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Sean Connery’s James Bond Movies Ranked

James Bond Sean Connery

This list will include Sean Connery’s 6 official James Bond movies from Dr. No to Diamonds Are Forever, as well as the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again which he starred in.

It was an interesting experience getting to rewatch the James Bond movies and ending them with the Sean Connery films instead of beginning with them. Like with Roger Moore’s James Bond, I liked Connery’s era as the iconic spy more than I thought I would, even if they aren’t some of my favourites in the franchise. I’m mixed on some of Connery’s films, I dislike one of them, and there’s only a couple that I would consider among the best in the franchise. With that said, they mostly worked for what they are.

7. Diamonds Are Forever

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Diamonds Are Forever is not only my least favourite Sean Connery James Bond movie, but my absolute least favourite James Bond movie (unless the 1960s Casino Royale ends up being worse). Right from the beginning it disappoints, as it doesn’t take advantage of the ending from its predecessor On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It quickly establishes itself as going back to formula, and the events of the last movie aren’t mentioned at all. Even though Bond movies aren’t known for their continuity film to film, it was wasted potential. Even discounting that however, the plot itself just isn’t good. The story is convoluted, boring, drawn out and nonsensical and just jumps from one goofy set piece to another. Diamonds Are Forever also dials up the camp more than the previous movies, it gets so unbelievably silly and stupid to the point that I can’t even praise it for how over the top it gets. That being said, those absurd moments nor the sprinkle of genuinely funny moments like Bond driving around in a moon buggy can prevent the movie from being painfully dull. Even though he previously directed Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton’s work on DAF is disappointing. While the action scenes aren’t usually outright bad, they were boring and on autopilot. There’s also little to no energy throughout the movie, making for a sluggish viewing experience.

There are some bad supporting performances from cast, from the Bond girls to the villains, including the worst version of Ernst Stravo Blofeld. What sinks Diamonds Are Forever for me more than some of Bond’s other worst movies however is the fact that Sean Connery just wasn’t invested at all. Every other Bond actor at least looked like they were trying in their movies. Connery does have some charm to him, but otherwise his performance in DAF clearly indicated that this was a paycheck role for him. Not to say that there aren’t aspects of the movie that I don’t like. The setting of Vegas is different for Bond, if not as interesting, and the production design and technical elements are solid. John Barry’s score is decent, and there is a very good Bond song with the title track Diamonds Are Forever as sung by Shirley Bassey. There’s also a genuinely good scene in which Bond fights someone in an elevator, which is actually tense and effective. On the whole though, Diamonds Are Forever a terrible movie. It’s just as well that Sean Connery was in the movie because otherwise, the James Bond franchise really could’ve just ended here.

My review of Diamonds Are Forever

6. Thunderball

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Thunderball is a movie that I’m very mixed on, it felt particularly like a let-down after the rather solid first three films of Connery’s run. They certainly increased the scope and stakes of the movie after the immense success of Goldfinger, but you don’t really feel them. In fact, there’s a real sense of blandness to the story and characters, on the whole I wasn’t very engaged or excited with what was happening. The movie slowly moves with a sluggish pace, and it was a really underwhelming experience. It doesn’t help that hanging over the rest of the movie is that extended segment in the first act in a massage parlour, featuring a notably rapey James Bond who harasses and coerces a nurse, only serving to make the rest of the movie uncomfortable to sit through. Much of the cast are a mixed bag too. Sean Connery is confident and charming as usual, and Luciana Paluzzi made for a great henchwoman in Fiona Volpe. On the other hand, Claudine Auger as Bond girl Domino and the villain Largo played by Alfodo Celi were incredibly underwhelming and forgettable.

Thunderball is impressive on a technical level and makes use of the higher budget. It’s well shot, has a great production design and has technically great underwater sequences. With that said, the action is large but not thrilling, and the underwater scenes are rather boring to watch and hard to make out what is going on. All that aside, I don’t dislike Thunderball. There are some entertaining moments and some really good scenes. I liked the moments of camp, and it certainly has some memorable moments and aspects. Perhaps it’s not a popular opinion, but I just couldn’t get much out of Thunderball. Enjoyable moments and a couple of good performances in an otherwise disappointingly dull film. Lower tier James Bond for sure.

My review of A View to a Kill

5. Never Say Never Again

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I don’t know what is more controversial, having Never Say Never Again this high on the list, or placing it higher than Thunderball, the film it is based on. This is the infamous movie that was not only an unofficial Bond film, not only a remake of Thunderball, but also starring Sean Connery (the same year Roger Moore was James Bond in Octopussy mind you). As it is, the movie isn’t all that good, but I like it more than most people. The plot isn’t the movie’s strongest suit; it is similar to the original Thunderball, and knowing the general plot definitely takes away from the viewing experience as it goes through similar beats. The story is forgettable, not engaging, uneven and tonally off kilter, contributing to the story losing focus. It is more clunky and messy but it wasn’t that much worse than Thunderball’s story, I had more fun with NSNA at the very least. The movie was very over the top and silly, and was entertaining as such. It is fully self-aware and only benefits from that. It leans into camp, from Bond duelling Largo in a game of Space Invaders, to Bond ending a fight with a henchman by throwing a glass of his own urine in his face.

Sean Connery returns to play James Bond after a 12-year absence, and while there’s a lot here that would’ve been better had it been performed by Roger Moore instead, he is surprisingly sharp, and his charisma is back on display. He slips back into his role with ease, and ironically Never Say Never Again gives him a better sendoff compared to Diamonds are Forever. It also benefits from acknowledging Connery’s age and instead of trying to hide it, makes it a plot point in the movie. There’s a mix of decent or at least interesting performances, from Max von Sydow’s one scene appearance as Ernst Stravo Blofeld, to Barbara Carrera in a distinctly different and over the top maniacal version of Fiona Volpe from the original Thunderball. However, Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Largo was the standout, much better than the Largo in Thunderball. A menacing and unpredictable villain, who is also a delight to watch. Irvin Kershner’s work as director is fine, definitely lacking a lot of Bond trademarks including the Gunbarrel sequence in the opening. The technical level isn’t as strong as the other Bond movies and the visuals aren’t special. The action was entertaining enough though, and while the underwater sequences weren’t good, they were at least more fun to watch compared to the ones from Thunderball. Never Say Never Again is definitely in the bottom third of James Bond movies, and I’m not sure I can call it good. However I think I went into it with the right mindset and I enjoyed it for what it was.

My review of Never Say Never Again

4. You Only Live Twice

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This is the point where the series started leaning more into camp, in fact at this moment it was the goofiest point in the franchise. It was a less a political spy thriller and more a silly spy adventure with a light tone. I do think that it is quite entertaining in the absurdity, even if it borders on self-parody at many times. It does at least help that the movie is self-aware. I was generally enjoying it throughout, helped by the tight pacing and some creative and ambitious moments. Lewis Gilbert’s direction is quite good, there are some great locations, environments and set designs that are visually impressive, and the action set pieces are elaborate and fun to watch. You Only Live Twice also has the first on screen appearance of Ernst Stravo Blofeld, played here by Donald Pleasence. Over the top and cartoonish yet creepy, he’s one of the most memorable and iconic Bond villains.

YOLT has plenty of issues, however. The story is really lacking, especially when compared to most of the previous Bond films. There are plenty of memorable sequences and moments, but I don’t think the film is memorable overall. Sean Connery is once again enjoyable as Bond, but he does seem a little bored and worn down here, not one of his best performances in the franchise. You Only Live Twice is definitely one of the most problematic James Bond movies too, and that’s really saying something. There are weird undercurrents with its racial and gender politics. Even by Bond standards there is a notable air of sexism throughout. As for the racial politics, all I need to say is that it is the movie that has Bond donning yellowface to pretend to be Japanese, definitely one of the most embarrassing moments in the franchise. YOLT is not one of the best movies in the series by any means, but it is still enjoyable to watch.

My review of You Only Live Twice

3. Dr No

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Dr No is where the James Bond franchise all started. Released 60 years ago, it is definitely dated when going back to it, yet it managed to be better than I expected. At the very least it was interesting to see how everything started. It hadn’t quite gotten into the Bond formula we know today, it doesn’t have many of its trademarks like Q, the gadgets, etc. It is a proper espionage spy thriller, with more emphasis on intrigue than spectacle. It is not overly campy, in fact its surprisingly low key and simple while having a 60s old school charm to it. Terence Young’s direction is pretty good, and while the movie is definitely lower budget, they pull of quite a lot with what they have considering it’s a movie from 1962, and there are also some quite impressive set pieces. However, it is of course Sean Connery who is the standout, hitting it out of the park as he debuts as James Bond and making a very strong impression. He’s suave and witty, yet very believable as a dark and cold-blooded killer. Connery is front and centre throughout much of the movie, and it only benefits from that.

Not to say it doesn’t have its issues. The plot itself isn’t that interesting, it meanders a lot and its pacing is all over the place, the middle section of the movie is particularly boring. Even the climax is disappointing. The villains are also pretty underwhelming. Problematic casting and yellowface aside, Dr No as the main villain is disappointing, he appears only in the third act and doesn’t leave much of an impression. I wouldn’t call Dr No one of the best Bond movies overall but it is definitely important, and it was interesting to watch at the very least.

My review of Dr No

2. Goldfinger

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Goldfinger is one of the most iconic and impactful James Bond movies, in fact many have called it the all-time best. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do think it is good and amongst the best in the franchise. Sean Connery’s third Bond movie is where the franchise finally came into its own, fully establishing the formula that most of the films would follow, from 007 being given elaborate and clever gadgets from Q, to even having the introduction of the Aston Martin. It has a good cast with memorable characters with some of the most iconic Bond villains in Auric Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob. It also has a comparatively lighter tone and is very aware of its own absurdity, while not venturing into campy Roger Moore territory. Guy Hamilton’s direction takes Bond on a larger scale, the technical elements from the sets to the action sequences are strong.

Not that it doesn’t have its issues. Goldfinger is outdated in many ways even beyond on a technical level, and some scenes haven’t aged well to say the least. The script is a bit expository, and the pacing can drag, especially in the second half. Also, while Sean Connery is once again good and capable as Bond, he’s not as interesting to watch here, especially as Bond doesn’t have much to do from the halfway point. There are better films in the franchise than Goldfinger and I don’t quite love it, but I do think it is really good.

My review of Goldfinger

1. From Russia with Love

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Goldfinger might’ve been where the franchise really took off and started the ball rolling. However for me, From Russia with Love is the better James Bond movie. From Russia with Love like Dr No is an espionage spy thriller but is better in so many ways. Whereas parts of Dr No’s story could be shaky, From Russia with Love feels confident from beginning to end. They upped the scope and scale here and they expand on it in many ways, from having no gadgets to having a suitcase full of tricks, the movie takes Bond to many different locations, and it has larger set pieces. The slow burn plot is more interesting, mysterious and intriguing, it could be even Hitchcockian in parts with tense sequences. Sean Connery was great as James Bond in Dr No and is even better here, feeling a lot more confident. There’s also a better cast of characters, Daniela Bianchi was good as Bond girl Tatiana Romonova who works well with Connery. It even featured the introduction of Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. Even though the villains aren’t always present throughout the film, they’re quite memorable.

Terence Young’s direction is stronger here than in Dr No, the action scenes are grander and more fleshed out, particularly the fight on a train which is one of the best fights in the series. Plotwise, From Russia with Love can be a little convoluted, even then it is still well constructed. It also has its outdated moments as to be expected with it being a 60s Bond movie. Otherwise, From Russia with Love is an improvement over Dr No in pretty much every way, from the writing, to the directing performances and characters. It’s Sean Connery’s best Bond movie and also one of the best James Bond movies.

My review of From Russia With Love

What do you think of Sean Connery’s run as James Bond? How would you rank his movies?

Roger Moore’s James Bond Movies Ranked

James Bond Roger Moore

After rewatching the Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton eras of James Bond, I went back to Roger Moore’s run as Bond. Moore’s Bond was clearly popular, with him being the actor in the most amount of official Bond movies (7 in total).

I knew going in that his movies were on the campy side, even if you ignored Moonraker, however I enjoyed Roger Moore as Bond a lot more than I thought I would. With that said, his movies are all over the place in terms of quality. With the exception of one film, his movies wouldn’t be among my favourite in the franchise, and there’s particularly a few of his films that rank among the worst in the franchise.

With that being said, I do enjoy most of these movies, and all of them have at least a couple of good aspects to them.

7. Octopussy

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I didn’t really know what to expect from Octopussy going in, but I expected something more. It started off well, establishing itself as being on the campy side of Bond but it gradually got worse over time. Yes, in its attempts to lean more towards camp it has some moments that were “a bit too much” such as Bond Tarzan swinging in the jungle, and most of the humour just wasn’t that funny. However that’s not the main issue that brings down the movie. The most surprisingly part is how dull it all felt. The script is muddled and confused, with the most needlessly convoluted plot in a James Bond movie which is very difficult to follow. There’s something about the movie that feels so thrown together, half baked and underdeveloped, as it lazily falls back into familiarity and old tropes. There’s no momentum in the plot and very little progression, making for a rather sluggish experience. Some aspects of the movie are outright bad for sure, including some of the franchise’s worse instances of racism and sexism, however it’s not like there’s any individual moments which make you give up on the movie by how outrageous it gets. Instead, it wears you down over time, and by the third act it becomes tedious to watch.

It’s unfortunate because there actually are some decent aspects to the film. Roger Moore was getting on in the years and he’s definitely had better performances as Bond, but he’s still effortlessly enjoyable to watch. Director John Glen had delivered better work with the previous film For Your Eyes Only, but he still delivers some good work here. The cinematography is solid, and while the action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into being camp, they are nonetheless quite impressive with really good stunt work. Overall Octopussy just felt incredibly boring and becomes a slog to sit through. Despite some strengths, the script just lets it all down. It’s that rare type of Bond film of being both incredibly dumb while being incredible dull. Even at their worst, its rare to see a Bond movie where it feels like a chore to sit through.

My review of Octopussy

6. A View to a Kill

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A View to a Kill is often regarded as one of the worst Bond movies. I don’t dislike it as much as a lot of other people, but I do at least agree that it’s at the lower end of the franchise. The plot feels rather routine and without many surprises, with parts that feel very tired. The first half of the movie is particularly dull, when you’re spending an hour watching James Bond investigating horse race fixing, you’re just wondering why we are here. It picks up in the second half, but only by a little. It doesn’t help that the movie is way too long at over 2 hours long, with that runtime being paced very unevenly and messily. Finally getting around to the elephant in the room: Roger Moore is too old to play James Bond at this point. Moore has come across as being on the older side since For Your Eyes Only but it’s incredibly distracting here. The worst part is how they try to convince us that he’s in his prime, while taking every opportunity to replace him with a stunt double. He comes across as tired, much like the movie he’s in. The reliance of stunt doubles for Moore is felt here more strongly than ever, this negatively affects many of the scenes (especially the action), and it just comes across like the film is trying to film and cut around him, and that’s not a particularly good feeling to have.

So the question is, why do I like it more than Octopussy? For one, the plot is considerably more comprehensible. While it’s dull and far from good, I wouldn’t call the story terrible. It works fine enough and is at least better tuned than the last film’s plot. It also has a fair number of memorable scenes, for better and for worse. Even the dragging first half still had some enjoyable aspects that kept me willing to sit through the movie to see what would happen next. Also as I said earlier, the second half does pick up when the setting changes to San Francisco, and there’s some fun to be had there. Also while both Octopussy and A View to a Kill are both campy, something about the 80s cheese feel of the latter makes it more enjoyable and tolerable. While you wouldn’t rank them among Bond’s best action scenes, the action does have its moments in spite of all the Roger Moore stunt doubles. They’re not all memorable, but some moments like a car chase in Paris, a chase in a fire truck, and a scene involving a blimp near the Golden Gate Bridge nonetheless stand out. The villains as played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones are very entertaining and memorable, the film picks up every time they appear on screen. Walken is oddly restrained and not peak Walken like he is in the 90s, but he nonetheless shines as one of the most outwardly psychopathic Bond villains, and Grace Jones is entertaining in her role and a great physical presence. A View to a Kill is definitely one of the worst films in the whole franchise but it has its enjoyable aspects. It definitely ended Moore’s run as James Bond on a whimper, but for what its worth, it’s at least better than Octopussy.

My review of A View to a Kill

5. Live and Let Die

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From my rewatches of all of these James Bond movies, Live and Let Die was the most disappointing film. I certainly expected it to be campy, however I didn’t expect it to be boring. Live and Let Die does have an initially interesting premise, but the plot on the whole was mostly boring to watch, not helped by some rather poor and inconsistent pacing. The movie makes the interesting decision to take advantage of the blaxploitation films of the 70s, but it only uses this as a framework for the movie, and the racial politics are distractingly outdated and questionable at times. As for the campiness, it wasn’t nearly silly as I thought it would be, and the campiness itself was hit or miss. Sometimes it would be downright annoying, such as a chase scene on a boat with Bond and henchmen mostly focusing on following a sheriff named J.W. Pepper, who is now firmly one of my least favourite characters in a movie ever. However the biggest disappointment of all was Roger Moore as James Bond, especially as this is his debut as the character. He’s serviceable in the part, he’s charismatic and can deliver the one-liners, but he’s bland and doesn’t leave much of an impression.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good parts to it. The villains are underutilised to a degree but are nonetheless performed well and are very memorable characters. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also solid, there are some good action set pieces and stunt chorography, and it makes great use of the locations. It is certainly a memorable film, from the iconic main theme from Wings, to the enjoyably silly moments like Bond escaping from crocodiles. There are certainly some good elements in the film, and I do want to revisit it to see if it improves on a repeat viewing. However, for now I’ll say that its one of my least favourite Bond films.

My review of Live and Let Die

4. The Man with the Golden Gun

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I’ve seen people call The Man with the Golden Gun one of the worst movie in the franchise. While I can see why and I think its definitely in the bottom half, I still enjoyed it. However I openly admit that a lot of my enjoyment was after being very let down after Live and Let Die, and I was hoping for a silly Bond movie. I certainly got that, and I enjoyed my time watching it. However in retrospect, it has to be one of the most confused and messy Bond entries I’ve seen. The movie does have an interesting premise initially, and there’s potential in a cat and mouse game between spy and assassin (Bond and the main antagonist played by Christopher Lee). While the villain thankfully does have a presence throughout, the film still should’ve taken advantage of that setup more than it actually did. There really isn’t much of a story outside of the first and third acts, it drags in the middle with a lot of padding. Also, even with the increased camp, the tone is just all over the place. It would go from having some of the cheesiest and most absurd moments in the whole franchise, to attempting to be harder edged, and the combination just don’t really work. The biggest examples were any scene between Maud Adams and Roger Moore, which only served to make the scenes more uncomfortable to watch.

The increased silliness and camp could go too far at points (really could’ve done without Sheriff J.W. Pepper returning yet again), but it is kind of entertaining for that. Despite the plot being padded out, it is fairly straightforward. It’s clear that the producers were still figuring out what direction they were going to take Roger Moore’s James Bond, and the harder edged moments only served to make him come across as needlessly mean in this film. That aside, it does show improvement over Live and Let Die, and Moore did fare better as the character. Christopher Lee is the best part of the movie as the main villain Scaramanga. The writing for his character wasn’t particularly strong, but Lee thoroughly elevated the role and he’s compelling whenever he’s on screen. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also decent despite a few questionable decisions, with some good cinematography and action. I’m confident that if I was to go back to rewatch The Man with the Golden Gun again, I would see it in a more unfavourable light. Its definitely a messy movie but I nonetheless enjoyed my last viewing of it.

My review of The Man with the Golden Gun

3. Moonraker

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From this point in the ranking it really picks up, as we get into what I call Roger Moore’s middle peak trilogy, the 3 movies in the middle of Moore’s run as Bond which were his best films in the franchise. Today, Moonraker is often looked at as a joke, given that it’s the moment where Bond goes straight into self-parody by going into space. Despite its bad reputation, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Its definitely not without its issues, the pacing can be a little slow at times, especially in the first half where not much happens. It does lean more into humour than the previous film The Spy Who Loved Me, but it isn’t overblown, despite having the odd moment like the double taking pigeon.  It doesn’t have one of the strongest Bond plots, but the movie is a lot of fun, and the story is outlandish and silly even before Bond goes into space. When that final happens in the third act, it becomes a real joy to watch as it essentially becomes a B-rate Star Wars movie.

Roger Moore as usual is charismatic and entertaining as Bond, and helps to ground the movie with his passive self-awareness and reactions to the absurdity all around him. Moonraker is also elevated by some memorable villains. Along with the return of Richard Kiel’s Jaws as henchman from The Spy Who Loved Me, there’s the lead villain in Hugo Drax. While he’s similar to the villain in the previous movie (Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me), the mix of an absurdly over the top character with a serious and straight faced performance and delivery goes a long way to make him both menacing and hilarious to watch (in a good way). Lewis Gilbert’s work here as director is solid, there’s some very good cinematography with great locations and amazing set design. There’s a lot of fun and over the top action scenes that are well done and entertaining with terrific stunts. When it does get into space, it’s not much like Bond but it’s nonetheless a blast to watch. One could say that Moonraker isn’t silly or goofy enough given that this movie is where the franchise reached peak ridiculousness, but there’s nonetheless a lot of fun to be had with it.

My review of Moonraker

2. For Your Eyes Only

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After reaching peak ridiculousness with Moonraker, the next Bond film would be by far Roger Moore’s most grounded and serious movie. The gadgeteer is reducing, making Bond more vulnerable and forcing him to rely more on his own skills. Even the campiness is downplayed, while still having its fair share of cheesy moments. The plot was more complicated than the average Bond film, but refreshingly so despite some convoluted moments. This is John Glen’s first Bond movie as director, and this is the best of his Moore-led films. For Your Eyes Only is really a globetrotting spy film, it’s very well shot and takes advantages of its locations. The action is one of the highlights of the film, with memorable set pieces, from a chase involving skis, motorbikes and bobsleds, to Bond climbing on the face of a cliff. Roger Moore is also great once again here as a slightly more ruthless James Bond and surprisingly delivers on those harder edged moments very well.

Not to say that there aren’t some notable issues with the movie. The pacing was a bit inconsistent and the plot isn’t always engaging, although it picks up in the much stronger second half. While half the supporting cast and characters are good with the likes of Carole Bouquet and Chaim Tolpi in their parts, the other half don’t work quite as well. The movie has one of the most irritating characters in a Bond film in of Bibi Conti, whose addition is one of the most bizarre decisions in a Bond film (and that’s saying something), and the villains are rather forgettable, with Julian Glover making for a very boring if passable Bond villain. There are also some strange choices made, like the opening having the death of an unofficial Blofeld-like character, and the ending featuring a talking parrot and Margaret Thatcher. With all that said, I do think that For Your Eyes Only is one of the most underrated Bond entries and would’ve been the perfect movie to end Moore’s Bond-run on.

My review of For Your Eyes Only

1. The Spy Who Loved Me

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The third of Roger Moore’s Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me is widely known as one of the best Bond movies, and it’s easy to see why. After two very disappointing Bond movies with Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, the filmmakers made a genuinely great Roger Moore James Bond movie. Compared to the last movie, The Spy Who Loved Me is tonally consistent, with a balance between the spy and espionage as well as the campiness and light-hearted elements. The comedy and gags are well executed and genuinely funny. At the same time, the story is great and keeps you riveted, with never a dull moment. The plot is predictable and follows the Bond formula for sure, but it nonetheless delivers it really well.

This is also finally the movie where they figured out what take they wanted for this version of James Bond. Moore nails the charisma and humour and is witty and charming, while being serious when he needs to be. Both this and For Your Eyes Only are his best performances as Bond. The direction from Lewis Gilbert is strong and polished. It’s large scale, greatly shot and stunning to watch. There are also plenty of memorable action sequences throughout, and the practical stunts and special effects work are great. The only lacklustre aspect is the main villain in Stromberg, while his big plan is memorable, he’s rather dull and lacklustre by the end of the film. However, in a way this issue made up by the iconic henchman Jaws, who is sprinkled throughout the movie to provide an intimidating physical antagonist for Bond to struggle against. Overall, The Spy Who Loved Me is one of my favourite James Bond movies, and it’s by far my favourite of the Roger Moore era.

My review of The Spy Who Loved Me

What do you think of Roger Moore’s run as James Bond? How would you rank his movies?

Ranking the 2022 Best Picture Nominees

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This is the fourth year that I shall be ranking the Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Awards. The nominations like every year were a mixed bag. There were some pleasant surprises like Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter, Jesse Plemons for The Power of the Dog, and Nightmare Alley. There were also some notable absences like Denis Villeneuve for Dune. Overall though, I’ve seen more disappointing nominations from the Academy before.

This year’s lineup of Best Picture nominees were pretty good, for the most part they range from decent to excellent. I’ll talk about my thoughts on each movie, and touch upon what I think about its winning chances.

The ranking of the nominees is all based off my personal preference and how much I liked them, not about which of them “deserve” to win more.

10. Don’t Look Up

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There’s really only half of these movies which I feel deserve to be nominated. With that said, Don’t Look Up is really the only movie on this list that I wish wasn’t among them at all, despite liking the film. It seems I’m not alone, as it seemed to have already become firmly the least liked best picture nominee. I won’t pile on this movie too much given that it has already become this awards season’s enemy (there’s at least one for every year). However, I can’t deny I have a huge amount of issues with it. Despite some occasional funny jokes throughout, it’s not that funny. It’s very drawn out and could feel dull in parts and it is tonally confused, and it can’t seem to decide whether it’s a serious drama or a comedy. It particularly fails as a satire, mainly as with how its meant to be an allegory for climate change. Satires being unsubtle isn’t inherently bad (see Sorry To Bother Me), but Don’t Look Up is obvious and blatant in a rather lazy and easy way. Nothing insightful is said, in fact not much is said at all, and it really doesn’t help with how condescending and smug it feels at times. Adam McKay’s directing style could get a bit grating at points, mainly the editing, and despite a great cast, most of their performances are decent at best. Still, I still liked the movie from my first and probably only viewing of it. There were aspects of the script that I liked, whenever its dramatic it was effective, in fact it works better as an end of the world depressing downer than a smart satire. I found the cast to at least be mostly decent (aside from a particularly terrible Mark Rylance), with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan and Melanie Lynskey delivering the stronger performances. Also, it had a pretty good score from the ever reliable Nicholas Britell.

Despite all the nominations, Don’t Look Up doesn’t seem like it has clear Best Picture chances, I’m not even sure that it would win in any of the categories it was nominated for. Even as someone who didn’t love all the nominees, it’s the one movie which just doesn’t belong here. At least it was nominated over Being the Ricardos.

My review of Don’t Look Up

9. Licorice Pizza

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This is very likely my most controversial ranking on this list. Licorice Pizza seemed to have received critical acclaim upon its release, and there were certainly some great parts to it. The cast are solid with some good performances from leads Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman through to supporting players like Bradley Cooper. Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction as expected was impeccable and stylish, transporting you back to the 70s. It’s very well shot with PTA’s trademark long takes and has a pretty good soundtrack. It has its moments, and is entertaining and funny at times. However, I just was not interested in the story or characters at all. Coming of age and hangout movies generally require those, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I am aware that those aren’t my favourite types of movies by any means, but even by those standards I felt incredible disengaged from everything (even without its more controversial aspects). I was watching a series of events loosely connected to each other, and its fairly messy and disconnected. While I get that it was the point, I just wasn’t invested enough for it to work for me. It started out okay for the first half, but by the time it reached the end, my enjoyment and investment had almost completely fizzled out. Licorice Pizza is still decent and I’m prepared to say I liked it, but it gets worse the more I think about it. I just didn’t get much out of it, and I unfortunately consider it Paul Thomas Anderson’s worst film yet.

As for awards chances, I don’t think it will receive Best Picture but has a chance at Original Screenplay. Despite my disappointment with the film, I don’t think it’s the worst of the nominees by any means.

My review of Licorice Pizza

8. Belfast

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Belfast is one of the frontrunners for Best Picture, and one that received some mixed reactions, especially with its high awards chances. As for me, I think it’s a good movie, if a little unremarkable. The script is pretty straightforward, it is a coming-of-age story following the lead child living in Belfast during a tense political time. As a slice of life film about family and childhood, I thought it mostly worked. The cast were the best parts of the movie, Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench all do great jobs here, and their chemistry together made them feel like a family. Kenneth Branagh’s direction is pretty good, even if the black and white cinematography felt like a gimmick. For its faults, it is a passion project for Branagh, you feel it throughout and at the very least helped the movie to a degree. It definitely has some issues, the slice of life approach doesn’t always completely work, some situations could be contrived, and even with its relatively short runtime it can meander at times. I don’t think that there’s a lot inherently bad with Belfast, but it’s just nothing special. It’s pretty good as a one time viewing charming movie about family that semi-autobiographical, but that’s it.

One could make the argument that Belfast is the real ‘enemy’ of this awards season, since compared to Don’t Look Up, Belfast actually does have a viable chance at winning the top award. Even though I like the movie, I really don’t think it should win Best Picture. It would be a very unremarkable and underwhelming Best Picture win, even if I think it’s a good movie by itself.

My review of Belfast

7. King Richard

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King Richard is a pretty standard biopic that probably didn’t need to be nominated, but it is a good movie. As someone who didn’t know much about Serena and Venus Williams, I thought it was interesting to watch. Also while it was a biopic, it was also a character study for lead character Richard Williams as played by Will Smith. Despite my issues, I found myself invested throughout. The acting played a big part, with Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton all delivering great performances. While the direction wasn’t special it was decent enough, and the tennis scenes were filmed and edited with enough tension. As I said, King Richard is definitely a cliched sports biopic, by the numbers with big inspirational speeches and moments, and unsubtle dialogue, along with it being a bit too long and drawn out at 2.5 hours in length. Also like with most biopics, it felt very safe in parts, especially with the inner conflicts with the lead character. Those issues aside, I thought the movie was pretty good.

I don’t imagine King Richard would win Best Picture, it definitely has higher chances winning in the other categories it was nominated in, including Best Actor (in which Will Smith is one of the frontrunners). Again, I don’t feel like this film really needed to be nominated for Best Picture, but for what it’s worth, I’m not unhappy that it’s one of the nominees.

My review of King Richard

6. CODA

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CODA was one of the more surprising movies of this awards season, and I liked it more than I was expecting. It is definitely a predictable coming of age movie that falls into many of the cliches and tropes associated with the genre, and it has its fair share of cheesy dialogue and moments. However, it does its best to improve on those cliches, and despite its familiarity, I emotionally engaged with the story and characters, and I found it to be a charming and heartfelt movie with touching scenes. It also helps that the performances are fantastic, Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant all play their parts well and their family dynamic was conveyed very well. So despite its shortcomings, I thought CODA was an enjoyable and pretty good movie.

I’m not sure that CODA would win Best Picture and even though I do really like the movie, I’m not sure I would be 100% on board with it winning Best Picture. However like with King Richard, I’m okay with it being one of the nominees.

My review of CODA

These next 5 are my favourites of the nominees, I would be satisfied with any of these winning Best Picture.

5. West Side Story

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I confess that I’m not familiar with West Side Story the musical, or West Side Story the film adaptation from the 60s, but I had the chance to finally watch Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story fairly recently and I loved it. Despite the central romance which I found pretty much impossible to care for, I was invested with the story and characters and was entertained across its 2 hours and 40-minute runtime. I found it over the top and cheesy in all the right ways. Ansel Elgort might be the clear weakest link in the cast and was out of place, but the rest of the cast in Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno and more than made up for it with their great performances. Steven Spielberg’s direction was just all around amazing. It was incredibly well shot and directed, the song and dance sequences were showcased wonderfully, the production design and costumes are fantastic, and the whole movie just had this constant energy from beginning to end. This is genuinely some of Spielberg’s best work as a filmmaker, and I don’t say this lightly. As someone who has mostly found his past films decent but nothing spectacular, this is my favourite movie from him since Munich.

I don’t see West Side Story winning Best Picture (even if it would be well deserved), but I do think that it would be worthy winners for its other categories, from Supporting Actress to director and its technical categories.

My review of West Side Story

4. Nightmare Alley

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I honestly wasn’t expecting Nightmare Alley to get nominated at all, despite all the early awards hype, it didn’t receive a lot of love or attention upon its release. I’m glad it got nominated however, it really does deserve to be here. Nightmare Alley has a compelling and engaging story, and it is one of Guillermo Del Toro’s darkest (which is saying a lot). While it is essentially another movie following a hustler who gets in over his head, I was invested in this seedy and sinister story. It is definitely a long movie and occasionally the pacing dragged in the first half, but I was always invested in what was happening. Additionally, the performances from everyone were fantastic from Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, and more. In particular, Blanchett was a scene stealing femme fatale (who really could’ve had more screentime), and Cooper gives possibly his best acting work yet, especially in his last on screen moments. The direction from Guillermo Del Toro was strong as to be expected. There’s a lot of visual imagination on display, the cinematography is striking, and all the technical elements come together to form this wonderful gothic atmosphere. Nightmare Alley, at least for me, is one of Del Toro’s best, and one that I am sure will be appreciated more over time.

Nightmare Alley is honestly one of the least likely nominees to win here, in fact I’m guessing that it scraped by to get nominated at all. However, it does have a decent shot at production design and costume design. Either way, I’m glad that it is here at all.

My review of Nightmare Alley

3. The Power of the Dog

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The Power of the Dog seems to be the frontrunner to win Best Picture alongside Belfast, and I can’t say that it doesn’t deserve to be one of the frontrunners. It has a slow burn story, but is an excellently crafted character study, with particularly focus on the layered character dynamics. The acting is amazing from everyone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee are all fantastic in their parts. The direction from Jane Campion is outstanding, it’s a beautiful looking movie that takes advantages of its landscapes, and is very well put together, with an effectively dreadful, unnerving and haunting atmosphere. Among the best films of the past year.

Between Belfast and this, I definitely want The Power of the Dog to win more. There is a part of me that wonders if this is the kind of movie that the Academy are interested in or not, but I’ll be more than happy if it wins.

My review of The Power of the Dog

My next two favourites are practically interchangeable in their ranking.

2. Drive My Car

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I’m incredibly happy to see Drive My Car nominated for Best Picture. I knew that it was in the shortlist for the category, but I didn’t think it would make it beyond a Best Foreign Film nomination. Drive My Car is a truly beautiful and poignant movie. The script is incredible, the dialogue is hard hitting and beautifully written, and the topics and themes including grief and loss are covered excellently. The story and characters are layered and despite the very long runtime, I found myself invested throughout. The performances are also amazing from everyone, especially Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura and Masaki Okada. The direction from Ryusuke Hamaguchi (which rightfully received a nomination) was phenomenal, demonstrating incredible filmmaking on display, especially with the striking cinematography.  It is a meditative, complex and beautiful film that gets better the more I think about it. Despite my placement of it on this list, there is a strong argument for it being the best movie of 2021.

I’m not quite sure that Drive My Car would win Best Picture, I’m just not sure how much this movie would appeal to voters especially in comparison to The Power of the Dog or Belfast. I could be completely wrong however, I would absolutely love if it won come Oscars night.

My review of Drive My Car

1. Dune

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Perhaps its very predictable of me putting this at the number one spot. Nonetheless, Dune: Part One was one of my favourite films from the past year, an ambitious and epic sci-fi story which seeks to adapt one of the most influential and iconic pieces of sci-fi literature. The movie certainly benefits from splitting its story into two parts, even if the film is really dependent on the second part which hasn’t been made yet. This approach allows for a lot of strong worldbuilding and a lot of lore and characters to be established, it really helps put you in this world that director Denis Villeneuve is transporting you to. Additionally, its great at conveying the larger stakes and scale while telling a personal journey of the lead character. The acting from the ensemble cast are all good, especially from Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Stellan Skarsgard. Denis Villeneuve’s work here is some of his best yet, ambitious and incredibly epic in scope. On a technical level it is fantastic, the cinematography is phenomenal, the production design and costumes are otherworldly, and the operatic and unique score really works in sync with the rest of the film. Again, Dune: Part One is a movie which depends on its second part succeeding (which will no doubt be nominated as well), but even by itself, it is an outstanding film and my favourite of the Best Picture nominees.

As far as awards go, I feel like Dune will be like Mad Max: Fury Road, with many Oscar wins for the technical categories but wouldn’t be enough to win the top prize (perhaps part of that is that Denis wasn’t even nominated). Nonetheless, expect Dune to sweep the technical awards come late March.

My review of Dune

What are your ranking of this year’s Best Picture Nominees, and what do you think of the nominees overall?

Top 25 Best Films of 2021

Top Movies of 2021

Considering the number of movies that were delayed, 2021 was a surprisingly great year for film. So while this list may be releasing very late, here are my favourite films from 2021.

As of right now I’ve watched 85 movies from 2021. I think I’ve seen most of the films I wanted to watch before making this list. With that said, there are definitely some movies that I heard were great, but just didn’t get around to watching. So for what its worth, some of the movies I missed were:

  • Annette
  • Benedetta
  • Zola

With that now out of the way, here are my favourite movies of 2021.

Honourable Mention: The Lost Daughter

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The Lost Daughter was a strong directorial debut from Maggie Gyllenhaal. This unflinching character study follows a mother thinking back on her life, and while the unconventional narrative and plot structure doesn’t always work and it can be occasionally messy, it had me invested throughout. It’s a look at motherhood and touches on the struggles of parenthood. It’s definitely daring and bold as it talks about things that most people don’t want to think about or acknowledge, so I found that compelling if nothing else. However, the best part of the film really were the performances. Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson are fantastic in their roles, with Colman and Buckley particularly delivering some incredible work as older and younger versions of the protagonist. It’s a difficult character to portray, but they flesh her out and bring such empathy to her, and the movie just wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without them. It’s not an easy movie to watch, and it isn’t for everyone, but I do think that it is worth watching for the performances at the very least.

My review of The Lost Daughter

Honourable Mention: The Empty Man

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The Empty Man’s release may have been buried, but the slow building word of mouth around it is very well deserved. It’s a hybrid horror movie which mixes psychological detective thriller with elements of cosmic horror, surreal doomsday cults and the supernatural. The plot starts out simple with an urban legend and a disappearance but becomes much more by the end. It’s riveting and takes plenty twists and turns, with a surprising amount of existential dread and a constant ominous tone throughout. It’s also a great and confident first film from David Prior. On a technical level it is strong, with beautiful and moody cinematography, interesting and memorable visuals and imagery, and haunting sound design, all coming together to build an unnerving atmosphere. The Empty Man won’t work for everyone, it’s definitely a slow burner and requires a lot of patience. However I thought it was really good, and it’s definitely among the horror highlights from 2021.

My review of The Empty Man

Honourable Mention: Riders of Justice

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Riders of Justice at first appears to be a standard revenge thriller starring Mads Mikkelsen, but turned out to be far more than just that. While it still a movie focussing on a group of people coming together and to hunt down a gang in revenge, it’s also a dark comedy, surprisingly hilarious and entertaining to watch. At the same time it is a heartfelt and sad movie, one that addresses grief and trauma in a sensitive and poignant way. The script is smartly written with great dialogue and juggles multiple different tones and genres with ease, it surprisingly works together quite well. The cast led by Mads Mikkelsen are great, funny, yet sensitive and genuine as their fully fleshed out characters, and have great chemistry with each other. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it, I recommend checking out Riders of Justice, it deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving.

My review of Riders of Justice

Some other honourable mentions:

  • House of Gucci
  • Army of the Dead
  • CODA
  • Old
  • No Sudden Move
  • Nine Days

25. Malignant

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James Wan’s latest film is quite possibly his craziest yet. Malignant is a horror movie that’s very strange, over the top, absurd and even has a lot of campy and comedic moments throughout, yet it all fits together by the end. The first two acts build mystery and suspense and gets you intrigued with the main mystery, before it hits you with an insane third act, ramps up the intensity with a weird twist and it just has to be seen to be believed. It’s also another well directed effort from Wan. It’s visually beautiful, has a great atmosphere throughout, and technically strong with very slick camerawork and strong sound design. The set pieces are truly a sight to behold, with some of the best filmed action sequences of the year, particularly in the third act. Add one of the most memorable horror movie killers in recent years, and you have a surprising and highly satisfying horror movie that was bonkers in all the right ways. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend going into blind if you haven’t seen it already.

My review of Malignant

24. Wrath of Man

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Wrath of Man looked like a standard Jason Statham revenge movie as directed by Guy Ritchie, and it’s definitely that. However, this revenge thriller meets heist film just worked so much better than expected. Even though you see hints of Ritchie’s trademark style throughout, this is him at his most restrained. It’s a deadly serious, brutal and relentless thriller, his darkest film yet with a very bleak and intense atmosphere throughout. Jason Statham still plays another variation of himself as the mysterious and stoic protagonist, but is actually genuinely menacing in this and gives one of his best performances. The rest of the cast including Holt McCallany and even Scott Eastwood played their parts well too. Guy Ritchie’s directing style is comparatively restrained but nonetheless strong, very well shot with impressive long takes. The action sequences are great, bloody and brutal, and you really feel the impact of every gunshot and blow. All this is accompanied by a foreboding score from Chris Benstead, and contributes to the great sense of doom and dread in the movie. I’d argue that nearly half of the movie owes it to this soundtrack, it greatly elevates the rest of it and is easily one of the best scores from the past year. Wrath of Man is one of Guy Ritchie’s best films and was an unexpected and refreshingly different movie from him.

My review of Wrath of Man

23. The Night House

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Psychological horror The Night House really deserved a lot more attention than it had received. Horror movies focusing on grief and trauma may be a little overdone nowadays, but this film breathed new life into this very specific subgenre. There are genuinely haunting and scary ideas as it plays on the fear and acceptance of death, and I found the story to be very compelling. Rebecca Hall gives one of her all-time best performances in the central role. She’s on her own for most of the movie, and carries it so well. While it is Hall’s show, the movie’s strengths don’t end with her. It is visually striking, making great uses of optical illusions, architecture and symmetry, and the sound design and score are excellent. The film does a fantastic job at creating an eerie and creepy atmosphere, and the scares are effective and don’t defuse the tension. The Night House was one of the biggest surprises of 2021, especially when it comes to horror.

My review of The Night House

22. The Card Counter

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The Card Counter is a thematic character study that’s very reminiscent of writer and director Paul Schrader’s other work, focussing on a lonely protagonist suffering from PTSD, and with self-destructive behaviours and a tormented past. It is slower paced and meditative, and despite the title it is definitely not a hustling or gambling movie, instead focussing on consequences and guilt, particularly with the acts of torture during the War of Terror. I found it very engaging with a lot to say. There’s a great cast of performers with Tye Sheridan, Tiffany Haddish, and Willem Dafoe, with Oscar Isaac delivering a strong lead performance and possibly his best yet. It’s also supported by Schrader’s strong direction, with some truly visually stunning moments. The Card Counter is a stylish, layered and thematically rich character study, and definitely a highlight from the past year.

My review of The Card Counter

21. Judas and the Black Messiah

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Judas and the Black Messiah received some awards attention in the previous awards season, and for very good reason. It’s a very well written, engaging, and incredibly captivating film from beginning to end, with a strong energy and intense atmosphere throughout. A powerhouse tragedy of a drama, it’s riveting even when you know how it ends. It’s also incredible directed, with some perfectly executed and filmed sequences. However, the performances from everyone were what made it as great as it was. There’s the leading performances from Daniel Kaluuya’s Oscar Winning turn as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton as well as Lakeith Stanfield’s layered work as informant William O’Neil, along with a strong supporting cast in Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishbank, Ashton Sanders and more. Judas and the Black Messiah is a bold and fantastic film that definitely deserved all of its praise and accolades.

My review of Judas and the Black Messiah

20. C’mon C’mon

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C’mon C’mon is a feel good dramedy and one of the most understated movies from the past year. This slice of life film is one of the most genuine and honest movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s a heartfelt story about growing up and parenthood and asks life affirming questions, while being incredibly compassionate and tender. Joaquin Phoenix gives one of his lightest and warmest performances, subtle but genuine and one of his best. Woody Norman holds his own and is equally great. These two were an excellent pairing, their chemistry is natural and the central connection between them is very believable. It’s also very good on a technical standpoint. The black and white cinematography is stunning to look at, and the weightless camerawork was fantastic and perfectly sets the mood, tone and vibe of the movie. C’mon C’mon has been overlooked to a degree when it comes to best movies of this year, so I highly recommend checking it out.

My review of C’mon C’mon

19. The Tragedy of Macbeth

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The Tragedy of Macbeth is yet another Macbeth adaptation, with very much the same plot and script which you would expect. However, what makes this version so great comes down to the performances and presentation, as well as writer/director Joel Coen’s handling of the whole film. The performances are fantastic, Denzel Washington is a powerhouse as Macbeth, Frances McDormand is in great command of every scene she’s in as Lady Macbeth, and Kathryn Hunter makes a memorable impression as the witches. Joel Coen’s direction here is different from anything he’s done before, and the movie is a technical marvel. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous to watch, and the presentation with the lighting, shadows, fog and smoke is effectively off kilter and conveys a haunting atmosphere throughout. The way that Joel Coen manages to make the movie both theatrical and cinematic is just incredible. The Tragedy of Macbeth is very much an art movie and Shakespeare film, so it is not for everyone. However, at the very least I highly appreciate the craft on display here.

My review of The Tragedy of Macbeth.

18. Mass

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Mass was one of the most overlooked films from the past year, which is a shame because it really was a great movie. It mostly takes place in one room focussing on a meeting between 4 people, connected by a tragic event, in which they share a lengthy discussion. You feel closed in this one room much like the characters. The exposition heavy screenplay is fantastic, with very well written dialogue and a slowly revealing plot. It has a great amount of emotional weight to it, showing how each of these 4 people suffered in their own ways. It is uncomfortable to watch since it tackles a very serious and widespread issue, but Mass discusses it perfectly. It deals with trauma, grief, loss and regret with a great amount of empathy, and feels very authentic from beginning to end. The 4 central performances from Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd and Reed Birney are amazing and they convey their characters in very convincing ways. One of the biggest surprises of the year and one of the year’s best, check it out.

My review of Mass

17. Pig

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Indie film Pig at first presents itself to be a revenge story with its setup, but eventually reveals itself to be an intriguing and melancholic character study. It’s a calmly paced and existential meditation on emptiness and loss, about moving on and dealing with your past. There’s a lot to connect with here, and the take on grief is very human and is handled with a great amount of empathy. It is a reflective journey, filled with riveting conversations and memorable encounters which had me invested from beginning to end. The performances are all outstanding with each actor delivering solid work, from Alex Wolff through to actors who have 1 scene of screentime, everyone makes terrific impressions. But of course, one of the biggest strengths of the film is Nicolas Cage, who not only gives one of the best performances of the year but also one of the best performances of his career. Subdued and subtle but very powerful and believable, he’s truly amazing here. Pig is a solid debut film from Michael Sarnoski and is well worth checking out, one of the biggest surprises of 2021.

My review of Pig

16. Spencer

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Spencer is the unconventional Princess Diana biopic that’s more character study than a biopic, and it does a great job at diving into the personal life of its subject and make us see life from her eyes. Refreshingly different from a usual biopic, this character piece focuses on Diana’s sadness, anxiety and struggles as she tries to change herself to fit in, all the while being constantly haunted. It felt like a horror movie sometimes with how unsettling it was, especially with the tense and uneasy atmosphere, and I was captivated throughout. The film really benefits from Pablo Larrain’s direction, there’s some incredible visual storytelling on display. The gloomy cinematography helped convey that feeling of claustrophobia, and Jonny Greenwood’s jazzy and intense score perfectly captured the tone of the film. They all come together to make us feel the pressures of the lead character. However the movie all really depended on the lead performance, and Kristen Stewart delivers some powerhouse work as Princess Diana. She is convincing and conveys her pain and anxiety, so much of the movie is riding on Stewart, and she more than delivers. Spencer is definitely not a movie for everyone, it is very different from what some might expect from it, but I thought it was fantastic.

My review of Spencer

15. Parallel Mothers

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Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film is an engaging treat of a drama which had me engaged from beginning to end. A look into motherhood, relationships and loss, Parallel Mothers’s screenplay was brilliant and smartly handled. I was invested in the story and characters and how everything progressed; everything from the mini twists to the story of the parallel mothers, to even the subplot involving the Spanish Civil War is all well put together. It’s also directed greatly, it’s incredibly shot and captured, with a wonderful use of colour. Most of all, the acting is phenomenal from everyone, especially from Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit in the lead roles. Parallel Mothers is an engaging, emotionally charged and layered drama, and one that’s worth checking out.

My review of Parallel Mothers

14. West Side Story

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I’m not someone who wasn’t familiar with the West Side Story musical, nor the 60s adaptation by Robert Wise, I loved this new adaptation by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s first musical here is over the top, theatrical and cheesy at times, yet endearing, entertaining and emotional at times. Aside from the love story at the centre of the movie, I was invested in the story and characters, even with the long length of 2 hours and 40 minutes. It’s helped by the great and powerhouse performances from the cast. Ansel Elgort aside, the acting work from Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose are amazing and they play their roles incredibly. Steven Spielberg is a more than accomplished director, and this might be one of his best directing works. His direction is fluent and fluid and there’s a lot of energy throughout. The sweeping cinematography and camerawork are just perfect. From beginning to end, every shot is composed excellently and so much thought was put into frame, from the lighting to the colour. The costume designs, productions designs and environments are top notch and sell the setting and time period. Additionally, the song and dance sequences are fantastic and well put together. West Side Story is a vibrant, entertaining and excellently made musical, and one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, especially in recent years.

My review of West Side Story

13. The Worst Person in the World

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The Worst Person in the World is an authentic, empathetic and very human coming of age film for adults. It’s also a romantic comedy that is funny and entertaining to watch, while feeling fresh by subverting some of the well-known rom-com tropes. It’s a thought-provoking film about self-discovery and figuring out what you desire in life. The screenplay is heavy hitting, poignant, and handled with such care, it’s deeply touching and has such depth to it. It’s only made better by the incredible and naturalistic performances from Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordru, each conveying the subtlety and hidden layers of their characters in nuanced ways. Even the technical elements are strong, especially with the flawless direction from Joaquin Trier. The cinematography was crisp and stunning, and there are some very creative sequences that remain some of the most memorable scenes from the past year. The Worst Person in the World is melancholic, funny, and emotional, very deserving of all the acclaim it has been receiving.

My review of The Worst Person in the World

12. Nightmare Alley

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Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is his most grounded, but also a strong contender for his darkest. Nightmare Alley is a grim, slow burn noir mystery, compelling and engaging with its seedy and sinister story. There is an excellent cast of performers all making memorable impressions with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Toni Collette and more, led by a career best Bradley Cooper. Guillermo del Toro’s film is full of visual imagination as to be expecting, striking with great uses of colour, lighting and shadows, and with incredibly memorable imagery. Top that off with a memorable and haunting ending, and you get a fantastic film that is among the director’s best. Like with Del Toro’s own Crimson Peak, it wasn’t the best received or loved upon its initial release, but I’m sure that it will receive more appreciation over time.

My review of Nightmare Alley

11. The Power of the Dog

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Jane Campion’s slow revealing western is fantastic, a character study with layered character dynamics that is strong from the writing through to the direction and acting. It has an effectively dreadful, unnerving and haunting atmosphere which only builds up more tension as the film progresses. The acting is amazing all round, Benedict Cumberbatch gives a career best performance in the lead role, conveying the subtle nuances of the character, and Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons are excellent in the supporting cast. Campion’s direction is also a big part of why the movie works as well as it does, along with some beautiful cinematography from the landscapes to the more intimate and tense scenes. The Power of the Dog is a complex and gripping character drama, well deserving of the acclaim it has been receiving.

My review of The Power of the Dog

10. The French Dispatch

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Wes Anderson has once again created a highly enjoyable film with his latest, an anthology movie consisting of a few standalone stories, all connected from being stories from a magazine. While it has the typical anthology movie trappings with some storylines better than others and the tone and pacing distinctly different across each of them, they are all good. As to be expected from a Wes Anderson movie, it’s very entertaining, witty and delightful with great humour, while also having some tender and heartfelt moments throughout. The absurdly large cast which includes Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, Lea Seydoux and Frances McDormand and more are all excellent and make memorable impressions. This is quite possibly Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson movie ever, almost bordering on parody. At the same time, this is stylistically his most unique movie, and he even does things that he hasn’t done before. Its creative and aesthetically pleasing with fantastic visuals, truly enthralling to watch. Overall, I loved The French Dispatch, it’s one of Anderson’s best.

My review of The French Dispatch

9. Titane

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Titane is generally known as the “craziest movie of the year” but just calling it that somehow feels a little reductive. Yes, part of it involves a serial killer with a titanium plate in her head having sex with a car and getting pregnant, and it certainly delivers on the gore especially in the first act. It is definitely insane, unsettling and unnerving with some unforgettable sequences. However the most shocking part of the movie is how heartfelt and endearing it is. Titane was more profound and emotionally resonant than I was expecting, even sincere and sweet. The script is original and ambitious, there’s a lot that can be unpacked from it thematically, whether it be about family, abandonment, gender identity or gender fluidity, and I was very invested in the story. The performances were great, mainly from its leads in Agathe Rouselle and Vincent Lindon who deliver some of the best acting from the whole year. The direction from Julia Ducournau is absolutely fantastic, and once again she has shown herself as one of the most creative and interesting newer filmmakers working today. It is certainly not a movie for everyone given it’s over the top nature and the graphic content. However I loved what I saw, and I think that it is one of the best from the past year.

My review of Titane

8. The Green Knight

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The Green Knight is a beautifully made yet contemplative and meditative fantasy film; a subversion and deconstruction of the ‘hero’s journey’ trope, with a lot to unpack thematically. The story has a grand scale and scope, but is also blended with this deeply intimate, compelling and emotional journey. I was drawn into the dreamlike world, especially with its surrealist atmosphere, and the constant sense of impending doom kept me riveted all the way through to the end. There is a great cast of performances, led by a career best Dev Patel in the lead role, who excellently carries the film. David Lowery’s work here is spectacular, on a whole other level compared to what he’s made before. Despite the lower budget, everything here on a technical level is fantastic. It is visually mesmerising, epic, and even magical. From its first scene all the way to the spectacular last 20 minutes, it is an experience, and The Green Knight lingers in the mind long after watching.

My review of The Green Knight

7. No Time to Die

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No Time to Die was a very special James Bond movie, and is by far the best conclusion to a Bond actor’s run as the character. It definitely leans into the classic Bond aspects more than the past four movies with global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, the gadgets, the humour and the cheesy one liners. At the same time there is a real emotional core to the film, wrapping up all the storylines and characters journeys for Daniel Craig’s James Bond. There is a solid ensemble of new and returning actors including Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Jeffrey Wright and Ana de Armas. However, most of all, Daniel Craig gives his best performance as James Bond. He delivers the one liner and gets plenty of action scenes to play, while giving him such emotional resonance and a perfect sendoff. Cary Fukunaga’s direction is great too, feeling fresh and distinct within the franchise. The cinematography is vibrant and stunning, the action is entertaining and well shot, and there’s a constant feeling of energy throughout the film. Whatever the next take of James Bond is or whoever plays him, I’m satisfied with No Time to Die, and it was one of my favourite cinema experiences from the past year.

My review of No Time to Die

6. The Last Duel

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One of the biggest surprises of the whole year, The Last Duel was an amazing, dark, brutal and uncomfortable medieval drama. There was some great writing, especially with the plot structure as we get to see the events of the plot from three different perspectives, with every perspective adding even more to the movie with its important differences. The different viewpoints narrative was very effective, and by the time it reaches the segment of the truth, it is ascends to a whole other level. The movie is about rape, sexual assault and misogyny, and it is hard to watch, but those topics are surprisingly handled incredibly well here. Ridley Scott more than delivers in directing as to be expected, with the film being very strong on a technical level. There’s some beautiful cinematography and production design, with intense action sequences and the final duel being particularly satisfying to watch. Finally, the performances are all great, Matt Damon and Adam Driver played their parts well, and Ben Affleck was a surprising scene stealer. However, it is Jodie Comer who stands out the most, giving one of the all-time best (and unfortunately overlooked) performances from the past year. It might be bold to say this, but The Last Duel ranks amongst Ridley Scott’s best movies. It’s a shame that it bombed at the box office; I do highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already.

My review of The Last Duel

5. The Father

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In retrospect, I really wished that I put this film on my best films of 2020 list because it was a strong contender for best film of that year. However I left it off the list because of my uncertainty with which year it released in, so I decided to include it on the 2021 list to honour it if nothing else. A psychological thriller played in slow motion, The Father effectively portrays dementia and is handled with a lot of care and consideration as you experience the events from the protagonist’s point of view. It shows you his disoriented and confused point of view to outstanding effect. It’s especially creative with how it tells its story, the direction really helps place the audience into the headspace of the lead character with the editing, the cinematography and more. It plays like a nightmare or horror movie, even though it is a drama at its core. The acting from everyone is great. Olivia Colman is great as a daughter who has to watch her father go through dementia. However it’s Anthony Hopkins who shines the most here in a career best and Oscar winning (rightfully so) performance. The Father deserves all the acclaim and awards that it had received. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend it, even if it’s not an easy one to sit through.

My review of The Father

4. Drive My Car

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Drive My Car is certainly intimidating with its 3-hour runtime, but it is one of the most effectively emotional and perfectly crafted films of the year. The movie starts out simple and straightforward from the 40-minute prologue, but it takes you on a layered and genuine journey full of discovery and healing that is worth experiencing for yourself. It’s a film that says so much, both with its excellently written and meaningful conversations, and its well-crafted silences. Drive My Car focuses on life, death and betrayals, and is a story about grief, loss and learning to move forward. The performances are excellent from everyone, subtle but layered and complex, especially from Hidetoshi Nishijima and Tōko Miura. Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s direction is amazing, and this film is quietly one of the best shot movies from the past year. Drive My Car deserves all of its critical acclaim, it is amazing all around and I highly encourage watching it. Despite its placement on this list, there is a strong argument for it being the best movie of 2021.

My review of Drive My Car

3. Dune: Part One

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So far, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic and adaptation of the classic and highly influential novel of the same name has only released its first half at this point. Nonetheless, Part One of Dune is already impressive for what it is. By splitting the adaptation into two parts, Villeneuve gets to convey so much more about the world and lore instead of trying to shove everything into just one movie, and it made for much stronger storytelling. I grasped the story and lore well and I wanted to know more. Additionally, Villeneuve effectively conveys the stakes and scale of the events and setting while telling a compelling and personal story for the protagonist. There was a large cast of strong performances, including Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Stellan Skarsgard. And of course, it’s phenomenal on a technical level, making the whole film really feel epic and on a large scale. Everything from the visuals, cinematography, production design, score and more are outstanding, and all come together to really immerses you into this otherworldly setting and story. I will say that Dune slightly dropped some slots on this list after a rewatch, mainly because it’s a movie which is very dependent on Part 2. As it is, Dune (2021) is incomplete and while I am thankful for the story being split into two parts, the story definitely hasn’t reached its conclusion yet. However, I can’t wait for Part Two. Villeneuve and co. definitely know what they are doing with these movies, and it really was one of my best cinematic experiences from the past year.

My review of Dune: Part One

2. Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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Perhaps it’s a fanboyish thing putting this movie among my top favourites of the year. However, I can’t just deny that it was one of my most satisfying movie watching experiences from the past year. It was already a special movie looking at its circumstances, as Zack Snyder finally got to release his true vision for Justice League and effectively erase the subpar Justice League movie released back in 2017. It doesn’t feel like the generic run of the mill superhero movie that the last one was, the story is developed a lot more with more complexity, and the characters are fully realised. However, even looking past the circumstances under which it was made and released, it is great and succeeds at what it set out to do. The intimidating 4-hour runtime serves the film greatly, allowing time to build up its characters and backstories as well as setting the scene, and it is surprisingly paced really well. The darker tone and R rating is utilised well to help make you feel the stakes, while having little sprinkles of lightness and humour that don’t take away from the stakes or situations. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is truly a DC epic from the scale to the stakes and worldbuilding, but still allowing to show a lot of humanity. There’s a lot of genuine heart to the movie with strong character moments and taking time for quieter moments, especially with Cyborg. Justice League is an immensely hopeful movie from beginning to end. With the acting, pretty much everyone is redeemed in this after the 2017 film, from the main Justice League cast (especially Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman), to everyone else. Even the villain Steppenwolf gets a massive upgrade both in design and character, making for an antagonist who is physically more scary, imposing, and intimidating but also had surprisingly more depth and was more than just a generic 2 dimensional villain character. It is definitely a Zack Snyder movie just from looking at the style. The visual effects are great, and the powers of the characters are showcased wonderfully. The action sequences are also entertaining, boosted by an energetic and strong score from Junkie XL. Warner Bros is ill advisedly moving past Zack Snyder’s Justice League by not considering it canon and potentially looking to retcon Snyder’s divisive DC movies and polarise its audience even further. However at this point, I’m just glad that this movie exists. It definitely has its issues, but I can’t deny how much I loved watching this.

My review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

1. The Matrix Resurrections

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I wouldn’t have expected a Matrix movie to be in the top 10 of the year, let alone at number 1. Perhaps it’s the effect of having just been Matrix pilled right before watching, but either way, it topped the list as a personal favourite. It is effectively in line with the divisive Matrix sequels, and is in line with what the directors wanted. I do have my issues with the previous movies even though I like them a lot more now, however there was something special about Resurrections that made me love it so much, which I admit I haven’t figured out yet even if I can identify its strengths. I was interested in how it expanded on the previous movies and continued the story. There is definitely some nostalgia including references, but in contrast to plenty of ‘legacy sequels’, Resurrections does not feel like a soulless continuation, there is an emotional core to it. It still feels personal and heartfelt and sincere, it continues the themes of the main trilogy while exploring newer territory, including meta commentary about the commodification and exploitations of IP. The cast were all great from returning actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, to the newer additions, especially Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff. I loved Lana Wachowski’s direction, it’s a different look for a Matrix film especially with the colour pallet, but it was visually stunning and with fantastic visual effects. The only aspect of the movie which was lacking a little compared to the others was the action, but they were still good and have their moments. Its likely that this is where the Matrix franchise stops, but Resurrections to me feels satisfying conclusion and sendoff. There’s definitely a lot to take in with this one movie, and I will need to watch it again to be certain about my thoughts. However, taking all that into consideration, there has to be something said for the fact that as soon as the credits began to roll, I knew instantly that The Matrix Resurrections was my favourite film of the year.

My review of The Matrix Resurrections

What are your favourite movies from 2021?

Top 25 Anticipated Movies of 2022

There’s a lot of potentially great movies coming this year. No doubt like the past couple years, a number of these movies will be delayed (for many of them it won’t be the first time). In any case, there’s a lot of exciting movies set for release in 2022 that I’m looking forward to.

25. Creed III

I will admit that I’m not a massive Rocky fan, I’ve only seen the first Rocky and the 2 Creed films, but I do like them. Even though I thought that Creed II was a perfectly fitting ending to the series, I’m interested in watching another one. Creed III will have Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson returning to their roles, and also has the addition of Jonathan Majors as the min antagonist. However the most interesting part is that Michael B. Jordan will be directing, much like how Sylvester Stallone once directed a Rocky movie. So at the very least, I’m interested to see how it turns out.

24. Don’t Worry Darling

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Don’t Worry Darling has me mainly interested because of the people involved with it, both with the director and actors. The movie follows an unhappy housewife in the 1950s who discovers a disturbing truth, while her husband hides a dark secret. Unfortunately, I’m one of the only people who didn’t like Booksmart, but I thought that Olivia Wilde’s direction in it was good, and I was looking forward to seeing what she made next. The prospect of her directing a horror and psychological thriller has me very interested. Then there’s the actors attached to the film. Florence Pugh and Harry Styles are in the lead roles, and the rest of the cast includes Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne and Wilde herself. With the talent involved, I am very curious about this movie at the very least.

23. The Black Phone

Scott Derrickson is a good director mostly known for horror and after 7 years, he is finally making another horror movie. The Black Phone is about a 13-year-old boy who is abducted by a serial killer and is trapped in a soundproof basement. A disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring and he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims, who try to help him escape. While the trailer gives a lot away, I really like the look of it. I especially like the mix of supernatural and ghost horror with serial killer horror. Add Ethan Hawke as a serial killer and The Black Phone looks like a solid horror movie that will provide some thrills.

22. Three Thousand Years of Longing

George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing looks to be something of an epic adventure movie starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, and I already like the sounds of it. I’ve been hoping for another film from Miller, its been 7 years since his last film Mad Max: Fury Road, so I would be excited for whatever he would be making next.

21. The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg’s next film is based off his own childhood and includes a cast featuring Paul Dano, Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. There’s not really much to say about it, that director and cast have me interested.

20. Pinocchio

There are actually 2 Pinocchio films coming out in 2022. One of them is a live action Disney remake directed by Robert Zemeckis. However the Pinocchio movie I’m placing on this list is a stop motion animated film from Guillermo del Toro. While I wouldn’t usually be interested in this sort of film, his name being involved in this project has me interested to say the least. As expected with del Toro co-directing (alongside Mark Gustafson), this version of Pinocchio will be on the darker side especially when compared to the Disney adaptations of the story. It’s also a stop motion animation and while we didn’t get to see much of the animation outside of a recently released teaser, I’m sure it’ll look fantastic. There is also a voice cast that includes Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro and Burn Gorman. All things considering, it’s Del Toro directing that has me interested most of all.

19. Avatar 2

I will openly admit being one of the people who just wasn’t into Avatar. The direction and visuals are fantastic, but I just felt nothing for the story and characters. Also constantly hearing for the past decade about how James Cameron is making 3 more of these movies with nothing to show for it, it got kind of annoying. With that said, looking at the way some big budget films are going, I have been coming around on the ideas of the Avatar sequels. Cameron clearly puts a lot of effort and dedication into these movies, and I am curious to see what he has planned for them. Even if the Avatar sequels turn out to be mostly just great visuals, it is no doubt going to be better crafted than most of the major blockbusters released over the past 5 years.

18. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This is the sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange, with returning actors with Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong, along with adding Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, who’ll play a significant part in the plot. Most notable of all however is that Sam Raimi is directing, returning to comic book movies since he last made one 15 years ago. Raimi’s influence is already apparent in the intriguing trailer. I am slightly concerned as to the reshoots and wondering whether it learned the wrong lessons from Spider-Man No Way Home with regard to the use of nostalgia and cameos. Apparently it might contain more characters from Marvel movies from outside the MCU, whether that be the Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Ben Affleck’s Daredevil or whoever. It does have the potential to be a mess if they are going down that path, but I’ll go into it open minded.

17. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

It seems that the first Aquaman movie wasn’t for everyone, however it was one of my favourites of the non Snyder-directed DCEU films. It was unapologetically over the top and silly, which was probably why I liked it so much. Along with having the returning cast, most importantly James Wan returns to direct, I really liked his direction in the first movie, and I’m interested to see what he does with the second movie.

16. Disappointment Blvd.

I am admit myself a little mixed on Ari Aster. On the one hand I loved Hereditary from my one viewing of it, it’s definitely one of the most memorable horror films I’ve seen in recent memory. On the other hand, I just didn’t find his second film Midsommar to be that good, certainly with impressive direction and having a strong lead performance from Florence Pugh, but I found myself let down by it. However I am still interested in checking out whatever he directs next. His next film as it happens doesn’t seem to be a horror movie, at least based off its premise. It is meant to be a decades spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, so I’m interested to see what story Aster is going for here. Not only that, but the Joaquin Phoenix will be in the lead role and honestly he accounts for about 50% of my anticipation for this film. I have no idea what kind of movie it’ll be, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.

15. Black Adam

With the recent direction that the DCEU has been taking, I’ve been having some mixed feelings about some of their upcoming releases. One of the better looking films is actually Black Adam, foucssing on the Shazam villain/anti-hero of the same name. It has quite a cast involved, including Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan. Not only that but it’s directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who has directed a wide range of movies from action thrillers with his Liam Neeson movies, to light hearted adventures like Jungle Cruise, to horror films like Orphan and The Shallows. His direction in those films are impressive and from the teaser for Black Adam, it already looks quite good. Its just unfortunate that my one hesitation is to do with the lead actor, Dwayne Johnson. Given that for a while he’s just been playing variations of the same character in his films, for him to take on the powerful and dangerous Shazam villain makes me wonder how that’ll turn out, especially as he’ll no doubt have quite a lot of creative control. That aside, I am still looking forward to the movie.

14. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Part One

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was one of the more surprising movies I watched in recent memory. A great Spider-Man story with memorable and well defined characters with unique and fantastic animation. It was inevitable that it would end up receiving a sequel, which is what we have here. The decision to break the follow up into two parts was certainly interesting, but honestly I don’t need to know anything more other than it being a Spider-Verse sequel.

13. The Banshees of Inisherin

Writer and director Martin McDonagh has only made a few movies, but he’s done a lot with what he’s made. He made In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths and more recently got awards recognition with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. His next film reunites him with his In Bruges lead actors Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. It focuses on a pair of lifelong friends on a remote Irish island finding themselves in an awkward time in their relationship when one of them no longer wants to be friends. It doesn’t sound the most interesting of plots, but I really like Martin McDonagh’s writing style, very dark and very funny. His involvement and the cast (which also includes Barry Keoghan and Kerry Kondon) have me very interested.

12. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

Writer and director Martin McDonagh made In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths and more recently got awards recognition with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. His next film reunites him with his In Bruges lead actors Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. It focuses on a pair of lifelong friends on a remote Irish island finding themselves in an awkward time in their relationship when one of them no longer wants to be friends. It doesn’t sound the most interesting of plots, but I nonetheless like Martin McDonagh’s writing style, very dark and very funny. His involvement and the cast (also including Barry Keoghan and Kerry Kondon) have me very interested to see how it turns out.

11. Bullet Train

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Any action movie from John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2 director David Leitch will have my attention, especially when its about five assassins on individual assignments on a Japanese bullet train. However it also has a very impressive cast, with the likes of Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Logan Lerman, Michael Shannon, Zazie Beetz, Lady Gaga, Brian Tyree Henry, Karen Fukuhara and more involved. At the very least, I think we are going to get an entertaining and well made action thriller that will be a lot of fun.

10. Havoc

I really like Gareth Evans, from his work on his excellent action movies in the Raid films to his horror film Apostle. So naturally I’m excited for his newest action movie, Havoc. After a drug deal gone wrong, a detective must fight his way through a criminal underworld to rescues a politician’s estranged son, while unravelling a deep web of corruption and conspiracy that ensnares the entire city. That sounds like a good premise for Evans to work with, especially for an action movie. There is also a good cast in Tom Hardy, Forest Whitaker, Timothy Olyphant, Jessie Mei Li, Michelle Waterston. Evans is great at the action scenes so I know that those scenes will be fantastic at the very least.

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Swiss Army Man was an incredibly weird movie about a farting and talking corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe that can seemingly do anything that somehow managed to be absolutely fantastic. The directors of that, Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (known as the Daniels), are releasing another very weird movie, however this time it is an action movie. The plot is far fetched with Michelle Yeoh trying to save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led and has a multiverse. Its basically Michelle Yeoh in the Multiverse of Michelle Yeoh. The directors already had me interested but the trailer already made it look really exciting and entertaining. Definitely has the potential to be one of 2022’s most memorable films.

8. After Yang

Sometime in the past years I finally got around to watching Columbus and I absolutely loved it. I was anticipating director Kogonada’s next film and it looks like its finally here. Starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith and Haley Lu Richardson, After Yang is about a father and daughter attempting to save the life of their robotic family member, definitely a different kind of movie from Columbus considering its going into sci-fi. I’m not quite sure what to expect but the early viewings of After Yang have been very positive and I’m intrigued to watch it, if only for the director’s work on Columbus.

7. Nope

Jordan Peele made a massive impact on the horror genre with his directorial debut Get Out, a great and original horror film. His next film was Us, and while that wasn’t quite at the level as his debut, I actually liked it quite a lot. So whatever the case, I’m very interested to see what Peele directs next and we are getting that with his newest film, Nope. Like with Us, there is very little information given as to the actual plot of the movie. However we got Peele writing and directing which already has me on board. Additionally, there’s a cast which includes Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun, which has me very interested. Whatever it is, I’m excited for whatever Nope turns out to be.

6. Blonde

While biopics can be very typical and usually end up being just a display of some good acting at best (at worst its failed Oscar bait), the upcoming film about Marilyn Monroe sounds like it’ll be very interesting. The talent involved is difficult to ignore, and the story and movie on the whole seems like it’ll be anything but conventional. Ana de Armas is a great actress, starring in recent films like Knives Out, Blade Runner 2049 and No Time to Die, and so I am interested to see how she does as Marilyn Monroe. Also, Andrew Dominik is a fantastic filmmaker from his works of Chopper, Killing Them Softly, and of course The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. However what interests me the most is how unconventional this movie seems to be from word of mouth. In fact it seems like there’s going to be issues with releases, mainly due to the fact that the current cut earned itself the dreaded NC-17 rating. It does have me somewhat concerned about the actual release and whether it’ll be tampered with so that it is safe enough for audiences (especially as the movie is distributed by Netflix). Still, consider me intrigued at the very least.

5. Knives Out 2

Rian Johnson’s surprising hit whodunit is receiving a sequel, following another case taken on by Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc. Along with Craig returning there is a new supporting cast including Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Ethan Hawke, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom Jr. Definitely a lot of great names attached. We don’t know anything about the plot except its another murder case that Benoit Blanc is taking on, and Rian Johnson is returning to write and direct, and that’s all we need to know.

4. Babylon

Damien Chazelle is one of my favourite filmmakers working today, with Whiplash, La La Land and First Man being particularly great to excellent movies. His next movie is set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies. While we’ve definitely had movies like that and we know that the Oscars are going to be really into it by the mere fact that it’s about Hollywood, I am interested to see what Chazelle does with it. The main cast of the movie includes Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Katherine Waterston, Samara Weaving, Max Minghella, and Tobey Maguire, all great actors whose involvements naturally had me interested. Most of all though, I’m intrigued by the idea of Chazelle making a movie about Hollywood. He’s done so much across his past three movies, and the fact that its his next work alone has me interested.

3. The Northman

Robert Eggers has quickly become one of my favourite directors with The Witch and The Lighthouse alone, and with The Northman he is taking on looks to be his biggest undertaking yet. It’s a large scale Viking tale focusing on a Viking prince going on a quest to avenge his father’s murder. It has an absolutely stacked ensemble with Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke and Bjork and Willem Dafoe, all of whom are great actors who’ll do wonderfully in their parts. We don’t really get many movies focusing on Vikings so that’ll be interesting to see. Not only that but it’s also by Eggers, whose is an amazing filmmaker as shown in his last two movies focused on old timely from the commitment of the setting to the authentic dialogue. The trailer was amazing, showing off a large scale, and was very much gritty and dark. I can’t wait to see what he does with this, it already looks spectacular.

2. The Batman

Yes, it’s another Batman movie. This Batman tale is more detective focused than anything that came before, focussing on a Se7en/Zodiac esque serial killer with The Riddler. The castings are great, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Paul Dano as The Riddler, and of course Robert Pattinson as Batman. Each of them are perfect for their parts, particularly Pattinson, who was a perfect actor for a younger Batman. Matt Reeves’s last movie War for the Planet of the Apes really showed that he is incredible at handling blockbusters, and so I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what he does with Batman. All the trailers look intriguing and fantastic while doing a good job at hiding much of the plot. Perhaps it’s a predictable choice, but The Batman already looks fantastic, and I can’t wait for it.

1. Killers of the Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese is my favourite director, so naturally I’m very interested in whatever he has coming up. Killers of the Flower Moon looks to be among Scorsese’s best. It is based on a non-fiction book focusing on the serial killings of members of the oil wealthy Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma, which prompted an FBI investigation. It also looks to be a very ambitious with the highest budget that Scorsese has ever worked with. There’s also a cast which include Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow, all of whom will definitely play their parts well. It was one of my most anticipated movies ever since it was announced and I’m really looking forward to it.

What are your most anticipated movies of 2022?

Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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After the release No Time to Die, I decided to watch through the James Bond movies in reverse Bond actor order. I also decided to rank each actor’s Bond films, excluding Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby of course given that they made 2 movies max.

Pierce Brosnan was the James Bond actor right before Daniel Craig, and had a 4 movie run as Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. In some ways, Brosnan’s run as James Bond is a little disappointing. He was a perfect fit for the role, he has the charisma and smoothness, he can deliver the one liners, he is believable in the action, and he is convincing as a cold blooded assassin. However, the movies were a little mixed and some of the movies underserved Bond and Brosnan’s performances. It certainly didn’t help that Brosnan’s run was at an unfortunate point where the Bond series needed to reinvent itself.

With that being said, I do find stuff to enjoy in all of them, and even though the non-GoldenEye films don’t have the best of reputations from most people, generally I enjoy them all.

4. Die Another Day

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Unsurprisingly, Die Another Day makes it at the bottom of the list. It’s definitely known as one of the worst Bond movies, and for good reason. The plot is absurd and goes to new ridiculous heights, even by Bond standards. Essentially the premise of DAD is about Bond going up against Graves, who’s really a Korean colonel who changed himself into a white British billionaire, from using his diamond encrusted satellite which shoots out a solar laser beam. That sounds like it has a lot of potential to be cheesy fun from beginning to end. However the most disappointing part is how dull the movie feels on the whole. It does have some cheesy one liners and dumb moments like the previous films, but there’s something that’s so lazy and low effort in this. The acting is also mostly not the best, mostly ranging from disappointing (Halle Berry) to bad (Toby Stephens). Even Pierce Brosnan suffers from it, he does have his moments but he’s not got the best material to work with, especially when compared to the previous three movies. So much of the direction is poor, with 2000s editing with an overuse of slow-motion and bad CGI which haven’t aged well. Throughout the film is just full of bad decisions.

With that being said, I won’t lie and say I dislike the movie. As bad as Die Another Day is, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with it. The opening is good with a much darker tone  and a good idea, even if the rest of the film doesn’t take advantage of it. Most of the acting isn’t that good but there’s a few performers that work, Judi Dench is once again great as M, John Cleese makes a decent Q in his 1-2 film appearances, and Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune made for decent supporting villains. As messily directed as many of the action sequences are, you can’t deny that they are memorable and entertaining in a way. The battle over ice with cars with weapons, the hand to hand fight dodging lasers spinning around, the sword fight at the duelling club, the action in the other worst Bond films aren’t this memorable. The silliness can be entertaining, even if it’s at the film’s expense. The poor decisions, the goofiness of the villain and plot can have some enjoyment in it. Again though, I get the issues. It is entertaining in parts but not on the whole. It is disappointing that this is essentially the film that stopped Brosnan from reaching his ideal Bond film.

My review of Die Another Day

3. The World is Not Enough

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The World is Not Enough is definitely not the worst of the 4 Pierce Brosnan movies, but it is the most frustrating. It really had a lot of potential to be one of the best Bond films, let alone Brosnan’s best. Despite all that, by the end it just ends up being a formulaic action flick, with a MacGuffin in the form of a nuclear weapon. It’s also quite forgettable compared to the other movies, from the plot, to some of the characters, to the action. Despite its attempts at a darker story for this version of James Bond, the movie feels over the top and silly, and as a result it felt very tonally inconsistent. The particularly bad one liners, the aspect of the villain being strong and impervious to pain because of a bullet lodged into his brain, they all feel very out of place within the story. And yes, Denise Richards plays the least convincing nuclear physicist as Christmas Jones but she’s not the reason why the movie underwhelms.

With all that being said, I still think that The World is Not Enough is decent on the whole. Aside from some one-liners and bad attempts at humour (and yes, Christmas Jones), there aren’t many outright bad things about the film. The plot had me intrigued for at least the first half, I liked some of the ideas they had, and I was always entertained in some way. Sophia Macreau as Elektra King was also not only the most interesting character in this movie, but also one of the most interesting characters of the 4 Brosnan movies. While the movie doesn’t utilise the character the best, it’s a good performance and character which definitely elevated the film. While most of the action scenes aren’t as memorable compared to the other 3 movies, they are still generally well filmed and were entertaining. Also I think that this is probably Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as James Bond, if only because he’s given the most emotional material to work with here. I would not call The World is Not Enough one of the best Bond films by any means, but it’s not one of the worst either, there’s still some good stuff here.

My review of The World is Not Enough

2. GoldenEye

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The most controversial opinion in this list is that I don’t consider GoldenEye to be Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film, nor do I consider it one of the all-time best Bond films. For a while I hadn’t been able to pinpoint why but I think I figured it out with my most recent viewing. The plot is simple enough, but I don’t find it to be that great or interesting really, which might be the biggest problem for me. Outside of the action scenes, I don’t find myself very invested with what’s happening with the story or characters. Even GoldenEye seems to suffer from tonal inconsistency, a problem that most of Brosnan’s movies seem to suffer from (more on that later). For context, it was in the awkward phase of moving Bond from the Cold War of the 80s into the 90s. The film tries to have some of the grittiness of the Timothy Dalton Bond films but isn’t grounded enough to do that, and it also tries to be on the more over the top silly side (leaning towards Roger Moore Bond) at points but is too serious to achieve that. Not that it isn’t possible to find a happy medium between the two, but the end result in this film feels a little messy.

With all that being said, I do understand a lot of the praise that GoldenEye receives. The biggest strength for me was the direction by Martin Campbell, specifically with the action. From the opening sequence in the 80s, the tank battle, to the third act climax, the action is filmed and put together really well. That’s something that GoldenEye has over the other Brosnan Bond films, all the action is great. The actors are also quite good in their parts, Sean Bean and Famke Janssen make for memorable villains, Judi Dench made her first appearance as M here, and although Pierce Brosnan would have better performances as James Bond, he is solid here. While I don’t consider GoldenEye to be amongst the best Bond films, it is good overall.

My review of GoldenEye

1. Tomorrow Never Dies

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Tomorrow Never Dies is often regarded as the second best of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, but it’s my favourite of his. I do understand the criticisms for sure. It is very goofy and over the top at times, and it does lose itself in its overblown climax. They also could’ve done much more with its unique central concept with the media, they don’t execute it in the best way. Parts of the direction do feel a little lacklustre, especially after Martin Campbell’s direction of GoldenEye.

With all that being said, I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy this movie from beginning to end, despite its faults. One of the biggest praises I have is the tone, rather how consistent it is. Instead of wavering between silly and gritty like GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies leans in with the 90s action cheese and makes for a thoroughly entertaining film. The aforementioned plot concept involving the media is also quite unique, and while the film doesn’t make use of this idea fully, it still makes for a memorable film. Pierce Brosnan had a better showing as Bond compared to GoldenEye, Michelle Yeoh was a scene stealer and overshadows Brosnan at points, and Jonathan Pryce is scene chewingly enjoyable as the villain. The action is overblown but thoroughly entertaining. While there are certainly better movies in the franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the most entertaining Bond movies for me.

My review of Tomorrow Never Dies

What do you think of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond? What did you think of his movies?

Halloween Movies Ranked

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The long running Halloween franchise has just reached its 12th instalment with Halloween Kills. The series had humble beginnings with the low budget John Carpenter directed original film, focusing on a silent killer escaping from a mental institution returning to his hometown to kill once again. It was a massive hit upon its release, but also had a tremendous effect on the horror genre on the whole, leading to countless imitators.

It would also lead to the creation of one of the biggest horror franchises, with a series full of sequels, reboots and remakes. With the release of Halloween Kills, I wanted to rank these movies from worst to best.

12. Halloween: Resurrection

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Halloween: Resurrection is generally known universally as the worst Halloween movie, and for very good reason. Halloween H20: 20 Years Ago brought back the Halloween series with a reboot of sorts, but it seemed to have been in vain given what Resurrection did right afterwards. The bad signs already started when the film kills off the lead character of Laurie Strode right at the beginning, and it just felt like a lazy way of dealing with that loose end and so they could have Michael Myers killing random teenagers in the main plot. The film’s problems don’t end with that opening, with the rest of the movie being a 70 minute reality TV movie that felt like a parody without being a parody. The story choices are misguided at best, and having the plot be a reality show set inside the Myers house where college students are sent in and Michael Myers kills them just didn’t make for a particularly good plot. It feels incredibly dated, it has aged poorly especially with the found footage camera gimmicks, as well as the typical horror tropes and cliches. The characters are really dumb and impossible to care about, even the bad dialogue is worse than usual for the series. By the end you are rooting for Michael Myers, which would be fine if that was the intent of the movie but it’s very much not the case.

One good thing about Halloween Resurrection is that it is entertaining at least. There are ridiculous moments, including Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers costume and mask verbally tearing into the real Myers to his face, and Busta Rhymes defeating Michael Myers with kung fu and some electricity to the crotch. There are even some surprisingly decent technical aspects, with the production design of the main house being appropriately worn down and gritty, it’s generally well shot, and the attempts of suspense at least work better than Halloween H20. Even the score here is among the better Halloween scores in the series. Unfortunately, these few alright aspects aren’t enough to make up for the rest of the movie, and the completely silly choices aren’t enough to make it a “so bad it’s good” movie. These ridiculous moments are sprinkled throughout, but for the most part it’s a dull, occasionally annoying and just all-around bad horror movie. Even as someone who generally enjoys these movies, I can really only recommend this movie to Halloween completionists and very curious people.

My review of Halloween: Resurrection

11. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

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Halloween: Resurrection may be worse than Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, but at least Resurrection had some entertainment factor to it, on the whole I dislike watching 5 more. Its previous movie Halloween 4 wasn’t that good but it ended well with some potential for the sequel. Halloween 5 however doesn’t take advantage of that potential, and it’s also bad by its own standards. The cliff-hanger of 4 is retconned in some ludicrous way and instead introduces some weird psychic connection between Michael Myers and lead character Jamie Lloyd, a connection which isn’t really explained at all. Not only that, Halloween 5 is pretty much just a worse version of the previous movie, and is just a generic slasher movie. The story isn’t interesting at all, not helped by the rather slow pace. The characters mostly range from dull to obnoxious, and unfortunately the film focuses way too much attention on the annoying horror movie characters that are already positioned to be killed off, getting twice the screentime that they would normally receive. The direction of the movie wasn’t that good either, the kill scenes are fine but not memorable, it’s not very scary, and the attempts at being atmospheric don’t work.

There are only a few parts I liked, and even some of those aspects are flawed. The acting is good from the leads, Danielle Harris is once again good as Jamie Lloyd but in this movie is reduced to being mute, having convulsions, and having visions about Michael Myers. Donald Pleasence is good as always but his character of Dr. Loomis in this movie is a raving madman most of the time he’s on screen, and he’s hard to like. Aside from that, there is a scene involving a laundry chute in the last act, which is genuinely good and tense, and was the highlight of the whole film. Sadly the small bright spots can’t make up for the rest of the movie. By the end, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers just feels like a 90-minute long trailer for Halloween 6. Definitely one of the worst movies in the series and the one that I would least like to revisit, and that’s saying a lot.

My review of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

10. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut)

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Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is often regarded as one of the worst movies in the series, and while it’s certainly on the lower end of the franchise, I don’t dislike it nearly as much as some other people do. I watched the Producer’s Cut, and while I heard this and the Theatrical Cut differ, I don’t think I would like one much more than the other. It clearly went through issues during filming, with reshoots, rewrites and changes, and with no one on the same page. Those certainly comes across in the final movie, it really does feel like a mess throughout. This is the movie that culminates everything that was set up throughout Halloween 5 with the hints of the Cult of Thorn that play a major part in this 6th movie. The plot starts out somewhat interesting as it’s a bit different than what we are expecting, but it’s a mess by the end. There are plenty of exposition dumps and the more you think about the overall story, the less it makes sense. It’s a very weird movie from the use of runes and telepathy, to the fact that there’s a cult with a connection to Michael Myers, and more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite get into so weird it’s entertaining territory, nor was it able to be weird enough to sustain my interest all the way to the end like Rob Zombie’s Halloween II was for me. While I wouldn’t say it was boring, I wasn’t that invested.

Not that there aren’t some good elements in the movie. For one, despite Michael Myers being reworked into a killing instrument by the cult (at least in this cut of the movie), I liked his portrayal here, especially when compared to some the previous movies. He feels like such a massive threat and presence whenever he’s on screen, and even when he’s not. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Loomis for the last time. His performance was good and the worn down portrayal of the character actually works quite well, although it does make it a little bittersweet. Some of the direction is pretty good, once again Michael Myers is shown to be a menacing threat, there are some bloody and memorable kills with great special effects, and the score was quite effective. With all that being said, I still understand why The Curse of Michael Myers is known as one of the worst Halloween movies. While it’s at least better than The Revenge of Michael Myers, all the build-up for the following movie was seemingly pointless given the resulting movie is just mediocre at best. You can see why the Halloween franchise retconned this movie and decided to reboot.

My review of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

9. Halloween 4: The Return of Micchael Myers

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Halloween 4 was intended to return Michael Myers to the big screen after Halloween 3 tried to do something new and the audience really not liking that approach. It ended up being better than expected but wasn’t exactly that good. Much of it was a mixed bag, with a bland story, and rather bland direction. It’s not bad but it felt rather on autopilot. The kills at times can be gloriously over the top and silly but most of the time they weren’t particularly memorable. Outside of a couple scenes, the tension and atmosphere just weren’t there. The plot is pretty predictable, and the third act is mostly underwhelming. Even Michael Myers is not intimidating at all here. Bad costume and mask aside, he just doesn’t have that menace that he had in some of his other movie appearances. Even the attempts at returning Michael Myers back into the storyline after the end of Halloween II was pretty clunky, especially with the explanations of how he and Dr Loomis are still alive. Honestly though the most disappointing aspect of Halloween 4 was all the wasted potential. While it was interesting seeing a Myers that is returning to kill again and seeing how the town reacts to it, the story is mostly going through the motions. There was a chance for them to change things up with the formula, even for Michael Myers. However, the first thing that Myers does when he escapes is to go back and gets the exact same costume and mask he worse in the first two films, and that if anything should signify that no change would be happening with him for a while.

Generally, it’s just an okay slasher movie but not a bad one at that. It wasn’t very engaging, but I was willing to watch the story play out. The lead character of Jamie Lloyd is introduced in this movie, she’s played well by Danielle Harris, giving a different sort of dynamic against Myers as she’s a child not an adult like Laurie Strode in the original film. Donald Pleasance is always nice to see back as Dr Loomis, especially in the film’s final moments. Speaking of which, the ending is great and one of the best parts of the movie, leaving it open for a great lead on for the sequel which Halloween 5 absolutely did not take advantage of. Overall, Halloween 4 was not the glorious return to form that it was intended to be, but it could’ve been a lot worse all things considering.

My review of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

8. Halloween (2007)

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The Rob Zombie Halloween movies have gathered a mixed response from critics and audiences alike. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t think his first Halloween movie was that good. It’s got some good stuff but also things that don’t work for me. It is a film of two halves, the first being the Michael Myers origin story, and the second half basically the remake of the original Halloween. I don’t have an issue with the idea of an origin story for Michael Myers, but the origin story wasn’t that good. He’s basically just a kid who grew up in a broken home, with a cartoonishly horrible childhood. In this segment there are some moments of nuance, and it was interesting seeing Zombie’s take on it, but much of that is just overshadowed by so many poorly done moments and writing. The second half is just a remake of the original film. While it’s much less messy and more focused than the first half, it is literally just Rob Zombie remaking Halloween 1 with some slight changes to the plot. It doesn’t fit in with the serial killer origin story that the first half consisted of. I think the worst part about the movie is that it feels like Rob Zombie is very restricted here. The origin stuff is very mixed and messy, and the remake stuff is okay but not that interesting and more on repeat. The actual horror and tension are not there, and Zombie pays homage to the original a little too much with the way moments are played out.

With that said I don’t dislike the movie. Even if it was pretty much a repeat of the original, I enjoyed the remake half of the movie. There were some scenes that genuinely worked, and again some of the Michael Myers origin stuff is played more nuanced than I expected. Although the acting is a mixed bag, some of the performances from actors like Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif are quite good. Rob Zombie’s style is very much present throughout and while it does hinder the movie in some ways, it at least makes it distinct as his movie. I love how he made Michael Myers an absolute force to be reckoned with, with aggressive and loud attacks and brutal kills (even if it makes some moments unintentionally funny). Overall though, Rob Zombie’s Halloween really is a mixed bag. For those who watched the original it might be interesting to check out but that’s it. While it’s not without its issues, I enjoyed his follow up more (but more on that later).

My review of Halloween (2007)

7. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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Halloween H20 is another Halloween movie that ignores some of the previous movies, in this case only acknowledging the first two and being a direct sequel to Halloween II set 20 years later, forgetting the movies from 4-6. As far as the Halloween movies go, it’s not quite as successful. Despite some interesting aspects of the story, it’s dragged down by the very slow pacing where we are just watching characters interacting in an unengaging way. Setting the scene in the first act is one thing but the second act is like that too, in fact it’s a whole hour into the movie before Michael Myers even begins killing. The annoying influence of Scream is felt throughout, with all the references to other horror movies making it feel out of place, and the movie feels so 90s that it actually dates the movie. The plot feels loose, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose and the movie meanders for at least the first half. Even the direction isn’t exactly the best, looking more like an episode of Dawson’s Creek instead of a horror movie or a Halloween movie. It never takes advantage of the setting and never feels claustrophobic or tense throughout. Putting aside the 4 very different versions of the same mask that he wears across the movie, Michael Myers doesn’t feel scary at all, and all the kills are forgettable. Even the score does not fit the movie at all, distractingly so.

Despite what I just said, I don’t dislike H20, in fact I think it’s okay, and I liked some of the decisions. While I feel like it doesn’t take advantage of the setting enough, the new location and setting at a school does give it a distinct feel from the other Halloween movies (along with making sense plotwise). Ultimately there are two main things that raise the film to above average for me. First of all is Jamie Lee Curtis who returns as Laurie Strode, and she is great here. We see the effect that the events of the first two movies had on Laurie. It explores the PTSD she had from it and it was one of the strongest aspects of the film. The other standout was the entire third act, where the Michael Myers aspect is not only the most prominent and features direct fights between him and Laurie, but the movie also ends on a note that would’ve been a fitting end to conclude the whole series (until they changed it). Overall Halloween H20 is a mixed bag of a movie that should’ve been way better. I liked some of the changes, disliked some of the other changes. However Jamie Lee Curtis and the climax is what ultimately allows me to say with confidence that I liked the movie.

My review of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

6. Halloween Kills

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The most recent entry in the Halloween franchise makes it at about the halfway point in the ranking. I can’t deny that I found it rather disappointing. After the ending of Halloween (2018), the conclusion was drawn out into two movies with Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. Unfortunately Kills doesn’t do enough to really justify its existence, with not a lot actually happening. The Strode family are sidelined in favour of a plot about mob mentality which doesn’t exactly work. The attempt at social commentary is admirable but ultimately misguided. Even the emphasis on Michael Myers killing somehow loses its impact. None of these elements work together well, and we’re left with a very dull plot and it only entertains in parts. It just can’t decide whether it wants to be campy and silly with the jokes and bloody violence, or if it wants to be serious. Halloween Kills is a movie that’s on autopilot mode yet is full of baffling decisions. Even as a simple slasher movie it doesn’t succeed fully, it has the brutality and the gore but no atmosphere or suspense.

However I still do enjoy the movie and it still has some parts that I like. Although he’s comically unstoppable here, Michael Myers is strong here in one of his most ruthless portrayals. Some of the ideas are interesting like the possibility that Michael Myers is turning people into monsters with his presence (even if the movie doesn’t commit to it). While his direction isn’t as strong as in Halloween (2018), David Gordon Green’s direction is solid, visually gorgeous and with some good sequences, and John Carpenter’s score again impresses. Despite the issues with the movie, I am still interested to see how Halloween Ends concludes this storyline, and I hope they take the right lessons from Halloween Kills.

My review of Halloween Kills

5. Halloween II (1981)

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Halloween II is a natural continuation of what happened in the original Halloween, which really does feel like it was only made because the original was successful. It is a very by the numbers slasher flick that doesn’t work quite as well as the first movie. It is over the top, less serious and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are some leaps in logic in the plot, nothing too absurd but enough that makes it noticeably different from the first movie. Aside from Laurie and Loomis, all the characters are just bodies for Michael Myers to stab through, as if it turned into a Friday the 13th movie. Speaking of which, Halloween II ramped up the level of violence to being bloody and gory which was popular in the 80s, in contrast to the late 70s original which kept blood to a minimum. It just feels like an okay slasher movie.

However for what its worth, some of the entries in the series are basically just okay slasher flicks, and Halloween II is better than most of those. It does have some good aspects that I liked. For example, the setting of the hospital is a classic horror slasher setting which was quite a good place for Michael Myers to stalk. Despite some of the visible changes in direction with regard to the violence for instance, it does try to stay true to the John Carpenter original with the way it’s directed, even if it’s not on the same level. It is very well shot, with great tracking shots, colour and lighting. Some of the kills are memorable and towards the third act it does get entertaining and thrilling. On top of that, credit to Carpenter and co. for actually trying to conclude the Michael Myers story with the ending of the movie (before it was revived again). Overall the movie is not bad, it is relatively decent and once again it works as an immediate continuation of the previous movie. It’s a standard slasher with issues relating to the story, characters and direction. However it has some good moments and deserves some credit.

My review of Halloween II (1981)

4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch

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Halloween II killed off Michael Myers in its ending in an attempt to conclude that storyline, and John Carpenter and co. then wanted to move on with different stories. The idea was to turn the Halloween franchise into an anthology series, with each instalment being completely different and unrelated to the others. This attempt was started with Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which really didn’t stick with people as audiences wanted Michael Myers back, so the anthology idea didn’t last beyond that. With all that being said, Season of the Witch has been receiving a bit of a cult following over the past decades and for good reason. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the best horror movies (even for the 80s) by any means, but at the very least it was an entertaining watch.

Season of the Witch was different for the Halloween series, along with being unconnected to the Michael Myers movies, it plays more as a mystery thriller than a horror movie at times. The movie is also campy and has a B movie feel to it, with classic 80s horror tropes including robots that look like humans and Bond-like villains. The cheesiness and camp make the movie even more entertaining and it is rather creative. Despite the cheesiness, it still has a good amount of horror, suspense and dread throughout, as well as some particularly gory and grotesque scenes that are quite memorable. Even the score is distinctly unique from John Carpenter compared to his composed work on the Halloween series, still synth but one that’s much darker and slower and fitting the vibe of the movie. Despite some issues including some uneven pacing at times, it is quite good. If it was just titled Season of the Witch and was a standalone movie, it would’ve got a lot more love back when it released. Give it a chance, even if you haven’t seen any of the other Halloween movies, you can just jump right into it. However, if you’re wanting to see Michael Myers in this or only interested in the movies he appears in, you won’t be interested in this one.

My review of Halloween III: Season of the Witch

3. Halloween (2018)

Halloween 2018 was a direct sequel to Halloween, ignoring all the sequels and only acknowledging the original film as canon. Out of all the retcons and reboots (Halloween 4 and Halloween H20), Halloween 2018 was the most successful. It is set 40 years later after the original movie, while it does on paper seem very similar to Halloween H20 (especially with the focus on Laurie’s trauma from the events of the first film), it manages to feel fresh enough. There are definitely some issues with the movie. For one, while the added humour feels very out of place in the movie and doesn’t work. The movie does fall into some typical horror and slasher cliches, and it was annoying to see those occasionally appear. Plotwise, there is a subplot and reveal involving a doctor character which comes out of nowhere and doesn’t add anything to the movie and instead distracts quite a bit. Finally, Halloween 2018 didn’t scare me at all, and despite the attempts, the movie wasn’t that creepy or tense. I wouldn’t put that down as a major criticism considering that the original wasn’t that scary to me, but I still was expecting something more from this one.

On the whole though, I was quite satisfied with the movie. It was a straightforward story with Michael Myers returning to kill again but I liked how it played out. Jamie Lee Curtis is once again great as Laurie Strode, with this version being hardened, strong and capable, yet vulnerable. David Gordon Green’s direction was also top notch, with it being shot similar to the first movie, and having some particularly well handled sequences. Michael Myers feels once again like a force of nature, as if it was the original Michael Myers from the first film but just slightly more violent. Even the score is fantastic and I might even say on part with the score of the original. Halloween 2018 was a great follow up to the original movie, some aspects could’ve been handled better for sure but on the whole it turned out to be one of the best movies in the series.

My review of Halloween (2018)

2. Halloween II (2009)

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It took me a very long time to realise that Rob Zombie’s Halloween II was my favourite Halloween movie aside from the original. It is by far the most divisive movie in the entire franchise and it’s not hard to see why, it is an incredibly weird movie. This time the shackles are off, and Rob Zombie is doing his own movie without thinking too much about the original film from the 70s, which will work for some people and will really not work for others. It’s the least Halloween-like movie of the series, despite a hospital scene which turns out to be a nightmare sequence, it uses nothing from the original Halloween II. Some choices are weird and strange, such as having Michael Myers having visions about his mother and a white horse, which doesn’t quite mix with the grounded nature of the rest of the movie. It’s also quite an unpleasant movie, some of the over-the-top harsh dialogue is here from the first movie, and it’s an incredibly brutal and dark movie even by Halloween standards. So it’s not a very easy movie to get into.

With that said, I was incredibly intrigued throughout this movie, especially with many of the choices that were made, and that’s not something I can say about any of the other Halloween movies. As I said earlier, Zombie going all in with his vision will work for some, and I am one of those people. Halloween II is basically the aftermath of the previous Rob Zombie Halloween movie, following Laurie who is traumatised, Loomis capitalising on the events with a book, and Michael Myers having visions and wandering around. Much of the movie is just following these three characters doing their own things until the climax happened, and somehow this worked for me. I was surprisingly invested, more than I thought I would be. The movie is not subtle at all with its themes and can get a little pretentious (for lack of a better word), but some moments are surprisingly nuanced. Rob Zombie doesn’t hold back at all, and it feels even more his movie than the last one did. There is such a grainy and gritty look to it which pairs well with the bleak and nihilistic story, and the violence and gore is ramped up to new heights. In fact this bleakness and feeling of dread is what makes the movie stand out above all the others, making the scenes of violence hit even harder. If nothing else, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is the most unique entry in the Halloween franchise with what it tries to do.

My review of Halloween II (2009)

1. Halloween (1978)

Unsurprisingly, the original classic is still my favourite of the series. It’s hard to talk about this movie because everything that can be said about this movie has already been said. It was revolutionary for cinema, especially for lower budget horror films, and its impact is immeasurable. In some ways it does contain many of the tropes and cliches, but to a degree many of those tropes and cliches exist because of this movie. So that, the occasionally bad dialogue and the simplicity makes it work in a throwback 70s way. Yet it’s still impressive in its simplicity, largely because of its marvellous execution.

The premise is simple, the killer is straightforward, the movie makes use of limited locations, and the film utilised them all incredibly well. John Carpenter’s direction is a big reason why it works as well as it does. Despite the lower budget, he does so much with it, and the smaller scale adds so much to the feel of the movie. The cinematography is masterful, especially with the use of wide shots. The score is simple yet absolutely iconic, and probably one of the most recognisable themes ever, especially in horror movies. All of these come together to form a fantastic and well built horror atmosphere. Another simple yet iconic aspect of the movie was the use of a William Shatner mask and jumpsuit for Michael Myers, and it was so effective that none of the sequels decided to every change that design and continually tried to replicate it. Speaking of Myers, Carpenter and co. manages to make him feel like a presence throughout the whole movie, even when he’s not on screen. Overall, the original Halloween still remains a timeless horror classic to this day.

My review of Halloween (1978)

What is your thoughts on the Halloween franchise? How would you rank them?

Denis Villeneuve Films Ranked

Denis Villenueve Ranked

With the release of Dune: Part One, I wanted to share my list ranking the films of director Denis Villeneuve.

Ever since I watched Prisoners, I’ve been interested in Denis Villeneuve as a director. Over the past decade, he quickly established himself as one of the most acclaimed, visionary and sought-after directors. He has a fantastic body of work and has excelled at any genre he attempted from gritty crime thrillers to grand sci-fi epics.

With a few exceptions, most of Villeneuve’s films are truly excellent and as such, ranking his work is not easy. Here’s my best attempt at it.

10. August 32nd on Earth

August 32nd on Earth is a very obscure and hard to find movie, and one that even most fans of Denis Villeneuve probably haven’t heard of. Even though I’m glad I watched it, it’s by far his worst movie. It isn’t riveting and it takes a while for things to happen. It is Villeneuve’s first movie, and the direction definitely feels like it’s from someone making their filmmaking debut. It is rough with the editing, music and cinematography and isn’t exactly what you would call polished, with not much of a style.

With all that being said, August 32nd on Earth is a competently made movie, and it is solid as a directorial debut. It’s a decent romance dramedy that’s written well, especially with the dialogue between the two leads. Pascale Bussières and Alexis Martin are good as the main characters, and they share some great chemistry which drives and carries the movie, which is just as well since the movie relies on them so much. Without them, it wouldn’t have worked as well. Overall, it’s directed, written and acted well enough to make it entertaining to watch. With that said, it’s not anything special, and I wouldn’t recommend it to many people outside the most curious of Villeneuve fans.

My review of August 32nd on Earth

9. Maelström

If August 32nd on Earth was a standard movie for a directorial debut, Maelstrom is Denis Villeneuve getting experimental and creative. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but overall, I think it’s an admirable early effort from him.  There’s a lot going for Maelstrom with it being a dark character study of the troubled lead character, and the movie tackling the themes of guilt, grief and regret. Some of its aspects are strong, Marie-Josée Croze acts very well as this complicated protagonist, and Villeneuve’s direction certainly helps the film. It’s not as polished as his later work and he’s still crafting his own distinct style, but the technical aspects like the cinematography and editing fit the movie quite well. You can even detect aspects of his filmmaking style here which would make its way into his future movies.

Although there are some interesting elements to it, the film is held back by its shortcomings. The film is very slow moving and unfortunately doesn’t really keep your attention all the way through despite the strong character focus (not helped by the unsatisfying ending). I appreciate the movie for a lot of its ideas, though not all of them work. The narration of the film is delivered from a talking fish as it’s being chopped up by a butcher over the course of the film. It’s certainly memorable and probably meant to be symbolic given that fish play a symbolic part of the film but distracts more than anything, and is just one example of decisions in the film not really landing. Despite its issues, Maelstrom is still a solid and intriguing enough movie, and it does have some interesting aspects to make it worth a watch even if not all of it works.

My review of Maelström 

8. Polytechnique

It’s a huge step up in quality from this point in the list going forward. Polytechnique is definitely Denis Villeneuve’s least rewatchable movie, this drama focuses on a very difficult subject, that being a real life tragic shooting. It is a harrowing and haunting experience of a film, yet is beautifully shot, acted, and written, and respectful to the victims of the tragedy. The runtime is less than an hour and 20 minutes, but Denis put so much into it and does so much with it.

At this point with his third movie, Denis Villeneuve has honed his skills and has become a very capable filmmaker. The black and white cinematography complements the raw brutality of the scenes, giving it an eerie feeling. At the same time, these brutal sequences never feel glorified. Along with the excellent direction, the film is also helped by the acting, which felt authentic and real. Again, Polytechnique is not an easy movie to watch at all, but it is a great and important film.

My review of Polytechnique

7. Enemy

Enemy is one of Denis’s more confusing and experimental movies. A hypnotic, brilliant and thought-provoking psychological thriller, it definitely requires more than one viewing to really appreciate it. I know that personally as soon as it ended, I looked into online theories and videos to see what everyone else thought and interpreted from the movie. The premise is initially simple, and you are pulled into this intriguing doppelganger story. Throughout there’s an eerie and unnerving feeling that grips you. Enemy is incredibly complex and layered with so much to look into and think about as it plays with perceptions of reality.

Elevating the movie are the incredible dual performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, he really delving deep into the personalities of these two roles and again does some outstanding work. Another critical part of the film is of course Villeneuve’s direction, which is amazing as always. It’s an absolutely stunning looking movie, distinct with the yellow-ish tint and with moments of scary and unforgettable imagery. There’s also a general vibe of strangeness and wrongness, helped even further by the unsettling score. Even though it’s not a horror movie, this is probably the closest that Villeneuve has made to one. There are some unnerving scenes with some great tension building, keeping you on edge from beginning to end. As I said before, Enemy is very confusing at first, but its more satisfying on repeat viewings. It’s really an unforgettable experience that is well worth checking out if you have the patience for it.

My review of Enemy

6. Sicario

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Sicario is a captivating, intense, dark and gritty crime thriller, it takes it time with its pacing and plot and is nonstop suspenseful. It has a very dark tone and feels appropriately unpleasant and uneasy throughout. There’s always an undercurrent feeling of tension and danger, you never really feel that the characters are completely safe. There’s also some stellar performances from the likes of Josh Brolin and Daniel Kaluuya, but it’s both Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro who are the standouts, delivering strong and powerful acting work in their parts.

Denis’s direction is fantastic as expected, and this film is outstanding on a technical level. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is phenomenal as usual, framed and lit perfectly and capturing the tension. Johann Johannsson’s haunting and ominous score is a presence throughout the entire film and helps maintain this unnerving and uncomfortable feeling for the movie. Overall Sicario is a tightly directed, bleak and memorable thriller that accomplishes just about everything it sets out to do.

My review of Sicario

5. Incendies

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I remember hearing about Incendies being one of Villeneuve’s earlier movies. I went in fairly blind, and I was not prepared for what I would be watching. Incendies is a brutal, harrowing and uncompromising film. The storytelling is fantastic, a mystery with a plot containing a lot of twists and turns focusing on twins fulfilling their dying mother’s last request. You are locked in from start to finish as the plot unfolds. There are some truly devastating moments and reveals, and it’s very bleak even by Villeneuve standards.

The acting is great from everyone, from the twins played by Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette, to Lubna Azabal as the mother. Everyone acts their role well, but it really is Azabal’s film, and she carries the movie excellently. Denis Villeneuve’s direction is fantastic as usual, it’s a stunning looking movie with so many memorable and emotional impactful images that are burned into your memory. Much of the movie is quiet and subtle, only making everything feel all the more real and raw, and there is a tense feeling throughout. Incendies is an unforgettable and truly remarkable film. It’s constantly engaging, greatly acted and packs an effective emotional punch when it needs to be. Not an easy watch by any means but nonetheless really worth checking out.

My review of Incendies

4. Arrival

Amy Adams as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

Arrival was the first Denis Villeneuve movie I was able to watch in the cinema, and it was an unbelievable experience. It is a thoroughly griping, intelligent, and thought-provoking science-fiction film that deserves multiple viewings, and is worth going into not knowing anything about it. I was satisfied with all the twists and turns, and the story by the end felt complete. While it is on the surface level a first contact/alien invasion movie with worldwide stakes at play, it is still a very human and soulful movie, presenting some interesting and thought-provoking ideas.

The performances are great, but it really comes down to Amy Adams in the lead role, giving one of her all-time best performances. She is spectacular here, this really is her film. Villeneuve’s direction is also outstanding. There is some spectacular cinematography from Bradford Young with the use of gorgeous wide shots, and the CGI is fantastic and never looked overused or fake. The score from Johann Johansson is euphoric too, eerie, suspenseful and ominous, yet very beautiful and it really added to the tone of the film. Overall Arrival is one of the best science fiction films from the past 10 years and is one that gets better the more you think about it and revisit it.

My original review of Arrival

3. Dune: Part One

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The most recently released film from Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part One is currently his most ambitious film, especially considering that its adapting one of the most iconic piece of science fiction literature ever. While we have only half of the adaptation to judge at this point, needless to say his work on this one movie was fantastic. The world of Dune is very detailed, and he conveyed it incredibly well with outstanding world-building. I grasped the story and lore surprisingly well and I really wanted to know more about it. While Part One is essentially used as a way of delivering exposition about the world, characters and lore, it felt incredibly natural and worked seamlessly with the unfolding story. It is a slow movie with a steady pace, but this helped to tell the story effectively, and still felt reasonably accessible to most audiences. Villeneuve does a fantastic job at conveying the high stakes of the story, while still having a strong focus on the lead character’s journey and internal struggle.

There are some outstanding performances from the excellent cast as these memorable characters, especially with Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Stellan Skarsgard. Unsurprisingly, Denis Villeneuve’s direction is magnificent, and Dune is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen, you really feel the sense of scale throughout. The cinematography from Greig Fraser is amazing, the production design, set pieces and wardrobe are unique and detailed, and the score is operatic and outstanding. Dune: Part One is an immersive experience and spectacle of a film and while it definitely needs Part 2 for me to judge Villeneuve’s adaptation on the whole, I have high hopes for it. Part 2 just can’t come soon enough.

My review of Dune: Part One

2. Prisoners

Film Review Prisoners

Prisoners was the first movie I watched from Denis Villeneuve, and it’s his first English language movie. 8 years on, it remains a tense, well crafted and relentlessly grim thriller. Mystery thrillers following a kidnapping have been pretty common but this is incredibly well executed. You are completely invested in this the whole time, and despite the many disturbing twists and turns you can’t turn your attention away from it. It’s helped by its engaging characters and thought provoking questions that it poses.

The spectacular performances from the cast also are a big reason why it works so well. Hugh Jackman gives his best performance as a father desperate to find the missing children, Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal as a detective searching for the children, and Paul Dano sticks in your head the entire time as a possible suspect. Other performances from Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo were amazing and add so much to it. The direction from Denis Villeneuve is amazing as expected. Roger Deakins’s cinematography was incredible, really appropriate for the dark atmosphere and constantly feeling dark and damp. There is an effective sense of dread throughout, helped by the mesmerising score from Johann Johannsson. Prisoners still remains an outstanding mystery thriller film, and is still one of my favourite movies from Villeneuve.

My review of Prisoners

1. Blade Runner 2049

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Potentially a very predictable pick for number 1, but my favourite of Villeneuve’s films nonetheless. Blade Runner 2049 is a grand sci-fi spectacle and one of the best science fiction movie of recent years. Living up to the Ridley Scott directed original Blade Runner, 2049 isn’t just a continuation that remains true and faithful to the original, it also expands upon its world and crafts its own unique story that improves upon it. The fantastic script tells an intimate story for the lead character played by Ryan Gosling, and his compelling journey over the course of the film. It is a long movie and moves at a steady pace but not a single second felt wasted.

The performances were fantastic from everyone. Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as the lead role of K, effectively carrying the whole film really well. Harrison Ford reprises his role of Deckard from the first Blade Runner and is incredible in his screentime, and Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks are very memorable in their parts. Denis Villeneuve’s work on 2049 is spectacular, with so much attention to detail. The cinematography from Roger Deakins is nothing short of breathtakingly spectacular. The world is incredibly well realised with the visual effects, physical sets and the production design working together incredibly well. Blade Runner 2049 remains one of the most impressive films I’ve seen, and is currently my favourite film from Denis Villeneuve.

My review of Blade Runner 2049

What is your ranking of Zack Snyder’s movies?

Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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With No Time to Die out in cinemas now, I decided to rank the 5 movies in Daniel Craig’s 15 year run as James Bond.

I will admit that although I like most of the movies, I’m not a massive fan of James Bond. My favourite version of Bond however was always Daniel Craig’s. While there’s only three of the five movies that I love, I just really liked this version of Bond, both the approach to the character and Craig’s performance.

This list is going to contain some minor spoilers, since these movies link into each other.

5. Quantum of Solace

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For the longest time I was trying to decide which I considered to be worse, Quantum of Solace or Spectre. They are both flawed for incredibly different reasons, but I gave Quantum the edge, if only for its messiness. With that said, I surprisingly liked the movie noticeably more upon recent rewatch of it in the lead up to No Time to Die. It’s quite a different James Bond movie, with it acting as the first direct sequel to the last Bond movie, and does try to be more of a political thriller taking inspiration from real world events. Its known at this point that this movie was made during the writer’s strike and was heavily affected by it, and you can really feel it. The writing felt like it needed more work and fleshing out. With that said, I did like the attempt at grounding itself even more in reality, and although the story is lacklustre compared to Casino Royale’s, I was interested in where it was going. I especially liked the portrayal of James Bond being a ruthless loose cannon, as he’s searching for revenge. The villain in Dominic Greene is underwhelming and doesn’t feel like a real threat compared to many of the other Bond villains, but I think he worked well enough for this story, and the performance was good. The action is also a mixed bag. Aside from a scene involving a plane, all the action has a lot of quick cut editing, making some of them hard to follow. For whatever reason I also enjoyed these more on the more recent viewing. I definitely feel like they could’ve laid off the quick cuts, but I like how gritty and brutal the action was.

I thought the acting was all quite solid. Daniel Craig again puts everything into the role of Bond, and he’s especially great here. The supporting cast, both returning (Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright) and new (Olga Kurylenko) did solid jobs in their part too. I also liked the direction of the movie on the whole, there are some genuinely great moments, such as a sequence taking place at an opera. Overall, I wouldn’t call this one of the best Bond movies by any means. However there’s something about this chaotic, brutal and angry mess of a movie that I genuinely enjoy. At the very least, there’s a lot of this movie I appreciate and admire, even if it’s by no means anywhere to being close to the level of its predecessor.

My review of Quantum of Solace

4. Spectre

Spectre might not be the worst of the Daniel Craig Bond films, but it is the most frustrating of the 5. Director Sam Mendes and co. did such incredible work with Skyfall that it’s quite disappointing to see that their follow up didn’t come anywhere close to being as good. With that said, my more recent rewatch did put things in perspective for me. For the most part, Spectre is a solid film that just happens to not work as well as Skyfall. Skyfall did such a good job at paying tribute to the older Bond films, while making it work on its own. Spectre on the other hand was all over the place with what it wanted to do. It tried to tie together all the other Craig Bond films and trying to go into Bond’s past, while also trying to throw back to the classic Bond films, with over the top scenes, and ‘classic’ Bond moments. The two tones just didn’t work together at all. The plot is intriguing and solid, though it’s a little predictable and could’ve been better. Despite the long runtime, a lot of the plot and characters could’ve been fleshed out more. The cast are decent, especially with the returning actors like Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, and some of the newer additions like Lea Seydoux. However, some actors like Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz don’t really get to do much in their parts. The action is generally well filmed and entertaining, although missing a level of intensity that was present in the previous 3 movies. However, the opening action sequence and the fight between Bond and Dave Bautista’s henchman on a train were genuinely great. In fact, the film is quite good on a technical level, visually stunning, well edited, and greatly put together.

Where the film starts to go downhill is when it enters into its third act, specifically once it gets to Christoph Waltz’s second onscreen appearance. While the prospect of Waltz as a Bond villain sounded exciting, his character and his writing just didn’t work all that well for the story. Had it not been for Waltz’s appearance in No Time to Die, I think that even Dominic Greene from Quantum of Solace would’ve been better. Not only that, but trying to tie all the previous Bond movies together in Spectre just felt misguided. Then it moves into its rather baffling and underwhelming climax. It manages to be silly yet boring at the same time. From the Sony email leaks it seems that the filmmakers didn’t know what to do for the end, and it certainly showed on screen. It is borderline terrible and definitely brought the movie down for me significantly. Spectre is good for the most part, but there’s also a lot here that doesn’t work. I do rank Spectre higher than Quantum of Solace if only for consistency in quality for the first two acts, before it collapses in the last act.

My review of Spectre

My retrospective review of Spectre

These next three are very close together and are interchangeable.

3. No Time to Die

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The most recent film on this list, No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film and the conclusion of Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. At a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes there was a lot to take in with this film, especially from the one viewing I had of it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The story itself is the closest to a classic Bond movie with some of the tropes and aspects you’d expect, an over-the-top villain with a plan that affects the whole world, gadgets, cheesy one liners, you name it. It was quite an entertaining ride and despite the length, it never really dragged for me. It also has an emotional core, and worked in tying up all the characters and storylines, better than Spectre did at least. It even made some of the elements from Spectre work better retroactively. Cary Fukunaga’s direction was great, delivering an energetic, well-paced, and vibrant film. The action was great and memorable, very well shot, and definitely rivals the best action scenes from the previous 4 films.

Everyone in this ensemble cast is great, from the returning actors like Lea Seydoux and Ralph Fiennes, to newer actors including Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. However, it all comes down to Daniel Craig, and while he’s great in all of these movies, this is his best work as James Bond. He delivers the one-liners and the action, but also gives his most emotional performance as the character. Despite the global stakes involving a dangerous weapon, No Time to Die’s main story is Bond’s story and above all else, it gives him a great sendoff. Again, the film was a lot to take in, so I will need to watch it again. However at the moment, I’m prepared to say that I loved it.

My review of No Time to Die

2. Casino Royale

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The James Bond franchise rebooted yet again after 2002’s Die Another Day, with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell releasing Casino Royale in 2006. This is where Daniel Craig’s James Bond was introduced, focussing on a Bond who just became a double 0 agent. By James Bond standards, it stays relatively grounded, with the lead character never relying on gadgets. It’s a comparatively refined and mature Bond film, and everything from the intriguing story to the well-developed characters are all on point. It’s quite something watching Casino Royale again 15 years after its release, it still holds up really well.

Daniel Craig gave his own take on Bond, with his incarnation being the best version of the character to date. Both his performance and the writing provided to him is very strong and for made for him being more human and a more interesting character. The supporting cast is also strong, with the likes of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench and others playing their parts greatly. Martin Campbell’s work as a director is also excellent and helped the film succeed as well as it did, especially when it comes to the outstanding action sequences. Nearly a decade and a half later, Casino Royale still holds up very well as a James Bond movie, an action movie, and a movie in general.

My review of Casino Royale

1. Skyfall

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It was pretty hard deciding between Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite Craig-era Bond film, ultimately I gave Skyfall the edge. After the first two movies being more grounded and Bourne-esque, Skyfall brings it closer to more what people picture when they think of Bond, while also delivering a personal and emotional story for the character. Both elements are balanced incredibly well, delivering an intriguing and riveting film. Despite it being closer to classic Bond than the previous 2 movies, whether it be a hacker villain, gadgets, larger action scenes and the like, the stakes are smaller and personal. The climax is particularly strong on both an entertainment and emotional level, and one that’s very different for a Bond film. While the first half is definitely strong, it’s the second half which really solidified it as my favourite of Craig’s run.

The characters and acting were also great, Daniel Craig delivers as Bond as always, but it was many of the supporting actors that stood out. The new interpretations of Q and Moneypenny with Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, along with the eventual next M in Ralph Fiennes, were all welcome additions. Javier Bardem ranks among the best Bond villains, with a very memorable performance and character. And of course, there’s Judi Dench’s last performance as M, who gets to shine the most here out of all her Bond film appearances. Sam Mendes directs Skyfall, and his work here is fantastic. From the fantastic cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the phenomenal score from Thomas Newman, and the outstanding action, its so great on a technical level. Skyfall has held up incredibly well over the past near decade it’s been released, and still remains my favourite Daniel Craig James Bond film.

My review of Skyfall

How would you rank Daniel Craig’s James Bond films?

Zack Snyder Films Ranked

Zack Snyder films

With his latest movie Army of the Dead out now, as well as his Justice League released earlier this year, it’s time to rank director Zack Snyder’s filmography.

Zack Snyder is one of the most divisive and polarising directors working at the moment, some people love his films, and other people absolutely despise him. For me, he’s actually one of my favourite directors, and I’m a fan of his movies. He has such a distinct style across all of his movies that some like and some don’t. Looking at his filmography as a whole, he has done so much over the past 20 years, from adaptations of comic book characters and iconic graphic novels, to zombie movies and even animated movies about owls. I’m always interested to see what he does next.

Also for the record, the Justice League movie that was released in 2017 isn’t on this list, even if Snyder’s name is on it.

9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

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Legends of the Guardians is an often overlooked animated movie. I remember seeing when it came out in cinemas, having read the books that its based on. While the story was a little different from the books (from what I can remember), it was quite a decent movie, and should’ve gotten more attention than it received.

One thing that I think everyone can agree on is that Legend of the Guardians is a very well directed and technically strong movie, even with it being an animated kids movie, you can definitely tell that it’s a Zack Snyder movie. This is a stunning movie and there are some beautiful looking sequences. I had read the books years prior to the movie and while the story in the movie really wasn’t that great, it does stand out from some other animated movies. It is also quite dark in terms of its visuals and story, which is always refreshing for a kids movie and made it stand out. I would actually like to see Snyder take on another animated movie, he’s definitely showed himself as being very capable at making one with this movie.

My review of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

8. 300

Zack Snyder had already directed his first feature film with Dawn of the Dead, but his next film 300 is what really put him on the map as a director to really pay attention to. With the larger than life visuals, and the grand and epic scale, 300 really made an impression on audiences and critics alike and was incredible influential on other movies following it.

300 is quite an enthralling film to watch. The actors played their parts well, the story is straightforward and good enough for what it is (and does have a little more to it than just exposed men stabbing each other), but most of all, it’s Snyder’s visual storytelling that’s the highlight. The action is stylised, gratifying and entertaining, and a lot of the shots and sequences are a feast for the eyes and look straight out of a graphic novel and comic book (appropriate given the source material). Some aspects of the direction can get a little too over the top, especially with the slow-motion and some of the digital effects not holding up 1.5 decades later (especially with the green screen and blue screen). Otherwise, 300 still holds up today as a bloody, epic and entertaining watch.

My review of 300

7. Dawn of the Dead

Remakes of classic films are generally a worry, especially when it comes to horror movies, specifically in this case George A. Romero’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead. However, Zack Snyder actually did a great job with his first feature movie, a fast and intense zombie film which is still pretty good today.

James Gunn’s writing paired with Snyder’s direction was a great combination and overall, it’s quite a fun movie to watch. The plot is moving constantly and never allows you a chance to be bored. The film is short but manages to add a lot of emotion, humour and more in that time. The characters are pretty standard and aren’t special, but generally have more characterisation than most zombie movie characters, and are played well by the cast. It does lack the social commentary from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, but in a way, there was no way of imitating what Romero did with the original, so in some way it was better keeping the straightforward zombie movie approach. It is a good-looking movie, definitely more grimy looking compared to Snyder’s later movies, which fits in with the tone. The action is fast paced and brutal, the zombies are fast, nightmarish and dangerous, and the makeup and practical effects are great. All of these come together to provide some very memorable and creative moments. Full of exhilarating energy, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is one of my favourite zombie movies.

My review of Dawn of the Dead

6. Sucker Punch: Extended Cut

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If there’s a movie that really started the hate for Zack Snyder as a director, it’s Sucker Punch, which got quite the negative response upon its release. It’s quite possibly his most polarising movie, which is saying a lot. There are some people who love the movie, and others who absolutely hate it. I’m actually one of the people who really liked it for what it was.

This is one of the only two films from Zack Snyder that’s not based on an existing source material. I wouldn’t say its one of Snyder’s best work by any means, but it is certainly ambitious. The narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening, which I have to respect. The narrative isn’t always coherent but I wouldn’t trade for one that was perfectly clear cut. Sucker Punch is also in some ways a female empowerment film, as well as commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse. Even if it doesn’t fully succeed, I admire the attempt at really trying to say something. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten, but the strong cast consisting of Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac and more make up for that. As typical of Snyder, this is distinctly one of his movies from his direction alone. From the beginning of the movie with the incredible opening sequence to the very end, the visuals are stunning. As I’ve said in other reviews in the past, style is substance, and Sucker Punch has a lot of style. The action scenes are entertaining, and while knowing the context of the larger-than-life sequences being in the lead character’s head does take away from them to a degree, I still enjoy them quite a lot. Not all of the movie works and there’s some messiness to it, but a lot of Sucker Punch does work for me.

My review of Sucker Punch

5. Army of the Dead

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With his latest movie, Zack Snyder goes back to his zombie roots, while showing that he’s progressed quite a lot since that movie. While it’s not completely original with it being a zombie movie and the plot is relatively familiar, it does still make itself distinct as a zombie movie. It’s really no surprise that Netflix sees so much potential in this being a major franchise for them.

Army of the Dead is entertaining throughout, quite comedic (definitely Snyder’s most comedic film), while being quite dark, and despite the premise of a zombie heist movie in Las Vegas, it’s not necessarily a ‘dumb zombie flick’. There’s a lot of great worldbuilding as it sets up the characters and setting. The characters are great and portrayed very well by the ensemble cast. And of course, the direction from Zack Snyder is enthralling to watch. It is visually stunning (shot by Snyder as DOP this time), with some strong CGI and practical effects. Then there’s the action sequences, which very well shot and choreographed. So far, Army of the Dead is one of my favourite movies of 2021, and I can’t wait to see the spin offs, sequels and prequels that are to come from this.

My review of Army of the Dead

4. Man of Steel

Man of Steel

When I first saw Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel back in 2013, I thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t quite loving it at that point. I saw it as a solid, visually stunning and entertaining superhero movie with Superman in it. After many rewatches of this, I can say with confidence that it is the best (solo) Superman movie. It did something that no other live action versions of Superman couldn’t do, get me to take Superman seriously as a character and actually get me to care about him.

Zack Snyder took Superman to places that previous live action versions hadn’t yet. The Christopher Reeve Superman is still great but more modern interpretations of the character trying to harken back to that era didn’t quite work (2017’s Justice League being an example). Snyder however makes Superman work today, both in displaying his power and abilities, as well as him as a character. Having the narrative of the first half of the story jumping between the past and present as it shows Clark’s origin story, before then having Zod and the Kryptonians showing up in the second half worked quite well for a superhero origin story. I thought that overall, the story was quite well paced, and outside of some odd dialogue, I really liked the writing. The talented cast also did great jobs, Henry Cavill is still my favourite live action Superman to date, and a cast that includes Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe and more did exceedingly well. Zack Snyder directs Man of Steel spectacularly as expected. It’s a great looking movie, from the cinematography, to the visual effects, and to the production design and costumes. Additionally, Superman’s power is portrayed very well here for a more modern era. It’s also paired with a score which is among one of my favourite soundtracks of all time. Any issues I have with Man of Steel lessen the more times I watch it. In my mind it’s the best live action Superman film (solo at least) and one of my favourite superhero movies. It gets better the more I think about it and I’m glad to see that in the past 8 years, more and more people have slowly begun to start appreciating it more for what it is.

My original review of Man of Steel

My retrospective review of Man of Steel

3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack-Snyders-Justice-League-2021-e1616004015554

The other 2021 Zack Snyder film made it into the top 5 of the list too. Without getting too into that movie, the Justice League movie that released in 2017 was a crushing disappointment. Fans of Snyder and his DCEU movies didn’t like it and were beyond disappointed, and even audiences and critics didn’t like it all that much. Since the movie’s release, there was a campaign to see Snyder’s full vision. Despite all the campaigning for the movie, it seemed that it would never come. In 2020 however, it was announced that it would be happening after all, and it did not disappoint.

With the 4 hour runtime, Snyder gets to flesh things out, with the story, the characters, and the film’s universe. The characters are great, the returning characters of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are represented much better here, and the same goes for the new additions to the League with Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. However out of all of them, it’s Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who gets the spotlight here, who really is the heart of the movie and whose story arc receives a much needed redemption in this cut. Even the side cast and characters get to shine more here. This includes the widely panned (at least in the 2017 version) villain Steppenwolf, who in this version gets to do much more here, with a massively improved design, general threat and presence, as well as being an actual character with some depth. Snyder’s Justice League is also flat out DC’s Lord of the Rings. It truly feels like an epic from the runtime, to the chapters, as well as the atmosphere and high stakes. Despite the length it didn’t feel too bloated, when you see the complexity of the story, it makes sense. It doesn’t rush into the teaming up of the League as expected, instead taking its time to build up the story with its characters and the backstories. Despite a lot of people’s perceptions of Snyder, his Justice League movie really is heartfelt and hopeful, and offers quieter and powerful moments between characters (especially in some scenes involving Cyborg). It also does offer moments of levity and humour, but in ways that fit the movie and doesn’t feel out of place. On a technical level it delivers unsurprisingly. The action scenes are fantastic and thrilling, and Junkie XL’s score accompanying them excellently. It’s shot wonderfully, and even the choice aspect ratio for actually ends up working for the film. While it seems that Snyder’s vision unfortunately won’t be continued in the rest of the DCEU, I am glad that we at least got to see this one movie. As someone who was anticipating this movie since 2017, I’m more than satisfied with what we got. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not only a triumphant comic book epic and a better version of the movie from 2017, but also a vindication for Snyder and everyone else who worked on the movie.

My review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

When I watched Batman v Superman in the cinemas, it actually ended up blowing me away. I was anticipating it greatly, but it ended up being better than I expected. The Ultimate Edition was even better, fixing most of the issues that the theatrical cut had (it should’ve been the version that was released). Whichever version is being judged, BvS proved to be somehow even more divisive than Man of Steel, and I’m glad that I’m in the group of people who love it.

BvS was denser than what I expected, there was a lot of plotlines going on considering it was a comic book movie, and was more than just a straight up Batman vs Superman movie (the title certainly didn’t fit the film). I can always watch this movie and be fully invested in the story from start to finish. I love the world that Snyder and writer Chris Terrio had set these characters in it, as well as the atmosphere. This film takes some risks with what they do with the characters, and I thought they paid off. Ben Affleck’s Batman is darker than the character’s past live action appearances, he’s damaged, traumatised, unstable, and yes, a killer. I loved his arc in the movie, as well as his action scenes, with this more physical and brutal take on him. The arc of Henry Cavill’s Superman is great too, with the Ultimate Edition restoring some key scenes for him that were needed. Man of Steel was his first day on the job, BvS goes into how we would react to Superman, and this movie only further cements Cavill as my favourite version of the character. The rest of the cast are great including a surprising Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, with a younger and more complex version than some other interpretations of the character. Snyder’s direction is great again, from the visual effects, to the cinematography, the action scenes and the score. There are some complaints I have, for example as a result of being of it being a direct Man of Steel sequel and with nothing in between, we don’t really get to see a contrast between the public loving and then hating Superman. There’s also some little plot points which aren’t handled perfectly, and you can tell WB definitely got Snyder to combine some elements together to create and set up a cinematic universe. It does have issues, but I still love it. It is one of the boldest comic book movies I’ve seen, with a unique story that is fresh for these characters. Batman v Superman will probably go along the lines of Watchmen, a divisive comic book movie which has a strong following behind it making it a cult classic, both directed by Zack Snyder. Speaking of Watchmen…

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

My retrospective review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

1. Watchmen

A direct adaptation of Watchmen was considered to be unfilmable, yet Snyder managed to deliver on that in 2009, and in many ways it was ahead of its time given that it was released before the comic book movie boom in the 2010s. Over a decade later it works much better nowadays and is still is a great movie.

Watchmen is not a conventional comic book movie, and like the graphic novel, displays the flaws in the superhero. Overall, I thought it adapted the graphic novel quite well. Having read it, a lot of the changes I felt were appropriate and helped it work better as a live action film. I found the story to be incredibly riveting (especially the director’s cut), containing interesting characters that were intriguing to watch, helped by the great cast especially in Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Billy Crudup. Zack Snyder’s direction proved to be quite a good fit for the material. The visuals are great with the colours and shadows being beautifully utilised, and it’s like the scenes were ripped straight out of the graphic novel. The CGI is great, particularly with the effects involving the character of Dr Manhattan, and there are some fantastic sequences throughout. I’m not sure if this is a very unpopular opinion (it probably is), but Watchmen is my favourite comic book movie yet.

My review of Watchmen

What is your ranking of Zack Snyder’s movies?