Category Archives: Thriller

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Review

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Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Duane Jones as Ben
Judith O’Dea as Barbra
Karl Hardman as Harry Cooper
Marilyn Eastman as Helen Cooper
Keith Wayne as Tom
Director: George A. Romero

The radiation from a fallen satellite causes the recently deceased to rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food.

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Night of the Living Dead is known as a horror classic, and for basically creating the zombie genre. With that said, I remember feeling rather indifferent when I watched it for the first time some years ago. I rewatched it again years later hoping to like it more, but my opinion stayed pretty much the same. There’s no denying that its influence remains strong as ever. It was definitely an important milestone for film, and was very groundbreaking for its time. However, I can’t say that it aged rather well even though I can respect much of the movie for what it is.

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I should preface this with the fact that I know that this is a low budget horror movie from 1968, so I wasn’t expecting it to be timeless or anything. To get it out of the way, Night of the Living Dead is undoubtedly influential. It sets the groundwork for the zombie movie, and it was admirably constructed and subversive for when it was released in the late 60s. Having watched a lot of more recent zombie movies, much of the plot feels very familiar, but Night of the Living Dead really was the first movie that did this, it basically created the formula that countless zombie flicks use. Additionally, it was a bold movie that made bold choices. Despite being a horror movie in the 60s, it created a politically sharp narrative with social commentary, especially on racism. It also had a very bleak and memorable ending. With all that being said, I’d be lying if I said I was invested with the story. The plot is pretty simplistic: it amounts to a group of people trapped in one location while zombies are outside trying to get in. It is a slow burn, and I really found much of the movie pretty boring, especially the first 30 minutes. I don’t mind a horror movie having a slow pace, but I wasn’t interested in what was happening with the story and characters. So it was a bit of a painful drag, at least it was a relatively short movie. A lot of the movie focuses on dialogue, as again it was taking place in one location with its characters trapped inside. That’s fine, the problem is that nothing the characters say is actually interesting, and it’s quite repetitive. Onto the horror, I get that in 1968, this must’ve been the scariest movie ever made. Maybe its more radical elements for the time just land less effectively now, but it really didn’t land for me. With that said, I don’t hold that too much against the film, and it’s not even among my biggest issues with the movie.

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The characters alone played a large part in me not being invested in the movie. The character work is weak, the characters themselves are rather annoying and one note. They just keep arguing again and again over the same things and it gets tiresome. Additionally, a lot of the acting is quite bad. With that said Duane Jones’s Ben really was the star of the movie, he was actually good and by far the best character in the film. The casting of Jones, a black man, as the lead in a 60s horror movie was way ahead of its time and was a revolutionary move. It also helps that his performance was quite strong.

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This is director George Romero’s debut film, and I’d say that this is quite an impressive debut despite my issues with the movie. It is definitely low budget at $114,000, so you can appreciate why some of the technical aspects aren’t exactly polished. With that said, it is impressive how much they were able to achieve with that budget. The filmmaking is so minimalistic which as a result helps the living dead seem more grounded. The cinematography and lighting can look gorgeous in the darker scenes, and makes effective use of black and white photography. It also does have a sense of claustrophobia once the film arrives upon the primary setting of the film. I really was not scared at all in the movie, not by the zombies or the scary moments, but again I wasn’t expecting to be. It definitely does have dated elements.

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Night of the Living Dead is a movie that I appreciate, and respect more than I actually like. It’s impressive how much George Romero was able to achieve despite the limitations, it is definitely an important movie for the zombie genre and the horror genre on the whole. I think it is worth watching, especially if you are a fan of horror. However, I’m just not a big fan of it overall, and it’s not one that I’m particularly inclined to watch a lot. I don’t think it holds up, but I wouldn’t quite call it bad either.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Review

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Halloween Resurrection

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Busta Rhymes as Freddie Harris
Bianca Kajlich as Sara Moyer
Thomas Ian Nicholas as Bill Woodlake
Ryan Merriman as Myles “Deckard” Barton
Sean Patrick Thomas as Rudy Grimes
Tyra Banks as Nora Winston
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Director: Rick Rosenthal

Six teenagers, who are eager to experience thrills, spend the night in the childhood home of serial killer Michael Myers. But he returns to brutalise them.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was the film that brought back the long running horror series by starting over and not continuing on from the previous movies, it had its fair share of issues, but had some good parts to it. One of these was the ending, which seemed to try to end things for good, at least with regards to Michael Myers. However with the movie being successful it was inevitable that it would get a sequel, and that meant yet again bringing back Myers. Almost everyone who has seen the entire series has called this the worst movie in the series, and it is for good reason. The ironically named Halloween: Resurrection killed the franchise for a while. So much of the movie just felt like they gave up, it’s actually quite astounding at times. I didn’t dislike the movie and even had fun with it at points but it’s very much not good.

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First of all, what should be talked about is the infamous opening scene. The ending of H20 was easily one of the best moments in the series, with Laurie Strode decapitating Michael Myers, killing him for good. That signalled a conclusive ending but as it turns out they retconned all that. Now, the person that Laurie Strode killed was some paramedic guy that Michael swapped outfits with (and crushing his larynx so he couldn’t speak), so at the ending, Laurie killed that paramedic. Then at the beginning of Resurrection has Laurie at a mental institute (the worst run mental institute I’ve ever seen in a movie I might add). Somehow, it’s an even lazier retcon than what they did in the opening of Halloween 5 to counteract what happened at the end of 4. All of this is delivered with one big exposition dump between random nurses who are there to tell the audience what happened, accompanied by some laughable flashbacks. On top of it just making no sense and making even less sense the more you think about it, it undermines everything that made H20’s ending thrilling and was executed in the worst way. I’d say that this is a spoiler but it’s very early in the movie: in the opening 15 minutes Michael Myers goes to the mental institute and kills Laurie. Then she’s just gone from the rest of the movie. It’s the most disrespectful treatment of a character in the series, and that’s even considering Jamie Lloyd from Halloween 6 (either version of that movie). What makes it worse is that her death has no real impact on the story, it’s not even mentioned in news footage. I guess the filmmakers had to justify Michael Myers having enough time to kill obnoxious teenagers who are in his house, so that’s why they had Laurie killed. Already the movie is off to a bad start and it doesn’t really get better. I could potentially give the beginning a pass if the rest of the movie and its different direction was in itself creative and/or good. It’s not.

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The rest of the movie is some random 70 minute reality TV/found footage movie, and the plot of the movie really feels more like a parody than an actual Halloween movie. Basically, it focuses on a reality show called Dangertainment run by Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks, who set their Halloween night episode inside of the actual Myers house and sends in a cast of college students for the night. If that sounds ridiculously horrible and quite possibly the worst direction to take the movie in, you’d be right, and it’s even worse than that. Plotwise on every level, it’s bad. Looking at the execution, it is made even worse. It is definitely aiming for teen audiences of 2002, and in that it has aged the worst of all the movies. H20 might’ve had a lot of references and was clearly influenced by the 90s, but at least the whole plot didn’t have a pop culture reference a key part of the narrative. There are lots of cameras set up inside the house, as well as cameras on each of the teenagers. It’s worth noting that Resurrection came after the boom of found footage horror like The Blair Witch Project, so that makes sense. The actual concept of found footage being brought into the Halloween series is not necessarily terrible and is at least trying to be something different, it just has to be handled very well. Unfortunately it really doesn’t really handle that potential well at all. Much of the movie’s premise defies logic altogether, in fact that can be said for the whole plot. The fact that people are being killed by Myers in the house and somehow people are remaining oblivious (both in the house and the people with cameras) is just ridiculous. Even though it seems to be aiming more for a creeping atmosphere than H20, with the characters, the dialogue, the bad humour, it doesn’t quite work out. Also, with the last bit of relatability of characters gone with Laurie in the opening scene, it requires some other characters to care about. All the other characters in this movie are bad, this is the first Halloween movie where you actually end up rooting for Michael Myers. With no Laurie Strode, Sam Loomis or Jamie Lloyd, you’ve either got Myers or the new characters, and there’s no way I was going to root for these new people.

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There are some ridiculous moments, including the finale with Busta Rhymes using kung fu to fight Michael. I had heard some widely disliked scenes involving those two. In fact there are at least three scenes involving Busta Rhymes and Michael Myers in which they treat the latter like a joke, and that’s the point where you know that they’ve given up. With that being said, I’m actually glad those moments are there because I found them hilarious. I was already very much not on board with the movie with the opening scene, and from everything after that I could tell I wasn’t going to like this movie, so those moments were just funny to me. I’d almost say the film is worth watching for the scene where Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers costume telling off a very confused Michael Myers and telling him to get out the house. That and the way that Busta actually deals with Myers at the end of the movie. There are for sure plenty of hilariously bad moments in this movie that I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, I can’t really call Resurrection so bad it’s good or anything like that, as those moments are sprinkled into effectively a bad and dull early 2000s slasher film. If you really want to get the most out of these moments, you’d be better off watching individual scenes online. Much of the movie is a bore, and the entire premise treats the plot like a joke. The film even ends with sequel bait, which was puzzling because I don’t know how they could’ve taken a look at what they had created and thought that they would be able to salvage a sequel out of it.  

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Then there’s the cast. First the (only) good performance, with Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. She has been vocal about not being pleased with the film or her role in it, that she was basically forced into taking part in the sequence due to contractual obligations in H20. Jamie Lee Curtis plays it like a pro, way better than the other performances in the movie, despite her small screentime. There are many characters introduced, with Busta Rhymes, Sean Patrick Thomas, Katee Sackhoff, Tyra Banks, Thomas Ian Nicholas. The characters are obnoxious and underdeveloped, most of the performances are wooden, and none of them are good. I will say that Busta Rhymes does manage to be at least entertaining in his scenes.

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Funnily enough, Resurrection director Rick Rosenthal made Halloween 2, which was a decent Halloween movie. I have no idea how 20 years later he managed to end up making this. The direction has problems to say the least, but the weird thing is that there are actually aspects that are decent, though it’s not enough to save the movie. I will say it does seem to get closer to being a horror movie than H20 did. In fact, the production design with the main house as well as some of the look is nicely gritty. I also like some of the way it is shot, especially with the shadows. There are even some attempts at being suspenseful. However, it doesn’t really deliver on any of the scares. The jumpscares are obnoxious, most of the scares in the first half are just pranks from other characters. Michael Myers only sometimes appears in the first half, but I will say that all things considering, his performance and the physicality are good. The mask isn’t that great and is a little too expressive, it really only looks good in darkly lit scenes. Something that you do notice is that some scenes that feature Michael Myers are slowed down, and I think it was done in an attempt to make him look more intimidating but it’s out of place if anything. As previously said, the movie does utilise found (or in this case live) footage, and every so often jumps to those cameras. When the movie cuts to video cameras however, it looks awful. Editing is bad, and some of it makes the scenes look incomprehensible. The score by Danny Lux is actually really effective, one of the better scores for the movie from the past 4 movies at least.

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Halloween Resurrection is easily the worst movie in the long running Halloween series. It starts off with a borderline insulting opening and doesn’t get better from there with tired horror, bland and annoying characters, and some poor writing. Really, I can only recommend this movie to completionists and people who want to see if the movie really is as bad as everyone has been saying it is. I don’t hate it, and there are actually a couple things here that I liked (in addition to the hilarious moments especially towards the end), but the fact that the filmmakers clearly gave up and the series had ran out of steam just cemented it as the worst.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) Review

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Halloween H20

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Adam Arkin as Will Brennan
Michelle Williams as Molly Cartwell
Adam Hann-Byrd as Charlie Deveraux
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Sarah Wainthrope
Janet Leigh as Norma Watson
Josh Hartnett as John Tate
LL Cool J as Ronald “Ronny” Jones
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jimmy Howell
Director: Steve Miner

After escaping serial killer Michael Myers’ attacks, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) relocates to California and adopts a new identity. However, years later, Michael returns to finish what he started.

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Despite how the original Halloween movie from 1978 is widely regarded as a classic, the reception of the sequels have generally ranged from mixed to negative. With that said, I heard that H20: 20 Years Later is one of the better movies in the series (despite having the worst title of the whole series, and that’s considering that the next entry being called Resurrection). After seeing the 6th Halloween movie, I was definitely interested to see what direction they would take it next. I can say that at the very least, they took it in a different direction, some of it works, some of it really doesn’t.

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Something to note is that H20 basically erases Halloween 4-6 and instead follows on from Halloween 2. That means no Cult of Thorn business, so that’s already a plus. Not only that, but they are also bringing back Halloween lead character Laurie Strode, along with actress Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role. Both changes are very welcome in this movie. We see how despite 20 years later, the events of the first two movies have still had a long lasting effect on Laurie. H20 explores Laurie’s PTSD from her encounter, and storywise it was probably the strongest aspect of the movie. The movie does open relatively well, reintroducing audiences to Laurie with her new life (she has a son named John), and her trauma. However you notice that the pacing is really slow, especially with the second act. It takes too long to kick off, you’re basically just watching Laurie and other characters interact. The first act is one thing as it is setting the scene for the whole movie, but the second act just focuses on John and his group of friends who have decide to sneak away from a field trip to have a double date at the school. It’s not interesting like the Laurie-centric narratives are, and feels really out of place. In fact, the movie does feels a little loose with its plot, and it really could’ve been much tighter. I actually checked the time, and it’s around an hour into the movie before things actually start getting real and Michael Myers begins doing a lot of killing. Keep in mind that the movie is less than 90 minutes long. With that said, the third act and the overall climax is really the star of the whole movie. It’s very satisfying, and without getting into the ending, would’ve been a great and fitting way to end the series (and then they made another follow up for some reason).

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Storywise, H20 does feel like fan service more than an eager or ambitious follow-up, but I guess that’s not a terrible thing. One new change was that it’s the first Halloween movie (at least of the ones featuring Michael Myers) that doesn’t take place in Haddonfield, instead being set in California. Not only does it make sense from a plot perspective (Laurie would logically move out of Haddonfield after what happened), but it also gave the movie a distinct look and feel. The setting for much of the movie is a school campus, and while it does set you at this location well, it’s not really creepy at all. Something to note is that the movie is clearly influenced by Scream, which came out in the mid 90s. Kevin Williamson wrote Scream, and then Miramax had him do a treatment for what would become the H20 script. He only has a producer’s credit, but his fingerprints are all over this. It doesn’t feel like a Halloween movie at all. With that said, considering the last 3 movies felt like they were on repeat, maybe a change in style and approach is what it needed. The end result is a mixed bag, however. It does feel painfully 90s, dating the movie painfully. H20 even feels older than Carpenter’s original film, which was pretty much timeless. There’s humour in it, some of it hits, some of it misses. There are references to the original (they flat out quote the original sometimes), and references to popular horror movies at the time, including Scream. While it does make itself distinct from the other movies, it just doesn’t work all that well. The tension and atmosphere just isn’t there, and even Halloweens 4-6 felt more creepy, even if they were worse movies.

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Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, it’s so great to see her come back in the role that really started off her career. She does some amazing work here, and considering how underserviced and passive the character was in her previous appearance on screen with Halloween 2, it’s nice to see her have such an active role in the third act. She covers a lot of ground as Laurie goes from being an in-hiding over protective mom, to a full blown badass at the end. She really adds a lot of credibility and is easily one of the best parts of the movie. I wouldn’t say the other characters are great, but having more experienced actors on board definitely makes a difference especially when compared to some of the other Halloween sequels, and they had more chemistry together. Josh Hartnett is solid as Laurie’s son John, but is saddled with some bad material throughout most of the movie. With that said, he really works well in his scenes with Jamie Lee Curtis, their dynamic feels real and believable. If they focused more on those two in the movie, I think it would’ve worked better but they have probably 10 minutes of screentime together and John is forgotten for much of the rest of the second half of the film. Michelle Williams is also here in an early role for her, Janet Leigh also makes an appearance, even if it seems to be mainly to be meta with her being Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother, and to make some Psycho references. There’s also an early appearance from a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the opening sequence.

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H20 is directed by Steve Milner, and you can definitely that he was influenced by Scream on a visual level. The 90s influence also clearly carried over to this movie. On a visual level, it just looked a bit wrong to me. Now I’ve only had glimpses of Dawson’s Creek, but for much of the movie, H20 looks like a horror themed episode of Dawson’s Creek, from the look of the movie to the production design. The movie does well at setting you in this location of a school, especially with the long takes. However, it’s nonetheless just a school, it doesn’t feel creepy, claustrophobic or anything like that. I mentioned earlier that there isn’t much of a tense atmosphere, and again H20 is one of the least scary movies of the entire series. There isn’t much atmosphere at all honestly, with not much tension even in the third act. Michael Myers doesn’t feel very scary, and much of that has to do with the mask, or masks to be precise. There are 4 masks used over the whole filming of the movie (largely with reshoots), including one shot where they used CGI because the real mask wasn’t ready in time for the scene. The only version of the mask I liked in the movie was in the opening sequence where they used the mask from Halloween 6, but it wasn’t used much more because some people thought that audiences would be confused with that mask being from a different Halloween movie. Most of the kills are pretty forgettable except for one in the third act. Speaking of the third act, I did like how much of it was filmed, even if it wasn’t very scary. The score does have some moments but a lot of the time it doesn’t sound anything like a Halloween movie. This time they got John Ottoman to compose. He steered away from the synth heavy aesthetic that Carpenter and Howarth used in the early days of the franchise, and instead went for a fully orchestrated symphonic score that sounded more like Danny Elfman than John Carpenter. It feels very out of place and is among my least favourite scores in the series. It only really works when it actually plays the classic Halloween theme. Also, this movie has a Creed song playing over the end credits. I don’t know why.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a mixed bag of a movie, I think I would’ve liked it more if I saw it in the 90s. It is a movie that should have been way better than it actually is. The script has some missteps, and its new directions aren’t fully fleshed out, some of its influences holds the film back, and other aspects like the score and the mask have issues. With that said, there’s some good in here too. Jamie Lee Curtis is great, I liked the direction they took Laurie, Miner has some solid direction at times, and the third act, especially the ending, was satisfying. If you like any of the Halloween movies, I do think H20 is worth checking out, despite its many issues.

No Time to Die (2021) Review

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No Time to Die

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash
Ana de Armas as Paloma
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

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After years of delays, No Time to Die has finally arrived. It’s not only the latest James Bond movie (25th of the official movies in fact), but it’s also Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie. I have been really anticipating this movie, I really liked this version of Bond, and I was interested to see how it would conclude everything. It was a great experience, especially in the cinema, and overall I’m prepared to say that I’m satisfied with it.

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No Time to Die is really a movie that’s worth going into not knowing too much beforehand. The trailers and advertising avoided giving too many plot details for good reason. What’s immediately noticeable is that there’s an interesting blend of tones in this movie. It is bombastic and over the top while also being emotional. First of all, it leans into more the classic Bond aspects than the previous Craig films. The plot has massive global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, there are gadgets throughout, there are plenty of one liners, and overall everything is more over the top. This is also the funniest Bond movie of Craig’s run, with a good amount of well-executed humour which I enjoyed. At the same time there is an emotional core to the film, and it wraps up all the storylines and character journeys for this version of James Bond. If you haven’t seen the previous Craig James Bond movies and are thinking about jumping in here, I would highly recommend watching them (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre) before No Time to Die because it references events from those films. It is very much a follow on from Spectre (the movie), from Madeleine Swann, to Blofeld and Spectre (the organisation). While I’m aware not everyone will be on board with this given that plenty of people weren’t fans of the last movie, I actually thought it worked quite well. In some ways it retroactively made me like some of those aspects from Spectre a lot more. Tonally it sounds like a mess, however it somehow all comes together in the end. Without getting into spoilers, I thought the finale was ultimately emotionally satisfying, and a great sendoff to this version of James Bond. While it does embrace some of the more classic elements of Bond, it’s also a unique entry for a Bond movie. I can’t speak to any issues immediately because there was a lot to take in with this movie. There’s a lot that happens, with plenty of characters, storylines, and parts to wrap up. Speaking of which, the runtime is at around 2 hours 45 minutes long, making this by far the longest movie in the franchise. At times I could feel the length, but I was always invested in what was happening, so that was never a problem for me.

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This movie really felt like a real ensemble piece more so than the previous Bond movies. First and foremost is Daniel Craig, who delivers his best performance as James Bond. He gets to have a lot of fun moments, from the one liners and humour, to the action. Craig’s Bond is the most human and given the most emotions compared to the past versions of the character, and it goes all in with that in this movie. While there are world ending stakes throughout the film, there is no mistake that Bond’s story is the main focus, and Craig delivers all of this so greatly. He plays the character in a way we haven’t seen from him before, and the movie really gives him the opportunity to give a finale for Bond. Lea Seydoux is one of the only Bond girls to actually return from a previous Bond movie, here she’s reprising her role of Madeleine Swann. I liked Seydoux in Spectre but there was something missing with that character in the movie, and I didn’t quite buy the Swann/Bond romance at the end. No Time to Die however makes this relationship really work, and I thought that Seydoux was great here, getting to do a lot more. We also get returning supporting Bond players with Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and even Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, all of them reliable as always. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stravo Blofeld from Spectre, and while he’s not in the movie much, I actually liked him more in this movie, he’s great in his scenes and really leaves an impression. There are some new additions who are great in their parts too. There’s Lashana Lynch who is great as the new 007 (after James Bond had retired at the end of Spectre), and there’s also Billy Magnussen who is good in his role. Ana de Armas is a scene stealer, delivering a really fun and entertaining performance but unfortunately doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime. Nonetheless, she makes a strong impression. There’s also the new Bond villain as played by Rami Malek. He doesn’t quite reach the heights of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale or Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but I think he’s a solid enough villain for this movie, especially as he’s the biggest adversary to Craig’s Bond yet. Malek’s character is definitely over the top, as you would expect for someone named Lyutisfier Safin. He is a strong and creepy screen presence, and absolutely nails the scenes that he’s in. There’s nothing really wrong with him writing or acting-wise, however he’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve liked.

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The newest director to helm a Bond film is Cary Fukunaga, and while I haven’t seen all of his other work, I can say that his work on Sin Nombre and Maniac is great. As expected, his direction for No Time to Die is fantastic and feels fresh and distinct in the franchise. There is this constant energy felt throughout, making even the more slower paced sections felt energised. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is great, really giving this movie a very vibrant look, and it helps that the film takes advantage of the memorable locations it takes place at. The action is truly stellar, starting with an early action set piece with Bond in a motorcycle and then in a car, and only continuing to be great from there. The action is often filmed with long takes, with particularly one of the standout action scenes involving a stairway later in the movie. All the action is great and rivals the best action sequences from Craig’s past 4 Bond films. Hans Zimmer composes the score and while it doesn’t rank amongst the best work from him or one of the best Bond soundtracks, it is solid and works well for the movie. I also think that Billie Eilish’s main song for the movie was great.

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No Time to Die ranks alongside Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite James Bond movies. It is very long and there’s a lot to take in, but I loved what I saw from my first viewing of it. Cary Fukunaga delivered a visually stunning and enthralling movie, with great action, an ensemble cast of reliable and solid performances, and a script that’s bombastic and witty yet also appropriately emotional and given enough depth. However, above all else, it served as a great finale for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and it definitely achieved what it set out to do. I’m not really sure what they will do for the next version of James Bond, from the actor to the interpretation of the character. Nonetheless, Craig remains my all-time favourite version of the character’s nearly 50 year run, and I’m happy with the sendoff they gave him with No Time to Die.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Review

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Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers

Time:
88 minutes
(theatrical cut)
96 minutes
(producer’s cut)
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle
Marianne Hagan as Kara Strode
Mitch Ryan as Dr. Terence Wynn
Director: Joe Chappelle

Michael Myers (George P. Wilson), the notorious masked murderer, returns to haunt Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), a young man who has a history with the killer and the Strode family.

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I heard some pretty negative things about Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers going into it, from what I can tell it’s one of the most negatively rated of the Halloween movies. After watching Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to what the next movie had to offer. Having seen the 6th movie, surprisingly I do like it more than The Revenge of Michael Myers but not by a whole lot, it’s still quite a mess.

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Halloween 6 had some big problems with filming, with plenty of reshoots, rewriting and many changes during production. It seems that no one from the director to the producers were on the same page and thus there was no cohesive vision. As a result, there are two versions of the movie, the theatrical cut, and the producer’s cut which emerged later. With the first viewing, I watched the Producer’s Cut which is meant to be quite different and my knowledge of the theatrical cut is just from what other people have said about it and some of the brief clips I’ve seen of it. In 5, there were little things introduced involving this thorn symbol and this mystery man in black, and the filmmakers of that movie didn’t know at the time what it was supposed to be, it was just to give something the filmmakers of the 6th movie something to work with. Now there’s the culmination of all that with The Curse of Michael Myers. The movie largely involves this cult called the Cult of Thorn, and it’s really nonsensical. The plot actually starts out interesting enough but by the end it’s just a mess. There are exposition dumps, and the more you think about it and the more characters talk about it, the more you recognise it doesn’t make sense and is very silly, and not even in the entertaining way. It even introduces aspects like runes and telepathy. It is a very weird movie with weird ideas and I’m not sure how I feel about most of them, and I’m saying that as one of the few people who does like Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2.

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If you don’t like the idea of Michael Myers being anyone other than his own person, this version is definitely going to not work with you. I heard that the Theatrical Cut might be a little more for you and it gives Myers more agency, but I also heard it has its own issues. Cult aside, I really liked the portrayal of Michael Myers otherwise. He’s quite menacing in his scenes and really feels like a threat unlike in most of the past couple of movies. With that said, without going into it, the way it ends for Michael Myers at the end is just bizarre and hilariously anticlimactic (at least in the Producer’s Cut). For fans of the Halloween series, there’s going be stuff that you’re not going to like. The portrayal of Michael Myers when it comes to the cult especially will be a problem for many. The cult storyline has an attempt to explain what Michael Myers is and why he does what he does, and for most people any attempt at doing this is quite unpopular. Another example is the treatment of the character of Jamie Lloyd, who was really the protagonist of the past two movies. She’s in a small role in this movie and this time she’s played by J.C. Brandy instead of Danielle Harris because she refused to reprise the role after being offered some rather poor pay for it. After looking at the handling of the character, I don’t really blame her. In both versions, Jamie isn’t treated well at all, even the offscreen death of Laurie Strode in Halloween 4 was more respectful. The ending does try to set up a sequel, but as we know the next movie Halloween H20 would be a sequel from Halloween 2, Halloween 6 didn’t get a follow up on its storyline and I’m glad. Halloween 5 indicated that there wasn’t much room left for potential with this storyline and the 6th movie proved it.

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Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis for the last time, he actually died during production, which makes his last performance bittersweet to watch. He’s really good here, he looks a little more worn down and tired, but it is very fitting given his character at this point. He’s also a much better version compared to the raving and crazy version of Loomis in the last Halloween movie. Paul Rudd is also in here in a bizarre early performance from him, playing Tommy Doyle who was a kid character from the first Halloween. If he was meant to be a bit creepy, Rudd kind of pulls it off but there’s something about him that’s feels hilariously off. I can’t tell whether the issue was him or if it was how he was directed but the best thing I can say about Paul Rudd here is that he delivered much better performances later in his career. The other major main character other than Myers is played by Marianne Hagan who is alright but nothing memorable. Nothing else to say about the other actors or characters really. The performance of Michael Myers is good, he’s menacing and it’s the best he’s been since Halloween 2.

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Joe Chapelle directs this, and some of the aspects are a bit of a mixed bag. Michael Myers does actually look good compared to the past couple of movies especially with the mask. The movie really makes him to be a force of nature and really intimidating. Some of the kills worked really well and Myers again is more violent and ruthless. The theatrical cut from what I heard does have even more bloody kills. For example there’s a scene where Michael Myers kills someone by shocking them, in the Theatrical Cut though it ends with the guy’s head suddenly exploding. The actual special effects are good. I found some of the music in the past two Halloween movies to be a bit underwhelming but I found the score here to be effective and worked well in their scenes.

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Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is often known as one of the worst movies in the series, and while I’m not quite sure that I dislike it, I completely understand why. At least with its Producer’s Cut, the changes it tries to make to the Halloween mythos are silly and don’t make sense, the plot itself is nonsensical, and it’s weird in the worst ways possible. Maybe it’s just because I watched Halloween 5 right beforehand, but I still like 6 more. I liked Donald Pleasence, some aspects of the direction, and ignoring the cult aspect, the portrayal of Michael Myers. The only reason I’d recommend watching The Curse of Michael Myers given that you’ve watched the 5th movie is that you made it to this point, so you might as well reach the end of it. As for which version to watch, neither of the two versions seem to be good, so that’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) Review

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Halloween 5 The Revenge of Michael Myers

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker
Wendy Kaplan as Tina Williams
Tamara Glynn as Samantha Thomas
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

After lying in a coma for a year, Michael Myers (Donald L. Shanks) awakens and stalks his way back to his small hometown in Illinois, intent on killing his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who has been confined to a mental institution since Michael’s last attempt to slay her. Suspecting a psychic link between Michael and Jamie, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) joins forces with Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr) and attempts to stop Michael’s latest rampage.

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I was continuing the Halloween movie series, and I arrived onto the 5th movie, with the hard to take seriously title of The Revenge of Michael Myers. Halloween 4 wasn’t that good, but the ending was solid and had a possibility for the where the next movie could spring off from Unfortunately the follow up doesn’t take advantage of that, and on top of that, the movie on the whole ends up being bad by itself.

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The most interesting aspect of Halloween 4 was the ending. Halloween 5 doesn’t forget that ending, but they followed on from it in quite possibly the worst way possible. First of all, the film opens with a retcon of part of 4’s climax. The opening shows the moment in the previous movie where Michael Myers supposedly dies (again) in the graveyard, and shows him escaping by floating down a stream and being taken in by a hermit with a parrot, then there’s a time jump and then Myers gets up and decides to kill again. So that’s strange enough, but that’s not all. 5 flat out retcons the very end of the last moments of 4. As a reminder, 4 had the ending of Jaime finally snapping, and killing her stepmother in the same way that a young Michael Myers killed his sister. It was a good point to end the movie on, but they changed story direction here. It is worth noting that Donald Pleasence was also disappointed with this change in direction, wanting the character of Jaime to be portrayed as “all evil”. That would’ve been an interesting and fresh direction to take the story, even if the idea of Jamie being Michael’s sidekick seems strange, it would’ve been much better than whatever they chose to go for. In the revised events, the stepmother didn’t die, and Jaime just attacked her, she didn’t try to kill her. Jaime is also now in a children’s hospital, not a mental institute and is in a bad state. Loomis also no longer wants to kill Jamie like he tried to at the end of the 4th film, but is instead her doctor and is convinced that the ‘attack’ happened because Michael Myers made her do it through a psychic connection. Yes, it’s bizarre and the worst part is that he ends up being right and there’s not explanation for how he figured it out. Right out the gate with this opening section it doesn’t bold well for the movie. So all the potential is pretty much gone.

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Retconning aside, 5 ends up being a worse version of 4, and is beyond a generic slasher film. Apparently the filmmakers didn’t have a finished script when they began filming and it really shows here. The atmosphere and tension is practically non existent. 4 had its issues and wasn’t good in those areas but in 5, most of the time all the attempts at horror fall flat. There’s really only one moment that’s actually really good but that’s it. The pacing is off, and the characters range from being dull to being annoying. In fact, there’s a big chunk of it focused on some annoying characters. Imagine some of the characters in a slasher movie that fake scare each other, and then eventually gets killed. Then imagine that they have twice the amount of screentime that they would normally have. That’s what happens here, and it can be really frustrating to sit through. There’s even a couple of dumb cop characters thrown in for some bad comic relief, and there’s even a little comical theme music that plays for them when they are on screen. Something worth noting is that 5 introduces ideas about what is happening with Michael Myers, and try to give some sort of an explanation for him and why he’s killing. Now I’m not opposed to the series trying new things, it’s just that these new things that they are attempting don’t work out at all. The movie also introduces hints of what would happen in the next movie and try to add something to the Myer’s Mythos, with a mystery man dressed in black with a thorn symbol tattoo. This mystery man appears every so often throughout the movie with no explanation and even by the end of the movie he’s not given any explanation. What’s worse is that the writers genuinely didn’t know who this person was, they just added him as a potential thing to follow up on the sequel. When it gets to its cliffhanger ending, you realise what Halloween 5 really was, not a sequel but rather a 90 minute long trailer for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.

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Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence were among the better parts of the 4th movie, they are still good here but even they have some problems here. Danielle Harris returns as Jamie Lloyd, and in a large portion of the movie she’s basically been reduced to a mute that go into convulsions every so often when that psychic connection plays up again. Credit to Harris, she’s putting everything into her performance here, and she does especially well at seeming scared, especially in the third act. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis and he’s good as always, however the writing of his character is a bit weird to say the least. I get that by this point he would’ve lost his mind a bit, but some of his actions (especially in the third act) are out of character. Loomis is comically crazy like a raving madman for much of the movie, and I’m surprised that he didn’t end up as some surprise villain by the end of the movie. There’s nothing really to say about the rest of the cast and characters except that they are either forgettable or obnoxious.

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The direction by Dominique Othenin-Girard is not very good. In fairness some of the shots and the blocking is good, but most of the direction with regard to horror and scares falls flat. The kill scenes are just fine, but there’s nothing really memorable and as previously said the tension and atmosphere is practically non-existent. In all fairness to the movie, there actually is one sequence with Jamie in the third act which does actually work quite well, involving a laundry chute. That part stands out to me and was definitely a highlight. The Michael Myers mask in the 5th movie somehow looks worse than the one in Halloween 4. Instead of looking cheap it looks quite dumb, it is barely ever tucked in, and it looks constantly stretched so it barely fits the actor’s head. The movie already has problems with being tense or scary but Michael Myers looking quite silly with that mask doesn’t help matters. The score is just there, it just uses the typical iconic theme from the series at points but it doesn’t actually build any suspense. In fact there are some sequences where the score playing is bad and takes away from those scenes.

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Halloween 5: The Return of Michael Myers is likely one of the worst movies of the Halloween series. Despite some good performances from Harris and Pleasence as well as one good scene, it’s just not good. On top of squandering the potential that was practically gift wrapped to them, its just generally a worse version of the 4th movie. Despite some of my issues with 4, this is where the series is first taking a big sink for me, and it’s showing that this current storyline that started with 4 is not going to get any better.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) Review

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Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers

Time: 88 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Michael Pataki as Dr. Hoffman
Director: Dwight H. Little

The apparently comatose Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is being transferred from one hospital to another, but he wakes up when the ambulance crew talk about his surviving niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). After slaughtering his attendants, Myers sets out to find his one living relative who is, fortunately, being cared for by a kind and resourceful foster sister named Rachel (Ellie Cornell). Meanwhile, the ever-cautious Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) remains on the killer’s path.

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Halloween 3: Season of the Witch tried to steer the series in a different direction from the previous two movies, and aimed to be the start of an anthology series without Michael Myers. Given the negative response that the movie received however, it was pretty clear that audiences wanted the series to bring back Michael Myers, and the filmmakers gave them what they wanted. For the next movies, it followed on from Halloween 2 with its own direction. I heard some mixed things about just about all of the sequels. I watched 4 and generally it was pretty average as a movie, but it was overall alright.

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Laurie Strode from the original films is written off as being dead, which certainly was a questionable way of writing her out of the story. This time the main character who is being hunted down by Michael Myers is Laurie’s 7 year old daughter Jamie. This gives a very different dynamic between protagonist and Myers, as Jamie is way more vulnerable. The plot is a bit contrived, plodding and weak, with mostly boring characters that we are stuck with. Most of the plot doesn’t feel fresh at all, almost like it’s the most basic follow up one could think of for Halloween 2. The suspense and atmosphere from the previous 3 movies are practically non existence, even if the film tries to re-capture that. They reference the explosion at the end of Halloween 2 but don’t really explain how Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis managed to survive that. There were some potential with the new direction of the story, like it was somewhat different to see how the town reacts to Myers being back. There’s also some pretty silly parts to this movie, which at least made it somewhat entertaining. There is this hillbilly mob trying to hunt down Michael Myers, and the dialogue at many points are very goofy. I guess credit where credit is due, the police are slightly more competent, which was refreshing to seen in a Halloween movie. When Loomis comes to them when Myers escapes, they actually listen to what he says. So I guess that’s at least one aspect that the movie subverted. Most of the time thought the plot and scares are predictable. The third act for the most part is pretty underwhelming, especially with the climax. With that being said, the ending is great and one of the best parts of the movie, leaving the series open to take a different direction with the sequels from this point onwards.

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The character of Jamie Lloyd is played by Danielle Harris and she’s actually great on her part. She’s not Laurie from the original, but Harris is quite convincing, especially in the chase and intense scenes. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Sam Loomis, and like his past two film appearances is one of the best parts of the movie, I’m glad his character survived along with Myers. The movie (and the sequels he appears in I assume) would’ve been worse without him. It’s 10 years later, Loomis is battle scarred, a little unstable and just looks so done, especially when he finds that Michael Myers has escaped yet again. Ellie Cornell also plays Rachel, Jamie’s step-sister, and she was also pretty good in her part. One note about the physical acting of Michael Myers, he does have a bad mask however he also just doesn’t feel the same as the Myers from the from the first movie or even the second movie. From the smaller stature and awkward movements, he feels like someone wearing a Michael Myers costume rather than being him. He’s just not intimidating at all.

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The direction from Dwight H. Little is pretty bland, while I wouldn’t quite call it bad, it rather feels like it’s on autopilot. The opening credits actually work quite well, it doesn’t attempt to copy the opening credit sequences from the first two movies with the jack o lantern, and didn’t feature the opening theme. With its simple yet effective shots, it is effectively atmospheric and eerie. The cinematography is unremarkable, although the close up shots does make it stand out from the previous movies. The kills can be gloriously over the top and ludicrous (especially one instance involving a shotgun), but most of the time they are unfortunately rather bland. As previously said, the new mask on Michael Myers looks really bad, and the whole costume in fact looks really bad. What’s worse is that the costume he picked up in the original Halloween movie was just whatever he could find, for whatever reason in 4 he looks for that exact same costume. Early in the movie Myers is wearing bandages and I kind of wish that they stuck with that, even just for it being a different look for him. The chase sequences are rather bland and drawn out, and aren’t really suspenseful, though there was a scene on a rooftop that sort of works. Even the sound effects are pretty weak and cartoonish, particularly the sounds for the gunshots. The score contains similar themes from the original Halloween, although it doesn’t really add much to the suspense, almost like its an obligation or something.

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is really a mixed bag. It’s very bland from the story to the direction, and the tension and atmosphere doesn’t work. With that said, there are some moments which are decent, the performances from Harris and Pleasance are solid, and it’s got a great ending. It’s an average slasher flick but if you’re curious enough, check it out for yourself.

Kate (2021) Review

KATE

Kate

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate
Miku Martineau as Ani
Woody Harrelson as Varrick
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Slipped a fatal poison on her final job, a ruthless Tokyo assassin (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has less than 24 hours to find out who ordered the hit and exact revenge.

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I heard about Kate leading up to its release. I knew that it was going to be an action thriller starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead which was going to be released on Netflix. Despite being sceptical of action movies with known actors put on streaming services, I was somewhat interested in this one, I thought it looked pretty good from the trailers. Kate is yet another serviceable assassin centred action thriller which has its issues, but was better than expected.

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As expected, the writing is the worst part of the movie. The story is by the numbers, and it is very familiar and formulaic. It has its fair share of tropes and plot devices you’ve seen countless times. It’s also quite predictable, even some of the main reveals are easy to see coming. With that being said, it is thankfully paced fast enough and with enough urgency, especially given that the premise is about the main character only having a day left to live. The dialogue isn’t the best and it can be awkward, especially whenever the movie tries to throw in the odd moment of humour. The story to a degree had some depth, the main characters have backstories to them, and it feels like some effort was put into them. Unfortunately, the drama and emotion aren’t quite as well executed as they could’ve been. Some plot beats that should resonate feel undercooked. A big part of the movie is a relationship between Kate and a girl she’s trying to protect named Ani. This is meant to be the heart of the film, but their relationship isn’t given enough time or development. The third act gets even more formulaic and feels a little rushed as it races towards a climax, despite being entertaining for what it was. I enjoyed Kate for its 1 hour and 46-minute runtime, but I think it could’ve been a bit better if it was around 90 minutes long.

KATE (2021),Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Kate")

If you need only one reason to check out Kate, it is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. In the lead role, she pretty much carries the whole movie. The writing for the character is pretty thin, but MEW makes the part great, delivering a commanding central performance and being such an on screen presence. She even gave more than the character needed, conveying a certain vulnerability, urgency and sadness I didn’t expect. And of course, there’s the action scenes where she is particularly impressive, she uses pretty much anything as a weapon and the stunts are very convincing. At the same time, she is also shown to be vulnerable, she doesn’t come out of these fight scenes and gun battles unscathed. The rest of the supporting cast are a bit of a mixed bag. One notable character is that of Ani, the child that Kate has to protect throughout much of the movie, played by Miku Martineau. I mentioned that the relationship between the two doesn’t work well enough, but there’s issues even on her as a character alone. Ani is grating and annoying to watch, and while I get that she’s intentionally annoying, her character doesn’t seem to learn or change at all. It’s a shame considering that her character is what ultimately gives Kate a significant purpose, so it’s unfortunate that this key character wasn’t exactly handled the best. There are also some solid supporting turns from Woody Harrelson and Jun Kunimura. Speaking of Harrelson, he is good here, but his character feels very much like a copy of others seen before. He gets very little screentime and the role could’ve been played by any character actor.

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Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is the director, and for the most part I liked his work here. Much of the visuals and action are taken from the likes of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, but I still liked what was here. I really enjoyed the style and the visuals, especially the use of colour and neon. The cinematography and lighting also added a lot to the fight scenes. Speaking of which, the action scenes are part of the reason why the movie works. The action is striking and intense, it’s brutal and gory and doesn’t hold back at all. The choreography is solid, and some scenes are genuinely impressive. The only action scene that wasn’t that good was a bad looking CGI car sequence early on, aside from that I was quite entertained by the action set pieces.

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Kate isn’t anything special and it has its issues. The story and writing are very familiar and derivative, and some of its drama and emotional aspects are a bit undercooked and needed more work for it to resonate. With that said, it was visually stunning, the action is intense and great to watch, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic in the lead role, making this movie worth checking out. I really enjoyed it.

The Protégé (2021) Review

Maggie Q stars as Anna in the new film, T Protégé.

The Protege

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Maggie Q as Anna Dutton
Samuel L. Jackson as Moody Dutton
Michael Keaton as Michael Rembrandt
Director: Martin Campbell

Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows. As Anna becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton), their confrontation turns deadly, and the loose ends of a life spent killing weave themselves ever tighter.

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I was interested in The Protégé. Along with it having a main cast consisting of Maggie Q, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, it is directed by Martin Campbell, who made Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro. The premise on paper looked very familiar, but I was hoping for a decent action movie at the very least. For the most part, The Protégé was indeed an enjoyable action flick, but does have some flaws holding it back from being better.

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The writing is the worst part of the movie, and the script really is at odds with Martin Campbell’s strengths. The story is not very original, it’s generic and we’ve seen many of these plots in plenty of other better spy and revenge thrillers. The story and characters aren’t that interesting, there aren’t any stakes or emotional payoffs, and the few twists it has are rather predictable. Not only that but the plot could get unnecessarily complicated at times. It was incoherent, and by the end I was still wondering what it was even about. It is also very tonally inconsistent, mainly with the attempts at humour which never really landed for me. The dialogue is to blame for this, it is honestly terrible at times. By the time it reaches the last third of the film, it starts to lose steam. Not only that but it starts to try to be about something, and if anything that brought the movie down for me. Up to that point it was just a B-level schlocky action flick that I was having fun with. The ending itself was quite abrupt and it felt like something was missing. The story felt unfinished, there’s lots of loose ends and I didn’t understand why certain things happened, or why certain characters chose to make certain choices. I still enjoyed the movie, but the ending left me feeling cold, and not in a good way. The movie is just under 2 hours at 109 minutes, I think it could’ve been a little shorter than that.

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The characters aren’t that interesting and are rather one note. However, the main three actors at the centre make up for it at least. Maggie Q is solid in the lead role as the assassin seeking revenge, both in her performance and the action scenes. Michael Keaton is great too as the bodyguard and right-hand man of the main villain, very entertaining to watch. He even gets some action scenes of his own, and it looks like he actually does take part in some of the stunts. While I did like Keaton here, I do feel like his role was supposed to be played by a younger actor, making some of his scenes with Maggie Q feel very out of place. I especially wasn’t really sure what was going on with the relationship with those two characters, it kept going back and forth, and not in the way where it keeps you guessing. Its more like the writers couldn’t make up their minds about where it was going. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t in the movie a ton and it is definitely a role that he can play in his sleep, but as expected he delivers on his part.

The Protégé
Michael Keaton as Rembrandt

Martin Campbell is a good director of action, and his work here definitely elevates the movie. The action scenes are really good, its shot in a mostly clear fashion, the fights are well choreographed, and it was satisfying to watch. It is surprisingly graphic and gory at points, plenty of people get damaged and killed over the course of the movie. The action isn’t as memorable as some of Campbell’s other action work such as Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro or Goldeneye, but nonetheless it makes the movie more entertaining to watch.

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The Protege feels like an action movie that would’ve come out decades ago, for better and for worse. The writing really is its worst aspect, the dialogue and plotting are very lacklustre, and it’s hard to really care about what’s going on with the story and characters. It’s the strong direction, action and the solid cast that elevate the movie, making it entertaining for the most part. If you are up for a decent but forgettable action thriller, then The Protégé is an entertaining enough 2-hour watch.

Infinite (2021) Review

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Infinite

Time: 106 minutes
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Evan McCauley (Treadway 2020)
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Bathurst 2020
Sophie Cookson as Nora Brightman
Jason Mantzoukas as the Artisan
Rupert Friend as Bathurst 1985
Toby Jones as Bryan Porter
Dylan O’Brien as Heinrich Treadway
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Haunted by memories of places he’s never visited, a man (Mark Wahlberg) joins forces with a group of reborn warriors to stop a madman from destroying the endless cycle of life and reincarnation.

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I hadn’t heard about Infinite until the day it was released on Neon (a New Zealand streaming service)). It was quite surprising really, considering it is directed by Antoine Fuqua (whose work I like) and stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. As it turns out, Infinite was going to have a theatrical release, but it was dumped onto Paramount+ at the last second. I usually have a different opinion on situations like this, but after seeing Infinite, I actually feel like they made the right decision. It really does feel like another average and forgettable action movie with big stars dumped onto a streaming service. Even as someone who didn’t have any expectations going (in aside from the people involved), I was still disappointed with what I saw.

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To get this out of the way, Infinite is very derivative of other similar sci-fi action movies, definitely taking a lot from The Matrix and Wanted at the very least. Being derivative isn’t inherently bad though, in fact I thought the movie had an interesting premise. It’s essentially about a war between 2 groups of people, believers and nihilists, who both reincarnate endlessly while retaining memories of their past lives. When it begins, it’s not great by any means but it seems promising. However it’s not too long before the movie manages to take its somewhat interesting premise, and execute it in the most boring and forgettable way. Despite everything, the movie is very uneventful. Much of it is Mark Wahlberg going on a mission to discover himself and realise that his dreams are memories, not dreams. He begins to remember his past lives, and this organisation of believers is trying to help him remember so that they can find a particular important item. It really does feel generic and uninspiring throughout, even shockingly boring. The script feels like a first draft at best, and the movie does a lot of telling rather than showing. There is so much exposition dumped on you, explaining characters, the world, etc. The dialogue itself is very awkward and tonally confused as well. It’s impossible to get invested in what’s going on. The worldbuilding isn’t anything to ride home about either, you’ve seen these types of stories done many times before, and done a lot better. The movie feels longer beyond its 106 minute runtime, and for much of it, it’s rather dull. Towards the end, my interest picked up slightly for the climactic action, but that was it.

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There are some talented actors involved but the characters and writing doesn’t allow any of them to give good performances. This has to be one of the most uninterested performances I’ve seen from Mark Wahlberg. In all fairness, he feels very miscast, from the voiceover narration, to the attempts at humour, to the attempts at drama. In the movie, Wahlberg’s previous life is played by Dylan O’Brien, who has 5 minutes of screentime. He doesn’t get to do a lot outside of some action, but I wish he played the role throughout the whole movie, because he already seemed more fitting. Sophie Cookson was good in the Kingsman movies, but here she’s basically reduced to some passable action sequences and delivering a ton of exposition dumps. There’s really only two performances here that I liked, both of them play their parts in an energetic and silly way that it genuinely made the movie more enjoyable to watch. Jason Mantzoukas hams it up in a supporting role, and Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a very passionate and scene chewing performance as the villain. It is commendable that Chiwetel commits to this role considering how silly the character it is. The villain’s big scheme to end the world is just dumb and not well put together, but the performance made him enjoyable to watch.

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I like Antoine Fuqua as a director, and him helming this movie is what got me interested in it. However this is by far his worst work, at least of the films I’ve seen from him. The visuals are very drab and grey, right out of a straight to DVD or streaming movie. There are some action sequences, and I will say that they aren’t bad. Some of them are well put together, however they do feel quite stale and the editing can be clunky. It is strange considering that Fuqua is pretty reliable when it comes to action. The only action scene that really stood out to me was in the third act involving a plane, which was genuinely quite fun to watch.

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Infinite is currently the worst movie from 2021 I’ve seen, and unfortunately by far the worst I’ve seen from Antoine Fuqua thus far. Even as someone who went into this movie literally the same day I knew of its existence, I was quite disappointed by the end result. It’s not memorable enough for me to really dislike it, it very much is a forgettable straight to streaming action flick. A couple of the performances are enjoyable and some the action is fun, but otherwise it doesn’t really get anything right.