Category Archives: Comedy

Casino Royale (1967) Review

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Casino Royale (1967)

Time: 131 Minutes
Cast:
David Niven as Sir James Bond
Peter Sellers as Evelyn Tremble/James Bond
Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd/James Bond
Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond/James Bond
Daliah Lavi as The Detainer/James Bond
Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond
Barbara Bouchet as Miss Moneypenny/James Bond 007
Terence Cooper as Coop/ James Bond
Deborah Kerr as Agent Mimi/Lady Fiona McTarry
Orson Welles as Le Chiffre
William Holden as Ransome
Charles Boyer as Legrand
John Huston as M/McTarry
Kurt Kasznar as Smernov
Jean-Paul Belmondo as French Legionnaire
Director: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath, Val Guest

James Bond, a secret retired agent, sets a plan to take down SMERSH. Later, James Bond renames a group of agents with the same name in order to hide the real one.

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I had watched all the James Bond movies, including the unofficial Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery. But one Bond film I hadn’t gotten to yet was the 1960s Casino Royale. Casino Royale was the first novel in the James Bond book series, there were attempts to adapt it in the 60s with Sean Connery, but from what I could tell, there was issues with the rights. Eventually it was made as a spoof of the James Bond movies, and most nowadays people don’t really know about this film (especially after the 2006 film). Despite the reviews, I went in open minded and was hoping to enjoy it on some level. However, it ended up being worse than I thought it would be.

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The movie is titled Casino Royale, it features characters named Le Chiffre and Vesper Lynd, and there is a card game that takes place at Casino Royale. But that’s as far as the similarities to the original James Bond story go. The movie is pretty much a James Bond spoof, unfortunately it doesn’t really succeed as that. The script really is a mess, and its not surprising that 11 scriptwriters had worked on it. It just felt like they had thrown a lot of different ideas at the wall and saw what stuck. The plot is bizarre and absolutely incoherent, even spoof movies are at least comprehensible. The setup is that a retired James Bond played by David Niven returns from retirement to take on SMERSH (parody of SPECTRE) which involves giving multiple agents the name of James Bond. That’s as far as I can describe the plot. As for the spoof/satire aspect, it largely deals with the themes of sex and womanising in the James Bond franchise, and this is established very early on. Eventually it forgets that, and very little of the overall humour is based on Bond tropes. Most of the jokes aren’t funny and really miss the mark, and it only grows more tedious to watch as the movie progresses. I won’t say that its completely unfunny, there are some moments which are so absurd that I did find them funny, the ending is particularly insane. But those take up a very small part of the movie, and with the unfunny and annoying humour and the prolonged sections, Casino Royale is quite boring and a slog to sit through. The worst part of this movie might be the length. Had this just been 90 minutes long, I think I wouldn’t have minded the movie as much. It would’ve been a weird and trashy 60s James Bond spoof that would’ve been somewhat enjoyable in its weirdness. However, Casino Royale is over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, there’s just so much pointless and random padding, and it makes the experience even more insufferable.

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There is a weirdly large cast, filled with known names from the 60s. Unfortunately, they are all wasted here. I did somewhat enjoy David Niven, in this movie he’s playing the original James Bond. His stuttering and flustered Bond was amusing to see, even if you can easily call him the worst on screen James Bond. For the most part though, the cast are just wasted and given bad parts. There are a couple of exceptions. For examples, Woody Allen is in this movie and while his character is bad, his presence makes the whole movie even more annoying when he appears on screen. This is the first time I’ve seen Allen act in a movie and I’m very content with never seeing him again. That being said, his final scene did actually make the viewing worth it in the end. The other exception is the surprising addition of Orson Welles. In this movie he plays Le Chiffre, and for what its worth he was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He is good in his scenes, unfortunately he’s not in this movie as much as I would’ve liked. Its just a shame that out of all the James Bond movies he could’ve been in, he ended up in this one.

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As if 11 screenwriters for one movie wasn’t enough indication that Casino Royale was going to be a mess, its also directed by 5 people: John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath and Val Guest. Just by looking at the movie, you can easily tell that its from the 60s and the direction is really a mixed bag. For what its worth though, there is some creativity on a visual level, from the production design to the colours and lighting. There’s even some German Expressionist inspired visuals in the Berlin segment. I also liked the score, its very 60s and probably deserves to be in a better movie than this.

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1960s Casino Royale is easily the worst movie with the James Bond character, but also one of the most ill-conceived films I have seen. I do like some of the actors, and there were a few moments of absurdity I did enjoy. On the whole though, it is really bad. Most of the humour misses, it fails to be a solid spoof or satire of James Bond, and its just dull to sit through. The troubled and messy production certainly comes across in the end product. If you are looking for a good parody or spoof of James Bond, Austin Powers and Johnny English deliver on that much better. I’d only recommend Casino Royale (1967) to those who are very curious or want to watch all the James Bond movies, but you really aren’t missing out if you don’t watch this.

Clue (1985) Review

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Clue

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock
Tim Curry as Wadsworth
Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White
Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum
Michael McKean as Mr. Green
Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard
Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet
Director: Jonathan Lynn

Six blackmail victims are invited to an isolated mansion by a man who knows a dark secret from each of their pasts. On arrival, each is given a pseudonym drawn from Cluedo before being introduced to the blackmailer. Each is handed a weapon, at which point the lights are switched off and the blackmailer is killed. Can the guests uncover the murderer before they all become victims?

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I went into Clue fairly unsure of what to expect. All I heard was just that it was a whodunnit comedy based on the board game of the same name, and that it had something of a following. It ended up being one of the biggest surprises I had watching a movie.

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A movie based on the board game Clue seems like a weird choice, because at that point it would pretty much just be a Clue themed whodunnit film, which it is. It takes the basic premise of the board game and goes wild with it, finding clever ways of linking details of the game into the movie including the prominent rooms and possible murder weapons. The plot is actually clever and well thought out, so while its not one of the best whodunnits of all time, its crafted decently. The dialogue is witty, sharp and quotable and it’s a hilarious movie, mixing 80s cheese with dark comedy and slapstick to great effect. The jokes almost always hit for me and there are plenty of details that I missed from my initial viewing; I think that it’ll be a fun movie to rewatch. particularly with people who haven’t seen it before. Something worth noting is that there are three separate endings, and when it was released in cinemas, whichever ending each screening received was completely random. However, most versions of the movie nowadays have all three endings and I like it for that. Clue is just over 90 minutes and they move at a fast pace, I had a lot of fun from beginning to end with never a dull moment.

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The characters are all distinguishable and memorable, helped by the performances. The main cast with Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren along the supporting cast are all great. This ensemble cast is fun to watch together, playing off each other well and having their own little ticks that make them unique. They all get their moments to shine but my personal favourite of the actors unsurprisingly is Tim Curry, who particularly stands out in the third act during the final reveals.

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Jonathan Lynn’s direction is simple yet quite good and effective. The production values are strong, I liked the murder mystery party atmosphere and the spooky mansion. The editing and visuals for comedy is particularly done well.

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All things considering, Clue was way better than it had any right to be. It’s hilarious, the cast are fantastic, it’s very well made, and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. It’s already become one of my favourite comedies and films, and one that I want to revisit multiple times over. I highly recommend watching it, especially if you go into it knowing as little as possible about it.

Bullet Train (2022) Review

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Bullet Train

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Brad Pitt as “Ladybug”
Joey King as “The Prince”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as “Tangerine”
Brian Tyree Henry as “Lemon”
Andrew Koji as Yuichi Kimura / “The Father”
Hiroyuki Sanada as “The Elder”
Michael Shannon as “White Death”
Benito A. Martínez Ocasio “Bad Bunny” as “The Wolf”
Sandra Bullock as Maria Beetle
Zazie Beetz as “The Hornet”
Logan Lerman as “The Son”
Masi Oka as the Train Conductor
Karen Fukuhara as a Train Concession Girl
Director: David Leitch

Five assassins find themselves on a fast-moving bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with only a few stops in between. They discover their missions are not unrelated to each other.

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Bullet Train was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. It’s David Leitch’s (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Hobbs and Shaw) next movie which is about a lot of assassins on one train, and has a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Hiroyuki Sanada and many more. I was a little unsure about the movie based on the trailers but I was hoping for the best going into it. While I do think it could’ve been better given the people involved, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

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The writing of Bullet Train is a bit hit or miss. The story is somewhat intriguing with many twists and turns, even if it’s very derivative of other much better films. There are lots of characters with distinct personalities who are disconnected from each other, yet are all connected in the story in some way. There’s a lot of energy throughout and it’s helped by a mostly fast pace. There’s a lot happening with the number of characters involved and the way everything links together, and as such it can be unnecessarily complicated. Also, not all the characters are developed, though that comes with a movie having a very large cast. It is a comedy action movie, and it is very over the top with lots of jokes and quippy dialogue. Perhaps it’s a bit too silly for its own good at times. I have heard some people describe Bullet Train as a collection of skits put together, and I can kind of see what they mean. Every so often, the movie adds a completely new aspect or character into the plot, and sometimes it feels like it’s only there to be random and funny. They aren’t enough to take me out of the movie and I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but its definitely a movie I’ll need to rewatch to see if it still holds up. Despite the silliness of the movie, it can be a bit inconsistent with its tone. There’s more drama and emotion than I was expecting, however it doesn’t always gel with the comedy and goofiness that the film also has. The movie is around 2 hours long and while it doesn’t initially sound long, after watching, it I think it probably could’ve been trimmed by about 10 minutes.

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The strongest aspect of the movie is the massive ensemble cast, everyone is clearly having a lot of fun here. Brad Pitt is in the lead role playing a character that you could easily picture Ryan Reynolds playing as a particularly unlucky assassin. I think he was quite enjoyable in his part, even when there are other characters I was more interested in. The rest of the cast are great including Joey King, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Andrew Koji, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Not everyone reaches their potential, some characters receive more attention than others. The standout actors in the movie for me were Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as twins named Tangerine and Lemon. They were a lot of fun to watch and had some memorable moments, but also had some believable chemistry and really sold their characters. Those two honestly could’ve carried an entire movie by themselves.

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David Leitch directs Bullet Train, and I liked his work here. There are some great visuals, and the action sequences are a highlight. The action isn’t quite as strong as in Leitch’s past movies like Atomic Blonde, but they are nonetheless entertaining and well done. The stunts are solid, the camerawork is kinetic, and they are very violent and bloody, especially in the third act where they up the scale and ridiculousness. That being said, the climax does have some dodgy CGI. The soundtrack was decent and had good choices for songs, especially with their scene placements.

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Bullet Train doesn’t quite live up to its potential given its premise and cast, and the writing is definitely messy. However, I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching this. The silliness and ridiculousness might be annoying for some people, but I enjoyed it, even if the attempts at humour don’t always work. I liked the style and visuals, the action was entertaining, and the ensemble cast carry the movie (with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry being the standouts).

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) Review

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Thor Love and Thunder

Time: 119 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
Jaimie Alexander as Sif
Taika Waititi as Korg
Russell Crowe as Zeus
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor
Director: Taika Waititi

Thor embarks on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced — a quest for inner peace. However, his retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher, a galactic killer who seeks the extinction of the gods.

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With the MCU I find myself in a weird position. I seem to like all the movies while having some real criticisms for the MCU, both individually and on the whole. It doesn’t help that it has gotten into ‘Marvel fatigue’ as they don’t seem to have plans for where to take it outside of sustaining the machine and prolonging its existence. Still, I was going into the Marvel movies fairly open minded, including Thor: Love and Thunder. I rewatched Thor: Ragnarok leading up to its release, I still like it but I wasn’t loving it like other people, and Taika Waititi has certainly made much better movies outside of the MCU. The trailers didn’t look the best to me, but I was mildly interested. I expected Waititi to deliver another Ragnarok, and I was okay with that idea. Having seen it I have a lot of questions, starting with one: what happened?

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The weirdest part of the movie is that Taika Waititi doesn’t have a writing credit for Ragnarok, but he has sole writing credit for Love and Thunder. So unless there is evidence of studio interference, what happened with this new film is all on him. The film really takes no risks at all; in spite of Taika’s style, this has to be one of the safest and autopilot MCU movies I’ve seen. There’s just something about this movie that feels so manufactured and generic. Early in the movie it shows the Guardians of the Galaxy with Thor, and their inclusion felt like an obligation and just a way of dealing with the fact that they joined at the end of Endgame. Even treating the movie by itself, the storytelling and exposition really is lazy. Thor and co. find out about the new villain Gorr the God Butcher not by seeing him butcher gods, but by going online and learning from there. Then there’s the narration from Taika Waititi’s Korg in which he tells a story. It’s done with a comedic tone for sure but that can’t disguise how utterly lazy it is, and just there to fill in the gaps. The first time he did it I could tolerate it, but after that point it got annoying. The pacing is also messy, sometimes it jumps from one location to another really quickly, and at other point it lingers in some places for too long. The segment involving Zeus is an example of making it feel like its wasting your time. Taika was apparently going for a romantic comedy, and while there are some rom-com aspects in Love and Thunder, I think it did a terrible job. If they had lowered the stakes, remove the main villain, gave Jane more screentime and focussed more on her and Thor, it would’ve worked. But that’s not the case. There’s enough at play to make for a 2.5-hour long movie had things been expanded on more. However, at around 2 hours it feels rushed.

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Some argue that people shouldn’t take Thor: Love and Thunder, or even suggest that we should “turn our brains off” going into it. The funny thing is that a lot of Love and Thunder’s own flaws can be shown by comparing it to Ragnarok. The humour is often one of my biggest issues in the MCU, its very hit or miss and often deflates a lot of the dramatic moments. Obviously, having a lot of comedy isn’t inherently bad. Taika Waititi included a lot of humor int Thor: Ragnarok, and I found it very hit or miss. At the very least, it kept the plot the focus and was serious when it needed to be. Even when it came to all the shenanigans, I was able to buy into the events that were happening. Love and Thunder was like this too, only there were many more misses than hits. The jokes are just so predictable and unfunny, even the staging and presentation of the jokes alongside what’s happening felt like out of a sketch comedy instead of a movie. So much of the movie feels like a parody of Thor; an example of this is when it shows New Asgard, and there is a Thanos Infinity Gauntlet on the front of an ice cream shop. Keep in mind that at the beginning of Infinity War, Thanos killed half of the Asgardians as they were fleeing the destruction of Asgard. It’s a brief scene, but its moments like these that make it really hard to care about what’s going on with the story and characters, or take it seriously in any way. The first half is ridiculously goofy and silly and not in a good way. The second half makes attempts at emotion and it does pick up at this point, but its too late. Even in the third act I just wasn’t invested. That’s not to say that being a parody is inherently bad, but maybe it would’ve worked if it wasn’t paired alongside actual serious drama. Jane Foster becomes Thor while having cancer and while there was certainly potential there, I found the execution to be a mixed bag. Some of the emotional moments are okay but the subplot wasn’t handled with the seriousness it needed. Also the way the resolution of it wasn’t satisfying at all. Ultimately, Jane’s inclusion felt like it was just there to serve Thor’s story. Then there’s Gorr the God Butcher, who was just too dark of a character to have in this movie this silly; he just doesn’t fit tonally alongside whatever Taika was going for.

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Chris Hemsworth plays Thor once again, he’s been going on a transformation from movie to movie. His arc has been messy, but generally I like him in these movies. However, Love and Thunder is by far my least favourite version of Thor, it felt like he devolved so much from his past appearances. Its not that he’s more comedic, Ragnarok did give Thor silly moments, but he was serious when he needed to be. Love and Thunder made Thor outright dumb, and from his first scene, I knew that there was going to be a problem. Even Thor at the beginning of his first film was smarter than this. It is just incredibly frustrating to watch him here. I know a lot of people didn’t like Thor in his first couple of appearances and found him boring; some people as a result prefer comedy Thor following Ragnarok. At this point though, I’m longing for “boring Thor” to make a return. Hemsworth is good at comedy and the film definitely leans into that more, but I didn’t really like this version of the character. One of the most prominent parts of the movie is Natalie Portman returning as Jane Foster, who has cancer and becomes Thor. There is so much potential with this storyline, so it is sad to see her underutilised.  When it comes to the serious scenes with regards to cancer, Portman handles them well. The aspects mainly with humour like when Jane is trying to come up with a catchphrase however… she wasn’t given the best material. For what its worth though, she did the best with what she had. I know that Love and Thunder is meant to be a romantic comedy, but the chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman wasn’t the strongest. It’s not bad, but just fine. Tessa Thompson returns as Valkyrie and while she has a new role as King of Asgard and accompanies Thor and Jane throughout much of the movie, she felt very sidelined and not much is actually done with her. There is dialogue about her looking for a girlfriend but as typical with this being the MCU, its very brief so it makes it easier to remove when being shown in certain other countries. Not that I was expecting some form of substantial LGBT+ representation in a Disney movie, I just wished that it didn’t feel so baity.

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Taika Waititi also returns as Korg, Thor’s rock friend. He made for a good side character in Ragnarok, but there is just too much of him in Love and Thunder and I liked him less here. Part of that is that he felt even more like Waititi’s self-insert which is hard to overlook. The Guardians of the Galaxy show up in the early act and while this is the worst appearance that they’ve had in the MCU, they also manage to be one of the best parts of the movie. When they part ways from Thor and the overall plot I did feel sad, because I would’ve preferred to have followed them than be stuck with himbo Thor for the next 1.5 hours. Russell Crowe plays Zeus with a highly cartoonish and questionable Greek accent. The highlight of the movie was Christian Bale as main villain Gorr the God Butcher (a grand title given that he doesn’t butcher many gods). There were some jokes leading up the release that Bale probably did this as a paycheck role, but he goes all in here, he seems to be one of the only actors not treating it like a joke. Bale plays the role up wonderfully, he’s menacing and creepy and I loved the bizarre and weird nature he brought to it. Unfortunately, like Portman, he was underutilised. While Gorr is given a tragic backstory, his transformation and change is too stark and sudden. It is also yet another case of an MCU villain being in their position because of corruption from an object, like in Shang-Chi and Doctor Strange 2. Bale’s Gorr felt out of place in this movie for sure, but I would’ve liked the movie less without him.

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Taika Waititi returns to direct this, and his work is a considerable downgrade from Ragnarok in just about every single way. Ragnarok had some inconsistent visuals; sometimes there are moments that look absolutely stunning, other times it looked really fake and ugly. Love and Thunder was like that except this time there are only a handful of decent looking shots. Somehow the visuals got considerably worse 5 years later. Love and Thunder is visually bland, its either got terrible CGI or very grey backgrounds, and the colour grading is awful. Even the action is very generic and basic for the most part. That being said, any scene with Gorr looks visually nice. There’s some scenes set in the shadow realm and things are in black and white and those were some of my favourite parts of the movie. I liked the style, visuals and use of colour, and the action in this segment was pretty good. Michael Giacchino’s score was very generic and forgettable, I don’t remember any of the composed music. I can remember a lot of Guns N’ Roses and while I liked it the first time they were played, I’m pretty sure they were played four times in Love and Thunder and I really wished that Taika would’ve tried playing something else too.

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Thor: Love and Thunder is the lowest point of the MCU. Whereas Ragnarok was a movie of hits and misses, Love and Thunder is a movie of mostly misses. Despite the uncooked writing that he’s working with, Christian Bale is a delight as the villain and the film picks up whenever he’s on screen. There are maybe a couple of jokes that work, and the film was mildly entertaining and held my interest. However, I found it so hard to care about so much that was going on. The movie was unfunny, the moments of drama are mishandled, and the visuals are mostly ugly. It’s also a movie that in spite of all its overt quirks, feels incredibly empty. It’s particularly disappointing because I liked Taika Waitti’s past movies and I know he is better than this. One of the end credits hints at a follow up Thor movie and honestly, I am fully content with there never being another Thor movie unless there’s a drastic change in direction. At the very least, I hope someone takes over making the next movies. Otherwise, I’m not expecting anything more than another generic product like Love and Thunder.

The Lost City (2022) Review

The Lost City

The Lost City

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & nudity
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Loretta Sage
Channing Tatum as Alan Caprison
Daniel Radcliffe as Abigail Fairfax
Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Beth Hatten
Brad Pitt as Jack Trainer
Director: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee

Reclusive author Loretta Sage writes about exotic places in her popular adventure novels that feature a handsome cover model named Alan. While on tour promoting her new book with Alan, Loretta gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire who hopes she can lead him to an ancient city’s lost treasure from her latest story. Determined to prove he can be a hero in real life and not just on the pages of her books, Alan sets off to rescue her.

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I had been seeing trailers for The Lost City, an adventure rom-com starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. Although I didn’t watch it in cinemas, I did want to check it out because it looked enjoyable at the very least. I’m glad I did watch it, The Lost City was a simple, cliched and flawed yet fun adventure.

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The writing really isn’t much to ride home about. This plot really could’ve been auto generated by a bot, and contains multiple romantic comedies and adventure tropes. There’s plenty of predictable moments, and these types of movies have definitely been done before and better. But that doesn’t matter a whole lot if the execution is good enough, and that is the case. The story is straightforward, but that works for this movie, it is easy to follow and it never gets needlessly complicated. It functions well enough for this sort of movie. The humour can occasionally be hit or miss, but works for the most part.

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Ultimately, it is the solid cast that makes The Lost City work as well as it did, the actors play off each other very well and a lot of their charisma and chemistry carries the film. Even the humour is helped a lot by the performances, and had the acting not been as good, I wouldn’t have found the film to be as funny. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are really good in the lead roles, they have a nice relationship with good chemistry between them. Daniel Radcliffe plays the villain who kidnaps Bullock to find a sacred treasure, he’s gloriously over the top and having fun in this role, very enjoyable to watch. Then there’s Brad Pitt in a brief but memorable role. He’s very much a cameo in the movie but is nonetheless very funny.

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The Lost City is decently directed. The visuals can be a little generic and typical of a movie of this genre these days, but its shot well and there’s some good production design. I also liked that they used some real locations sometimes, especially with the jungle environment. While its not the highlight of the movie, there are some genuinely good action moments here too.

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The Lost City is a typical rom com meet adventure flick, and it doesn’t necessarily do anything new. Nonetheless it is good for what it is, and it is fun to watch and entertaining. It’s carried by a strong cast who are enjoyable to watch and are quite funny. It is pretty much the kind of movie you’d expect from watching the trailer and if you think it looks fun to you, I’d say it is worth checking out.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) Review

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual references
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Nick Cage/Little Nicky
Pedro Pascal as Javi Gutierrez
Sharon Horgan as Olivia Henson
Tiffany Haddish as Vivian Etten
Ike Barinholtz as Martin Etten
Alessandra Mastronardi as Gabriela
Jacob Scipio as Carlos
Neil Patrick Harris as Richard Fink
Lily Sheen as Addy Cage
Director: Tom Gormican

Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative recruits Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.

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I was looking forward to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ever since it was announced. The prospect of Nicolas Cage playing himself was always going to have my attention, no matter how it turned out. I will admit that I was a little worried, despite the exciting premise, it sounded like it could easily fall into easy meta humour and Nick Cage throwbacks and nothing else. However, I was satisfied with the movie and really enjoyed it.

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With Nicolas Cage’s reputation and following, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent could’ve easily been a mockery of him but its actually a love letter and genuinely respects him. There are plenty of references to him and his movies, even his more obscure films. It could’ve been a mess, but it was the right amount of meta.  Thankfully, it does try for more beyond its outlandish premise. While the plot is definitely very familiar and nothing special, it is surprisingly heartfelt, whether it is Cage and his family or Cage and Pedro Pascal. It does feel like a lot of love was put into it, and it has a charm to it. The character moments in the first two acts really work, and as a buddy comedy, I found it consistently entertaining and funny. With that said, it is very typical and by the end becomes a cliché filled action movie. It is self-aware and makes jokes about cliches in Hollywood movies but falls into many of those cliches at the same time. The third act is particularly conventional, even if it still entertains. You could say that the movie is slightly unhinged, but not as unhinged as you’d imagine it to be given its subject. It does play things fairly safe, beyond the meta nature of the movie and Cage imagining a younger version of himself, it’s not that wild.

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First and foremost is Nicolas Cage playing one of his hardest roles yet… Nicolas Cage (known as Nick Cage in the movie). It was quite something seeing Cage portray a fictional version of himself, yet one that still draws from his real life and persona. It is interesting watching Cage reflect on his career and the choices he made. He delivers on the comedy greatly and as you would expect has some satisfying over the top moments that you’d expect and hope from him. But he was also good at delivering on the drama at heartfelt moments, especially with his strained relationship with his daughter. There’s also Pedro Pascal playing the role of the mega fan of Nicolas Cage who offers him $1 million to appear at his party. Pascal is quite fun to watch and plays his part perfectly. Cage and Pascal have fantastic chemistry, they are delightful together and have wonderful comedic timing. Amongst all the great parts of the movie, their dynamic was the highlight for me. Additionally, other actors like Sharon Horgan, Lily Mo Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, and Ike Barinholtz are also good and play their parts well.

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The movie is directed by Tom Gormican and his work isn’t that special, but it functions for this movie. The visuals are good, and it takes advantage of its locations well. The action isn’t spectacular but is decent enough. There is some CGI de-aging with Nicolas Cage’s alter ego Little Nicky who he imagines (based off a younger Cage specifically from his infamous Terry Wogan interview appearance). While the visual effects on him look very off especially when he’s on screen right next to present day Cage, the uncanny valley nature of it actually works for the movie.

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was thoroughly enjoyable. While it is unfortunately quite conventional considering that it is a movie about Nicolas Cage playing himself, it is entertaining and funny, and a good tribute to him. If you are a big fan of Cage, then I highly recommend checking it out. Even if you aren’t a mega fan, I think there’s a lot of fun that you could have with it.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) Review

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Everything Everywhere All at Once

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & content that may disturb
Cast:
Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Quan Wang
Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang
Ke Huy Quan as Waymond Wang
James Hong as Gong Gong
Jamie Lee Curtis as Deirdre Beaubeirdra
Tallie Medel as Becky
Jenny Slate as “Big Nose”
Harry Shum Jr. as Chad
Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

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Everything Everywhere All at Once was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The immediate thing that made me interested was the fact that it is directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who directed Swiss Army Man which I really liked. Then there’s the trailer itself, the movie looked wild and creative. Then there was so much hype and acclaim upon its release that I ended up lowering my expectations before watching just in case they didn’t live up to all the praise. Yet I was pleasantly surprised.

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I will say this, I would recommend going into it not knowing too much. With so many comic book movies and shows utilising it in their universes, the idea of a multiverse is very common these days. However, EEAAT has to be the best multiverse movie so far. Part of that is that it doesn’t have ties to fulfilling franchise requirements, it is very much its own thing. Also, it actually uses this trope have its take on generational trauma. You can already tell going into it (even just by the trailer) that the movie is bonkers, and it certainly is; very eccentric and possibly learning into absurdism. At times it feels like its being random for the sake of being random, but I still liked it, and it’s endlessly creative. There’s a lot of quirky humour that I found funny, however you’ll probably figure out early on whether its for you, because I can already tell that it’s not for everyone. However, it is also surprisingly sincere and heartfelt throughout, even existential, compassionate and strangely relatable. Even with the multiverse aspect, it still works as a hard-hitting family drama, and it really all comes home in the third act. There’s a good mixture of emotions of humour and drama and overall, it works. As for issues, with everything that happens in this one movie, it can be overwhelming and hard to process. In some ways, it takes on a bit more than it can handle, which messes with the pacing, especially in the second act when a lot is happening.

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This is Michelle Yeoh’s movie and she’s spectacular in the lead role, conveying a wide range of emotions and works sells the drama, action and humour. This isn’t just her though, the whole cast is great, especially Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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The Daniels directed this phenomenally, it was quite an experience watching it in the cinema. Its style is visually kinetic and energetic from beginning to end. Sometimes it pays homage and tribute to different types of films including 80s Hong Kong action flicks to even Wong Kar-wai films. The action is greatly choreographed and filmed, and its quite entertaining to watch. The editing is perfect and helps the movie to be even better, and the score from Son Lux is great too.

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Everything Everywhere All at Once was quite an experience. Bonkers, absurd and entertaining, yet heartfelt and sincere, it really surprised me. It was written and directed excellently by the Daniels, and the performances were all great, led by a phenomenal and career best Michelle Yeoh. It really does feel like a movie that I need to take some time to process, I was just overwhelmed by the end, and I think I’ll need to watch it again. I’m also aware that this movie won’t be for everyone, but for me, it’s already one of the best movies of the year.

The Adam Project (2022) Review

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The Adam Project

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Adam Reed
Walker Scobell as young Adam Reed
Mark Ruffalo as Louis Reed
Jennifer Garner as Ellie Reed
Catherine Keener as Maya Sorian
Zoe Saldaña as Laura Shane
Director: Shawn Levy

After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future.

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I heard of The Adam Project, it was a sci-fi and time travel movie that was being advertised a lot on Netflix. It would be the second collaboration between Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy after Free Guy. Although I did enjoy that movie when I first saw it, it did get worse the more I thought about it. So, I wasn’t really expecting much going into The Adam Project, especially with how generic it appeared from the advertising. It definitely has its issues, however I do think that it was better than I was expecting.

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Despite some familiar aspects from the initial premise, I did like the concept. It is definitely trying to be a nostalgic throwback sci-fi family film in the vein of Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis. Unfortunately, it’s a bit bland, generic, cliched and not that memorable, and has a plot that is only mildly interesting. There’s plenty of comedy that feels quite uneven, most of it is hit and miss especially with the pop culture references (though it is less blatant than in Free Guy). Even the concept of time travel feels dull here. With that said there are some parts which are decent, and the movie’s heart is in the right place. Despite aiming for being a crowd pleaser and being like some of the 80s classics, it does feel like it is trying beyond just that. There are some great scenes, one of them being a bar scene with Ryan Reynolds and Jennifer Garner. On top of that, the family dynamics and themes it explores are interesting and have potential, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t deliver on that by the end. For all the good moments, the third act is very generic and is kind of a let-down.

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The movie has a decent cast. Ryan Reynolds plays yet another variation of the type of character he’s played for the past decade. Even as someone who doesn’t necessarily dislike him, it is definitely getting old. With the Adam Project, he is doing his usual schtick, but for what its worth he tries a bit more here. I think he’s a lot better in the dramatic sections, and he is strong in those scenes. Walker Scobell works as a younger version of Reynolds, and the two play off each other well. I liked Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner the most out of the cast. Zoe Saldana was decent but underused in her part. Catherine Keener’s overarching villain was forgettable, underwritten and underdeveloped. While you aren’t expecting the villain to be great, the generic nature of her just made the movie even worse, it was hard to take the threat and danger seriously.

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Shawn Levy directs, returning for yet another collaboration with Reynolds. I would say that his work here is above average. It’s not that stylistic, and the visuals are quite inconsistent, ranging from good to average. The action is fine and is filmed and captured competently, but is quite forgettable. The CGI is okay in some parts, bad in others. Without going into too much depth, there is a use of de-aging for a major character, and it looks absolutely terrible.

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Despite the premise and the potential, The Adam Project doesn’t fully succeed at what it set out to do. The plot is generic and not that interesting, it falls into cliches (especially in the third act), and the direction is competent but fairly standard. With that said, I still liked the movie. I thought most of the cast were pretty good, it had some fun and even great scenes. It’s a fine but forgettable Netflix movie. If you think it looks interesting, then it’ll pretty much exactly the kind of movie that you’re expecting.

CODA (2021) Review

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CODA

Time: 111 Minutes
Cast:
Emilia Jones as Ruby Rossi
Troy Kotsur as Frank Rossi
Daniel Durant as Leo Rossi
Marlee Matlin as Jackie Rossi
Eugenio Derbez as Bernardo “Mr. V” Villalobos
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as Miles
Director: Sian Heder

Ruby is the only hearing member of a deaf family from Gloucester, Massachusetts. At 17, she works mornings before school to help her parents and brother keep their fishing business afloat. But in joining her high school’s choir club, Ruby finds herself drawn to both her duet partner and her latent passion for singing.

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Going into CODA, I only knew a few things about it. I just knew that it was a movie about a deaf family, it was from Apple, and it was a notable awards contender. I went in only knowing those things and it turned out to be much better than I was even expecting. It is certainly a familiar kind of story that we’ve seen many times before, but it is handled in a very heartfelt and nuanced way, and overall I think it works very well for what it is.

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CODA is certainly a simplistic movie with a straightforward narrative and structure. The story beats are somewhat predictable and its pretty easy to see where the plot is headed. It is a coming-of-age story, and as such it falls into certain cliches and has its fair share of predictable and cheesy dialogue and moments. I’m not someone who’s typically into coming-of-age stories and usually can’t connect with them, however it should say something that CODA is one of those select coming of age movies that I actually emotionally engaged with. It’s a very charming and heartfelt movie, and it hits the emotional beats in satisfying ways. There are some very touching scenes, particularly in the final act, and none of the familiarity of the scenes took away from the movie at all. An aspect that added a lot was the fact that it was about deaf people, which of course we don’t see in most movies, and the dynamic between the family really added a lot. The comedy also makes it even more enjoyable to watch, it’s a surprisingly funny movie. Essentially, CODA is a crowdpleaser movie, and it certainly succeeds as that.

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There is a great ensemble of performances here, the cast brought together such raw emotion to their characters. First of all, there’s Emilia Jones as the lead character Ruby, and she gives a great and nuanced performance. She pulls off everything that’s required of her, and she’s very convincing as someone who is torn between loyalty to her family and wanting to pursue her newfound passion of singing. Marlee Matlin, Troy Kostur and Daniel Durant are fantastic in their respective roles as members of Ruby’s family. Each actor was emotionally strong and represented their character very well. The family dynamic is what makes the movie works as well as it does, and their chemistry is pure, wholesome and believable. The rest of the cast are good, including Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Eugenio Derbez.

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The film is directed quite well by Sian Heder, its well shot and put together. The directorial choices that place the audience in the family’s positions were very effective, mainly the use of muted sounds. I also liked the musical performances that were in the movie.

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CODA is definitely deserving of the high praise that it has been receiving. Despite the familiar coming of age story and cliches, it genuinely connects with its touching story, and the performances from the whole cast are fantastic. Definitely check it out when you can.

The Worst Person in the World (2021) Review

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The Worst Person in the World

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Sex scenes, nudity, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Renate Reinsve as Julie
Anders Danielsen Lie as Aksel
Herbert Nordrum as Eivind
Director: Joachim Trier

A young woman (Renate Reinsve) battles indecisiveness as she traverses the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path.

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I heard some great things about The Worst Person in the World. Along with having a very memorable title, it had been receiving acclaim, even receiving an award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. I really didn’t know what to expect going into it, but having seen it, I think that it really deserves all of the acclaim.

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The screenplay is heavy hitting, poignant and handled with such care. This character study is structured into 12 chapters, along with a prologue and epilogue. It is almost structured like a book, which I thought was effective especially as it covers a period of the main character’s life. It is effectively a romantic comedy, it is genuinely funny and entertaining to watch, and is also powerful with some emotionally cathartic scenes. At the same time, it does well at subverting the well-known romcom tropes and feels very fresh. This movie is also a coming-of-age film for adults, and it is authentic, empathetic and human with its writing. It’s a thought-provoking movie about self discovery and struggling to figure out what you desire in life. It is deeply touching and has such a depth to it that I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes the writing can be messy especially with the pacing, some of it can be inconsistent between chapters, but in a way, that reflects its lead character’s complicated headspace so it works. As we go through chapters of the protagonist’s life, I found myself engaged with what was happening, I was invested in her journey and seeing where it was going.

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There are some incredible and naturalistic performances as the characters, everyone is great. First of all is Renate Reinsve who is phenomenal in the lead role of Julie. She is a tricky character to play, someone who frustrates yet radiates empathy, and she handles this very well. She’s someone who is always unfulfilled with her decisions in life, and Renata effectively conveys the subtlety and hidden layers of the character in a very nuanced way. We’ve seen many of these types of (for lack of a better word) self-destructive characters, but here it feels raw, genuine. It’s an incredible performance and she definitely deserved that Cannes award she received. Anders Danielsen Lie is sensational and riveting, and his last scenes are particularly hard hitting. Herbert Nordru is also great, so is the rest of the cast.

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Joaquim Trier’s direction is practically flawless here. The cinematography is crisp and stunning, it looks amazing from beginning to end. There are also some very standout sequences which are creative. One is a hallucination scene, the other (without spoiling things) begins with the flipping of a light switch, and has to be one of the all time best scenes from 2021.

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The Worst Person in the World is one of the best romantic comedies in recent years, and one of my favourite movies of 2021. It is a melancholic, funny, emotional and thought provoking romantic dramedy, directed and written incredibly and with phenomenal performances. Check it out when you can.