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Reviews

Uncharted
(2022)

As far as video game movies go it's fine.
Uncharted had the potential to be a masterful take on an iconic series for the PlayStation; instead we get a film that stars Marvel Studios' Spider-Man, Tom Holland, as Nathan Drake (gaming's equivalent to Indiana Jones) and has the nigh-invulnerability of said superhero to top it off. This film is a 'remix' of the games, where it takes set-pieces and characters from all over the place, only to refuse taking risks with anything in the film itself.

Uncharted started development somewhere around the early 2010s and went in-and-out of production until 2022 FINALLY saw the completed film be released: heralding PlayStation Productions' first feature film. Mark Wahlberg himself was going to be Drake originally, but things got SO truncated and delayed he became Sully in this film. Honestly the casting of the Uncharted fan film was better than the official choices on display here; Nathan Fillion and Stephen Lang were fantastic there and it's a damn shame they couldn't stick with something evoking those two.

As far as 'first-project-ever' films go, Uncharted is not a bad introduction to PlayStation Productions, but it's a heavily derivative one that begs you to rewatch Indiana Jones films again, and/or replay all the Uncharted games on PlayStation.

We're almost halfway through 2022 already, and cinema's recovering at the box office; though it's an uneven recovery considering many of last year's films are still carrying over to now (either in truncated runs or delayed releases).

Uncharted is inoffensive entertainment, but for those who love the games (like myself) you'd be expecting a little more than average. Thankfully the film isn't terrible; it's just inoffensive and safe instead of risky and memorable. 2.5/5 stars.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
(2022)

Multiverse of... Something-ness
Doctor Strange 2 is the MCU's latest balls-to-the-wall crossover event, and it's noticeably not as well done as everything else was in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The effects and action are nice, but the story squanders a palpable script in favour of frustratingly fragmented (which multiverses can suffer from when stories don't address all the inherent issues of multiple worlds directly interacting with each other) fan-service and even more sequel-fodder with its abrupt cliff-hanger ending (pre-post-creds mind you, but still).

Doctor Strange 2 covers its concept of multiverses instead of telling a re-inventive character-driven story like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had. Doctor Strange 2's got splashes of self-aware humour here and there, but it's gonna have to take some magic to become a film comparable to the MCU's stronger entries.

The most notable thing about the film is how many opportunities it squanders with its many supporting characters introduced and then never really getting utilised in the story (except for one). It teases endless narrative possibilities courtesy of the last Spider-Man movie doing so with its lead, but Doctor Strange 2 teases fan service only to deliver shortcomings instead of going all the way with its promise of 'madness' in the title. The good stuff IS there; it just doesn't have enough story-breathing-room in the film.

Doctor Strange 2 is definitely a noble attempt at something 'new' for the MCU, and it's sure as hell more confident than Eternals, but it suffers the same character-squandering issues as it.

With a universe as vast as Marvel's, not every entry in the MCU was guaranteed to work. At least it tried.

Jojo Rabbit
(2019)

Great stuff!
Jojo Rabbit is a story of a boy's struggles with fascism and how he just wanted to be 'part of a club' rather than part of the Hitler Youth. It shows that idealism vs realism is NOT all it's cracked up to be, especially for impressionable boys growing up during history-making chaos in Germany.

The film plays like a buddy film during one of human history's darkest moments, and the 'buddy' aspect kind of plays into Jojo's need for change as a boy flirting with ideals he doesn't fully understand. It's about a boy wanting to know himself, and his tribulations with his Hitler obsession and stereotyping of Jews makes his arc in the film THAT much more potent, in getting its message across: that we don't want to be fascists (at least hopefully not), but rather be included in a cause that calls to our inner-selves (like Jojo tries to do) and can change who we are with palpable cause and effect.

In the end, it's films like this one that prove there are so many complex facets to childhood idealism and impressions, that sometimes we can be our own best judge of character.

Jojo Rabbit is political satire and childhood wisdom in a cohesively done package that is still yet to be fully dissected by media scholars; but it's surely gonna be cross-examined for generations to come. It's a deep film with deep subtexts, and deep emotional cuts too.

Jojo Rabbit was one of 2019's VERY best films, and it's sure to become a favourite by the 21st Century's end too.

Morbius
(2022)

One of the movies I've ever seen.
Morbius is a lax-Marvel film that doesn't have a hell of a lot going for it: especially considering it's meant to be adjacent to the Spider-Man movies even though you wouldn't know that WITHOUT its post-credits teases. They cut out almost all of the shared-universe stuff (I think there was a reference to Venom somewhere) EXCEPT for Michael Keaton's end-of-film appearance. What a letdown.

As for the film itself, it tries to be an entertaining piece on its own, but so much of it is either unexplained or poorly explained, like the whole fake-blood logic and the syringe used in the final act. Some of it just DIDN'T make sense: also the character development in this film was lacking because of the pacing focusing on establishing a superhero character as opposed to letting Jared Leto give some life to a dying scientist trying to cure himself and his best friend.

What does work? Morbius himself doesn't LOOK too bad (his vampire form is okay, and his ears are nicely eerie to look at, especially with those hairs), and Matt Smith makes his hammiest Doctor Who moments look downright subtle, and Jared Harris is always nice to see even when he's underused (like he is here). The film was trying to work.

The bad stuff? Well, the CGI was all over the place (looking either very good or very bad), the plotting was too empty for such interesting comic book characters, and Jared Leto himself was wasted as badly as Jared Harris.

Morbius tries to work in spite of everything against it, but these characters need clearer direction, less murky CG-action and less stupid writing to make these Spider-Man supporting characters interesting.

Morbius gets 1.5/5 stars. This vampire doesn't suck your attention up the way he ought to.

Red Dwarf
(1988)

Honestly, it's a British CLASSIC!
Red Dwarf fuses the best of television comedy and high concept sci-fi storytelling; it's like John Cleese and Arthur C. Clarke collaborating on a story that consolidates the best of both worlds and playing to their strengths as writers of their given genres that defined their careers.

Red Dwarf was also a longtime favourite of Stephen Hawking and for good reason: it was easily the smartest television show he watched since Star Trek. The absurdity of the characters juxtaposed by their outer-space shenanigans (parallel universes, shape-shifters, accidental time-travel, and so on) is something that few shows have managed to do well with sci-fi comedy. Red Dwarf succeeds in being clever and chuckle-inducing all at once. Even the bad episodes still have something to say in its creative landscape because of the creativity fuelling the series.

If I had to name some of the show's VERY best episodes, they'd be 'Backwards', 'Marooned', 'Polymorph', 'Back to Reality', and 'Gunmen of the Apocalypse'. And that's just naming a few of the show's standout moments. There's LOTS of them! Truly.

Red Dwarf is bliss for BBC Comedy fans AND aficionados of space-operas; the best of these two worlds make this show a real treat. It's become a cult-favourite for good reason.

Red Dwarf
(1992)

What a load of smeg!
The Red Dwarf (US) Pilot has become something so notorious that it's like an urban legend of crappiness. How the hell did this unfunny abomination get made? The distinctly post-colonial British-ness of the original cult classic is COMPLETELY gone, and replaced with generic American sitcom syndrome chock-block with canned laughter galore and woeful music. Not to mention the actors (besides Robert Llewellyn) lack ANY synergy or basic chemistry making for interesting viewing.

Red Dwarf didn't deserve to be mocked this way, but thankfully this pilot is hard to find, and never officially aired either. Even with the whole bootleg novelty of its existence, it still sucks hard.

Good luck trying to find this one WITHOUT using the black market that is pirated DVDs, streaming, YouTube posts and so forth. Besides, I think even Grant Naylor Productions disowned this joke altogether.

Diabolical: Laser Baby's Day Out
(2022)
Episode 1, Season 1

A solid Animaniacs tribute episode.
The Boys has kind of relished in cynical parodies of pop-culture, corporate culture and celebrity status too. And this episode's no different.

In the 1990s, shows like Animaniacs thrived off of its energetic visuals and music basically being its own actor from time to time. Laser Baby's Day Out is no different and is appropriately more vulgar with seeping into The Boys' grittiness, adding to the visual comedy. This episode isn't everyone's cup-of-tea exactly, but it does work on its own two feet just fine.

The Boys: Diabolical may be cashing in on stuff like The Animatrix, Batman: Gotham Knight, Halo Legends and Star Wars: Visions a little too close for some to look past, but it works to its advantage thanks to the show's multi-styles episodes.

This episode is definitely on the sillier side of things, though that's kind of the point here: it's the traditionally 'toony' one of the bunch.

Hotaru no haka
(1988)

Makes your average Disney movie's emotions paltry.
Grave of the Fireflies is, by the widest margin possible, the most devastating yet humanising animated movie ever made. It took inspiration from true stories in World War Two era Japan, and even though it's technically made up the film (it's based on an autobiography, though it's not 1:1) feels TOO real and devastating during its hour-and-a-half runtime.

Basically there's a family struggling to cope with the fallout of Japan's surrender during the War, and everything falls to pieces when the mother of Seita and Setsuko succumbs to severe burning from an air raid. So yeah: right off the bat the film is already a more severe setting than modern Disney-fare because it's about a teenage boy protecting his little sister from the horrors of warfare and everyday struggles of life.

This is an anime film that completely overwrites the MANY cliches and tropes of the medium (no high-school magical girls, no mechas, no tournaments determining the fate of the world, no post-apocalyptic dystopia), and through its celluloid paintings and sharp colour palette, Grave of the Fireflies is the most humanising and devastating film ever made. It's not for the faint-hearted and it's the kind of pain that reminds you that life still has boatloads of stuff worth living for, in spite of the horrors we endure.

Grave of the Fireflies is powerhouse cinema that's hard to watch yet is THE most necessary war film anyone can watch. It's phenomenal stuff and hearth-achingly sad, but it's a cinematic watershed moment that showed animation is JUST as humanising and alive as live-action cinema.

Anime or not, live-action or otherwise, Grave of the Fireflies is a film to remember. 5/5 stars.

P. S. Keep tissues handy, and hopefully you don't need counselling afterwards. You've been warned.

Bloodborne
(2015)

Gothic gaming galore.
Bloodborne is easily one of the most brooding games I've ever played; it's DARK, and proud to flaunt that, because in spite of the lack of cheeriness in the world of Yharnam, it's still a fun place to explore and kick ass with all the local scum and villainy in this sleepless town. The game rewards exploration and completing boss fights one calculates fight at a time.

Bloodborne came from FromSoftware: the brains and brawn behind Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and the recently released Elden Ring. All these games are in the sub-genre of 'Soulslike Games': hard-to-complete experiences that requires lots of practice and trial-and-error progression, all defined by intense world-building that is discovered by the player.

The story and lore of Bloodborne is both deep and mysterious: these omniscient beings reminiscent of Cthulhu almost seem to rule from the shadows, and the plague in Yharnam has made everyone out to be bloodthirsty monsters wanting to see you, the player, dead.

Bloodborne is a game for fantasy fans and hardcore gamers alike, but its storytelling is sure to interest newcomers too. It's one of the PlayStation 4's flagship games and an accomplishment in game design.

This game is a 5/5 star experience in all the necessary areas, and it's immersion is almost unparalleled.

Elden Ring
(2022)

This game is something else.
Elden Ring has quickly become 2022's greatest pop-cultural phenomenon; in these unpredictable times it's games like this (let alone immersive narrative experiences) that give us new appreciation for fantasy storytelling as a whole.

Elden Ring has everything: horseback travel, fast-travel, interesting characters encouraging you to keep digging into the world to know more about its history, punchy swordplay, scale and scope to remember, and boss-battles that leave you feeling extra fulfilled when you've won after God-knows-how-many-attempts. The fantasy genre has always been ripe for video games to explore thanks to their emphasis on exploration and overcoming challenges, and Elden Ring feels like it's a summation of everything JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin (obviously), Zelda, Skyrim and the Souls games (Bloodborne too) to make up an experience that's something else.

This is an example of gaming and storytelling coming hand-in-hand where the progression of the player progresses the story in turn. Elden Ring is challenging yet rewarding, expansive yet not too overwhelming in its scope, hard yet adaptable, and fun yet immersive that the world ceases to be fake in the eyes (and minds) of the player.

Elden Ring gets 5/5 stars. It's a great time to be had for gamers everywhere.

Diabolical: An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents
(2022)
Episode 2, Season 1

Justin Roiland's The Boys.
It really IS that simple to summarise this short as Justin Roiland's take on Amazon's new 'super' franchise. And this short's an okay watch all around.

The typical ad-libbing of Justin Roiland is on full display during the episode's funnier moments (involving 'Papers', and 'Shrimp Girls'). Though Roiland's style is an odd fit for The Boys, the short itself is still a nice addition to the series. It's the kind of variety needed for animated anthology tv to justify the commitment seen on screen.

The short has all the cussing, killing and overall vulgarity you've come to expect from The Boys Universe, and for some that's all you need to make it work.

The Long Goodbye
(1973)

Film noir ripe for the taking!
The Long Goodbye must have been a fairly controversial film in the 1970s no thanks to its then-modern take on Philip Marlowe; instead of the tough-as-nails Humphrey Bogart character in 'The Big Sleep', we get Elliot Gould's more urbanised take. Marlowe's living in an apartment across from frequently-stoned girls with a traffic light on their balcony, and Marlowe has a cat who's picky with its food. The detective here is an everyman struggling to make ends meet, and it gets all the more complicated when a friend of his asks him a favour that has ramifications further down the line.

The Long Goodbye doesn't have the 'easier' black-and-white philosophy of classical film noirs: everyone in this film is a complicated case whose issues run so much deeper than what we see on-screen. Philip Marlowe knows this, and it's the character's strengths the film plays on like a charm. Even with a more humble backdrop, Marlowe is still a great character who knows that nothing is really as it seems.

The Long Goodbye is a vibrant and mysterious film that knowingly plays on film noir's tropes and (re)humanises one of the genre's great heroes. It's a seriously underrated classic that deserves a wider (re)release.

This is one for the books, and a good watch even for those unfamiliar with film noir. Philip Marlowe is a fictional icon who deserves as much fame and fortune as Sherlock Holmes; and he very well might get there someday. 5/5 stars.

The Batman
(2022)

The Bat is Back!
The Batman is an overdue zeitgeist piece for the character since co-creator Bill Finger FINALLY received official credit in October 2015 alongside Batman's other co-creator Bob Kane. Every Batman film prior to Batman v Superman lacked this key credit, and now The Batman reintroduces The Dark Knight in Uber-Gothic neo-noir style. About damn time, because this film does its damnedest to be re-inventive with the character whilst knowingly focusing more on the investigative aspect of Batman and still treating him like a comfort-food kind of action hero.

This film is a long origin story that skips the endlessly-retold origin of Bats (thank Christ we didn't see THAT again) and shows his reclusive nature as a vigilante serving his city rather than himself. Bruce Wayne is not the playboy he's made out to be in other takes, but a loner who's not over his losses. This Bruce is a fighter who cares more for others than he does himself, which is the definition of a hero. Sure the Batman side of Bruce's character is strong here, but his alter-ego thing could have been done just a little differently to make 'playing dumb' that much easier.

Some critics have been somewhat divided on the film's 'excessive darkness', but I think it works in The Batman's favour because film noir is SUPPOSED to be like that. Yes there's glimpses of humour here and there in many of these stories, but cynicism and awareness of the world's complications is fundamental to film noir storytelling. Batman is no stranger to flickers of humour in his otherwise dark life, and the film has enough sprinkles of levity that it isn't a 'joyless experience'; the film is a tribute to stuff like Chinatown and Alfred Hitchcock, whilst leveraging from Batman stories like Year One, The Long Halloween and Zero Year.

The Batman shows that dark can still be fun and endearing despite what others might have you believe; it's a film that's a superhero origin story just as much as it's a neo-noir fever dream owing itself to stuff like Vertigo and Blade Runner (especially one sequence involving The Riddler). It's a long film that could have had some of its stuff trimmed out, but the film as a whole still works as a nice reminder that Batman still has a lot of narrative breathing room to spare.

The Batman is a dark superhero tale that still inspires the hope one seeks in these movies, and that reboots don't have to be by-the-numbers square-one stuff with characters we already know like an old friend. What's needed for these movies is confidence in vision, and this film serves that up in spades.

It'll be fun seeing where Batman goes from here onward. Maybe we'll get to the Bat-Family someday sooner than we think. 5/5 stars.

Teen Titans
(2003)

The REAL Teen Titans series
Before Teen Titans Go! Effectively ruined the team's animated repertoire on modern tv, Teen Titans introduced the world to the original ensemble in rather respectable fashion. Yes there was still anime-inspired slapstick and other forms of visual comedy, but it never lost the focus of its central characters.

Teen Titans came out during Cartoon Network's superhero show gold-rush: it followed Batman Beyond, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman and X-Men: Evolution to name a few. These shows were firm reminders that comic books were finally catching up in the field of television animation across the board.

Of course there's one thing that never got cleared up regarding the show: was it EVER meant to be part of the same canon as Batman: The Animated Series? This is one burning question we may never know the answer to. But it's kind of implied that it's... maybe canon after all.

Teen Titans is 2000s TV-goodness that is a nice concentrated package of everything reliably good about superhero animation.

Diabolical: One Plus One Equals Two
(2022)
Episode 8, Season 1

Every legend has a beginning. Even nightmares.
One Plus One Equals Two is like a darker version of Batman v Superman in animated form: here we have two titans Homelander and Black Noir fighting each other trying to outsmart the other when both of them are in the crossfires of Vought International and their ruthless scheming.

This evokes the DC Animated Universe somewhat, whilst having an aesthetic closer to some of DC's animated movies and parts of Invincible. This is helped by Homelander having a very 'Batman v Superman' like stand-off with Black Noir during the episode's climactic action sequence. It's very gruesome yet satisfying to see some greatly appreciated backstory on one of TV's greatest villains in recent memory.

One Plus One Equals Two adds up to lore-enriching storytelling for The Boys, and is easily amongst Diabolical's strongest instalments.

Diabolical: I'm Your Pusher
(2022)
Episode 3, Season 1

An entertaining canonical story (for the comics)
I'm Your Pusher is what happens when you decide to bring an anthology series to its square-one aesthetic routes. This episode feels like The Boys whilst evoking that superhero cartoon feel from Invincible and even Young Justice. This is anthology TV going to all the creative places it can go in eight short episodes.

Sure this episode's a tad too short for all its showing off regarding it being an in-universe continuation of the comic books, but for the time we have it's absolutely worth it. Though Jason Isaacs as Butcher instead of Karl Urban definitely takes some time getting used to. They still had Antony Starr as Homelander so it was an interesting choice recasting Butcher for this one short alone. Though Simon Pegg as Hughie brought the comics' reference full circle rather nicely.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical is creative TV, and though it's definitely not for everyone, I'm all for this anthology animated series format. It encourages creativity and reinvention in ways live-action simply cannot do some of the time.

This episode is definitely one of this series' strongest.

The Sopranos
(1999)

A masterpiece that made HBO a TV Titan!
The Sopranos became something of a cultural phenomenon, when it debuted in 1999. Since it ended in 2007, it's become revered as an all-time TV classic that's been analysed by countless critics, fans, filmmakers and media scholars alike. The Sopranos put HBO on the map the same way The Simpsons made adult-oriented animated-sitcoms an art form that's become more refined through the years thanks to the likes of South Park, Bojack Horseman and so on.

David Chase struck gold when he got to tell a character-driven Italian-American crime epic about mafia kingpins residing in New Jersey. It's high-concept storytelling with relatable character-trappings: the characters are complicated people yet they show their weaknesses to those closest to them; but when confronting their enemies they don't pull their punches whatsoever (so long as their endgame isn't disrupted or overthrown). And these layered people all reside in New Jersey: America's 'armpit'. Yet these people are more than the sum of their parts.

The Sopranos is about family, devotion to mafia-life, warped psychology circa Tony Soprano's MANY (emotional) upswings-and-downswings throughout the series. It's basically a world revolving around one man's struggle with the life he was born into, and coming to terms with it whilst being the best father and husband he can be in spite of being a criminal kingpin. And yet The Sopranos is so much more than that; it's got phenomenal supporting characters that all have time to breathe in-story and the world-building is great too. You get a real sense of American and Italian cultural overlap in every single episode, all thanks to David Chase's great dedication to his layered stories and dialogue.

What else is there to say about The Sopranos? It's a show that has proven itself time and time again so much that it's basically gospel to claim this show as one of THE most important shows ever made: American or otherwise. It's history playing before your very eyes in the same vein as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sherlock or Chernobyl. Had it not been for The Sopranos television serial-drama wouldn't be where it's at right now.

The Sopranos is damn good stuff. It's deeply-investing, it's fun, and something of a life changer. It's no ordinary TV: it's HBO's The Sopranos. 5/5 stars.

The Wizard of Oz
(1939)

A timeless classic that every cinephile NEEDS to see!
The Wizard of Oz showed that Technicolor was becoming a booming phenomenon in Hollywood, that fantasy storytelling was becoming a seriously-taken form of art and escapism, and Judy Garland became a household name for all-time; and I didn't even mention 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' yet. This film is a classic that EVERYONE deserves to see, especially if they claim to be a cinema lover.

The Wizard of Oz is filled with classic moment after classic moment, iconic line after iconic line, and scenery that will be etched in your memory for years to come. Truly wonderful stuff that stays with you, and it's an all-ages wonder that is knowingly aware of fantasy's emotional scope of awe and investment.

The Wizard of Oz has become a cinematic staple for good reason, and it's bound to stay that way for a long time. Also it's fantastic for the kids, too.

The Matrix Resurrections
(2021)

Classically awful reboot/sequel
*Angry Spoilers Ahead*

The Matrix Resurrections made me appreciate two of the most underwhelming sequels to one of the 1990s' masterpieces of Hollywood filmmaking; and man did it do its best to be as 'meta' as possible whilst being too preachy and pandering to the whole 'lack of originality' in entertainment as a whole. This whole film was a massive disrespect to the original's 'four quadrant' appeal and accessibility even with its sci-fi trappings.

The Matrix Resurrections is the death of a reboot before it even began its course properly; this film was a thematically and nonsensically desperate attempt at kickstarting yet ANOTHER sequel/reboot in the 2020s-landscape. The screenplay was a garbled (and failed 'high-concept') think-piece of contradictory ridiculousness, the direction was wonky and everyone besides Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are woefully out of place in The Matrix world.

Basically, the story tries to be self-aware yet contradictory of the previous entries in a 'clever' way; Neo's now a game designer, everyone is either an agent or manipulated piece of machinery determined to stop his escape, Morpheus is reincarnated as some non-specific hive of drones yet has the memories of Lawrence Fishburne's take on him, Niobe is a million-years-older now, Neo uses The Force in the form of Kamehameha/Hadoken-beams, and Trinity is the second 'Chosen One' (or something). This film is a multi-million dollar mess of the HIGHEST order. It hates the fact it's a sequel and basically relishes in condescending jokes about how 'meta' everything is in The Matrix now. Must explain how The Agents now shoot like Stormtroopers, the scenery screams 'Member-Berries' on steroids, Neo has forgotten Kung Fu except for lines of 'reference' dialogue (explaining the whole Force thing earlier). It's clear the film has no idea if it's an ACTUAL (or comprehensible) story or reference-fodder trying to cancel everything out that made The Matrix special in the first place; it's kind of implied that everything's made up anyway so nothing here really matters. So what was the point of The Matrix Resurrections? To kill any future the franchise might have had.

I must say: although I hated the film in the end, I didn't go in expecting to hate it the same way people on the internet have clearly echoed in DROVES by now; but the sh!t this film spewed in all the wrong ways made it a somewhat beautiful disaster-piece. It gets EVERYTHING wrong and doesn't even feel like a proper movie by the time you get to the climax. This is awful cinema. Though I commend Warner Brothers for green lighting such a batsh!t crazy script AND backing it with money people only dream of having themselves.

The Matrix Resurrections is cinematic assassination by misappropriation (and COLOSSAL misunderstanding) of a beloved property. Hopefully no more Matrix movies are coming. My God.

The Fly
(1986)

Damn good body-horror!
The Fly was one of the 1980s' defining remakes of horror classics; and it worked like a charm instead of being a cynical cash-grab. The movie plays like a warped origin story from a comic book, with the goriest trappings imaginable crescendoed by an impending sense of doom for the main character.

Needless to say, everything about this film works: from the effects and the music, right down to Jeff Goldblum's classic character, Dr. Seth Brundle. This film is a scrutinisation of ego, man-playing-God, lust, and man's simplest mistakes being costly oversights. It's also a horror-tragedy too; The Fly is like a gradual spiral from breakthrough success going down to utter chaos and perversion.

This film's not really for the faint-hearted: the scenes of Dr. Brundle turning into The Fly is not only genuinely scary, but it's upsetting seeing such an outsider of a man suffer such a sad fate of his own making. This is a horror movie with heart and soul, and some dramatic teeth to match. And the bite on this one is extreme.

This is 80s cinema: pure and concentrated genuine awe through all the shock, discovery and unmitigated analogue shocks to The Fly's body-horror making this film a fan-favourite for horror nuts everywhere.

The Book of Boba Fett
(2021)

First Episode Review
The Book of Boba Fett is just getting started and already some people are trying to judge the entire series too quickly, even though the first chapter just came out. Wait until the whole thing's finished, guys. WandaVision had the same 'problem' for impatient viewers who can't stomach the weekly-release model for television shows, but it's absolutely worth the wait in the end.

Overall this episode was a good starter for what should be an entertaining series overall, and it still honours Boba Fett's badassery just fine. Sure it may harken a little too closely to The Prequel Trilogy with its literal usage of footage from Episode II for some, but it's to the series' advantage and giving layers to the central character.

This show seems to be giving more light to the Star Wars universe's criminal underbelly: and it's bound to get into juicier details in the coming instalments. Boba Fett deserved some more time on-screen and he's finally getting his own story so he can really shine. 4/5 stars: promising beginning for a promising show.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles
(1987)

Holiday Classic!
Planes, Trains & Automobiles proved itself to be as influential as John Hughes' other cinematic-80s-classics like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off; the man knew how to tell stories relatable in 1980s America regarding social outcasts, working-class people and character-synergy that few filmmakers can master these days.

Regardless of whether or not this Steve Martin and John Candy led film is more Christmas movie or Thanksgiving movie is up to the viewer to decide (it's a Holiday movie all the same); the film is a buddy-comedy done right and has some nicely potent twists and turns throughout the story. It's as nicely done as a Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner, and it honours its holiday spirit perfectly. Even if the drama is full of emotional ups-and-downs that may be stronger than you're expecting, in the end holiday cheer is what prevails in any of these kinds of stories.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a fun cinematic and character-driven trip. Give this one a watch.

Santa Inc.
(2021)

Nope.
Santa Inc. Has become the laughing stock of internet television because of its crass political allegories, mean-spirited characters, non-existent humour and wasting its full-series structure as a means to waste its potentially potent message that anyone's capable of goodwill (but first they must have it).

This show might try to work on some levels beyond the animation, but there's nothing of real worth here, because the characters don't justify its eight half-hour episodes or using the viewers' time. This is a Christmas show done poorly, and devoid of any subversive charm; it succumbs to its own cynicism.

Santa Inc. Exists; and that's far too much for some of us who watched it.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
(2021)

A Cinematic Melting-Pot!
Spider-Man: No Way Home is equal parts reinvention and newfound territory to take one of the world's most beloved characters in surprisingly creative directions. If Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse didn't bring home the idea of multiverses for the web-slinger in a broader sense for casuals, No Way Home consolidates the concept in the MCU thanks to its many 'legacy-surprises'.

No Way Home is the culmination of EVERY live-action Spider-Man movie before it, and wraps it all up with a nice if somewhat overwhelming bow of affection. It's clear that Jon Watts not only wanted to fulfil his desire to make the proverbial Spider-Man story for cinema (alongside Spider-Verse), but also show that fan-service can serve emotionally potent stories; when done right fan service is a dramatic double-whammy of visceral effect instead of empty pandering.

Spider-Man's probably one of cinema's most reinvented characters ever; and this film is the newest in a long line of interpretations that won't leave us anytime soon. But how can they top this? Where to go after the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb films crossing over with the MCU? I don't know; they can try, but this will be that 'special first' for the MCU to cross with other film canons.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is a pay-off that feels earnest and well-deserved for any devout Spider-Fan out there, and for sure one of 2021's biggest cinematic bangs.

The new (and MUCH improved) Spider-Man 3 gets 5/5 stars.

The Wheel of Time
(2021)

Doesn't really hold up to other fantasy fare.
The Wheel of Time was originally going to be adapted as a feature by Universal Studios back in 2004, but when that project fell through, it changed hands countlessly through the years: and finally got adapted for tv courtesy of Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television. And it's hardly a unique production; the first episode alone borrows a little too much from the first Lord of the Rings movie, so much so that it almost feels like a borderline rip-off it right down to Rosamund Pike's voice-over not even pretending to be too eerily familiar to Cate Blanchett's opening narration in The Fellowship of the Ring.

The show tries to stand out from The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, but it doesn't succeed in bringing new stuff to the proverbial table of the fantasy genre. The Wheel of Time succumbs to the sameness of many other fantasy projects that it doesn't try to stand out from: the prophecy thing, the omnipotent wizards/mages, and the barroom scenes where everyone is drinking and singing in-universe songs and so on. While I do appreciate scenes involving drinking like in Lord of the Rings, it felt more like trope obligation and didn't go to new places regarding the story.

Amazon wants to corner the fantasy market via Prime Video; with this and it's upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series, it's clear they're not taking this approach lightly. If Game of Thrones showed HBO and other networks that high-concept properties were worth adapting for long-form TV, then The Wheel of Time shows that the streaming market is just getting started with their takes on these beloved properties.

Here's hoping the show improves with age. As is, The Wheel of Time doesn't bode well for Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings tv series. 2.5/5 stars.

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