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Reviews

Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn
(2014)

Although if I have to hear the Piña Colada song one more time, I'm gonna lose it
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots. Every so often it will use the cute framing device of a classic video game based on the scenes of the film, with individual levels for the various scenes.

It's 21 minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about bringing colour back to this type of movie. The sandy environment and yet beautiful sky of Morag. Using the 1970s pop in this dour setting. Creating memorable aliens, being careful not to make them silly. Finding the right green for Gamora, so we're not put off, and so that she looks youthful. Perfecting the scarring for Drax. The 5 or 6 layers of, and 3 hours of applying, the makeup for Yondu. The Kyln, one of the largest sets. How much Sean Gunn helps the rest of the cast pretend like Rocket is really there. Knowhere and the Celestials. All of the Easter eggs in Tivan's Collection. The final battle fitting in so many elements, and feeling like our team might not make it through. The epic dance-off. Making less of a superhero flick and more of a space opera. Designing Baby Groot.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Captain America: On Set with Anthony Mackie Cut the Check!
(2014)

It is something he likes saying
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, clips from the subject, and behind-the-scenes footage.

It's 2 minutes long. This is found on Disney+.

They talk about how The Falcon should be part of the team, not a sidekick, hence casting someone as talented as Anthony Mackie. How much energy he breathes into the set. How much he loves saying "cut the check"(to the point where it has lost all meaning).

I recommend this to any fan of the MCU. 8/10

Scoring 'Thor: The Dark World'
(2014)

It requires vast scope
This consists of an interview with composer Brian Tyler, who has something compelling to add within his area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what he's working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 5 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+.

They talk about the score reflecting how Thor is different, post-Avengers. Various characters having music that fits them. The size of Abbey Road Studios being necessary for it.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Loki: The God of Mischief
(2014)

He commanded us, as he would any human
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 5 minutes long. This is found on Disney+.

They talk about how great Hiddleston is in the role. How "The Dark World" challenges Loki. The fans. The on-stage hall H performance(and yes, we do get to see a little of it!).

I recommend this to any fan of the MCU. 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War - Strange Alchemy
(2018)

"Strange alchemy" is a phrase we came up with in the writer's room
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 5 minutes long. This is found on Disney+.

They talk about seeing all the characters interact with each other for the first time. Combining things that don't seem like they belong together. The little moments that make it all work. All the potential.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Avengers: Infinity War - The Mad Titan
(2018)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe will never be the same
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 6 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about how long they've been building to Thanos. All he's done. The Infinity Stones. How complex he is. How mocap allows the performance to come through. His relationship with Gamora and Nebula, and what he's willing to do to them to accomplish his goal. That it will require The Avengers to stop him. How close Thor gets to it, and yet they lose.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

The Avengers: Assembling the Ultimate Team
(2012)

I was saying "dude, where's my franchise"
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 8 minutes long. This is found on Disney+, and deals with the first Avengers movie.

They talk about the cast all meeting each other for the first time. How each of the team members are the best pick for the role, why that is, what they bring to the film.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

The Avengers: A Visual Journey
(2012)

It's really a magnificent sight
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 6 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+, and deals with the first Avengers movie. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about the opening set. The NASA facility. Introducing the helicarrier. Making it a proper floating fortress. The set for the inside of it.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Captain America: The First Avenger - Behind the Skull
(2011)

It had to be slightly off-worldly, in a way
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 10 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the title.

They talk about the long history of the character of Red Skull. What makes him so compelling. Casting Hugo Weaving. Designing the face. Using post production to achieve a quality that can't quite be reached with only a face prosthesis.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron - From the Inside Out: Making of Avengers - Age of Ultron
(2015)

Because if you build a set this big, and then you don't blow it up, you're doing something wrong
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 21 minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about filming in Italy. How much the cast love working together, and how it can actually make it difficult to get them to stop playing around. Working on the set for the Avengers Tower. Choosing the twins to team up with Ultron. The visual of Quicksilver's speed. The movement and powers of Scarlet Witch. The dream sequences having as much movement as action scenes. The various mocap performances. Amping up the Hulk. How the team is like a family. Shooting in South Korea. Paul Bettany as The Vision, the makeup, his relief at getting to do the physical part, not only the voice as he's used to. Avoiding the uncanny valley for him. The shifting roster.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Iron Man: The Road to Civil War
(2016)

The truth is I don't want to stop
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 4 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about how Tony and Steve end up on either side when it comes to the Sokovia Accords.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe
(2014)

We didn't let him walk from the trailer to the set. We drove him all the way there
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the MCU films, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 43 minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It spoils a lot of the movies, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about creating Marvel Studios, so that they could guide the adaptations themselves. Getting Jon Favreau, and the leads. The jump from Iron Man to a team-up. Doing a manhunt story for Hulk, like on the TV series. Using Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to connect the separate entries. Using humor to ensure the audience have an easier time accepting the fantastical elements of Thor. How complex and interesting Loki is. Making good use of the Tesseract to tell compelling stories. Why Steve is chosen to become Captain America. Ensuring that we can see some of Tony in Howard Stark. Bringing all of the individual heroes together in The Avengers. Upping the stakes after that. Making it more personal. Showing what happens next. Doing One Shots. Explaining what happens with Abomination after we saw him last. Agent Carter. All Hail The King. Coulson returning in Joss Whedon's 2013 effort. Winter Soldier and exploring Rogers being stuck in the present, dealing with things no longer being black and white but morally grey. The Guardians of the Galaxy and doing something unexpected. Age of Ultron and introducing the Maximoffs. Doing different subgenres.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!
(2014)

There were days where we did things, that if we tried to do them today, we'd probably get arrested
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew(as well as famous fans), all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the MCU films and behind-the-scenes footage.

It's 41 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+. It doesn't spoil the movies.

They talk about the history of Marvel Comics and Studios. Why Guardians of the Galaxy was chosen for adaptation. Turning from stuff like romance(!) to superheroes. Stan Lee's humble beginnings and influence. Affecting people's perception of WWII, creating Captain America in response to the Nazis. Depicting him punching Hitler on the cover. The troops loving to read about Steve Rogers. Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code Authority, and how it negatively affected the industry. Creating the Fantastic Four. How the Hulk was inspired by Frankenstein's Monster, and came out of the Nuclear Age. Spider-Man being the first teenage superhero, the first one with real life problems. Drawing frames like they were storyboards, and as if the character was coming at the reader. Writing stories about big political issues of the day, including trying to inspire better treatment of minorities. The soapbox. Shows, both animated and live action. The gritty 1980s. Bankruptcy. Making Iron Man 1, and how risky it was, how little people thought of it before it came out. Becoming part of the House of Mouse. The Netflix shows. We get a very brief preview of the then-unreleased Agent Carter.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

Marvel Studios: Expanding the Universe
(2019)

That means everyone's a superhero
This consists of interviews with the casts and crews(it is in part Kevin Feige's D23 introduction to the Marvel Studios shows, which is what what this is about), all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subjects, behind-the-scenes footage, and incomplete effects shots.

It's 12 and a half minutes long. This is found on Disney+, and ultimately does basically boil down to an ad for the streaming service, complete with a little love fest and playing it safe. With that said, it's very good. It spoils a lot of the MCU(up to and including Endgame), and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They briefly go through the character arcs of a few of the leads. They talk about character development, spending time with them between fights. Surprises. The fun they can have and all the creative freedom within, for example, Loki(the series). How happy they(including and especially Hayley Atwell herself) are to keep bringing back Peggy Carter. Getting more Ronin. Being able to add more diversity through Kamala Khan.

I recommend this to any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 8/10

The Importance of Being Earnest
(2002)

"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness."
I won't give away the plot here. All I will say is that two people both claim to be Ernest, and it leads to complications.

Oscar Wilde was incredibly talented. His verbal comedy, his farces, his criticisms of the absurd aspects of the upper class, their superficiality, and lack of moral basis for their values. This movie comes out 107 years after the first performance of the original. It's incredible how much of what he pointed out still hasn't changed, given how different the world looks, in many respects, over a century later.

When you adapt a play into a film, you have to find a good balance, between staying true to the original physical limitations of the stage, and delivering a visual experience expected by the theatre going public. This does quite a good job at it. You can easily see how this was originally on sets, while the cinematography and editing are used to add little touches, such as reaction shots, without getting distracted from the words and acting, given that those are key to making the whole thing work.

I recommend this to any fan of the author. 7/10

Murder on the Orient Express
(1974)

You mean you saw the man? You can identify the murderer?
When a man is found killed on a train, which is temporarily stopped by heavy snow, it is up to master detective Hercule Poirot to solve the case and catch the guilty party.

This is an excellent Agatha Christie adaptation. The immensely talented ensemble cast do an incredible job, bringing the memorable characters to life. There are countless clues along the way, and like many of the best mystery stories, it is in fact possible to solve the case as a viewer, if you pay extremely close attention, albeit you may not have enough information to do so until the reveal is almost upon you.

The filming really captures the size of the titular transport, and you get to appreciate the exotic location - part of this was indeed filmed in Istanbul. All of the writing is tight, and this moves at a sharp pace. Subtle points are made about the power dynamics and uneven relationships between, among others, rich and poor, husband and wife, aristocrat or military and regular civilian. It never feels preachy, and yet there is clearly more here, than a corpse and a bunch of suspects.

This contains tragic backstories, some of which is shown, brief and slightly bloody violence, which is largely suggested rather than depicted, and a little mild-to-moderate language. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys sleuth stories. 8/10

Bloodshot
(2020)

You may not need a past to have a future, but you do need a better-than-decent film to get a franchise
U.S. Marine Ray Garrison(Diesel, sleepwalking through this) is killed, and is resurrected by the RST organisation. They've replaced all of his blood with nanites(oh don't worry, it's going to get much more ridiculous. And if this was just significantly more entertaining, a lot of us could go with it), giving him rapid healing(sadly, he's a lot less interesting than Wolverine), and increasing his strength and speed.

Let's pretend that we didn't see the trailer and have everything spoiled. Bad marketing shouldn't be allowed to ruin a good product. Honestly, it's not like they couldn't have made it look appealing without giving away the twists. There are other compelling things about this property. I haven't read the comics - I would like to. Even if I hadn't heard that they were great, I'd figure they were a lot better than this. I'm going to try not to dwell on the fact that, similar to Assassin's Creed with Michael Fassbender, this was something that was never going to work as well as a movie adaptation as it did in its original format.

The various augmentations are cool, clever and see (at least a little) memorable use. There's even stuff involving multiple enhanced soldiers. I do wish more of it was fighting, and less of it was chasing. Literally every single action scene in this is uniquely different from the rest of them, and there are several that I haven't seen something very similar to in any other flick. It can be incoherent and it overuses slow motion.

How is the plot both so slow to even start, and yet able to then stall almost immediately? Why was it apparently impossible for them to make anyone other than KT(González, getting way too little to do) sympathetic? What is the point of introducing so many pieces of potentially badass sci-fi tech, if it's all going to be used so little? Who working on this was in love with the effect of Bloodshot reforming a part of his body that was just blown apart, and couldn't they have been removed from this? When will studios learn, that if you make a movie out of a graphic novel that is *very* of its time, you have to to do something to update it? Where did all the fascinating ideas disappear to, after the cast talked them up in interviews?

This contains violence that is at times just short of an R-rating in gore, and some moderately strong language, and some hinted-at sex. I recommend this only to those who feel obligated to watch, whether it's based on liking the source material or being a fan of someone working on it. 5/10

The Death of Stalin
(2017)

Nod as I'm speaking to you. People are looking to me for reassurance and I have no idea what's going on.
1953. When Stalin suddenly dies, the Council of Ministers scramble for power. There's a very simple problem: The man's endless paranoia meant he preferred to surround himself with people that would never think of joining forces to assassinate him. As such, they're a contemptible bunch, who despise and mistrust each other as a matter of course. How could they possibly determine who should be in charge?

There's an early scene in this where Joseph, The General Secretary himself, is not quite perished. He appears to be unable to speak, and simply points, in order to communicate, the only thing his body is still capable of doing, and with what may well be his last breath. The half-dozen high-ranking individuals present all try desperately to guess what he is trying to convey. Maybe he's trying to indicate who should take over his position? No, it's definitely something about that painting! He's saying... we saved him? No, he's celebrating the people flourishing under socialism! Maybe he's asking for something to drink...? Quick! Somebody get him a glass! Make sure it's water! Not milk, he hates that!

It reminded me a lot of that bit in the Life of Brian, where the the titular apparent Messiah, accidentally drops one of his sandals, while fleeing his followers. These faithful immediately try to to build religious tenets around this seemingly meaningless act, that may not even be done on purpose. I believe this is intentional, as this even casts one of the Monty Python crew in a major role. In general, they got the exact right actors for this, and they're all bringing their a-game.

I'm not going to spoil here whether or not we find out what he was trying to say with that otherwise futile last gesture. Honestly, I think focusing on that misses the forest for the trees. What is crucial to both of these sequences, is that we are watching all these people grasp at straws. Trying desperately to understand that, which, if not understood, might suddenly kill them, for no readily discernible reason. This shows how they were always leaping back and forth, all the time, between the extremes of execution and safety from it. It's like maneuvering a minefield. Part of how it conveys this is that It uses many different types of comedy, to great effect. You never know exactly what kind of joke you're going to get next. There's a scene in the politburo which is worth the price of admission by itself.

This film captures perfectly just how unpredictable the Soviet Union was. And how easily someone who, through their loyalty, thought they were relatively safe, can suddenly be victims. We are not talking about a meritocracy. All of the best generals and doctors were killed, each of them suspected of conspiracy and treason. If you were personally close to the ruler, you had to constantly do things that he wanted, to keep him pleased, and thus not so eager to have others murdered. And for the vast majority of his people, you couldn't even attempt to do that. You could live your life, doing your best to live up to his is utterly impossible standards, and one day, out of the blue, the NKVD show up, and your family never sees you again. I doubt anyone who didn't experience it can truly understand the extreme level of constant dread these people lived in.

I think it is important to to have the discussion whether or not this is the right way to attempt to cope with the countless tragedies of the ill-fated USSR. We should consider if if the gallows humour of this is disrespectful to the 50 million people who died in their own country, a huge chunk of them due to their leader's poor decision-making, and always through no fault of their own.

Personally, I find this movie is careful to mock the perpetrators of the violence, and not the victims. And I would argue that this is simply the only way to process these horrors. Which is necessary to do, to move on. And think about just how much "The Steel Man" would *hate* this depiction, if he had lived to see it. I see this as The Producers about The Eastern Bloc.

Some details are not completely accurate to historical accounts. Still, the atrocities that this depicts *did* actually happen. A few of the events in this simply happened years prior, some individuals were in a different situation, and some liberties were taken to make this a more impactful piece of cinema. I'm not saying this applies to all negative reviews of this, but I did see several people insist that what we see in this can't have actually happened, when it literally, demonstrably, did. Others say that it's inappropriate to have so much vulgarity, and show these physically adult men behaving like immature school children, when this is exactly how these people actually did speak and carry on.

This contains strong language throughout, as well as violence, and some sexual references. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys political satire. 8/10

Kiss of the Spider Woman
(1985)

Lost in a world she carries deep inside her
Two men share a cell in Brazil. The political prisoner Valentino who fears that soon he will be interrogated again, and they will attempt to force him to give up the names of his brethren. And the the openly gay Molina, whose thoughts seem to always be about love, and how how their loved ones on the outside are coping with them being in prison. The latter recalls to the former a movie(supposedly made in the 1940s, and its golden hue works both as what film looked like back then, and as this imagined escape from being locked up into a deeply romantic fantasy, getting far away from the claustrophobia, and the isolation, physical as well as social) he loves with a powerful story.

This is gripping from start to finish. It seems as though these two could not be any more different, and yet clearly both of them have at least some empathy for the other. And the movie has a similar effect on the viewer as well. By the time you've watched this entire thing, which I urge you to do, you will completely understand both of them. The actors really dive into their characters, and it's some of the best work I've seen from them, and I've long done what I can to catch everything they've made.

This contains some violence(and discussions of such), strong language, and brief sexuality. I recommended to to everyone who finds the concept at all interesting. 8/10

Enemy
(2013)

Haunting
One day, a man realises that there is someone out there who appears to be his exact double. What is the connection between them?

I'm not going to go into what the deeper meaning of the film is in this review. For those looking for that kind of thing, I personally found the videos by Renegade Cut and Chris Stuckmann to help in the deciphering. I will say that I already loved this film before I was sure what it meant, and my appreciation has only grown once I understood it.

Denis Villeneuve's work is not for everyone. However, if you find that you like it, in my experience, the more of it you see, the greater your urge to catch everything he's behind. He is a master of tone, of planting images and ideas in your mind that you may not understand when you first watch the movie, but which you can't stop thinking about. This has a real oppressive mood. It also has excellent acting. Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible, as usual.

This contains some strong sexuality, nudity and language. I recommend this to those who enjoy solving puzzles. 8/10

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
(2011)

Why are we laughing?
The Happily Ever After agency try to save Hansel and Gretel from the witch in the gingerbread house.

I'm going to try to be as objective as I can be in this. I love the first one, although, even if I didn't, I still would only think this one was mediocre. It's not completely without merit. To get the obvious out of the way: the animation is much much better this time around. The first one essentially reimagined the story of Red Riding Hood into a mystery story, with four distinctly different perspectives on the events leading up to and including that fairy tale's ending. This one has a more straightforward action-adventure approach. Obviously that isn't going to have the same effect, but then they also couldn't just do the same thing again. The Wolf(Warburton, who clearly realises how much lesser this is than the first entry) sees his character assassinated(...not literally), as he's made really stupid so they can use that as fodder for Laughs.

This is simply nowhere near as funny as the original. It goes the the Zucker-Abrahams route, by including as many jokes as at all possible, hoping that it will make the end product better. It does not. Somewhere between 1/3 and maybe even half of the material, simply is not particularly good. There's too much crude slapstick. The puns are painful. I like Hayden Panettiere, a lot, and when it comes to Hathaway, it's not like I'm an Anne stan or anything. However. it is hard to deny that they are not equally talented, at least not at the role of Red.

I recommend this only to those who simply need to watch everything related to these characters, and everyone else is basically better off pretending it doesn't exist. 5/10

Prisoners
(2013)

Why are you making me do this?
When two girls, aged 7 and 8, disappear in a good neighborhood, detective Loki(Gyllenhaal, determined) struggles to solve the case, and the parents consider taking matters into their own hands. Just how far are they willing to go to get their daughters back?

This movie has a lot going for it. A very compelling mystery that keeps you guessing. Great writing. You really understand why the different characters do what they do, even when you, many times, realise that what they're doing, is only going to make things worse. The acting is powerful. This might be my favourite Hugh Jackman performance, it's definitely up there near the top, with The Prestige and Logan. The film leaves you with a lot of interesting questions to ponder. This is 2 hours and 20 minutes without the end credits, and 27 if you do count them.

This features a lot of disturbing content, as well as some violence and strong language. 8/10

Nightcrawler
(2014)

You find that you simply can't stop watching
Lou(Gyllenhaal, charismatic and intense) is driven, has no morals, and he needs to make money. So when he realises that getting footage of violence, when the police respond to crimes, is a good way to do that, he jumps at the chance.

This really makes you ask questions, such as, "when it comes to brutal images in the news, where does the line go?". It would be easy to point the finger, and say that it's all on "journalists" who blindly follow "if it bleeds, it leads". But this goes beyond the surface, pointing out that, if viewers at home didn't tune in for this footage, then they would stop favouring it(even if they might not stop showing it all together). Perhaps we as human beings are to some extent drawn to grisly images, and that's something we need to own up to, and figure out how how to not let it go too far. This is a movie willing to be completely, terrifyingly honest about how far some will go to feed it. Some of the characters do take issue with this exploitation. This typically gets shut down by those who do not. Which is something that could very easily be preachy. But it doesn't get to be like that, due to the deft hand of first-time director Dan Gilroy. This is 1 hour and 49 minutes not counting the end credits, or 53 if you do include them.

In addition to what I've already mentioned, this also contains strong language. I recommend this to anyone who has the stomach for it. 8/10

Nightcrawler: If It Bleeds, It Leads
(2015)

He's a product of capitalism that says "success at any cost"
This consists of interviews with the cast and crew, all of whom have something compelling to add within their area of expertise(and there is a very clear love of what they're working on), clips from the subject and behind-the-scenes footage.

It's 5 half minutes long. This is found on the DVD of Nightcrawler. It spoils a lot of the title, and so will this review, so that I can go into more detail.

They talk about the inspiration. How Gyllenhaal saw the role, his dedication and how the role was shaped. Getting the perspective of real-life stringers, who do say they wouldn't actually move a body, albeit they freely say that the adrenaline is part of the appeal to them.

I recommend this to any fan of the property. 8/10

The New Mutants
(2020)

A mix of what we've seen before and surprising changes
Dani(Hunt, reasonably promising newcomer, not ready to carry something this big, her role gradually forming an identity over the course of this, and sadly not quite compelling enough to get away with having little personality at the start, which is in part due to the script, as Split pulls this off) wakes up in in a creepy hospital, an old classic of a setting that this dusts off, only to not take much advantage of. She is told by Dr. Reyes(Braga, serviceable, as are other cast members, albeit some of whom mangle accents) that she's a mutant, whose powers have just manifested, and finds four others like her staying in the same institution. Soon after, their nightmares come to life and start hurting them(a very welcome deviation from other ghost stories and the like, where too frequently, the apparitions go "boo", and that's it). What is actually going on? And how do they stop it, before it kills them all?

At the risk of being as cliche as the film itself is in its worst moments, I wanted to love this. I do want to be clear that I'm not bitter about the disappointment. And this review will not be warped by that. I'm going to try to cover both the good and the bad, as I hugely disagree(though I do of course respecting their opinion on the matter) with anyone saying that it's entirely one, or, more frequently seen, the other. First off, how wild is it that it took 20 years of the film continuity before we saw the release(note that I did not say "development") of an entry, that uses the X-Gene as a metaphor for puberty(which is part of how it originated in the comics, as those were the target audience), *and* that is so heavily focused on those going through it(instead of so many team members that are adults, for an emphasis on the allegory of minorities, which is extremely important, not that the two are mutually exclusive), and their angst? This is very much a teen movie(with the number of the tropes you'd expect from such) made for them, about them... and whilst it's not *by* them, clearly those behind the camera have a ton of sympathy and empathy for them. If I were to direct anyone to go for taking this in, it would be them. Either way, it's not worth risking Covid for. It seeks to emulate The Breakfast Club, and sometimes that really works. There's a clear passion for it and understanding of the material. However, unlike many other "inspired heavily by someone else's work" pictures(Sam Raimi got a lot of his visual style from the 1963 version of The Haunting, and while not everyone devoted to one of those will feel the same way about the other, I wholeheartedly encourage checking out both), here, I would honestly just say to go catch the original.

Everything this does well, you've seen it done, at least a little bit, better elsewhere. The most you could say is that this is a very unique mix, and that if you're you're really into one or more of these, then this might scratch that itch. Before this, I didn't expect to see John Hughes mixed with Freddy Krueger. I admire that. Yet, I'm not sure I would say that they really gel. And the sense that these are five outcasts suffering detention, where ultimately the authority figure doesn't care that much about paying attention to what they're doing, goes against that we are explicitly told that the people in charge here, are well aware that these kids are potentially dangerous. On more than one occasion, the fact that they aren't always watched carefully(despite the omnipresent cameras...), leads to situations that could have gotten someone injured, badly. There are times where it's more luck than competence that prevents things from going horribly wrong. The scares are never all that effective, nor does this, at any point, even briefly, consistently maintain a sense of terror or suspense. I would personally chalk it up to a lack of experience on the (otherwise clearly talented) director(Josh Boone)'s part, rather than the often dreaded, and with good reason for horror, PG-13 rating. At the same time, this not being an R does take some of the bite out of most of the more potentially impactful material. Yes, by the end of this you have a very strong sense of each of these people you've been following are, still, there are better character studies out there. This suffers from a lack of focus. The lesbian romance is very sweet and I honestly have nothing negative to say about it. Outside of the the average at best climax, there is almost no action or tension in this, and the use of abilities is limited and not memorable. Knowing that this is unlikely to get a sequel(which, to be perfectly fair, it had great reason to expect to get, when it was initially in production) makes the small scale, and distinct setup for future installments, frustrating.

This contains a little bloody and disturbing violence, suggestive material, and moderate to strong language. I recommend this to those who still find the idea appearing after all these criticisms - I mean, I'm not unhappy about my viewing of it. 6/10

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