Category Archives: Comedy

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.

Licorice Pizza (2021) Review

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Licorice Pizza

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language, sexual references & drug references
Cast:
Alana Haim as Alana Kane
Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine
Sean Penn as Jack Holden
Tom Waits as Rex Blau
Bradley Cooper as Jon Peters
Benny Safdie as Joel Wachs
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.

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Licorice Pizza (once titled Soggy Bottom) was on my most anticipated films of 2021 list. Along with having a good cast, it is the next film from director Paul Thomas Anderson, whose work I really like. It would be something of a coming-of-age movie, and I’m not really big on those kinds of movies and the trailers weren’t exactly selling it to me, but I was willing to watch it. Having finally seen it after months of it being critically acclaimed by many people, I can say that the movie is decent, although disappointing.

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There isn’t much of a narrative to Licorice Pizza. It definitely fits into the category of hangout/vibe movies like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and I’m just not a fan of those types of films. The messy nature of the story made for a somewhat uninteresting and boring movie as the plot meanders through a number of underdeveloped subplots. For the first half it works okay but it really loses steam in the second half. When it eventually reaches its ending, it just felt unsatisfying. It is also a coming-of-age movie, and like hangout movies I’m not a huge fan of those. A big part of coming-of-age stories is that they rely on you caring for the story and characters and I just couldn’t do that with Licorice Pizza. The lead characters were watchable, but it felt more like I was observing them rather than being with them on their journey, despite PTA’s best efforts for it to be the latter. There’s just also something about the movie that felt empty, just mildly entertaining but nothing else. Any enjoyment I had watching them in the first half has fizzled out by the end. I couldn’t connect to any of it, and I can tell that on a rewatch I’d find the film to be worse. Licorice Pizza is definitely a comedy, and it is funny in parts, minus a couple questionable jokes involving Asian accents, whose inclusions are just some of the many odd and bad choices in the film. Finally dealing with the elephant in the room, at the centre of the movie is a relationship between a 15 year old boy and a 25 year old woman, causing quite the controversy even before its release. I went in rather open minded and waited to see how it works in the movie, and I came out of it finding the relationship to be very weird. I get that its somewhat meant to be a little uncomfortable and there are acknowledgements of it being wrong, but the way its resolved by the end just made me wonder what kind of story we sat through, or what PTA was going for here. Without spoiling things, that ending is honestly quite a confounding and strange choice. I would say that its not enough to take you out of the movie, but it is the core part of the film and so it is hard to look past.

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There is a good cast involved. The two leads are Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, and they are very good in their parts and deliver great performances. However, the relationship between the two characters were still weird and the connection just wasn’t that believable. The supporting cast are also good, including people like Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, and Benny Safdie. Some of them only appear for a few scenes, but they usually make strong impressions when they do appear.

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The direction from Paul Thomas Anderson as expected was great and stylish, not as impressive as some of his other movies but still pretty good. It transports you back to the 70s, with the production design, the grainy look to fit with the 70s and the good soundtrack even if the needle drop moments were a little generic and forgettable. I also liked whenever PTA’s trademark long takes make their appearances.

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While I’m prepared to say that I like Licorice Pizza, I can’t help but feel a little let down. Despite everything surrounding the film, I really had a lack of investment in the story and characters. Loose narratives can work, but I wasn’t interested enough to be constantly interested. In fact, the more I think about the movie, the worse it gets for me. Honestly, I would consider this to be Paul Thomas Anderson’s worst movie but I wouldn’t call it outright bad, the performances were great and so was the direction. I am aware I’m probably in a minority of people who aren’t loving it, and it is worth checking out at the very least.

The King’s Man (2021) Review

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The King's Man

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Orlando, Duke of Oxford
Gemma Arterton as Pollyanna “Polly” Wilkins
Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin
Matthew Goode as Captain Morton
Tom Hollander as King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas
Harris Dickinson as Conrad Oxford
Daniel Brühl as Erik Jan Hanussen
Djimon Hounsou as Shola
Charles Dance as Herbert Kitchener
Director: Matthew Vaughn

One man must race against time to stop history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds as they get together to plot a war that could wipe out millions of people and destroy humanity.

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The King’s Man was the upcoming prequel to the Kingsman movies which had been repeatedly pushed back. I really like Kingsman: The Secret Service, it was a lot of fun. The sequel titled The Golden Circle was not quite as good as the first movie, but I still enjoyed it. However, a prequel might’ve been what the franchise needed, with a very different setting and completely different characters. However with every delay of the movie, I felt less confident in it. It’s finally arrived and thankfully I actually ended up enjoying it, but its not without some issues and questionable decisions.

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The King’s Man takes place a century earlier prior to the first two movies, and while I do like this new film, I still don’t think it needed to exist. It didn’t really add anything to the Kingsman lore. I will say that it doesn’t heavily rely on the viewers having watched the first two movies. You might miss some of the appeal if you haven’t watched the first movie at least though. The pacing was very inconsistent. The first third of the runtime introduces everything, so it takes a while to get going. Even then, for much of the runtime, it feels like a film made up of events and sections rather than a continuous story. It isn’t clear where everything leads to, and there’s little to no flow to it. For what its worth though, the third act is consistently fun. I found myself only a little invested in the plot. From a writing and story perspective, The King’s Man seemed to lack the energy that the other two movies did, and part of that is the setting. Also, the characters weren’t that interesting. Rasputin was fun to watch, I also liked Ralph Fiennes and even his character’s son to a degree, their relationship is given enough attention that I was willing to care about it. However, I only liked some of the other characters because of the actors, nothing about the characters with how they’re written. Even the villains outside of Rasputin aren’t as entertaining, it’s a cliched conspiracy made up of select people around the world. Its certainly different to the Bond-esque villains of the last two movies but the execution here is rather average. Obviously with this being a Kingsman movie, it is not historically accurate, but there are some moments where it does attempt at a level of accuracy to WW1, which is beyond strange. It’s like Matthew Vaughn wanted a bonkers Kingsman movie set during WW1 but he felt obliged to be somewhat accurate. I can’t tell if that’s better or worse, because tying the two together make some of the darker scenes (and those based on true events) come across as tone deaf.

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One notable problem with the movie is that the tone is just all over the place and messy. The King’s Man definitely has its light-hearted, silly and fun moments, like with Rasputin and some of the action scenes. However, a lot of the situations are on the more on the serious side of the coin. That’s largely because Matthew Vaughn anchored the setting to World War 1. There’s real people involved in the plot with Rasputin and King George, and we even see Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated in this. There’s plenty of scenes featuring a lot serious political and military talk, which was quite misguided to me. There’s even also long sequences focusing on grimy war battlefields. By focusing on the horrors of war and being somewhat accurate to the setting, it damages the movie in some ways. The thing is that Vaughn actually does some of the handle the serious stuff quite well, the battle scenes are surprisingly well done and given the right amount of weight. The problem is that they don’t fit into this movie all that well. I am one of the people who enjoys The Golden Circle, even though I know of its faults very well. Honestly though, at least the over-the-top nature makes more sense compared to the serious take here. Making it too serious might’ve been misguided, but the worst part of all is how The King’s Man jumps between the two, the tones don’t work together. Rhys Ifans hamming it up as Rasputin really contrasts with the serious tone and the large battle scenes that feel like Matthew Vaughn is trying to make his own 1917. I will say that it is worth sticking around for the mid credits scene, because its one of, if not the most, insane credits scenes I’ve ever seen. Its honestly quite perplexing that it exists, you really just have to see it for yourself.

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There is a good cast involved, though not all of them are used to their fullest potential. Ralph Fiennes is one of the best parts of the movie and he absolutely delivers in the lead role. He more than proves himself a great action star, much like Colin Firth did in the first two movies. He adds so much to his character, probably even more than he needed to. He’s fun in the action and comedy scenes, but he also brings the emotion. Harris Dickinson plays his son, he does a good job and I like the relationship that the two have. Gemma Arteton and Djimon Hounsou are decent in their parts, even if their characters aren’t that memorable or great. Tom Hollander also plays Tsar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm and King George, and is very entertaining in those parts. The most marketed villain of the movie is that of Rasputin, played by a wonderfully scene chewing Rhys Ifans. One could say that he might be doing too much, but I love how much he goes for it. It’s just a shame that we don’t get to see him as much I would’ve liked, and he is nothing more than a notable henchman. He certainly had better screen presence than the other villains, who are just surface level caricatures. The villains are a convoluted and conspiracy consisting of a group of people led by a shadowy leader called The Shephard. His goal is for the entire world to go to war. While the villain is over the top to a degree, he’s not at the level of Samuel L. Jackson or Julianne Moore from the previous movies. He is a moustache twirling madman that shouts a lot, but is still rather bland and cliched. I know that Julianne Moore’s villain in the last movie wasn’t exactly the best, but The Shephard is worse if only because of how much the film tries to hide his identity for the sake of the twist. As a result it doesn’t let you connect with the character in any way, and giving him a face and more dialogue would’ve helped the story and the character. They rely on the ultimate reveal at the end, it doesn’t even pay off and it isn’t surprising.

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Matthew Vaughn’s stylised direction is present once again, very much to the film’s benefit. His trademark brand of over-the-top hyper action is on full display here, and its where the film is at its best. It has great choreography, its very well shot, full of energy, and they are well depicted. Its not as great as some of the action from the first movie or even the second, but I did like them. The war moments are intense and well crafted, there are actually a lot of scenes that work as a serious war drama, and deliver on hard hitting emotion.

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I enjoyed The King’s Man, I liked the performance of Ralph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans, and the action was very entertaining. However it is definitely a mess, especially with the writing and tone. Honestly I can’t tell whether this or The Golden Circle is better, I certainly feel more inclined to rewatch the latter. Matthew Vaughn would be well advised to not make a sequel to this movie and just stick to making Kingsman movies set in the present day. On top of already playing with real life material from WW1 in this movie and shouldn’t be pushing it further (that credit scene is rather daunting), its just not the right setting for this franchise.

Don’t Look Up (2021) Review

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Don't Look Up

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy
Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky
Rob Morgan as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe
Cate Blanchett as Brie Evantee
Meryl Streep as Janie Orlean
Jonah Hill as Jason Orlean
Mark Rylance as Peter Isherwell
Tyler Perry as Jack Bremmer
Ron Perlman as Colonel Benedict Drask
Ariana Grande as Riley Bina
Scott Mescudi as DJ Chello
Himesh Patel as Phillip Kaj
Melanie Lynskey as June Mindy
Director: Adam McKay

Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

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I remember Don’t Look Up at one point being one of my most anticipated films of 2021. It has a massive cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet and more. I also liked Adam McKay’s more recent dramatic work with The Big Short and Vice, and I was interested in him doing a full on satire with his latest film. However as it approached its release date, I had my doubts. The trailers weren’t the best and the reactions coming out of it weren’t exactly confidence inspiring. Still I gave it a chance and overall I’m prepared to say that I like it, though I completely understand why some people dislike it.

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I do like the premise of the movie, with the lead characters trying to warn the world about a coming disaster while the world doesn’t listen, definitely works for a satire. It is a comedy, and while I wouldn’t say it failed, most of the humour didn’t work. There are funny jokes throughout but not as many as you’d hope for. I was generally entertained throughout, even if it was never that great in the first two acts, just a mildly funny comedy with very mixed satire (more on that later). The movie is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and it really didn’t need to be that long. I wouldn’t say that I was bored during the movie, but it all felt very drawn out and not a lot happens or is said to really justify that length, and the comedy and satire isn’t good enough to fully sustain things all the way through. I feel like on rewatch I’d find it harder to get through. Strangely enough, it gets into much more dramatic territory in the third act, and its surprisingly quite effective, and its far better than what came earlier. Looking back at the rest of the movie, it actually works much better as a terrifying and depressing end of the world downer (with darkly comedic elements) than a smart political and social satire. Another issue is that the tone is all over the place. McKay’s last two movies jumped between drama and comedy as well, but it feels messier in Don’t Look Up. Until the third act, it just can’t seem to decide whether it’s trying to be an apocalyptic drama and a mostly straight-faced satire, or a full on spoof. I think it needed to either be more straight faced about it or lean much further into absurdity.

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While I enjoy the movie, the actual satire is one of the weaker elements unfortunately. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen of Don’t Look Up is that its very obvious and not subtle at all, much like McKay’s last two movies. And I’ll always stay true to my belief that its not inherently bad if a film is more obvious than subtle. Sometimes it is refreshing for a movie to be more direct about things. The problem is that a lot of the satire just feels a bit too obvious, in the sense that its too easy. For example, many of the characters are caricatures meant to represent types or groups of people, but they feel very overdone and a little lazy, the upbeat news anchors, the president and politicians who doesn’t know what they’re doing, dumb celebrities, etc., and McKay doesn’t do anything with them beyond the obvious. There’s nothing particularly daring or insightful said in this film, and the caricatures and not-subtle messaging makes the film hard to be engaging. I will say that some of the ways that people respond in the movie is like how people would respond in real life. However for every one of those moments, there’s moments where the satirising of aspects of today’s society isn’t quite right. An example is when Jennifer Lawrence’s character becomes a meme of sorts, but the memes that are very displayed are outdated top-text and bottom-text meme formats from the 2000s. It doesn’t break the movie or anything but moments like these go towards the film not fully succeeding at being a satire of today. While I wouldn’t say that the movie talks down to people and is condescending (although I can see why people would see it that way), there is a general sense of self-importance, and the feeling that they are more insightful and smarter than they really are. Part of that is the fact that the comet in the film is intended as a metaphor for climate change, and the movie is apparently meant to urge people to take it seriously. If we look at the movie from this perspective, Don’t Look Up really only spreads awareness that climate change exists and does and says nothing beyond that, at most its only preaching to the choir. Also when you really think about it, the comet doesn’t really make for a particularly good metaphor for climate change, especially in the context of the film (without spoiling anything). I wouldn’t normally look this deep into a movie like this, but McKay and his co-writer really seem to believe that they are saying something important about climate change, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

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One of Don’t Look Up’s biggest selling points is its absurdly large cast, which is no doubt why so many people wanted to check it out in the first place. While I wouldn’t say that any of these actors are even close to giving career best performances in this movie, most of them are pretty good in their parts. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who discover the comet heading for Earth and try to warn people about it. This is the third of DiCaprio’s more comedic performances after The Wolf of Wall Street and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he has shown himself to be surprisingly great at comedy. He’s also really good here at portraying his stressed and panic stricken character, and he especially has a great and notable rage sequence in the second half of the movie. Lawrence is also great and entertaining, she’s especially good in the scenes of comedy. DiCaprio, Lawrence and Rob Morgan (who is also great) are the best performances in the movie because they were the only performances and characters that actually felt somewhat grounded and felt like actual characters, in contrast to every other actor. When Meryl Streep showed up as the president, at first I thought she was phoning her performance, but I actually think she’s pretty good. I soon came to realise that most major actors in the cast play an over the top and obvious caricature, and so they all feel underutilised to a degree. With that said I think most of them actually work in their parts. The highlights for me were Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, and Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman is also a scene stealer in his 5 minutes. So while it is disappointing that this stacked cast weren’t really utilised to their fullest potential, at least most of them gave decent performances. Notice that I said ‘most’ instead of ‘all’, the sole exception is Mark Rylance, I have no idea what he was doing in this movie. Rylance plays a tech billionaire, and I definitely get the point of his character. He’s a riff on Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and every other rich tech CEO right now, and it makes sense for that kind of character to be in this movie. However, his performance is so weird and strange from his line deliveries and the way he decides to play the role, and not in a good way. I think the best way I can describe it as he’s trying to play Joe Biden playing Elon Musk. I know that everyone is an over-the-top caricature in this movie, but Rylance is on a completely different wavelength from the others that he feels completely out of place.

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Adam McKay’s directing style in this movie won’t work for everyone. Most notable is the editing, which is very fast, messy, and often cuts to a lot of brief clips and images, similar to what McKay did with The Big Short and Vice. If you hated the editing in Vice, you’ll probably hate the editing in Don’t Look Up too. I will admit that I liked the editing in McKay’s unofficial political trilogy, but while I mostly liked the editing in Don’t Look Up, some of it got on my nerves a little bit at points. However, I will say that it actually does work very well in some moments in the third act and worked to give some parts some emotional punch to them. Editing aside, a lot of the other technical elements are strong. Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is great, for the most part its not really a movie that needs to be particularly well shot, but he does make the most of it when he can. Nicholas Britell is reliably great as the composer, and his score is one of the strongest parts of the film. Its definitely not on the level as his some of his other work like Succession or Vice, but its still great. The budget is absolutely insane at $75 million, and watching the movie, most of the film really didn’t need to have that large of a budget. With that said, the scenes involving large visual effects from comets to rockets were quite good.

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Don’t Look Up is already proving to be incredibly divisive amongst people. If you really aren’t a fan of McKay’s style from his past two movies, I think that you’ll find his latest film to be a struggle. I can completely understand why some people are really disliking the movie. I don’t think it really succeeds, particularly as a satire, and even from a comedy standpoint it could’ve been better. Still, it has its moments (both comedic and dramatic), some of the technical elements are strong, and most of the performances from the cast are decent. I recommend checking it out at the very least.

Red Notice (2021) Review

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Red Notice

Time: 118 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson as John Hartley
Ryan Reynolds as Nolan Booth
Gal Gadot as The Bishop
Chris Diamantopoulos as Sotto Voce
Ritu Arya as Urvashi Das
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

When an Interpol-issued Red Notice the highest level warrant to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted goes out, the FBI’s top profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is on the case. His global pursuit finds him smack dab in the middle of a daring heist where he’s forced to partner with the world’s greatest art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) in order to catch the world’s most wanted art thief, “The Bishop” (Gal Gadot). The high-flying adventure that ensues takes the trio around the world, across the dance floor, trapped in a secluded prison, into the jungle and, worst of all for them, constantly into each other’s company.

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I heard of Red Notice leading up to its release, a Netflix action comedy starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. I wasn’t expecting much from it, the trailers certainly made it look generic but I was hoping that it would be somewhat entertaining. While I wouldn’t say it’s outright bad it’s not good either.

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Red Notice has a very weak script. It has a very thin plot about artefact chasing that the movie or characters don’t seem to care about. It’s a heist and adventure film, a very generic one at that, which takes a lot from far better movies but does nothing with them. The film definitely tries to have a lot of comedy but fails most of the time. The quippy banter got repetitive, probably because it’s really the only thing going for the movie. It’s fully of cliches and has very few actual surprises. With that said there are some twists especially one near the end, but it’s the kind of twist where it would likely fall apart in logic if you thought about it in depth. Red Notice isn’t even memorably bad, its lacking in creativity and feels rather low effort. Honestly I think if it was closer to 90 minutes in length I might’ve enjoyed it a little more, but it is 2 hours long and so it drags in parts.

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The first thing you’ll probably know about this movie is that Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot are in it. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite enough to carry the movie. Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds are the main leads of this movie, and both of them are basically on autopilot, playing variations of themselves yet again. While Johnson has been basically playing himself for the past years, there’s something about him that’s especially lazy here. As for Reynolds, you get the feeling that his character was written with Ryan Reynolds as the sole personality trait. Not that his snark never works but it works better in a movie like Deadpool than here. One aspect that’s strange is that his character is shown as being capable, can fight and does parkour in some scenes but in other scenes he’s conveniently a klutz who gets beat up a lot whenever the movie wants Reynolds to be funny. I wouldn’t say that Johnson and Reynolds have no chemistry, but the writing really underserved them. Strangely Gal Gadot fared a lot better, probably partly because she seemed to be enjoying playing the part, especially as it’s more of an antagonist sort of role. Still, all three feel more like celebrities appearing for late night comedy skits than actually playing characters in a movie. In terms of other actors, there is an Interpol agent who hunts the main characters played by Ritu Arya, and there’s an arms dealer played by Chris Diamantopoulos who has a ridiculous voice which reminded me of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending.

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Rawson Marshall Thurber is the director for Red Notice, and he has done some decent work. He had previously collaborated with Dwayne Johnson, Central Intelligence was a fun comedy, and Skyscraper is an entertaining if derivative Die Hard knock off. Red Notice is easily their worst collaboration however. It has a $200 million budget and the movie looks certainly expensive, however I’m sure that most of it went towards the main three actors. After sitting through it all, the movie really could’ve been made a decade ago with less than half the budget. The action scenes are a bit lifeless and forgettable but for what it’s worth they are one of the more entertaining parts of the film. The visual effects could be rather poor at times, there are so many noticeable CGI backdrops and green screen, the prime example being a scene involving a bull.

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If we are just looking at Red Notice by itself, it’s functional. It’s a generic action comedy that had some entertaining moments, and the main actors aren’t good but at least go through the motions. Still, there was something disappointing about watching the movie despite not expecting much, so much with the acting, writing and directing just felt so autopilot and low effort. I wouldn’t recommend Red Notice but if you really wanted to see its main three actors in a movie together, then you’ll certainly get that here.