the vein of Inception which is my all time favorite movie. This is going to be awesome and easily one of the best movies of this upcoming year.

The Good Place Mondays Am I Right Review - CHAINSAW BEAR!!!


The Good Place is perhaps the smartest sit-com ever. Even ignoring the weekly ethics lessons and the constant curveballs, The Good Place is smart because when it writes itself into a corner, where other shows would cheaply revert to the status-quo, The Good Place tears down both walls and gets rid of the corner all together. It is unfortunate then that this fourth and final season feels like its scrounging for stories to tell. The script is as tight and punchy as ever but there’s a feeling that there isn’t actually much more to tell. This episode concludes in such a way that it feels like it should be the finale. Would it be a good finale? No. But I’m not sure how much more there is to tell or if this episode was even that worth telling to begin with. 
The episode follows Michael, Janet and Tahani as they try to teach the bad place architects how to create these new episodes and Chidi, Jason and Eleanor as they deal with their insecurities in their relationships. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good episode. It’s a pretty good Good Place episode too. There’s a solid theme of inadequacy throughout so it’s not like it’s just slapped together. But where other, better episodes of The Good Place would tie the themes together and the story and have everything in the episode really connected and then rip the rug out of the audience’s feet, this episode only connects the themes. Michael’s story and Eleanor’s story feel like they’re operating completely separately, and then their “big cliffhanger” is kind-of, not really gripping. Just like last week, it feels like the writers wrote a fine episode and then just added a weak twist because that’s what the show is known for now. Last weeks cliffhanger was that Chidi was “just the idea guy”, and this weeks cliffhanger is better, but not by much. 
That being said, there are still some great Good Place moments, seeing Michael and gang’s cringy instructional video was great and the various failed ways of testing Tahani including a chainsaw bear and a smaller, more relatable chainsaw bear is comedy gold. It just feels like there could be more. But The Good Place has proved me wrong before.
Personal Rating: 8/10
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Tension:  ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Crisis on Infinite Earths Review - Wanna-be Endgame


Why is it that so many franchise finales occurred in 2019? We got Endgame, we got Dark Phoenix (which wasn’t a finale per se, but it also kinda was, it sucked nonetheless), we got Game of Thrones season 8, we got Toy Story 4, we got It Chapter 2, we got The Rise of Skywalker, and now, finally, we got Crisis on Infinite Earths, the sort-of finale for 8 years of CW television. And its... fine. It begins pretty great and ends pretty great and has a pretty nifty cliff-hanger in the middle and a pretty nifty resolution to that cliffhanger but everything else is kinda meh. 
I’m not going to go over the plot of all five episodes but perhaps the biggest misstep of the crossover is to kill off Oliver Queen in the first episode. Sure it works in the context of that episode but it really just makes him a minor part of the crossover that’s supposed to kill him off. Then the next two episodes just kinda meander around for a bit and then the multiverse ends. The whole crossover is obviously trying to emulate Infinity War and Endgame but it doesn’t quite get that to tell a good story you can’t just bank on cameos and call backs. Infinity War worked so well because Thanos had a very specific goal that would lead to him destroying half of all life and the Avengers were trying to stop him. The Anti-monitor only shows up briefly now and then, and his only goal is to just destroy universes. We don’t know how he does it, we don’t know why he’s doing it, and we don’t have any reason to believe that it can be stopped. So for episodes two and three go on little fetch quests throughout the multiverse, while the Anti-monitor is, you know, destroying WHOLE ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSES. And they kinda just don’t care about each other. 
And then the big cliffhanger happens, and it’s pretty awesome. Now that the “seven paragons” had been found, we could finally get onto some good guys fighting some actual bad guys like what we got in the first episode. And also Lex (Jonathan Cryer) sneaks in! Which has the potential to throw another wrench into the crossover. And, I mean, they almost do that. The fourth episode begins pretty great with Ryan Choi narrating what everybody has been up to for the past couple months stranded in nowhere and it’s pretty great. And then Spectre (Stephen Amell) and he speaks in this comically deep voice. Like, he just sounds stupid. But he gives Barry (Grant Gustin) an upgrade and now they’re able to go fight the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time. But they’ll also stop by the Monitor’s backstory for a bit, which, you know, SHOULDN’T EXIST BECAUSE ALL OF THE MULTIVERSE HAS BEEN DESTROYED. Also there’s this finale’s version of the time heist where they glance back at moments of Arrow’s history. It’s fine. It’s no where near good. Then they all fight the Anti-Monitor and his shadow demons while shouting the cheesiest, stupidest lines. Also Ryan Choi is fighting these things with his fists? Sure. And then Oliver beats the Anti-Monitor and the multiverse is re-booted and everything is fine.
BUT NOT ACTUALLY!!!
Yeah, the Anti-Monitor is not actually dead so they fight him in this new universe and then they shrink him a lot and everything’s actually okay. They really just wanted that fifth episode didn’t they?
I jest, but actually the fifth episode is pretty great. Thank god for Legends of Tomorrow writers who actually know how to write good dialogue. This is perhaps the only episode of the crossover that actually managed to pull some emotional resonance out of Oliver’s death. And they did the same thing two years ago with Martin Stein. Honestly, the CW should just quit all other shows and pool their resources into Legends because it is easily the best show they have. Also Beebo shows up. I don’t know why he showed up. But I loved every minute of his cuddly goodness. 
Now back to the ranting.
Then, because every character is now on “Earth Prime” they set up a super-hero (name still pending) in remembrance of Oliver’s death. Barry just kinda brings every one into this large warehouse that he owns and shows them a kinda cool table so they all sit around it and smile for a bit. Like I get it’s supposed to be sweet and also satisfying for all the DC fans that have been wanting a good live-action Justice League for a while, but THEY’RE LITERALLY JUST SITTING AT A TABLE WITH SHOTS OF THEM SMILING. IT LOOKS LIKE A COMMERCIAL FOR FANCY TABLES!!!!! THAT’S IT!!! 
So yeah, Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s dumb. Like don’t get me wrong, there’s some real clever parts and some obvious thought went into a story outline and everything else is dumb. But it is enjoyable and definitely worth the watch, especially if you’ve already put in the work of watching literally all the episodes before this for all the series.
Personal Rating: 6/10
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Depth: ⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Story: ⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Lighthouse Review - What The Hell Did I Just See


So yeah, I watched The Lighthouse and even thought it came out three months ago, I have thoughts on it so here we go. I’m not sure how to describe The Lighthouse. It’s the kind of movie where your watching it and you’re unsure if it’s really good and smart or if it’s just a long stretch or random, crazy moments. I choose to believe the former. Robert Eggers knows exactly what he’s doing when he shows us a mermaid vagina.
The Lighthouse follows two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) as they work a lighthouse far away from the mainland. And they begin to go crazy. And they see a mermaid vagina. Sorry, I really can’t get over that mermaid vagina thing. It kinda just grabs your brain and says, “Fuck you, I’m in charge now”. Which I guess works really well within the context of the movie, as Pattinson you know, gets super horny on the island without anything to bang, and that kinda leads to him going crazy. So yeah, that’s the plot, two lighthouse keepers go insane and there’s mermaid vagina.
Everything in this movie is working perfectly throughout. Like, there are absolutely no weak points. Dafoe and Pattinson are excellent and at the top of their game and Eggers adeptly proves that his 2015 directorial debut The Witch, wasn’t a fluke and that this guy knows what he’s doing. The set and cinematography is just as excellent as the rest of the movie. The whole thing is shot in black and white on 35 mm film at a 1.19:1 aspect ration giving the whole thing this very claustrophobic feel and also making it all look like it actually took place in the time period it was going for. It’s clear that the set designers and costumers didn’t cut any corners, even though they could have been able to since it’s all shot in black and white. I’ve read that the everything was accurately colored, and the amount of detail that apparently went into the mermaid costume that only showed up for a couple shots is insane. Yes, that includes the vagina. Everything in this movie is so insanely detailed even though most of it the audience won’t even notice.
This is also the type of movie that can have so many interpretations that people will be talking about for years. The movie is ambiguous about everything that happened, is happening and will happen up to the point that you’re not sure if anything is real. So yeah, this movie is not for everybody, if you want a straightforward movie. Do not watch this. But if you’re down for an ambiguous, disturbing film then you definitely shouldn’t miss this.

P.S. I still can’t believe that it’s only been nominated for best cinematography.

Personal Rating: 10/10
Enjoyment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Doctor Who Spyfall Parts 1 and 2 Review - A Promising Start To Series 12


I was not the biggest fan of season 11. It just didn’t quite feel like Doctor Who. I like Jodie Whittaker but besides the premiere episode, it never really felt like she was in charge of situations and besides maybe Graham, I never really got how any of the companions relationship with the Doctor functioned. Not to mention that sometimes it felt that the writers were trying so hard to say an important political message that they seemed to forget to write an engaging story. Ah well, at least this new season shows promise.
Don’t get me wrong, these first two episodes still have a lot of problems, especially in the second half, there’s still not really a strong relationship between the Doctor and her companions and once again Yaz is just kind of... there. However, the reintroduction of [SPOILERS] the Master (Sacha Dawhan) really spices up this new season and gives it a clear sense of focus. Finally the Doctor might be back in the forefront with an actual adversary to face and I really enjoy that thought.
Let’s get into specifics. The two-parter starts off with a cold-open with some spies being attacked by these things, all pretty much in the same way. Like, I get the idea is that all of the spies are being attacked, but just seeing one being killed would be just as effective. Then, all of the companions getting kidnapped by MI6, which despite some very clunky dialogue, works pretty well. Then we’ve got the car scene where something takes over the car, which is dumb and inconsequential. And that pretty much encapsulates my feelings about the episode, some really cool stuff and some really dumb stuff. You’ve got the Master chasing the Doctor all throughout time, which is awesome, and then you get the companions kinda just wandering around and shooting at things with their shoes, which is dumb. And then right as the companions’ story gets interesting, the Doctor conveniently shows up and deus ex machinas the Master’s plan away.
For the most part the first episode works much better, the companions are actually well utilized, Yaz actually gets an important moment and the whole mystery is very engaging. Besides some dumb stuff in the beginning, the episode is actually quite well done and, despite the strange way he is revealed, the Master revelation creates an explosive end to the episode that made it impossible not to be excited for next week. Then the second episode began strongly with the Doctor showing up as a recording to save the companions lives as if Chibnall was going to get into some real timey-wimey stuff that is often the most exciting part of Doctor Who. And then the Doctor and the Master were jumping around time which had it’s weak parts, but was mostly very awesome (until the Master was bested by a couple Nazis, like really? A couple minutes you were haphazardly shrinking people and now you can’t handle some solders from the early 20th century?). But at the same time, the companions weren’t really doing anything. Except for that one moment where they all talk about how little they know the Doctor it all kinda just passed forgettably and inconsequentially. And then the Doctor shows up suddenly and reveals that she went back and time and messed up the Masters plan. Just like that. 
Spyfall part 1 was a pretty solid story, then Spyfall part 2 kinda fell apart under the pressure of the first one. Honestly, Chibnall should have probably looked over the script one more time and cleaned it up a lot more. But still, it pays off because of that end reveal that will hopefully expend the whoniverse and give Whittaker something to really chew on and make her Doctor great in this upcoming season.
Personal Rating: 7/10
Entertainment: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Depth: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Acting: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Directing: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆
Comedy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆ ☆
Tension: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Review - Doesn’t Fail You, Despite What The Name Says

I don’t remember the book being this good. I thought that a lot while watching this movie. I enjoyed reading the misadventures of the comica...