General Friedrichs: What is a soldier without war?
Director: Edward Berger
Writer(s): Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, Ian Stokell and based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque
Starring: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Daniel Brühl
Synopsis: A young German soldier’s terrifying experiences and distress on the western front during World War I.
As a teen I remember watching ‘Saving Private Ryan‘ in theaters and the traumatic impact of its opening scene remains vivid. The film’s opening is permeated with shocking and disturbing imagery that further intensifies the experience. I was shocked at the brutality but also enthralled with Steven Spielberg’s vision. This was the first time I saw the war depicted on screen in such a horrific way. During my childhood, I was exposed to a variety of war movies that were equally disturbing. Films such as Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket provided a shocking portrayal of the brutalities of war. These movies instilled in me a deep sense of fear about the prospect of being drafted and experiencing a future as bleak as the protagonists in those films. As a child, I was drawn to war films, and Saving Private Ryan was the pinnacle of that genre for me. I loved the movie, but I don’t remember ever experiencing a war film as intense and immersive as that until now. The film’s visceral depiction of the brutality and chaos of war was unparalleled, and it left a lasting impression on me. The movie conveyed a sense of realism and authenticity that I had not seen before, and it was as if I was right there alongside the soldiers, experiencing their struggles and triumphs firsthand. Even now, as an adult, I continue to be captivated by the power of Saving Private Ryan, and it remains one of my all-time favorite war films. Over the years, there have been many great war films that have left a significant impact on me, including Downfall and Inglourious Basterds (more for it’s ambition). However, none of them had the same emotional impact as Saving Private Ryan, until now.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a new war film that was able to match the intensity and realism of Saving Private Ryan. The film depicted the horrors of war in a way that was both raw and authentic, and it was as if I was transported to the battlefield, experiencing the events alongside the soldiers. The movie was a stark reminder of the senselessness and tragedy of war, and it left me feeling shaken and reflective. Although Saving Private Ryan will always hold a special place in my heart, this new war film proved to be just as powerful and thought-provoking.
The film follows a German soldier named, Paul Bäumer, (played intensely by Felix Kammerer) in World War I, the experience of battle was both grueling and harrowing. He was part of a generation of young men who had been trained to believe that war was an honorable endeavor, a duty to one’s country. But the reality was far different from the patriotic propaganda they had been fed. The trenches were dark and damp, and the soldiers were constantly under the threat of bombardment from the enemy. The smell of death and decay was ever present, and disease was rampant. Paul will see comrades fall beside him, their bodies ripped apart by bullets or blown to pieces by explosives. The horrors of war are etched into his memory forever. Despite the hardships, however, there was a sense of camaraderie amongst his fellow soldiers, and a belief that they were fighting for something greater than themselves. But as the war dragged on, and the casualties mounted, it became increasingly difficult to maintain that sense of purpose and the film takes its time to vividly illustrate just how far a soldier can fall in the face of war. The audience is given a raw and unflinching glimpse into the harrowing experiences and emotional toll that combat takes on a soldier. The film exposes the physical and psychological trauma that soldiers endure, as well as the mental and emotional challenges of being away from loved ones for extended periods. It shows how the brutal realities of war can change a person, often leaving them feeling broken and disillusioned. The film’s attention to detail and commitment to realism make it a poignant and sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers in times of conflict.
It’s unfortunate that the themes depicted in this film continue to be relevant today. As of 2023, conflicts and wars around the world are ongoing, and many people are experiencing the same harrowing situations depicted in these films. The ongoing Russian bombing of Ukraine and the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan are just a couple of examples of the continued violence and instability in many parts of the world. It’s important to remember that war and conflict have devastating consequences, affecting the lives of innocent civilians and causing long-lasting damage to communities and societies. It’s a sobering reminder of the ongoing need for peace and diplomacy, as well as the importance of supporting those who are affected by war and its aftermath.
Will Smith: What’s your daughter’s name? Ollie: Gertrude. Will Smith: Damn, why’d you do that, man?
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, George Carlin and Jennifer Lopez
Synopsis: After being sidelined by an unexpected tragedy and personal issues, a widower is left to care for his precocious daughter and work towards rebuilding his life and career.
Jersey Girl is Kevin Smith’s attempt at moving on from his New Jersey comedies featuring Jay and Silent Bob. He wanted to make something deeper and more personal. It shows with the sweet story of a father raising his daughter after the death of her mother during child birth. Great performances from Ben Affleck and the extremely cute Raquel Castro as Gertie his daughter. The film mirrors Kevin’s life at the time as he just had a daughter with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, and was dealing with fatherhood. Lucky for Kevin his wife survived the pregnancy.
The film opens with Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinke a Music Executive who is madly in love with Gertrude Steiney (played by Jennifer Lopez). The opening montage shows them falling in love, meeting Ollie’s dad (played charmingly by George Carlin), getting married, getting pregnant and then Gertrude passing away. It is sweet and and well established showing Smith’s maturity as a filmmaker.
Unfortunately at the time the film was marred by the public backlash of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s flop ‘Gigli’ and their over publicized romance. In a cruel twist of irony now in 2022 Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are back together and everyone loves them as a couple. Too bad Kevin Smith didn’t make the movie now it would have been a hit. The film however didn’t deserve the backlash as it is a sweetly told story of a man growing up with his daughter. The dialogue is as strong and witty as Smith’s earlier films but shows more maturity in its subject matter. Instead of early twenty year old men hanging out at a grocery store or mall this film deals with a young man learning to be a father.
Liv Tyler is sweet and sexy as Maya a video store clerk who develops a relationship with Ollie. As the film progresses it gets a bit too sentimental and it’s not as entertaining throughout as Smith’s former works, although Smith’s raunchy humour continues throughout in his dialogue. It’s overshadowed by the mawkish plot and the over reliance of the fatherhood messages. Despite good performances from Ben Affleck and Raquel Castro, Smith’s attempt at a more adult orientated comedy drama doesn’t have enough memorable scenes, fun dialogue or entertaining characters like his previous films to rise above his oeuvre.
As I jump back into completing my Masters in Media this year I want to update this blog more consistently. As I watch so many movies and television I often don’t have time to post about every single one so I will now make a monthly update of everything I’ve been watching from television to cinema.
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody(2022)
Excellent performance from Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston. Unfortunately the film is just a greatest hits collection of her songs. All the real drama is fluffed over with hope being the main theme pushed throughout the film. Everyone comes out looking good from Stanley Gucci’s Clive Davis to Ashton Sanders Bobby Brown. Her gay past is glossed over and her fathers betrayal is also glossed over. This film could’ve been a lot stronger. Better off listening to the real Whitney’s greatest hits in your car or walking the dog on your AirPods.
Avatar: The Way of Water(2022)
James Cameron’s long awaited sequel to 2009’s biggest film ‘Avatar’. Cameron wisely doesn’t repeat the plot of the original but moves forward exploring the world of Pandora and beyond. Sixteen years after the Na’vi repelled the invasion of Pandora, Jake Sully (played again by gruff Australian Sam Worthington) lives as chief of the Omatikaya clan peacefully and prosperous, and raises a family with Neytiri (the beautiful and exotic Zoe Saldaña), which includes sons Neteyam and Lo’ak, daughter Tuk, and adopted children Kiri (born from Grace Augustine’s inert avatar) and Spider, the Pandora-born human son of the late Colonel Miles Quaritch.
Visually the film is amazing. I would recommend seeing it in IMAX 3D or Gold Class 3D if you can. This is a film where you are transported to another world and you just don’t want to leave. Every frame is a painting in Pandora. The luscious beauty of the Pandoran forest to the amazing water world of Awa’atlu, a Metkayina Clan village off the coast of the Eastern Sea. Every creature and landscape is beautifully realised and portrayed with Cameron’s eye for majesty. The film’s characters and dialogue can be clunky at times which is standard for a James Cameron film however with so much action and beauty you can overlook it. I think this film is better than the original and really expands the world to new possibilities and could be the new Star Wars or Lord of the Rings franchise for its science-fiction fantasy storytelling and as an amazing new world to watch on screen. I can’t wait for more.
Don’t Worry Darling(2022)
It’s classic Twilight Zone meets Mad Men in this disturbing commentary on post-covid lifestyles. The film has exciting performances from Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Kiki Layne and Gemma Chan who drive the film into a more interesting narrative. The film revolves around a 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community. Alice (get the reference?), played by Florence Pugh begins to worry that her husband’s glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets. Overall the film is fun to watch with the mysteries leaving you guessing however it could have been a lot better and the climax ultimately fails. Perhaps a different director could have pushed this into classic territory.
After enjoying Avatar so much I have gone back to check out James Cameron’s previous films. This popped up on Disney Plus and I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid. The film holds up as one of the better Arnold Schwarznegger 90’s action spectacles. Arnie stars as a James Bond-esque undercover spy who is lying to his wife and daughter about what he really does. Jamie Lee Curtis plays his wife who is tired of her boring life and seeks adventure. The middle-eastern villains don’t quite hold up in this post-9/11 world however if you enjoy it for it’s broad comedy and amazing set pieces this is a fun night at home.
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile(2022)
As the school holidays come and go the cinemas need family fare to get the kids into their local Village or Hoyts cinema. This family film had potential with an interesting concept and great cast. However it seems the writers, producers and director all gave up halfway through and just went to collect their checks because the plot, character motivations, direction and overall narrative don’t make any sense and just jump from scene to scene with no coherent narrative. I was lost about ten minutes into it which is a shame because this could have been a fun musical for the children. Not recommended.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish(2022)
The other holiday family film is actually pretty great. A spin-off from the Shrek franchise, this film continues the parodied world of Fairytales, this one focusing on Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas). He is on a quest to get a wish for nine more lives as his adventurous life is about to run out. Other fairy tale characters included are Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack Horner (voiced hilariously by John Mulaney). The film is fun from beginning to end and works for both parents and children. Recommend.
Daddy Day Care(2003)
This family friendly feature is available on Netflix at the moment and is an easy watch for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin and Steve Zahn are fun as corporate business men who are forced to run a daycare when they are fired from their jobs. This film is fun for the family but isn’t memorable enough to rank with Eddie’s other better family features such as Shrek or The Nutty Professor.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre(2023)
A pretty average heist movie starring Jason Statham and directed by Guy Ritchie. Aubrey Plaza and Hugh Grant shine but Josh Hartnett is miscast as a Leonardo DiCaprio-esque movie star. The film would have been a lot better and funnier with a real movie star however overall it was still a fun time at the movies if you enjoy watching Statham kick ass!
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory(1971)
The iconic family film based on Roald Dahl’s crazy book. Gene Wilder is fabulous as Willy Wonka the deranged candy store owner who allows five children to explore his factory of wonders. It has a 70s charm that the remake doesn’t have however I prefer Tim Burton’s vision.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Who are you? What life could you have lived? In the possibility of multi-dimensions we can see what life could have brought us if we went down a different path. This is the main plot of Everything Everywhere All At Once and it is brilliant, innovative and completely different from any other film from the past few years. It reminds me of Being John Malkovich or The Matrix or Mad Max: Fury Road, the type of film so original and innovative that it will be studied in Media class and referred to for a long time. It is a really special film. It’s filled with fantastic performances and amazing visuals. The climax is a bit bloated and nearly crosses the line with the insanity but it’s still a powerful picture that will be remembered. Michelle Yeoh gives a tour de force performance as an ordinary Asian laundry manager who works with her husband Waymond (played by the excellent Ke Huy Quan) and needs to plan a birthday for her father (James Hong), deal with her daughter, Joy (another amazing performance from Stephanie Hsu) and negotiate with an angry tax accountant (hilariously portrayed by the great Jamie Lee Curtis). The film uses this simple scenario to jump into different universes and explore what life is all about. Dealing with relationships, marriage, parenthood and the road not taken. Amazing film that is already getting award buzz.
The Piano (1993)
New Zealand director Jane Campion’s visually stunning 90s art house and Oscar sensation is a great piece of Australian/New Zealand cinema history. Starring Holly Hunter as a mute lady with a daughter who translates for her, an amazing performance from Anna Pacquin. She arrives as a settler in New Zealand which has just been occupied by the English. It’s a period film which shows the struggle of the English settlement over New Zealand and the effect on the land and its indigenous natives. The film is beautiful visually with the ocean dominating the landscape. Sam Neil and Harvey Keitel also star.
The Portrait of a Lady (1996)
Jane Campion’s follow up to The Piano is a slow period drama which isn’t as strong or interesting as The Piano. Another period drama with Nicole Kidman stars as an American heiress and free thinker who travels to Europe to find herself. Very slow paced and not as interesting as her other works.
A sweaty and crazy film from Jane Campion. Starring Kate Winslett as a cult follower who needs to be deprogramed by a specialist played by the awesome Harvey Keitel. The film becomes a battle of the sexes as Winslett’s character is not so easy to manipulate. An interesting and fun Australian film from the late 90s that is somewhat forgotten in the arthouse circle as 1999 was such a massive year for arthouse breakouts.
Avatar: The Extended Cut (2009)
Watching the original in Imax in 2009 I didn’t really get on board with this film. Everyone was blown away but I thought it was a pretty standard narrative with a basic plot and characters. However after watching the sequel and enjoying it so much I gave the extended edition on Blu Ray a shot. I’m glad I did because the film looks amazing in high definition and the added scenes add more to the world of Pandora and gives more pathos to the characters and ultimately tells a better story than the simple one I watched in 2009. This film builds on the lore and mythology that Cameron is creating and it now stands with George Lucas’s science-fiction fantasy world of Star Wars as one of the great fantasy worlds in pop culture.
Breaking Bad Season 1 (2008)
Our introduction to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman iconically played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in this crime drama which would go on to become one of the best shows of the 21st century.
Breaking Bad Season 2 (2009)
The season that began building up to the show’s brilliance. Introducing Saul Goodman, Gus Fring, Jane Margolis and Mike Erhmantraut. The series leant into Walt’s battle between good and evil. Being a good husband and father or an evil drug kingpin. We know who wins but it’s great to see the fight. Jesse has an excellent arc with his relationship with Jane played by the excellent Krysten Ritter. All performances are top notch especially Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Bob Odenkirk.
Breaking Bad Season 3(2010)
The season starts off pretty slow with no real direction. Walt is abandoned by Skylar and living in a hotel not cooking. Jesse is in recovery and depressed over Jane. Gus and Saul try to get Walt back to cook and the twin Mexican brothers threaten to kill both Walt and Hank. It isn’t until episode seven; One Minute, that the tension begins to rise again up onto the incredible finale. Still one of the best acted, directed and shot television shows of the 2000s. Iconic television.
The White Lotus (2022)
The odd anthology drama which deals with identity, sex, relationships and families this season is set in Italy. Italy is amazingly shot and every frame looks beautiful. Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuaid is the only returning character from season one. As she was such a scene stealer she is a welcome presence in season two. Other characters include Dominic Di Grasso (played by the excellent Michael Imperioli) as an Italian-American father whose wife has left him due to his constant cheating. He is joined by his father (hilariously portrayed by F. Murray Abraham) and his son, Albie (played by Adam DiMarco in a great performance) as his shy, socially awkward but eager son. They all get involved with two hookers, Lucia and Mia. Also we have Cameron and Daphne Sullivan (played by Theo James and Meghann Fahy), a vain and rich white couple from America who have brought along their friends, Ethan and Harper Spiller (played by Will Sharpe and the superb Aubrey Plaza). We also have the returning Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (played by the irreplaceable Jennifer Coolidge) who is still struggling with her relationships, this time with her husband, Greg (played by the hapless Jon Gries) and her unfortunate assistant, Portia (played by the luminous, Haley Lu Richardson). All of them get entangled in another murder mystery.
Sonic: Let’s talk about your new outfit: it’s like Professor X meets Mr Monopoly.
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, John Whittington
Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally with Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic
Synopsis: Dr Robotnik returns to Earth with a new ally intent on revenge and in pursuit of a new ultimate power.
What happens if you mix the films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze with Batman Forever and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, you get Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the fun but kinda crazy sequel to the biggest hit of 2020, Sonic the Hedgehog. Would Sonic the Hedgehog still have been the biggest hit of 2020 if cinemas didn’t close down shortly after due to the covid-19 pandemic? Who knows? It doesn’t matter because at the time the film was a big hit and everyone seemed to enjoy it for its playful harmless fun. The sequel picks up directly after the original with Jim Carrey’s Dr Robotnik stuck on a Mushroom Planet trying to get back to Earth to get revenge on Sonic. As he creates a portal to Earth, he meets Knuckles the Echidna, a red anthropomorphic short-beaked echidna whose father was one of the Echidna’s who killed Sonic’s mother figure, Longclaw, before she sent Sonic to Earth in the original film. Knuckles has a history as a soldier intent on fighting Sonic. Now that I write this, Knuckles isn’t given much of a back story as to why he wants to get Sonic just that his is. He teams up with Dr Robotnik to travel to Earth and find the Green Emerald a plot device which will give the bad guys ultimate power. This is taken directly from the video game and will be a fun easter egg for the fans. Knuckles is a great new character which Idris Elba voices with charm and dutiful service. He makes a great foe for Sonic who in the first film was pretty much undefeatable. Knuckles is powerful like Sonic, but instead of being super-fast he is super-strong.
The film also picks up directly after the original with Sonic living with Tom and Maddie Wachowski (returning players James Marsden and Tika Sumpter) as their foster son…? Tom gives Sonic fatherly advice on a fishing trip as he prepares to leave him alone as he and his wife need to attend the wedding of Maddie’s sister, Natasha (played by the hilarious Natasha Rothwell, returning from the original) in Hawaii. As they leave, Sonic enjoys the empty house by hanging out with the family dog and dancing around making the house a mess. Tails, an anthropomorphic two-tailed fox, is a fan of Sonic from another planet who comes to help Sonic when Dr Robotnik and Knuckles arrive to ruin his home alone time. The film, like the first, goes on to become a buddy road trip comedy adventure with Sonic and Tails becoming close friends (just like in the video game). The character designs are cute and work seamlessly in the live action setting.
The film is pretty similar to the first film with it being a constant clash of a Jim Carrey comedy routine and an adventure fantasy with Sonic and Tails. Also included is a bizarre wedding side plot for the human characters to enjoy some screen time which is absolutely bonkers.
Like the first film this is pretty inoffensive family fun which you can enjoy over the school holidays or a lazy Saturday afternoon. Sonic is a fun character and the new additions of Knuckles and Tails make it differentiate from the original. At times it seems overstuffed but it is a solid sequel which deserves its success.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Your egg drones are impressive, Eggman! But face it, you’ll never catch me!
Dr. Robotnik: Confidence… a fool’s substitute for intelligence!
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic
Synopsis: Sonic is an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who has transported to Earth and makes friends with a local Police Officer, while a mad Scientist tries to capture him.
The last film I watched pre-pandemic in the cinemas. What a time, I had no idea that this would be the last movie I watched in the cinema for a whole year! Well actually that’s not true I did end up seeing Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984. However this is about Sonic the Hedgehog – the movie! The iconic video game character, rival to Nintendo’s Mario Brothers. As a child I had a Sega Master System (not a Nintendo) I’m not sure why I got Sega I don’t remember deciding. Sonic the Hedgehog was one of my first video games I played all the time. Eventually I got Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (with Tails) on the next Sega machine – Sega Mega Drive. I kept up with the following sequels as time went on. Sonic was one of my favorite characters growing up. As a kid I always imagined a live action film with an animated version of him in it. During the early nineties this idea wasn’t unheard of. The hit film Who Framed Roger Rabbit was able to blend animation with live action seamlessly and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a television cartoon had a popular live action film. Even Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros had a live action film. They should have made a Sonic film in the nineties everyone would have loved it. However here we are now twenty years later and Sonic finally has a film. In early 2020 it was a weird time for Sonic the Hedgehog to appear in a live action film because Sega hadn’t produced a popular video game with Sonic the Hedgehog in it since the nineties. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Playstation 2, and Microsoft’s Xbox in the early 2000’s, meant the end for Sega as a console manufacturer and in 2001 the company became a games developer for other platforms, including their former rivals, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Several games featuring Sonic would pop up time after time but none of them had the mass popularity of the nineties Sega Mega Drive games. Characters such as Mario and Link were able to continue in their popularity into 2020 thanks to Nintendo being able to keep up with Playstation and Xbox. I admit I am now a Nintendo Switch addict and Mario and Link have taken over as my favourite video game characters. However, I will forever have fond memories of playing hours of Sonic as a kid and it was a treat to take my daughter to see him on the big screen even though she played Mario with me and didn’t really know who Sonic was.
For fans of the video game, you will remember Sonic’s nemesis, the fat, bald and loud, Dr Eggman Robotnik, who would use robots and spaceships to attack Sonic at the end of each level. In the film he is played by Jim Carrey (who is completely unleashed) as a highly intelligent and arrogant Scientist who wants to find Sonic and harness his powers. If you are a fan of Jim Carrey from his Ace Ventura, The Mask and Liar, Liar performances you will enjoy his addition to the film. If you don’t then I tell you now do not watch this film! Carrey is completely unhinged in the role bringing his brand of humour to next level altitudes (pardon the pun). As a nineties kid I am a fan of Carrey’s comedic roles and I have to admit I enjoyed his performance in the film. The film overall becomes a mix of Jim Carrey performing a comedy routine and a buddy/adventure comedy with Sonic and Tom.
The film is harmless fun for the family to watch on a lazy afternoon or Saturday night. There is nothing here to offend (unless you hate Jim Carrey). The humour is aimed at both adults and children so everyone should have a fun time. The film works even for non-fans of Sonic as he is a great character for kids being funny, fast and generally inoffensive as a quick witted teenage boy. My daughter enjoyed it despite never playing a Sonic game. I think the film works as a mix of comedy, adventure and fantasy. Everything you would want from a film based on a video game and it’s probably one of the best made video game films (which isn’t a far stretch). I’ll even go out and get a new Sonic video game to have some gameplay nostalgia.
Wes Hicks: [suspecting Dewey as the killer] You got stabbed a billion times, got dumped by your famous wife, and crawled into a bottle. I think it’s safe to say you’re on the suspect list. Dewey Riley: Well, maybe you’re the killer. Because that cut deep.
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Writers: James Vanderbilt & Guy Busick
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega
Synopsis: 25 years after the original brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.
Scream is not a remake of Scream (1996) but it is actually Scream 5, picking up years after Scream 4 and continuing the story of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette). As the film opens, just like the original, we are introduced to a young girl who is alone at night, chilling out, getting ready to watch a movie when the phone rings. The sinister voice from the previous Scream films responds creepily “Hello Tara”. Tara Carpenter (a nod to horror director John Carpenter) answers innocently “Hello” they begin to chat about movies and how the state of horror films has changed since the last entry in 2011. As the previous films the film opens with a killer stalking a young girl on the phone until she figures out the killer is in the house. This opening scene is done masterfully by new directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett taking over the legendary Wes Craven (RIP).
We are soon introduced to a new batch of characters that will become suspects or murder victims as the new killer stalks them all. As most recent sequels to franchises we are getting a “requel” or “lega-sequel” where the original characters return but make way for new characters to take over (ala Star Wars, Jurassic World, Creed). The new characters include Sam Carpenter (played by the stunning Melissa Barrera from In The Heights) who is the victims older sister with a few dark secrets of her own. Her boyfriend Richie (played by Jack Quaid) who is a newbie to horror films and is enjoying the ride. Amber (played by the devilish Mickey Madison from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tara’s best friend, who proves to be a tough foe for the ghost faced killer. Also there are Tara’s other friends, Wes (played by Dylan Minnette from Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) and twins Mindy and Chad (played by Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding, in reality unrelated). All of these characters pose as suspects or victims as the film goes through the standard horror tropes that we’ve come to gotten used to in a Scream film.
However our original favourites Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers and Dewey soon get pulled back into the mystery, with Dewey getting the most interesting screen time. David Arquette excels in his role as Dewey, the simple minded cop, who has been facing this type of killer for too long. The characters all team up eventually to stop the killer and work out why someone is doing this on the anniversary of the films first batch of murders.
Fans of the Scream franchise will find plenty to enjoy in this entry. This is solid sequel which corrects the mistakes of the previous entry and opens up the series to new characters and stories. The new characters aren’t as entertaining as those in Scream 4 however they are well-acted and Melissa Barrera makes a strong new scream queen.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kevin Smith presents a Q&A at various colleges.
An Evening with Kevin Smith is essentially a university seminar presentation with filmmaker Kevin Smith in 2002. He was in his early 30s and coming off his comedy hit ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’. It’s interesting to watch a more subdued Smith who wanted to move on from his raunchy comedies starring his Jay and Silent Bob characters (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, the two stoner characters who had appeared in all of his previous films).
He appears to want to move on and become a more sophisticated filmmaker, however we all know that won’t be the case. The presentation overall is a q & a with different students from University’s/Colleges around America. (In Australia we call them Universities). If you’re not a fan or don’t know who Kevin Smith is you may find this quite dry and a bit like sitting through a cinema studies lecture where you haven’t watched any of the films on the pre-reading list. However, if you are a fan, like me, you will find this nearly four-hour documentary to be insightful, hilarious and sweet. I for one loved it and would recommend it to any fan of Kevin Smith.
His stories of how he tried to develop ‘Superman Lives’ at Warner Bros with Jon Peters is amazing and will keep you locked in with hilarious tales of Jon Peters, Tim Burton and a giant spider. His other story revolving around his time developing a documentary with Prince is another fascinating insight into Hollywood. His story involving meeting his future wife is also a sweet and hilarious story. Smith has a way of talking and describing situations that you can imagine exactly how it played out like a movie. This film was a turning point for Smith as he was really only known as the filmmaker who made independent films and starred as Silent Bob. After this he became a real Hollywood personality and would go on to host more seminars which would grow in popularity. He would also develop podcasts, make more Jay and Silent Bob movies and present at Comic-Con becoming a geek prodigy opening the doors for comic books to enter the mainstream. He made nerds cool and gave rise to the pop culture obsession of comic book movies today.
This is a fascinating documentary which shows where Kevin Smith was as a filmmaker and personality in the early 2000’s. Although he wouldn’t go on to become a serious filmmaker he has developed into a really interesting and lovable film and comic personality.
Ghostface: Time for your last question: name the remake of the groundbreaking…
Kirby Reed: Halloween, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, Black Christmas, House of Wax, Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine! It’s one of those, right?
Ghostface: None of the above!
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere
As the Scream trilogy ended in 2000 we have gotten the successful parody from the Wayan’s Brothers – Scary Movie (as well as four sequels) and the horror genre had evolved from the 90s to less original ideas and more remakes, reboots and sequels. By 2010 the most popular horror movies were the Saw films, Halloween reboot and Final Destination sequels. The cleverness of the original Scream trilogy was a hard task to top in 2011. The film had to address the new wave of horror while sticking to its slasher roots. The opening comes straight out of a parody Scary Movie with multiple twists which involve scenes from the films based on the film within a film, Stab V, Stab VI, etc. They feature the hottest television actresses of the 2010’s including Lucy Hale from televisions Pretty Little Liars, Shenae Grimes-Beech from televisions 90210 (reboot), Anna Paquin from televisions True Blood and Kristin Bell from televisions Veronica Mars all hits of the late 2000s. The opening isn’t scary though as the comedy Scary Movie had dulled our horror taste. Watching multiple girls get stabbed wasn’t as scary to watch as it was in the 90s. Also the staging and editing weren’t as strong as the previous entries.
Thankfully as we move past the opening and are re-introduced to the core three, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) things improve. Courtney Cox and David Arquette are clearly enjoying being back in the franchise and Neve Campbell brings more of her mopey schtick as she did in the original trilogy. The new set of characters are a real treat with a great supporting cast from the early 2010’s including Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Alison Brie, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts.
These new characters much like the original are all aware of horror conventions, meta language and are all possible suspects to be the new killer. This film could have been a great reboot or legasequel like Star Wars and Creed with new characters taking over however they decide to stick with the original cast and murder most of the new cast which is a shame because most of them really popped especially Hayden Panettiere. They could have developed a cool new trilogy which could have carried the franchise through the 2010s. However the film wasn’t very popular and the franchise had died until ten years later.
The film overall isn’t as scary as the original and even though it’s definitely more gruesome than the originals we aren’t as invested in the deaths as by the end we know the original characters will get through it. I think a more daring approach would’ve been to have Sidney or Gale as the killer or at least get murdered.
By the end it becomes overly convoluted and the ending drags on way too long. Some good ideas but definitely the weakest in the series.
Colossus: You will come talk with Professor Xavier. Deadpool: McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams
Synopsis: A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humour is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.
Deadpool came out in 2016 in the peak of Comic Book Movie saturation. However with its R-Rated graphic violence, tongue in cheek humour and iconic performance from Ryan Reynolds this became the highest grossing X-Men film and a refreshing new take on the genre.
This is an average superhero origin story about a mercenary named Wade Wilson who falls for a stripper named Vanessa (played by the stunning Morena Baccarin) but soon gets cancer and doen’t have much longer to live. He decides to go through an experiment which will give him mutant powers similar to Wolverine where he can grow back his body parts and is unkillable. However the experiment leaves him disfigured and he leaves Vanessa and becomes Deadpool to exact revenge on the man who led the experiments, Ajax (Ed Skrein).
Although the plot is mediocre what elevates the material is the mix of R-Rated graphic violence
with the comedy of the character Deadpool who has constant witty remarks, breaks the fourth wall, insults himself and the X-Men Universe. Ryan Reynolds is brilliant as Deadpool, after many misfires as a superhero including Deadpool in the maligned Wolverine: Origins he finally found his own iconic performance. After this film everyone now knows him as Deadpool. Reynolds has always been a great presence on screen with his charming looks and Jim Carrey-esque humour. However he had more misses than hits. This film changed all of that as it was a massive success for an R rated Superhero film. Something the Studios never predicted.
The film also excels with its wonderful mix of supporting characters. The beautiful Morena Baccarin as Wade Wilson’s love interest is every comic book nerds fantasy. You have Karan Soni as the Indian Taxi Driver Dopinder, who seems sensitive and sweet in the beginning but has a dark side by the end. T.J. Miller as Weasel, Wade’s bartender who offers advice in times of need. Leslie Uggams (scene stealer) as Blind Al the ctrotchety blind old black woman who becomes Deadpool’s roommate.
This film is a lot of fun and similar to Iron Man, I wasn’t aware of the character from comic books or the X-Men Film Universe however this film changed all of that and I am now a huge fan of the character on screen and the comic book page.
– Stan Lee as the Strip Club DJ
– Excellent opening establishing Deadpool as a character with his witty banter, conversations through the fourth wall, and then the action packed car chase sequence.
– The Soundtrack of cheesy 80’s/90’s hits
DEADPOOL 2 (2018)
Cable: You’re no hero. You’re just a clown, dressed up like a sex toy. Deadpool: So dark. You sure you’re not from the DC universe?
Director: David Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Karan Soni and Leslie Uggams
Synopsis: Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.
Deadpool 2 is as fun and entertaining as the original. Ryan Reynolds is still perfect as the Merc with a Mouth. However like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 you love these characters and enjoy the ride but the movie doesn’t surpass the original as it is exactly the same experience without the surprise of the first time you see these characters and their depiction on screen. The format is the same with Deadpool still breaking the fourth wall with witty jokes about X-Men films, comic book and pop culture references, and a sweet heart. This time instead of a love story it is a family story at its core.
The film actually borrows a lot from one of the best sequels of all time Terminator 2. A soldier from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin’s second Marvel villain this year) comes back in time to avenge the loss of his family by killing the Mutant who killed his family as a child. That child is Russell (Julian Dennison) a flame throwing mutant who is tested on in a Mutant Orphanage which is a front for dangerous tests and possibly sexual harassment of Mutants. Cable believes that if he kills him he can change the future and save his family. There isn’t much explanation of the character of Cable, all we know is that he is a strong soldier from the future with a cool gun who lost his family. Josh Brolin has a strong presence on screen however the character is quite underdeveloped and could have had more to do than being a killing machine like the original Terminator. Julian Dennison as Russell is a sympathetic character with a great story arc which coincides with each character. Deadpool’s bond with him becomes the heart of the story and provides drama to each action scene where he needs to protect Russell.
The Deadpool films aren’t your typical X-Men films. They are not dramatic character stories involving Mutants dealing with humanity. They are first and foremost superhero comedies (even parodies at some points) so you won’t get the characterisation and drama you expect from an X-Men film. All of the characters aside from Cable and Russell are comic relief with Deadpool as the main funny guy. I love this as it is a fun and different approach to the typical Marvel and DC fare, especially after the grim Avengers: Infinity War. This is just a fun pop-corn film with great action (new director David Leitch from the John Wick films brings a slickness to the action which was missing in the first) and great comedy from not only Ryan Reynolds Deadpool but from the supporting cast including Karan Soni as Dopinder, T.J. Miller as Weasel, Stefan Kapicic as Colossus, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Leslie Uggams as Blind Al. The original built a successful formula with these characters and the sequel continues with their characters building on the original.
The sequel does introduce more comedic sidekicks with Deadpool trying to create his own version of the X-Men with X-Force which includes one of the best sequences of the film on their first mission to save Russell. Domino (played with charm and toughness by Zazie Beetz) is the stand out of the team and a great new addition to the Deadpool films.
If you enjoyed the first Deadpool I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy this one. There is plenty of tongue in cheek humour and gruesome violence for the older comic book film fans to enjoy. It doesn’t capture the magic of the original but it is still a fun ride and I hope we get more Deadpool soon.
• Best post credit scene ever
• The cameos
• Every scene with Dopinder
Baloo: [singing] Forget about your worries and your strife… Mowgli: What’s that? Baloo: That’s a song about the good life.
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken
Synopsis: The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don’t have his best interests at heart.
Perhaps Jon Favreau’s most disappointing film in years after the game changing Iron Man films and 2014’s charming Chef. The film is visually stunning however there doesn’t appear to be any linking narrative aka beginning, middle, end or character development. It is simply random scenes connected together by the one-note Mowgli and various animals in the jungle. However I don’t completely blame Jon Favreau as he is merely reenacting the animated Disney original from 1967 with less songs.
The plot of The Jungle Book revolves around a young boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who has been raised by wolves and the wise panther Bagheera (voiced regally by Ben Kingsley) in the Indian jungle. With threats from the chilling tiger Shere Khan (voiced menacingly by Idris Elba) Mowgli must leave the wolves and find his own people. Along the way he meets a sneaky snake (voiced seductively by Scarlett Johansson) and a laid back bear named Baloo (voiced with charm by the always great Bill Murray). He also ends up in a temple run by the gigantic ape King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken playing The Godfather). These series of events barely connect with each other and the film eventually finds a climax where the hero prevails but little else really matters. In fact the whole film felt like a series of events that don’t really matter. Mowgli is constantly saved from any threats and the actor does such a poor job in gaining any respect from the viewer as he clumsily reads through his lines and stares blankly at cgi creatures. I understand it must have been difficult for him to stare at tennis balls or sticks and create a realistic performance but with Favreau’s past with child actors including Emjay Anthony from Chef or Ty Simpkins from Iron Man 3 I was expecting more.
Where Favreau doesn’t let the audience down is with the breath-taking special effects. All of the animals are uniquely structured with meticulous design to put you in a real world of walking talking animals with genuine personalities. It was amazing to watch however if only the story and protagonist were more impactful.