Prey (2022) Review

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Prey

Time: 99 Minutes
Cast:
Amber Midthunder as Naru
Dakota Beavers as Taabe
Dane DiLiegro as the Predator
Michelle Thrush as Aruka
Julian Black Antelope as Chief Kehetu
Stormee Kipp as Wasape
Bennett Taylor as Raphael Adolini
Director: Dan Trachtenberg

A skilled Comanche warrior protects her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against wilderness, dangerous colonisers and this mysterious creature to keep her people safe.

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The Predator sequels tried to change things up with every instalment following the action hit from 1987. Predator 2 places the Predator in Los Angeles, Predators had all forms of human killers dropped onto an alien planet and hunted by the titular aliens, and The Predator made some misguided decisions as it attempted to build some sort of cinematic universe which went nowhere. However now we are getting a new instalment with the most unique approach, abandoning the 20th and 21st centuries altogether, and setting the movie back in the 18th century, focussing on a Comanche warrior fighting a single Predator. This premise already had my interest and it delivered. It really deserved to be on the big screen instead of dumped on a streaming services like Hulu and Disney+.

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The story is very simple and straightforward. It strips down all the heavy lore that was present in the other Predator movies, makes it character focused, was a thrilling experience. You’re right there with the main character as she’s trying to go up against this powerful and deadly alien. The plot isn’t surprising, you’ve seen this kind of story before. However, the approach to the story made it succeed and make it feel fresh. The setting helps, much of it is relatively grounded. There aren’t any modern human weaponry, the only guns are the ones in the 18th century. I really liked the Comanche focus in the story too. It has a brisk runtime at about an hour and 40 minutes, and I think it works. It paces itself well, taking its time as the protagonist slowly understands how this alien operates. While it avoids having close ties to the other Predator movies, there is a couple unnecessary references and lines to the original, and they came across as jarring and forced. Something that will be immediately out of place is the fact that most of the dialogue from the Comanche characters are in English. However, I did hear afterwards that there is a Comanche dub option to make it more immersive in its cultural and historical representation, so it may be worth checking out that version.

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The actors all play their parts very well, but the highlight is Amber Midthunder, who is phenomenal and believable as the lead character Naru. Much of the movie is told from her perspective and you are invested in her, helped by Midthunder conveying a lot without need to say much. Naru is also well written and she goes through an interesting and engaging journey.

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10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg did a fantastic job with Prey. He manages to keep a horror feeling throughout; there is a real sense of dread, and it never feels safe. It has a gorgeous setting, the landscapes are showcased well by the amazing cinematography, and the lighting looks very natural. The action was good, well-choreographed and does feature some brutal kills (as expected given the franchise it’s in). Most of the CGI works but it can be a little inconsistent at points, especially when it comes to the blood. The predator itself was great; the design is unique, primal and very intimidating. Finally, Prey is accompanied excellently by Sarah Schachner’s score which really adds to the tone and mood of the film.

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Prey is a lean, brutal and effective action thriller, greatly directed, and excellently performed by Amber Midthunder. It’s a refreshing entry in the Predator franchise, and the best film in the series since the original. Even if you haven’t watched the first movie, I think you could watch Prey without any problems. I appreciate how fresh this movie feels and I wouldn’t be against seeing other Predator movies set in different time periods and locations in the way that Prey handled it.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) Review

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Glass Onion

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc
Edward Norton as Miles Bron
Janelle Monáe as Cassandra “Andi” Brand
Kathryn Hahn as Claire Debella
Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel Toussaint
Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay
Dave Bautista as Duke Cody
Jessica Henwick as Peg
Madelyn Cline as Whiskey
Director: Rian Johnson

Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.

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Glass Onion was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I loved Knives Out and was happy to hear that writer and director Rian Johnson was making a follow up film with Daniel Craig’s detective character Benoit Blanc returning. With a cast including Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson and more, I was already on board. It is releasing on Netflix in December, but I managed to check it out during its one week run in cinemas: it did not disappoint.

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Rian Johnson is in full command of his craft here, and he has delivered once again with a snappy screenplay that is sharper and larger than the first movie. It doubles down on the twists, the humour, the social satire and more. It takes a while for the initial murder to take place, but in the time leading up to it, it builds up the tension and suspense very well. It is slower paced, but I wouldn’t say that it dragged. From my first viewing, I thought it was well plotted and hard to predict what was happening with all the twists and turns. The plot itself is a bit complicated with a lot of moving pieces; I need to watch it again to make sure that the story actually makes sense. Knives Out was already a comedy but Glass Onion leans more into that aspect and I thought most of it really worked, and there’s probably plenty of jokes that I missed on the initial viewing. Some of the more prominent criticisms that people had for Knives Out was of the internet and modern day references. Glass Onion has more of that so if that’s an issue you had with the first film, you’ll probably be annoyed at certain aspects here. It didn’t bother me too much, but Johnson really could’ve toned those down. I liked the third act and conclusion of the movie, but I do think that the ending was a little too abrupt.

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Like with Knives Out, Glass Onion has an excellent ensemble cast and they all played their parts greatly. Daniel Craig reprised his role as private detective Benoit Blanc in more of a lead role compared to the first movie, and he’s even better here. We learn more about him, he’s more interesting and once again he is a delight to watch. The new cast of suspects are smaller in number compared to the first movie, but it does make it a little more intimate as you feel the dynamics more and see the relationships between the characters. Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr. are great in their parts. Kate Hudson was really funny with perfect comedic timing and line deliveries. However, Janelle Monae is probably the stand out and steals the show, one of the most interesting characters here. Some actors are used better than others, Jessica Henwick and Kathryn Hahn did feel a little underutilised, but they are still good. There’s also a lot of unexpected cameos here.

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Rian Johnson returns, and I think his directing work is even better here. Glass Onion is a much larger and exotic movie; the locations are stunning, the production design is solid, and they are showcased well by the cinematography. Its also edited together very well. Nathan Johnson’s score is really good and fits the tone of the movie.   

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Glass Onion was thoroughly entertaining; it manages to be on the same level of the first movie (at the very least), while trying some different things. The script is snappy and the performances from the cast are excellent, making for a highly satisfying experience. Definitely worth checking out if you liked Knives Out.

Ticket to Paradise (2022) Review

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Ticket to Paradise

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
George Clooney as David Cotton
Julia Roberts as Georgia Cotton
Kaitlyn Dever as Lily Cotton
Billie Lourd as Wren Butler
Maxime Bouttier as Gede
Lucas Bravo as Paul
Director: Ol Parker

A man and his ex-wife race to Bali, Indonesia, to stop their daughter from marrying a seaweed farmer. As they desperately try to sabotage the wedding, the bickering duo soon find themselves rekindling old feelings that once made them happy together.

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I watched the trailers to Ticket to Paradise; it looked like one of those romantic comedies from the 2000s that we don’t get very often nowadays. I went into it after hearing people liking it. I just expected a typical romantic comedy, and it was that, but I did enjoy it.

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The plot is very predictable, it’s breezy, light and charming across its 100 minutes runtime. Much of it feels like a 2000s romantic comedy, from the writing to the fact that it has stars headlining it and being the main draw, it even has a blooper reel during the credits. It definitely doesn’t reinvent the genre, and it is cliché all the way through. The moment you know the setup, you know how it’ll play out. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are exes who don’t like each other anymore but go to their daughter’s wedding in Bali to stop her from getting married. You know exactly how the movie will go. Not all the jokes land, but I thought most of them worked and I found it fun.

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The cast are enjoyable in their parts, and they make the movie really work. This is a film that highly depends on the charisma of the leads. Thankfully, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are effortlessly enjoyable to watch, with very natural chemistry between the two. The film just wouldn’t have been the same without them, they are definitely the highlight of the movie and the reason to watch it. The rest of the cast including Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd are good in their screentime too.

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The direction from Ol Parker was good, it works well enough for what it is. The locations were amazing, and the cinematography is warm and gorgeous, showcasing those locations well.

Still Photography on the set of "Ticket To Paradise"

You could watch the trailer for Ticket to Paradise and figure out what kind of movie it is. As far as rom coms go, its not one of the best (even when just looking at those from the 2020s. Still, I enjoyed watching it despite its familiarity.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review

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Black Panther Wakanda Forever

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Winston Duke as M’Baku
Florence Kasumba as Ayo
Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams
Michaela Coel as Aneka
Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Angela Bassett as Ramonda
Director: Ryan Coogler

Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.

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I was losing interest in the MCU since Phase 4’s start, there was only a few movies that I was curious about: one of those movies was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.  The biggest challenge it had was that it was dealing with the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman (who played Black Panther/T’Challa). It had a lot to handle, but I think they pulled it off.

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Wakanda Forever aims to be a sequel to Black Panther and a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, and I think it succeeded at both. In fact, there’s a good amount of stuff that surpasses the first movie for me. Like with the first Black Panther, while it is definitely in the MCU, it distances itself from the rest of those worlds and outside characters, it is more focussed on being its own story. There is some MCU worldbuilding for future projects and that can be a little annoying, but it was mostly just distracting at worst. There is some complexity to the story and perhaps it’s a little messy with the amount of stuff it puts in, but I liked what we got. The worldbuilding was solid, I was particularly interested in learning about this new nation of Talokan that was introduced, but I wish there was more of it, we didn’t get to spend that much time there. Although we can predict how it’ll play out, the movie felt like it had actual stakes to it, and has a heartfelt and emotionally charged story. This isn’t a spoiler but the way that they handle T’Challa’s death was well handled. He is established as dead from the beginning, but his presence is felt throughout. Wakanda Forever is just as thematically strong as its predecessor. Fittingly, much of the movie deals with grief, morality and the impact of loss. Much of the MCU’s Phase 4 can be chalked up as to ‘dealing with grief’, but the difference is that Wakanda Forever actually feels genuine. It is also heavily character focused; despite the scale it does feel personal and even allows for some great introspective moments. There is a sombre and mature tone throughout, that said there are also some moments of humour and most of it fits well. Even in the times where the jokes don’t work, they don’t drag the movie down too much or become too distracting like in the other MCU films. There is a mid credits scene and I think it is worth sticking around for. Its more like an extension on the ending and it is fitting for the movie. Something notable is the long runtime which is 2 hours and 40 minutes long, it is slower paced too. Overall I think that it mostly works, but perhaps I might take more issue upon a rewatch. It did feel jam packed with stuff and some parts work better than others. However, I can say for certain that a subplot involving Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross and another side character easily could’ve been cut down. While I saw the point of that storyline, it felt like a detour and out of place from the rest of the movie.

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The absence of Chadwick Boseman is certainly felt. Nonetheless, the cast here do a tremendous job and deliver some great performances. Letitia Wright as Shuri is the closest thing to a lead character in this movie, and gets so much more to do here than her prior appearances. She brought a lot of emotion to her part, especially in the second half. Angela Bassett also delivers a powerful performance as Queen Ramonda. There are some other returning actors including Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke who are also good in their parts, I just wish they had more involvement and scenes. One of the new additions to the cast was Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams/Ironheart. I was admittedly unsure how she would fit into the movie, not to mention there is an upcoming show focussed on her character. It did feel like she was only here to set up that show, but she does actually fit into the plot better than expected despite feeling like a plot device. Thorne is good in her part and delivers on the comedic elements. The villain of the movie is Namora, played by Tenoch Huerta, and he was one of the highlights of the film. Like Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger from the first Black Panther movie, Namor is a powerful, ruthless, yet interesting and understandable villain who steals all the scenes he was in. Definitely one of the best MCU villains yet.

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Ryan Coogler returns to direct the Black Panther sequel and his work is amazing once again. It is beautifully shot, even if its not as visually interesting compared to the first movie. The action is pretty good and an improvement over the first movie’s, even if some are clearly better than others. There is particularly one fight scene that doesn’t have any music playing and its probably the best action scene in the movie, it had genuine tension. The costume, production design and score from Ludwig Göransson is as incredible as the previous movie. As for the CGI, considering much of the recent MCU projects like Thor: Love and Thunder, its pretty good. Of course it had moments of bad looking effects and green screen, particularly in the third act, but at that point I was invested enough in the movie that it didn’t matter too much.

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has its issues, it is a bit overstuffed and not all of it works. On the whole though, it is really good. Considering all the things Coogler and co. had to do following challenging circumstances, they pulled it off. I was invested in the story, the action is decent, and the performances are great, not to mention it is a heartfelt tribute to Chadwick Boseman. It is one of the better MCU films and is by far the best Phase 4 movie.

Possession (1981) Review

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Possession

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Sex scenes
Cast:
Isabelle Adjani as Anna/Helen
Sam Neill as Mark
Director: Andrzej Żuławski

Mark’s wife Anna asks him for a divorce but he suspects that she is having an affair and hires a private investigator. Meanwhile, he begins an affair with his son’s teacher who is Anna’s lookalike.

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I have been hearing about Possession for a little while, all I really knew about it going in was that it was a strange horror movie and that Sam Neill was one of the main actors. I went into it fairly blind, and I really wasn’t prepared for how great it was.

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It is actually pretty hard to describe Possession. Essentially, the setup is that a woman starts behaving increasingly unhinged after asking her husband for a divorce, however, there might be something more going on behind the scenes. That’s as far as I’m willing to talk about the plot. Unsurprisingly this is a movie about divorce and it portrays quite possibly the messiest divorce of all time. Apparently, this was based on the director’s own experience of divorce and you really feel that, he clearly put all of his emotions and feelings from that into the movie. It starts out as a melodrama about marriage falling apart, but takes a startling turn to psychological horror. It’s a weird pairing of body horror and metaphorical marriage drama, and almost plays like a David Cronenberg movie at times (who also had his own horror divorce movie with The Brood). It’s a very weird and unconventional movie, so I’m not sure that everyone would be into it. It’s a haunting, disturbing and heavy story, yet I couldn’t look away at any point. Possession has a lot to say, its very layered and there’s a lot of ambiguity and metaphors. By the end it leaves you with many questions and requires you to interpret much of what happened, but in a good way. 

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While the performances are generally good, it really comes down to the excellent leads in Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. Neill gives possibly his best performance as a spy who discovers that his wife wants a divorce. But of course the highlight is Adjani as his wife, an absolutely unhinged, over the top performance which can be melodramatic, yet works perfectly for this movie. She conveys so much emotion, anxiety and a sense of dread; there’s a lot of intensity and emotion whenever she’s on screen. Possibly one of the best performances I’ve seen. Neill and Adjani throw themselves into their characters and are fantastic, with such uncomfortable convincing and angry chemistry between the two.

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Andrzej Żuławski directs this and his work here is stellar. There’s always an unsettling feeling and atmosphere which only increases as the movie progresses. The visuals are haunting, and while the cinematography isn’t the prettiest and looks washed out and clinical, it fits the tone of the movie. It’s a very immersive movie, helped by the unnerving and swooping camera shots. There are also many scenes which convey the borderline insanity of Isabelle Adjani’s character, one of the highlights being an exhausting scene with her in a train station.

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Possession is nothing like any movie I’ve seen before, particularly when it comes to horror. It’s a layered psychological horror drama with a lot to say and interpret from it. While I don’t understand everything by the end of it, its been on my mind ever since I watched it. The atmosphere is effectively uncomfortable and unsettling, and the performances from Sam Neill and particularly Isabelle Adjani are fantastic. Well worth checking out.

My Cousin Vinny (1992) Review

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My Cousin Vinny

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini
Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini
Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan Rothenstein
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain Haller
Director: Jonathan Lynn

Vinny, an inexperienced lawyer, steps in to defend his cousin Billy and his friend Stan in his first ever trial after they are accused of murdering a convenience store owner.

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I heard about My Cousin Vinny for some time, from what I knew about it, it’s a comedy involving law and has Joe Pesci in the lead role. I become much more interested in checking it out after watching and loving Clue and learning that director Jonathan Lynn also made this film. I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

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One thing that I will admit is that the first act is a little clunky. Even within this movie, some of the characters are a little too stupid even for this movie. The humour was also hit or miss, especially with the instances of characters misunderstanding another people (this happens at least twice). Its also more than a bit frustrating to see Vinny (Joe Pesci) fail as a lawyer on a rather cartoonish level. However, at around the halfway point, Vinny suddenly becomes good at being a lawyer, and that’s when it really picks up. This change is very abrupt and sudden but that aside, if you find the movie hard to get through in the first half, just hold out until you get to that point. Overall, it is a very funny movie; while some of the early act jokes are pretty hit or miss, the rest of the jokes land. There are nice little gags throughout which occur plenty of times and actually have a payoff. There are even little details or moments that actually have relevance to the plot later on, like the preparation of grits and Marisa Tomei’s knowledge of automobiles. As for the plot itself, the premise is a bit convenient and the plot doesn’t matter as much, it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nonetheless it is well crafted, and the trial is decent. One of the things I heard going into this movie is that according to many lawyers, this is one of the more accurate representations of the law. It’s has a funny but also smart and clever script which has an accurate portrayal of courtroom procedure, while having fun with the situations.

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This movie wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without its cast. The characters are larger than life and some of the conversations and exchanges are ridiculous, but they play it so straight that it works and is funnier. Joe Pesci is great and funny as Vinny, the inexperienced lawyer who has to defend his cousin and his friend from death row. It plays to Pesci’s strengths, while also being against type. Marisa Tomei was a scene stealer as Vinny’s girlfriend, and she plays her role perfectly. She particularly gets a monologue towards the end of the movie which was the standout scene from the movie. She also received an Oscar win for this, and it was well deserved. Pesci and Tomei are a great on-screen duo, their chemistry is great, and they play off each other very well, funny yet believable. The supporting cast are all good, including Fred Gwynne, Bruce McGill, Austin Pendleton and more. If there are any weak links, I’d say that Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield as the accused are rather boring in comparison to everyone else. However, that sort of works in favour of the movie since there’s already so many strong and memorable characters.

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My Cousin Vinny may struggle a little in the first half (particularly in the first act), but it picks up and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable movie. A smart and funny courtroom comedy, well written and helped by its memorable cast and characters, with Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei being the standouts. Definitely worth watching.

Ms. Marvel (2022) TV Review

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Ms Marvel

Cast:
Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel
Matt Lintz as Bruno Carrelli
Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia Bahadir
Zenobia Shroff as Muneeba Khan
Mohan Kapur as Yusuf Khan
Saagar Shaikh as Aamir Khan
Laurel Marsden as Zoe Zimmer
Azhar Usman as Najaf
Rish Shah as Kamran
Arian Moayed as P. Cleary
Alysia Reiner as Sadie Deever
Laith Nakli as Sheikh Abdullah
Nimra Bucha as Najma
Travina Springer as Tyesha Hillman
Adaku Ononogbo as Fariha
Samina Ahmad as Sana
Fawad Khan as Hasan
Mehwish Hayat as Aisha
Farhan Akhtar as Waleed
Aramis Knight as Kareem/Red Dagger
Creator: Harry Bradbeer

Kamala is a superhero fan with an imagination, particularly when it comes to Captain Marvel; Kamala feels like she doesn’t fit in at school and sometimes even at home, that is until she gets superpowers like the heroes she’s looked up to.

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I was not sure about how Ms. Marvel was going to be. With shows like Wandavision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, Disney+’s Marvel shows focused on characters already in the MCU. Not so much with Ms. Marvel, and I only knew that she was somehow connected with Captain Marvel. Still, I heard some fairly positive things going into it, and it ended up being much better than I expected. In spite of its flaws, its one of the better Marvel shows so far.

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Ms. Marvel starts off on a high note. The first thing you notice is the tone; it is very light hearted, in fact almost like a Disney channel show (especially with the effects) but in some ways it gave it a distinct personality outside of the usual MCU stuff. That’s not to say that MCU has shortage in being lighthearted (in fact that’s where they mostly operate). Still, Ms. Marvel felt different, and had plenty of genuinely fun moments. It also aims to capture the Pakistani-American experience especially with its lead character Kamala Khan, and with that the perspective is different from what we’ve seen from the prior movies and shows. It is a coming-of-age story and focuses on the challenges of high school, while adding upon Kamala discovering that she now has powers, and exploring what she can do with them. Those first couple of episodes were surprisingly good and I liked where it was going. Sadly, the show does lose some steam as the story comes into play. This is most notable in episode 4 where it uses the scenery change to Pakistan to just have a lot of exposition dumped onto Kamala and the audience. As the scale and scope gradually expands, it really loses what I liked so much about its earlier episodes. Despite a strong start, the story isn’t really that good or interesting. It was quite predictable and I found it hard to be invested in what was happening. A big part of this shift is that it loses the enjoyable tone established in the first couple of episodes and becomes just another autopilot Marvel story. The humour is also a bit hit or miss, but I didn’t mind it as much here compared to some other Marvel projects. Thankfully, the finale brings the show back to what I liked about it. While there are larger displays of power, it really brings it back to that heartfelt coming of age story, the high school setting, and the focus on Kamala becoming a hero. All the prior MCU Disney+ shows ended in disappointing ways except for Loki. However, Ms Marvel has the second-best finale of the shows so far. Finally, I’m going to take yet another moment to complain about yet another MCU show being 6 episodes; every MCU show up to now (except for WandaVision) does this and its annoying because it feels like a movie stretched across 6 weeks. They really could’ve moved things around and refined it into a potentially better feature film.

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(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan and Matt Lintz as Bruno in Marvel Studios’ MS. MARVEL. Photo by Daniel McFadden. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, I think the cast did quite well. The standout to me was Iman Vellani who is perfectly cast as Kamala Kahn/Ms. Marvel. She’s charming, likable and fun to watch, not to mention well written, well-capturing a teenage girl who is a fan of Marvel superheroes and then finds herself becoming one. I also liked the dynamic she has with the rest of her family, and it felt very believable. The central antagonists aren’t very good. While they aren’t the biggest issue with this show, they are so unmemorable that they could end up being some of the worst villains in the MCU.

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The look, feel and style of the show is vibrant and colourful, making it stand out from other Marvel projects. The occasional use of animated sequences was entertaining too. Much of the effects (mainly with Kamala’s powers) looks very goofy, but with its tone it gets away with that. When it doesn’t go for the goofy Disney Channel style and attempts to be more serious however, it does suffer.

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Ms. Marvel is one of the more refreshing Marvel projects I’ve seen. I liked the coming of age/high school focus and approach, I enjoyed the tone, and the cast are generally good, especially Iman Vellani as the title character. There’s also plenty of problems from the villains, to the drop off after the first couple of episodes, to the fact that they easily could’ve made this a 2 hour long movie. However, I think the fact that it does stick the landing at the finale makes it one of the better shows in the MCU.

Enola Holmes 2 (2022) Review

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Enola Holmes 2

Time: 129 Minutes
Cast:
Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes
Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes
David Thewlis as Grail
Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury
Susie Wokoma as Edith
Adeel Akhtar as Lestrade
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Mira Troy
Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes
Director: Harry Bradbeer

Enola Holmes takes on her first case as a detective, but to unravel the mystery of a missing girl, she’ll need some help from friends — and brother Sherlock.

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I enjoyed the first Enola Holmes movie; It wasn’t anything special, but it was fun for what it was. It probably didn’t need a sequel, but a sequel was inevitable nonetheless, and I think it ended up being better than the first movie.

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The story is a familiar mystery as a simple disappearance story but is overall stronger than the first movie (which 2 years later I can’t remember). I wasn’t initially interested in the mystery at first, but I eventually got on board with it as time went on. They also blended in some true history surprisingly well. It also benefits from the fact that it doesn’t get bogged down by having to establish the origin story of its lead character, and so it can just focus on the central mystery. The writing is sharp and the playful nature of the fourth wall breaks make it entertaining. While fourth wall breaks can be hit or miss, the fourth wall breaks probably work here because they are constant throughout the movie. Sometimes the pacing is a bit slow, and it doesn’t help that the movie is really too long at 2 hours and 10 minutes. For me the length is the film’s biggest flaw; it could’ve been cut down by at least 10 minutes.

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Millie Bobby Brown once again leads the movie greatly as the title character, and she’s even more confident here than she was in the previous movie. As entertaining as these movies are, they wouldn’t nearly be as good without MBB, considering that much of the films are riding on her, and she is very much the key strength of both of them. Henry Cavill again makes for a good Sherlock Holmes and perhaps one that is more light hearted than most people are used to seeing on screen. This time he’s more directly involved with the plot and fits in quite well. She’s not in the movie a ton but Helena Bonham Carter is entertaining in her screentime. The villains are more interesting and entertaining than in the first movie; David Thewlis is particularly scene chewing and having fun in his part.

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Harry Bradbeer returns to direct the Enola Holmes sequel and again has done a decent job at directing; nothing special but it works okay. The editing can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes it is stylish in a good way, but whenever it comes to the ‘action’ scenes, the cuts are very janky.

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Enola Holmes 2 isn’t a great movie; the mystery isn’t that unique, and it definitely is too long. But I can’t deny that I had lots of fun throughout, especially with the good cast led by Millie Bobby Brown. Netflix seems to want to make this a franchise and there will definitely be another sequel for sure, but I’m honestly up for another Enola Holmes.

The Outfit (2022) Review

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The Outfit

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Mark Rylance as Leonard Burling
Johnny Flynn as Francis
Zoey Deutch as Mable Shaun
Dylan O’Brien as Richie Boyle
Simon Russell Beale as Roy Boyle
Director: Graham Moore

Leonard is an English tailor who makes suits on London’s famous Savile Row. He must outsmart a dangerous group of criminals to survive a fateful night.

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The Outfit is a thriller from this year, and all I knew about the movie going in was that Mark Rylance was playing a tailor, that’s it. It turned out to be one of the more surprising and overlooked movies of this year so far.

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The Outfit is a smartly written and engaging whodunnit crime thriller, with a well written and sharp script. It is set in one location and mostly taking place over one night. It is much like an Alfred Hitchcock movie in both setup and execution, in some ways there are comparisons that can be made to Rope. The plot is tightly woven and is very much a slow burn movie, which is very low key and dialogue heavy. With its steadier pacing, it builds up a lot of intensity. At the same time there is an upbeat nature to it, mostly with its snappy dialogue. It does have plenty of twists and while you could figure out some of them before the reveals, they were entertaining and I think that the payoffs were good. The biggest issue with the movie for me was the final 10 minutes. The Outfit does feel like it is very reliant on twists, but at the ends it adds some twists that weren’t really necessary and feels like it was a bit too much. It is a random additional climax that the movie didn’t need. At the same time, it felt like it was always intended to be included in the movie; its just that it was implemented in a clunky way and could’ve been handled better.

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There is a great cast here, and everyone delivers in their roles. Mark Rylance leads this very well as a smart and mysterious tailor who figures his way around the situation that he finds himself stuck in. It’s a very subtle but very effective performance, and one of the highlights of the film. Other actors like Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brien, and Johnny Flynn play their parts very well. O’Brien plays a different kind of role than usual, and Johnny Flynn particularly works for this movie as one of the villains.

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The film is directed well by Graham Moore, simple yet very effective. It is very well shot by Dick Pope and makes great use of the claustrophobic location in the tailor shop. There is a notable number of moments where Mark Rylance narrates and while it seemed like it would get grating and repetitive, it actually fits quite well in the movie.

THE OUTFIT (2022)

The Outfit is one of those classic whodunnit thrillers we only get every so often, but wished we had more of nowadays. Outside of the unnecessary and clunky final 10 minutes, its engaging and entertaining, sharply scripted, directly very well, and has a cast of great performances led by Mark Rylance. Definitely check it out, its probably one of the more overlooked movies from this year.

The Contractor (2022) Review

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The Contractor (2022)

Time: 103 Minutes
Cast:
Chris Pine as James Harper
Ben Foster as Mike Hawkins
Gillian Jacobs as Brianne Harper
Eddie Marsan as Virgil
J. D. Pardo as Eric
Kiefer Sutherland as Rusty Jennings
Florian Munteanu as Kauffman
Director: Tarik Saleh

Involuntarily discharged from the Army, a special forces sergeant lands a contract with a private underground military force. When his very first assignment goes awry, the elite soldier finds himself hunted and on the run, caught in a dangerous conspiracy and fighting to stay alive long enough to get home and uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him.

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I saw The Contractor advertised on Amazon Prime, it looked to be a military thriller starring Chris Pine. Having watched it, it definitely felt like a streaming movie, but I was entertained nonetheless.

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The script and story are fairly average; if you’ve seen a passable military action thriller (especially a streaming exclusive), then you’ve probably already seen The Contractor. The opening half hour is a bit slow, but it does well in setting up the lead character and showing why he decides to take on a particular job. It also has probably the only thing that distinguishes it from other movies of this genre, as it highlights how veterans are treated by the US military and attempts to tackle some issues about private military organisations. However, by the end it has forgotten about those and becomes another standard action movie. The story isn’t that interesting and is very predictable, not helped by the slogging pacing. The characters aren’t that developed and don’t have the emotional depth needed. I will say that I do appreciate how surprisingly solemn the tone was. Also, whereas a lot of these types of military movies put things on a large scale, The Contractor is comparatively small scale and mostly focuses on Chris Pine trying to survive. While I didn’t care for the story, it was okay enough that I was willing to pay attention to what was happening. The third act is fine and entertaining enough, but it felt like they ran out of ideas and needed to formulate some predictable climax. The ending itself also ends a bit too abruptly.

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The cast are definitely the highlight of the movie. Chris Pine is very solid in the lead role, he carries much of the film. He certainly puts everything in this and helps to make his character feel more vulnerable and relatable. The rest of the cast deliver on their parts too. Ben Foster is quite good as well, even if he’s underutilised, and he and Pine (who co-starred in Hell or High Water) share convincing chemistry. Other actors like Gillian Jacobs, Eddie Marsan and Kiefer Sutherland also work in their screentime, but they are a little underserved. Gillian Jacobs is limited to just being ‘the wife character’, and Kiefer Sutherland’s villain (not much of a twist, it is easy to see coming) doesn’t get enough screentime to land an impression. Eddie Marsan’s scenes are some of the best scenes in the movie, but unfortunately he isn’t in the movie all that much.

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Direction wise, The Contractor is competently made. The cinematography is very basic, but the locations are pretty good, especially in Berlin. The action is solid too, with the firefights and fighting scenes being handled well. The editing did take away from the action and they could’ve used less cuts, but I wouldn’t say its as bad as in some other action movies. These sequences aren’t anything you haven’t seen before, yet are nonetheless entertaining enough to watch. The score from Alex Belcher also works for the movie, albeit isn’t anything special.

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Despite its potential, The Contractor is a generic and forgettable military action thriller, mostly let down by the average script. However, I did enjoy watching the movie; I liked the action and the cast are quite good, especially Chris Pine.