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Ready or Not

The rich really are different
A bride's wedding night becomes a nightmare.

This is about class warfare which is here made literal. Thankfully, much like in real life, the 1% are impressively incompetent. Many of them will spend their entire lives failing upwards, like for example Donald Trump, who was President when this hit theatres. This doesn't have anyone who's a direct analogue for him, although some of the more notable things about him are spread across multiple, like terrible hair, overconfidence, etc.

This manages to be one of the most tense and hilarious films I have ever seen. Like Jordan Peele, directorial duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett understand that today, it is necessary to subvert some of the horror tropes because otherwise we know what's coming. However, others have to be played straight, otherwise it becomes a parody, which is not the desired outcome.

This features some bloody, gory, violent, disturbing content, and a lot of swearing. I recommend this to any progressive with a tough stomach. 8/10.

Scanners III: The Takeover

I couldn't take my eyes off this glorious disaster. I suspect the writers started out as working on multiple separate films, and later they were combined into one screenplay. Perhaps they originally thought that they were going to make more of these. So entire chunks of this appear to be going in one direction each(!), only for a half hearted resolution, if any.

I especially thought that the trace amounts of feminism must have originally been supposed to be much more prominent, and lead to something. Every so often, especially with the hilariously over-the-top villain Helen, a point will be raised(men are shown to not respect women, sex appeal is presented as a way to control straight dudes, etc.), and even when it isn't undermined with some ridiculous male gaze(with the director engaging in some "look at my hot wife"), it never ends up feeling fully formed.

This features bloody, gory, disturbing violence. I recommend it to fans of watchable bad movies. 4/10.

Jessica Jones

My weakness? Occasionally I give a crap
When we first meet private investigator Jessica Jones(Ritter, snark personified), she's a recovering rape survivor. She has PTSD, as we see from the coping mechanism of naming her childhood home's streets, and her symptoms. These include trouble falling asleep, and even when she does, such as on the subway(which gives you an Idea of how badly she needs to rest. The smell and noise of it alone seems like it should be enough that you could never catch Zs, not to mention how many people around you don't trust being vulnerable near) she almost immediately comes to. The reason for this is simple. Whenever she starts to lose consciousness, immediately it feels like her abuser is right behind her, whispering in her ear, licking her(!). Her trauma is taken seriously, and it's put front and center.

That man is Kilgrave(Tennant, making a meal of it). He literally does not have empathy, and it is explained why. His power? Others have to do anything he says, which basically means that he can either get everything he wants, or he can carefully think about every word that comes out of his mouth. You can probably guess which he chooses. An emotionally stunted narcissist, he literally can compel others to fulfill his lightest whim. And he claims to actually love our PI, and want her to be happy. He carries out what he believes are grand romantic gestures. Not seeming to understand that while he apparently did think of her as someone that he wants to spend the rest of his life with, she wants nothing more to do with him. She was his prisoner. And if he legitimately wanted to know if she felt the same, all he had to do is tell her she had to be truthful, and ask. And yet he didn't. Maybe he knew the answer. Perhaps it was just too big of a risk to take. Either way, it ended up with him forcing her. In reality, there are no people who can force *anyone* they talk to, to do what they want, Make them think they want it, make them go along against their better judgement. But there are lots who can do that with a select few. It's called gaslighting, and it's something we need to put a stop to.

She's not alone in fighting him. Her adoptive sister, former child star and current radio personality Trish Walker(Taylor, spot-on). She used to be known as the titular star of kid's show "It's Patsy", which is also how a lot of people greet her when they recognise her. Every so often, we'll get another titbit of it, like hearing the theme song, sitting in on the tail end of a table read, hearing someone describe one of the plots. They really got it exactly right. I know that I watched stuff just like it when I was growing up. She's a lot more stable and dependable, at least these days. She definitely wasn't always, and we will see her struggle. She feels a strong drive to make the world a better place, and may not always feel like she is doing enough for that.

Add to that, next door neighbor Malcolm Ducasse(Darville, exactly right) starts out addicted to drugs. Occasionally, he needs minor assistance, he gets it, and that's basically it. At first, people don't really think much of him. And neither does the audience. Which makes for a very effective turn when he quits cold turkey And becomes sober. He becomes a full person in our mind - as he in reality of course always was. We just didn't look past the veneer. It forces us to confront that maybe we Accidentally did this in real life as well. This also greatly encourages empathy for sex workers, the unhoused and ethnic minorities. It has a lot of emotional intelligence in discussing these immensely relevant issues. And it manages to make everyone complex.

Someone she sometimes works with, without either of them particularly liking the other(It is very much a case of mutual respect for the other's abilities and intense distaste for personal choices), is Jeri Hogarth(Moss, impeccable). She's a lawyer who worked hard to get to the top, And we watch as her life starts to come apart around her. On a show full of trainwrecks who make lousy decisions that end up hurting themselves, she may well be the one who has made the most mistakes and stands to lose the most. It would be easy for this to devolve into finger pointing, so it's very impressive that it never does. After she grew up poor and bullied, she put immense effort into gaining and maintaining complete control of the circumstances of her life, and most of the problems she faces are specifically because of selfish choices rather than things that she simply couldn't do anything about. Hers is a tragedy of fighting to escape one extreme only to end up at another.

This is a noir story. That means that it has shadows, silhouettes(well, a lot of the time, the cinematography is not that adventurous), sax music, investigative work, conspiracy and corruption. When it features sex, it isn't shot in male gaze(in fact, occasionally, it will be distinctly female, with a focus on fingers and lips, rather than legs and curves), it isn't there just for titillation, it establishes and grows characters and their interpersonal relationships. There is a distinct effort made to avoid anyone on this coming across as disposable, and it rarely fails. This was shot on location in New York and it adds a lot of texture. Essentially, the only criticism I have is the pacing. Like the other Netflix shows, each season is mandated to be 13 episodes and they just don't have the right amount of story for that.

This features bloody, gory, graphic violence, disturbing content, and strong language. I recommend it to any fan of complex narratives. 9/10.

The Menu

Please don't say mouthfeel
12 members of the upper class travel to an island to dine at an exclusive restaurant. But things don't go how they expected.

This is a dark satirical comedy with elements of a thriller. I agree that it's not quite horror. The characters are jerks and you don't really empathize with them. This has frustrated some people, who wish that they could recognise themselves in them, and feel that what they do makes no sense for the situation. It is a bit scattershot with the social commentary, with important issues brought up that aren't really explored.

The script is the very best part of this, and the dialogue is written and delivered impeccably. The music, with its string instruments, claustrophobic cinematography, and tight editing do a great job capturing how refined this place and the food there is, whilst also gradually raising the stakes and making things more disturbing.

This features a little bloody gory violence, and a moderate amount of strong language. I recommend this to to anyone who wants to see the rich skewered. 8/10.

Fortune Cookie

Worth a viewing
The protagonist and others are door-to-door salesmen. Of what, exactly? It's never made clear, because it doesn't matter. They are the everyman, struggling to survive in a system that refuses to take care of its citizens even though the technology and infrastructure are available. All that is lacking is political will. We never see you even hear the boss, who abruptly and without any reason goes from trying to be understanding to demanding results. The faceless cruelty that accepts no reasonable explanation might as well not be human. She represents capitalism, a merciless machine that does not deal in empathy, only in numbers. The Omega account is never actually detailed, despite being the goal. All we ever learn is that it will take them out of the country and is important. It is a metaphor for success, ever dreamt of and yet so difficult to obtain, and can be lost through no fault of your own. For a while, Harold believes that as long as he keeps getting good omens in fortune cookies, things will be great - at the expense of Larry, of course. Because if things are going well for one it must be bad for others. When this good luck charm disappears, he's convinced that he will fail. And immediately prostitutes himself to The Pervert. The lowest end.

Like others, I watched this because it is among the early works of Darren Aronofsky. Even at this point, you can see some of the elements that would later become his trademarks. Perhaps the most notable being the hip-hop montage, conveying a repeated action. There are also other interesting choices in cinematography. When the camera moves and how, not to mention when it doesn't. It will disgust you, and explore obsession. It runs 32 minutes and is currently available for free on YouTube. I recommend it to big fans of his. 7/10.


She gets like that sometimes. I don't know if she even knows we're here or not. But at least she's got the TV
Three friends discuss how to find meaning.

This is set when it was made, and as such goes into a very dark time in human history: before the internet. How to pass the time, other than television? Lucy Liu points out that "With 8 hours of watching the tube, six of sleep, and eight of work, there's only 2 left to eat, crap and screw".

Like others, I watched this because it is among the early works of Darren Aronofsky. Even at this point, you can see some of the elements that would later become his trademarks. Perhaps the most notable being the hip-hop montage, conveying a repeated action. There are also other interesting choices in cinematography. When the camera moves and how, not to mention when it doesn't. It will disgust you, and explore obsession. It runs 24 minutes and is currently available for free on YouTube. I recommend it to big fans of his. 7/10.

Jennifer's Body

Deserved being rediscovered
Something supernatural is killing people in a small town.

I'm really glad this has gotten a reappraisal recently. As someone who loves horror, comedy and the successful melding of the two, I loved this. Every scare and laugh worked. The comedy is deeply inappropriate. This is clearly very inspired by the early work of Sam Raimi and John Carpenter, who themselves were emulating Hitchcock, so there's no shame in that. If you don't think Megan Fox can act, then this proves you wrong.

Every step of the way this subverts expectations and plays with tropes. Technically, it is a slasher flick, and yet every single rule that you can observe by watching dozens of those, as I have, is changed in some way that makes you laugh, keeps it spooky, and makes you unable to guess where it's going next. I especially loved how this throws out the Old Testament view of premarital sex and brings in a much healthier perspective. Diablo Cody writes the way teens wish they spoke. Karyn Kusama captures the atmosphere of high school life.

This features disturbing content, bloody violence and gore. I recommend this to every fan of the Scream series. 8/10.

Star Wars: Clone Wars

The primary function of this was to build and sustain hype between the release of Attack of the Clones, and that of Revenge of the Sith. This is currently on Disney Plus. Personally, I would vote against binging, unless your age is still in single digits, or you'll be exhausted. Running 2 hours and 12 minutes without end credits(14 with), this is made up of 25 shorts, all essentially one battle or other significant event. Each will "turn" in some way, so we're not just watching mindless, if well-Choreographed and exciting, action. There is little plot, and it does contradict some canon.

The animation is quite good. There is some cost cutting, but it's in the right places, like the level of detail, movement. The background can be pretty static. None of the characters sound quite right, even C-3PO, who is played by the same actor. While most of them do behave the way they have been established to, a few major ones really don't. Great to see more important women in Star Wars, though.

I recommend this to big fans of the prequel trilogy. 8/10.


By turns on the edge of my seat and laughing my ass off
It is a dark night. Rain and thunder clouds. A double booked airbnb appears to be the only place for Tess(Campbell, driven) to stay overnight until she can go to her job interview. But will she be safe there?

Some of the stuff that scares you the most watching this is the music and the cinematography. You can really see inspiration from John Carpenter for both. The score also does sound somewhat like early Silent Hill Otherworld chaotic, if less "noisy". Characters in this are either sympathetic or interesting a-holes.

On at least one occasion, it will suddenly jump to a different POV. This has and will bother a number of viewers. Personally, I found that the bold decision, like all of the subtle setup, paid off. The social commentary is handled well. It's not preachy and it goes into extremely relevant topics.

This features strong violence gore, nudity and language. I recommend this to any fan of horror. 10/10.


The Man Without Fear
This was the first of 6 Netflix Marvel shows, one of the two that ran the longest(the other being Jessica Jones), and among the most successful. They share continuity, and all of them both build to, and later reflect on, The Defenders. All of them are about gritty street level heroes in different parts of New York, dealing with the aftermath of The Avengers. For some reason that I've yet to uncover, apparently there was a mandate that each of these had to have 13 episodes. Ultimately, there were two seasons that didn't. One had 10 and another was as low as 8. I really wish one of those had been the norm, because both of those are substantially better paced than the rest of these. With that said, this fares the best of the "full" baker's dozen ones. The initial one is focused on the gradual progress made in combating or increasing organized crime, respectively, for the two sides involved. The second has a lot(overall, too much) going on. And the final one dives deep into certain aspects and I respectfully disagree with those who say that some of it is excessive. Editing is impressive, never letting us be confused, despite how complex it gets. On a number of occasions, it is necessary to jump chronologically, especially back to the past, sometimes by decades. And I never felt like they were doing it to avoid delivering on the present-day stuff, or that it was filler, as I did, on both, with Lost.

This has what may well be the very best villain of one of these, in Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. He has a tragic backstory and he does legitimately believe that he is making Hell's Kitchen better - not worse. His goals are admirable, however, his methods are monstrous. You come to really understand why he does what he does. The immensely talented Vincent D'onofrio plays him as if he is somewhere on the spectrum, which is unexpected, yet a very clever idea. He's damaged, a boy in the body of a man, trying to force a round peg into a square hole, to make things work and make sense. Simultaneously sympathetic and terrifying.

In general the character work is strong. Given the situation of Matt Murdock / Daredevil(Cox, disarmingly charming, flirts with everyone), it is very important what people are close to him, how they affect him, what direction they push or pull him. And in the interest of making this more compelling, some of the people are good for him, and others are bad. His fellow lawyer Foggy(Henson, more than comic relief) shares his faith that the legal system might actually be enough to keep people safe. Keeping their office looking like less of a mess is Karen(Ann Woll, driven). Far from "the girlfriend", damsel in distress that we've grown so tired of in movies that came out before this premiered, no matter how dangerous the situation, she will actually try to maneuver herself out of it rather than just wait and hope. Nurse Claire(Dawson, incredible as always) can provide the perspective of someone working in a hospital seeing people hurt - some by the vigilante, others by people he didn't attack. Is he making a difference?

Catholicism is a major theme here. Exploring questions like "does everyone deserve a second chance". Challenging the moral principle of refusing to kill, since that's a mortal sin. Frank Castle(Bernthal, intense), The Punisher, asks "If you only beat criminals to a pulp, won't they just go back and do something awful when they recover? Wouldn't lethal force solve the problem forever?" Then Elektra(Yung, toying with people) shows up to point out, "honestly, might it be... fun? Isn't that why he indulges in the first place? After all, isn't he only telling himself that he's "doing it for God" to feel better about letting the devil out?" She demonstrates living without boundaries, potentially luring him all the way out there. This doesn't preach to you.

In order to properly explore these notions it is important that we have a visceral reaction, and we do, to all of the bloody, brutal, bone breaking fights. People fight dirty, they get hurt even if they win, and he may be outnumbered. Each year has its own several minutes long take, the fact that it just keeps going really places you right there, in the middle of it. The hero will get increasingly worn down and exhausted, and we worry that he won't be able to come out on top, that he will simply collapse from all the effort. The cinematography will either make it extremely clear and easy to follow, or artistic and memorable looking, with silhouette martial arts, staying on the reaction(or lack thereof) by someone who doesn't become involved, and Brian de Palma style extensive panning.

That segues nicely into the budget. It is easy to see that this did not have as much money behind it as the MCU movies, or even some of the Disney Plus streaming shows that came after this. They did make sure that all they had ended up on the screen. The action here is never as big or frequent as in those. In some ways this more resembles Law & order, CSI, NCIS. With that said, it's always excellent. There is very little CGI and some cost-cutting measures are visible - if someone has to break into a place by smashing a window, maybe we'll just hear the sound, and see the glass already broken. The other effects are very nicely done: squibs and wounds. It was always convincing. I never found myself being pulled out of the fiction, the way that I was at least once on the Blade TV series.

This features moderate to strong language and sexuality, used to display and develop characters and their interpersonal relationships. I recommend this to any fan of comic book adaptations, as it is one of the best by far. 8/10.

Scanners II: The New Order

I'm gonna suck you dry, pretty boy
During a sweeping crimewave, a war is fought for the streets.

I'm not going to obsess over how inferior this is to the original movie. As much as I love that one, I never thought that it needed sequels. So I think an argument could be made that this needed to justify that connection. And it is not up to the task. The writing is beyond convenient, with illogical decisions made, awkward dialogue where two people say things to each other that they already both know for the audience's benefit, and essentially all of the moral ambiguity that made the first one so compelling, completely gone. Cronenberg sought to explore how it might affect someone's life to be born with psychic powers. This was made by people who wanted heads to go boom.

If you have realistic expectations, this one can be fun. It is aggressively average, and as such could be significantly worse. Director Christian Duguay got a lot better after this, but even here, he manages to make the material work better than you might think. The actors portraying the villains really get into their roles and are fun to watch. The effects are good and spread out well.

This features bloody gory disturbing violence. I recommend this to people who wanted more after watching the first one. 5/10.

The Rocketeer

The rock-a-who?
A young test pilot stumbles onto a prototype for a personal jetpack, and realizes that powerful forces are determined to get their hands on it.

This is a well crafted love letter to 1938 Hollywood. One of the major characters is a thinly veiled take on Errol Flynn, and we see him film what is clearly the equivalent to his excellent The Adventures of Robin Hood, from that year. Everything looks, sounds and feels like it fits. The storytelling is tremendously economical. There is not a single scene or major character that doesn't in some way add to the plot and/or character development. This has a lot of moving parts and yet manages to make it straightforward.

With that said, this is definitely an acquired taste. It's heavily inspired by old serials, but its world is less enthralling than Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It's a very faithful adaptation of a great comic Book... however, its tone is much too earnest for it to come out after the 1989 Batman, not to mention going up against immensely popular sequel Terminator 2, the first live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, *and* Prince of Thieves, the first film of its kind in a while, especially outside of animation.

This features a little moderate language and mild violence. I recommend this to anyone that it appeals to. 8/10.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Years down the line from the first movie, the couple have a family. Can they protect them from what's coming?

I was completely ready for this to severely underwhelm me. On the other hand, what I was not prepared for, was how much I loved this. The underwater scenes and a higher frame rate renewed my enthusiasm, and it just might do the same for you.

I will grant that it has some issues. It's bloated, with 3 times as many characters as last time. Also, it's overlong, it could easily be half the length. And considering the 13 year wait, and the fact that apparently the script for the fourth one is "absolutely bonkers", it is a let down how similar this is to the original: one or more blue people learning the culture of other blue people, with the threat of the RDA led by Quaritch on the horizon.

This features a little moderate to strong language and sci-fi violence. I recommend this to any fan of James Cameron. 8/10.


Stuck between message movie and horror
In a small, isolated Oregon town, Julia(Keri Russell, still delivering impeccable performances), a teacher, suspects that one of her students, the quiet and friendless Lucas(the immensely talented Jeremy T. Thomas), is being abused, not knowing the depth of the issue.

This explores trauma and the opioid crisis. It is made by people who genuinely care about these issues and that really shows in the final product. There is a ton of build-up, the gore and Violence are impressive, it favors practical effects over CG and it can be intensely terrifying, on account of excellent cinematography and editing, especially the sound design, with its squelching, gnashing, screeching, etc.

Unfortunately there are also some negatives to get to. This is misery tourism. And it doesn't treat the Native American myth with enough respect. I mean a good place to start with would be for there to be more than one character who's indigenous, for him to have more than 2 minutes of screen time, and for him to serve any purpose other than filling in the white people on what's going on.

I recommend this to people fascinated with the subject that it covers. 7/10.

The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special

Of actors, missing nuts, and animal nature
Mantis(Klementieff, more assertive and self-assured than before) and Drax(Batista, no filter) are determined to cheer up Peter(Pratt, nailing it), who still misses Gamora. So the two go to the one place that solves all problems in the known Universe: Hollywood.

The duo serve as our two leads and their relationship is even funnier than before, now without the problematic aspects. Similar to the times Star Trek had the crew travel to Earth in the decade that the episode or movie was made, this has observational comedy, in addition to the "that's messed up I can't stop laughing" (aka the Jimmy Carr), "that's ridiculous" and "that person would definitely say and do that, yes" kinds.

This feels like the Christmas special episode of a TV show. At 39 minutes without end credits, and 43 with and a post-credits scene, this feels more substantial than it has any right to. In addition to humor, it also has a heart. And on the subject of James Gunn yet again delivering what he's known for, this has an incredible soundtrack and even an original song or two.

I recommend this to any fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy films. 8/10.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Not that it matters, but most of the following is true
Wyoming, early 1900s. A small gang finds their "work" of robbing trains and banks to become increasingly difficult, as a new threat on the horizon comes ever closer.

This is the most charming film I've watched in quite some time. It is positively overflowing with charisma, especially what is delivered by the two leads. Their dialog is a constant stream of witty snarkasm. I feared the constant arguing and bickering, that I had read was in this, would annoy me, but I was laughing through almost all of this.

The parts that didn't have me cracking up, had me on the edge of my seat. This is way more dramatic, tense and suspenseful than you may have heard. What the movie is changes over the course of it but never for the worse and it never lost my interest. I kept connecting with it, even after the change.

I recommend this to everyone. 8/10.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

To be young, Black and gifted
What happens when the world becomes aware of a country that is extremely powerful and wealthy?

Everyone watching and working on this, we all miss Chadwick Boseman. This is not about replacing him. About maintaining a stride despite his tragic death. It is about honoring the legacy of him, and his performance as T'Challa. We find the fictional people who were closest to him torn apart by mourning. Each grieving in their own way. It is handled in a mature, intelligent way.

As has been the case recently, the MCU continues to use sequels to not only follow up on the story and characters set up earlier in the series and overall franchise, but also introduce new ones. Your mileage may vary, but I was personally extremely impressed by how well it integrated all of them. This shows respect for, and shines a spotlight on, Mayan culture and history, the way that the original did for the African continent. I am very happy that they changed the location from the fictional Atlantis. Like Wakanda, Talocan genuinely feels like a place where people live and work. It's not just a cool setting that feels like a stage. Namor(Huerta, by turns charismatic and intense) is as fascinating and complex as in the comics, and there's no end to the narratives that they can explore now that he is part of this universe.

This features sci-fi violence and a little moderate to strong language. I recommend this to everyone. 10/10.

The Punisher

Of terrible one-liners, dubious use of iconography, and liquor delivered via RC car
After 5 years of vigilantism, the Punisher finds that the mobsters that he weakened are facing the even more ruthless Yakuza.

While I do think this is overall the least impressive of all three live action movies starring the titular anti-hero, it is worth noting that all of them have something really impressive to offer, and none of them are mere non-stop mayhem. The biggest problems here are two-fold. An inexperienced (and supposedly intentionally sleep deprived) Dolph Lundgren. He does bring with him physicality and martial arts prowess, unfortunately, that isn't enough to make up for his lackluster performance. I think it would have worked great if he had given the same performance as he did only two years later in the first Universal Soldier movie. And that brings us to the second major issue: the director. Mark Goldblatt has shown many times that he is incredibly talented and has a real knack for action movies, on films such as The Terminator, Rambo II, and Commando. Unfortunately, that's as an editor. This was the second, and so far last, movie that he helmed, and he just can't quite overcome the lack of first-hand knowledge. The action is plentiful, fairly competent, mostly devoid of suspense, and frequently overstays its welcome. Nearly every single scene of this further develops the overall thin plot and/or one or more characters.

This features a lot of moderately bloody violence, a little strong language, and some drug content. I recommend this to the biggest fans of the "revenge for dead loved ones" subgenre. 7/10.

The Defenders

Defenders, resemble!
The Hand are going to destroy New York. It's not clear exactly what they are after. Something that is unmistakable, however, is that they need to be stopped. And it will definitely require four (preferably reluctant) heroes. The ones the budget will allow for.

This is the Netflix version of the first Avengers movie. In some ways it is superior. This includes the supporting cast showing up and being given things to do. There are even connections made. The story is more interesting and fleshed out. Now, aspects in which it is inferior include smaller stakes, less name recognition. So it boils down to the money and general expectation. This really delivered everything that I hoped it would.

With eight episodes instead of the usual 13, this is the tightest of its kin, of everything leading up to it. The story starts right away and keeps moving throughout. This is never slow or rushed. We yet again get a mystery and they continue to master the drip feed of information. They wisely don't give in to the urge to have everyone get together right away. Instead, they encounter each other, and the idea to form a team comes up very organically. Since all of them are used to going at it alone, they take some convincing. Each comes across what's going on in a way that fits what they've been doing.

The action is quite fun. In order to make it a challenge that requires multiple good guys, this features all Five Fingers. I've seen some say "I got tired of all the ninja punching", and for sure, there is a lot of it. Personally, I loved every second. No one is nerfed. Everyone uses their skills and abilities well. It's great to see so much use of the Iron Fist, not to mention how many times the user is called out. Too little super jumping. Good use of the enhanced strength: hitting people really hard, smacking them with heavy objects, throwing them into heavy stuff, folding metal like it's tin foil.

I felt like there was a proper sense of threat. No one ever felt truly safe. That might sound ridiculous considering how much some of them can take without getting knocked down. Trust me, everyone in this has some weaknesses, something that can be used to defeat them.

Perhaps the best part of this is the character interactions, and note that every major one has an arc. For the similarities between them, there are definitely some huge differences as well - level of experience, goal, who they usually face and how they handle them. Not a single note rings false. Not a single one of them just disappears into the background, as is the case with every single X-Men movie other than New Mutants. Keeping in mind that I do love those first two movies, and respect a lot of things about the sequels. And obviously Logan and the two Deadpool movies are amazing.

Jessica Jones still does not want to be considered a hero. Despite Malcolm's best efforts, she refuses to take new cases. She even covered the "Alias Investigations" sign on the door. When she begrudgingly agrees to look into a man who's disappeared, with his wife and daughter not knowing where or why, she ends up Involved. And at that point she can't let it go without resolving it.

Luke Cage is released from prison thanks to some excellent legal work by Foggy. He has coffee with Claire, who is surprisingly not as big of a part of having them all meet as theorized. It is suggested that maybe he could be the new Pop's, he's not sure. He does agree to talk to the last surviving brother of Candace. When he is unable to convince the kid, Cole, out of the shady things he feels he needs to do for money, he decides to follow him. This helps him uncover some of what is happening.

Danny Rand and Colleen have been traveling the globe to fight the war, and are told to return to NY. Since I was worried that their inconsistent writing would follow them over here from the solo show, I was very relieved when that turned out not to be the case. Don't get me wrong. He can still be ridiculously frustrating, making obvious mistakes. At least he doesn't jump back and forth between what his stance is, leaving it almost impossible to keep up.

Matt Murdock has not put on the cowl since hanging it up. When he helps people now, it is only as a lawyer. One of his first scenes has him talk to a child who will be disabled for an uncertain amount of time - possibly indefinitely. He tells him the most important thing is how he deals with this. To not give up. It is exactly the kind of thing that he can comment on. He is the only of the 4 to insist on a secret identity, which does cause some trust issues.

So this has to follow shows with very different tones. The use of color helps define whose world we're in, and later, shows their world's merging. Whether it's a cool icy blue, urban yellow, green, or red, you can immediately tell who you're with. When they all get together at a Chinese restaurant, the neon sign outside features all of those hues. It is true that this struggles with finding a balance between the fantasy of the billionaire, and the street level of the rest.

Ultimately, I understand why some people were disappointed by what they got here. I'm not going to claim that they are wrong for their opinion, or that their expectations were unrealistic. I tried to address some of their criticisms here, and make my case for why I think it is great.

This features some moderate to strong language, bloody gory violence including detached limbs, and brief sexual content. I recommend this to any fan of comic books. 8/10.

Black Adam

For a decade of waiting, this should have been better
After being trapped for nearly 5000 years, Adam(Johnson, strangely dialing his famous charisma down to zero for most of his screen time, and all in the present day) is released and clashes with the Justice Society of America over whether or not it is ok to use lethal force when fighting oppressors.

This feels like multiple movies awkwardly glued together. The opening could easily have been extended into feature length, but they didn't want to spend that long in ancient times, so instead it is a massive(necessary, yes, still, could have been trimmed down) infodump. At times this is very gritty and dark. Then others, it is franchise friendly: quippy, breezy, let's bring in some young heroes that can keep appearing for years to come. Remind me, where are the JL in all of this? Casting couch?

The reason that the titular character of this did not appear in the first Shazam movie(and it looks very unlikely he will be in the second one, either, except maybe as a sequel-baity mid or post credits scene) was said to be so they could have enough time to properly explore his character, however, it would have made more sense for this to feature Billy Batson or Superman instead of the JSA.

The action is fun. Occasionally, it does forget that it is essentially nothing other than meaningless flash, except for when human beings who are not invulnerable, do not have immense superpowers, are put in danger: those fighting against their occupiers, such as Adrianna(Shahi, empathetic, strong) and her son Amon(Sabongui, passionate).

This features some brutal violence. I recommend this to fans of the characters and of bombastic blockbusters. 7/10.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Smashing what we need, and what we deserve right now
Jennifer Walters(Maslany, ideal casting) has spent a lot of time and energy working to build a career at the DA's office. Then, an unintentional blood mixing experience changes her life...

...but does it have to, though? I definitely think that it is intentional that the first MCU project to thusly explore the idea of taking control of one's own narrative is the one starring a 30-something career woman of color. If you belong to at least one of those minorities, you probably had others try to tell your story for you, badly, while seething with hatred towards your very existence. And if you are all three, this is something you've been battling your whole life. The meta 4th wall breaking aspect is successfully approached in a way that crosses between the two very different mediums in this very satisfying adaptation.

A lot of negative things have been said about this show. I'm going to start by acknowledging one I agree with. The animation is unfinished. It is frustrating to see this described as laziness, when it is now very clear to us all that, on account of a lack of a strong union since it's such a recent addition to the business, CGI artists are very overworked. Then there are some where people are basically saying that "this was not what I expected, what I have grown accustomed to, and I have no interest in trying to take it on its own terms, and will instead complain that, in a world and time where I could sit down and watch basically anything, the people making this decided to go in an unusual direction". Of course you're allowed to be frustrated with this, but some appear to have used this stance to justify a 0/10. If they had anything else, why not mention it?

Now I'm going to try to tackle the big one. Gender. There's been a backlash to feminism and the Me Too movement. A big part of it is a false equivalency. "Female partners of men are just as likely to gaslight, abuse physically and psychologically, as the other way around". This idea spread like wildfire during the (should-never-have-been-public) trial where popular Johnny Depp sued fame-less Amber Heard for defamation. I'm going to be completely clear: the two of them were both awful to each other. We're not talking about a situation where one is right and the other is wrong. This series does not hate men(criticizes, sure. The franchise always has). Its stance is anti-misogyny. There are at least half a dozen male characters who are depicted in a positive light(including Pug(Segarra, comes through)). And roughly that amount of women who are evil, weak, etc. Negative in various ways. The worst you could really say is that the season is half over by the time you meet many of these. I guess the people making it believed that people would give them the benefit of the doubt up to that point. I'm a guy myself, and at no point did I feel personally attacked, watching this.

With that out of the way, I'm going to return to the high points. It's great to see something so different. As I compose this, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 30th film (even though they've only been doing it for 14 years) is premiering 11/11/22 - in less than a month. This is the 8th Disney+ original mini, in just under two years. The time has come for experimentation(this whole phase has been), and most of it works here. This embraces the episodic format with a case of the week, and an A and B story. When it comes to overarching elements, this is not as interested in an on-going, building-in-scale-and-stakes plot as it is in themes. I appreciated it even more on a rewatch. There is foreshadowing, setup and payoff. Tells you what it is going to focus on early on and some people seem to just not want to go on that journey with it. Comedy is now the main goal, not merely an ingredient relied heavily upon. I respectfully disagree with those who say that this is not particularly, consistently funny.

This offers satire on media and general treatment of "the weaker sex". Wording, focus, lack of recognition. The humor is very much "slice of life" - the editing helps it a lot. Our titular protagonist goes on dates arranged via apps, tolerates family dinners, and tries to balance her work with her personal life. When she hulks(see what I did there?) out, her body changes. She is... curvier. Taller. Some people prefer her like that. Others, the old way. This provides a sudden new circumstance that she has to deal with. The real life equivalent would probably be suddenly having to move out of the state. It mines the biggest laughs from contrasting the absurdity of superhuman lawsuits with the mundanity of normal life. The Abomination has a parole hearing. Mr Immortal has been married a dozen times and faked his death rather than going through divorces. How do you cope with a unique identity?

This is not really focused on action. The vast majority of what little there is feels obligatory. She isn't really interested in that kind of thing, and... this is her show. This is much more bright and colorful, reflecting that she is an optimistic hopeful person even though she can be neurotic(her BFF Nikki Ramos(Gonzaga, easily the funniest person present) helps. Sometimes she's a cheerleader. Others, she provides a much-needed reality check). When things go well, she has fun, celebrates, frequently set to pop and rap(contemporary, 90's, 2000's), almost exclusively by female artists who have done very well. The cinematography tends to be good and there are some really excellent framing and camera movements.

Reflecting the more mature tone, this features sex and alcohol. I recommend this to anyone either in the intended audience or who would like to understand them better. 7/10.

Halloween Ends

We all grieve in different ways
2022. It has been 4 years since Michael Myers(Jude Courtney, intense) terrorized Haddonfield 4 decades after the original spree. One day, More dead bodies are found. But there's something different this time...

This is in part exploring trauma, like the first two of this trilogy. David Gordon Green continues to demonstrate a lot of ambition. This is in fact the 14th in the series, If you count all of the different timelines. That's more than even Friday the 13th, which has 11, or 12 if you count the crossover. And for so long, for most of these movies, they kept making them immensely similar to one another. This is a very different movie from what a lot expected. I'm sorry to see so many unhappy about that - and I do want to clarify that not all of them are rejecting it out of hand. One big issue with this is that it introduces a new main character, who could easily have been introduced and gotten some screen time and development in the 2018 entry, which would make this significantly less rushed. This provides closure, and gives us some of what we knew had to be in this, the last Jamie Lee Curtis, the original Final Girl, will appear in.

This features a lot of graphic bloody violence and gore, strong language, and some sexual references. I recommend this to any fan of horror movies who enjoys having their expectations subverted. You don't even need prior knowledge of the series. It brings you up to speed at the start. 8/10.

Werewolf by Night

I can't wait to find out what breed of evil you are
Following the death of the leader, an international organisation of secret monster hunters gather for a battle royale, featuring a supernatural creature.

This legitimately does feel like something that was made way back in the day. If Vincent Price (RIP) was still alive, he would definitely have appeared in this - the role of narrator would be perfect for him. It goes far beyond the black and white, which was in part chosen specifically so that they could get away with more bloody gory violence without a TV MA rating, instead pushing the one for age 14. The operatic music, making it a period piece complete with elaborate and accurate costumes(I would kill to wear these things, myself), sets(the main hall features the mounted heads of at least a dozen otherworldly beings) and weapons(one dude uses a hand mounted crossbow!), it's all present, in all its cheesy glory.

The action is tense and exciting. This legitimately does work as a horror comedy. While not as scary as the classic Fright Night, it is as funny. The frequent jokes are somewhat more dark here - The zombified course of the patriarch assures all gathered that he will be "rotting for you". In a number of ways this barely fits in with the rest of the MCU, and that's part of the point. They are trying to expand what that can mean, and I believe they will yet again be successful. This has a running time of 48 and a half minutes without end credits, and 54 long with them.

I recommend this to any fan of fiction featuring the undead. 10/10.


It's about giving. [...] That's love.
Noa(Edgar-Jones, guarded, relatable), frustrated by bad experiences with dating apps, finds herself developing feelings for Steve(Stan, charming, complex), after the two have a meet cute in the fresh produce aisle of the local supermarket.

As you will see from reading this review I disagree with most of the points of criticism that I have read. The gore is not great in amount, but it is extremely effective. A lot of the terrifying horror here is psychological. Tension is tremendous and every so often eased with the pitch black edgy comedy. The acting is amazing, with both stars proving beyond any doubt one might have had of their immense talent. This has spot on pacing. I would not trim out or otherwise re-edit anything. This has so much to say about how certain people are abused for the enjoyment of others. Honestly, the only thing in this entire movie that I felt could have been improved is the way it treats the African American characters. They exist as support for the white lead(and each other, to help her), nothing more.

In addition to what I've already mentioned, this features a lot of strong language, some sexuality and brief nudity. I recommend this to anyone that believes they can stomach it. My rating is not an attempt to raise the overall score, nor is it based on everything in this being flawless, rather, that I feel the strengths so greatly outweighs the weaknesses, that it deserves it. 10/10.

Min søsters børn vælter byen

It's a finger of speech
A magical item in the hands of a little girl leads to mayhem.

It is interesting the kind of areas of tension that this chooses to mine laughs from, and how many of them are still prevalent. The field of psychiatry, relations between neighbors, stress, changing how much is allowed and how to discipline when it comes to child rearing, and more. The screenplay has way more effort and genuine skill than anyone had any right to expect from this kind of thing. Verbal comedy, slapstick, etc. With that said, this thing does definitely wear out its welcome, and some of the varied gags do end up feeling like they basically just did anything and everything that budget and special effects allowed for. Way too much bluescreen. There are chunks of this that are just non-stop relentless hijinks, and you find yourself hoping it'll soon take a break. At least it's short, at just under 90 minutes. Also, there are some clever touches, such as the recently-rendered-human statues of Hans Christian Andersen and The Little Mermaid(who was based on his poem) greet each other for the first time.

I'm not going to comment on the acting ability or singing talent of the children in this. Not even to say that they should have been asked to do it less, if they weren't better than here. And at least a few of the lyrics(which I don't blame on the wee ones, mind you) could have been significantly better. It feels wrong to criticize young kids who didn't even have a say in it. It was up to the parents whether or not they do these. What I will leave it at is that the film is a lot more appealing during the appearances of Ove Sprogøe(with his underplayed delivery building up to a nervous breakdown) and Dirch Passer(with his calmness exploding into out of control passion, in part shown through his rubber face), the mega stars(and with good reason!) of the time.

I recommend this to only the biggest fans of Danish cinema from the period. Everyone else, stick with the infinitely superior Olsen Gang movies. 6/10.

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