Tag Archives: Bill Skarsgard

The Devil All the Time (2020) Review

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The Devil All the Time

Time: 138 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Holland as Arvin Eugene Russell
Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell
Robert Pattinson as Reverend Preston Teagardin
Riley Keough as Sandy Henderson
Jason Clarke as Carl Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker
Eliza Scanlen as Lenora Laferty
Haley Bennett as Charlotte Russell
Mia Wasikowska as Helen Hatton Laferty
Harry Melling as Roy Laferty
Director: Antonio Campos

A young man (Tom Holland) is devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of corruption and sinister characters.

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The Devil All the Time was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. First of all it has one of the biggest casts of the year, with it including Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, and Riley Keough, so naturally that had my curiosity. On top of that though, the prospect of a psychological thriller with a large group of characters sounded quite appealing and very much my kind of film. Having seen it, I can see why some people are mixed on it, it’s not for everyone, but I’m glad to say that I really liked the movie and it really worked for me.

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You could describe The Devil All the Time as like The Place Beyond the Pines as written by Cormac McCarthy or The Coen Brothers. It spans a number of decades and generations, and features a large number of characters with intertwining storylines. It can feel like it’s not driving towards something for most of the movie, it’s very much a character driven story. For me though it works, I found the story and characters compelling, and I was invested with what was happening. As mentioned earlier it is not for everyone. It is a very grim and bleak movie, a lot of graphic, violent and gruesome acts happen, there are some pretty dark themes and subject matter touched on throughout, and almost all of the main characters are pretty far from what you’d call ‘a good person’ to say the least. So it’s likely to turn a lot of people off. The movie is also just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, it does feel quite long and it is slowly paced for sure. You could make the argument that some parts could’ve been trimmed. At the same time there are some plotlines that could’ve done with some fleshing out, particularly those of Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Sebastian Stan. Maybe a mini series might’ve been able to flesh out all the aspects of the story while not feeling too drawn out, but I’m fine with how it is as a movie. One point of contention will be with the narration by Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the book the movie was based on. It will work for some, and others will hate it, I have very mixed feelings on it. It really did add something to the tone of the movie, making it feel like a gothic folk tale, and it also added some context to the characters and the story that it sometimes needed. So I wouldn’t say that it should’ve been completely removed or anything. However, it really needed to be cut back a ton. There’s many moments that would’ve been more effective if they didn’t have narration, it just explains way too much, including what some characters are doing and why they are doing it, and it just takes me out of the movie. This may be a nitpick but there are a few characters who are around from the 40s through to the 60s, and don’t look like they aged a day, and it can be a bit distracting.

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The cast are of course the standouts from the movie, and everyone is great on their part. Riley Keough and Jason Clarke play a serial killer couple, Sebastian Stan plays a corrupt sheriff, and Harry Melling plays a fanatical preacher, the later of whom was one of the biggest surprises of the movie, delivering a truly memorable performance. Although their characters aren’t given much to do, Eliza Scanlen, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska do well on their parts, and Scanlen particularly gave an effective performance. Even amongst an ensemble of great performances, there were three actors that stood out. First of all is Tom Holland, as the main character of the story (despite appearing for the first time like 40 minutes into the movie) Arvin Russell. This was quite a different role for him, a much darker and emotional role for him, and he was actually great on his part. While I like him in the movies I’ve seen of his, I’d say that this is so far the best performance of his career thus far. I hope Holland branches out to more indie movies like this, because he’s definitely got a lot of range. Bill Skarsgard is also great as Arvin’s father, he really leaves a strong impression despite being in the movie for only like 30 minutes. He gives an intense and emotional performance, and possibly the best work I’ve seen from him thus far. Robert Pattinson is also a scene stealer as a sleezy, deranged and sinister reverend. He’s not even in the movie a ton but he makes the most of his screentime. His performance could’ve so easily failed, it is definitely over the top. However it actually really works, and he really did well at portraying the most hateable character in the film, and considering the lineup of characters in this story that is saying a lot. A particular scene between him and Holland is one of the best scenes of the year.

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This is the first movie I watched from Antonio Campos, and from this I can tell that he’s a great director, and I do want to watch his other movies. It’s very well put together. The cinematography is great and really sells the environment and time period effectively. The 35mm and the grain really also really fit the movie and tone. You really get the gothic rural feeling throughout. The use of music was pretty great, both the song choices and the score, and really worked particularly well in some certain scenes. The violence and brutality is really effective and impactful, it feels very realistic, and there are some moments and particularly some imagery that really stick with you.

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The Devil All the Time has some issues with some of the executions of its ideas and with its writing, but on the whole I think it’s great. I was invested throughout, it’s very well directed, and it features some fantastic acting, particularly from Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard and Robert Pattinson. It’s not for everyone, the aimless story might drag for some, and the grim tone might turn some people off. With that said I think that it might be worth watching for the ensemble of great performances alone.

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough
Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh
Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom
Bill Hader as Richie Tozier
Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon
James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak
Andy Bean as Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Director: Andy Muschietti

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns 27 years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise — now more powerful than ever.

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It Chapter Two was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. The first It was quite good, and from what I can tell adapted part of Stephen King’s classic novel to the big screen rather faithfully. However, that movie only told half of the story, whether it still worked depended on the second half. With the same team returning, and the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as part of the older cast, I was looking forward to it. It’s ambitious, very well directed, the cast was great, and a satisfying conclusion to the It story.

I’d advise people who are seeing It Chapter Two to watch the first movie somewhat recently beforehand, it’s best going into the movie with Chapter One fresh in your mind. As for people who haven’t seen the first movie at all, Chapter Two is not a movie you can just go into without seeing the first, you’ll be completely lost. There is a long period in the first half that’s necessary to the story and characters but I’m not sure it works as well as it should’ve. It’s mainly consisting of the main characters going back to places they’ve been to as children and remembering certain things. There’s a purpose for doing this with all the characters, however the problem is that for the most part all the scenes follow the same structure: the adult character goes to that familiar place, have a flashback which usually ends in an encounter with Pennywise, and then in present day coming across Pennywise themselves. These scenes are necessary for the plot, it’s just that it felt a little too repetitive. I heard something along the lines that there’d be a version which put the two movies together, placing the scenes in chronological order and that should be interesting. Despite all the things about what I just said and some of the scenes meandering a bit, I was really invested with the movie and the characters, even more so than the first movie. This movie is really ambitious to cover it all in one movie, and most of it works. All the build up in the first two acts really pays off, as the third act is fantastic, won’t go into depth with that here. There are some changes from the books, some of it was shot and removed, others didn’t make it to being filmed. For example, there are subplots like with Beverly’s husband and Bill’s wife that were in the book but not in the movie, I haven’t read the book but I think that it was a good call not to feature them in the movie. Last thing to note, as people have no doubt seen and sometimes complained about, this movie is almost 3 hours long. Considering that the book is 1000 pages long, it’s not really too surprising that it’s this long. If you’re invested in the story, that won’t be a problem for you because it wasn’t a problem for me. Looking back on everything, I’m not sure what exactly I’d cut from the movie, there’s a lot here that’s necessary for the story, even if some of it could’ve been handled differently. Besides, I’d much rather a lengthy movie that takes its time with its story, then a 2 hour 20 minute (studio mandated) version that feels really cut down. Some people have asked whether splitting it into 2 parts was necessary, and looking at everything I’d definitely say yes.

The cast is all around great, with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean playing the older versions of the Loser’s Club from the first movie. They actually seemed like older versions of the younger cast (James Ransone particularly seems like an older Jack Dylan Grazer), and when it comes to casting adult versions of child actors, this is one of the best examples I’ve seen in movies. I generally liked what they did with the characters. I also liked what they did with Mike’s (Isaiah Mustafa) character, from what I can tell he really didn’t get to do much in the book, here they gave him more to work with, with him being the only one who stayed in Derry and really the one out of the group who knows the most about Pennywise and what they might need to do in order to kill him. Ever since the movie started being shown, there has been particular praise going towards Bill Hader, and for very good reason. He not only delivers a lot of the funniest moments of the movie, he also delivers some of the more emotional scenes of the movie. I admit I’m not familiar with much of his work (no I haven’t seen Barry yet) but after seeing him here, I really want to check them out. You also see the younger cast appear often in flashbacks, and as usual they are very good in their roles. You don’t see as much of Pennywise, or at least compared to the amount in the first movie, but Bill Skarsgård is great in his scenes. Unfortunately yet again they do tend to overuse the amount of CGI on him, even though there are parts that are absolutely necessary to use those effects, Skarsgård is more effective and scary when he’s just acting on his own without all that. Nonetheless, him and director Andy Muschietti has completely redefined Pennywise and they’ve done a great job at bringing him to the big screen. There are also a couple of cameos worth keeping your eye peeled for.

Andi Muschietti returned to direct, and he’s done a really good job yet again. It really looks great, the town of Derry even in the 2010s still really feels uneasy. If you didn’t find the first movie scary, you probably won’t be scared by the second. I don’t go into horror movies judging them by their scare factors, because usually I’m not scared by horror movies. With that said, there are some scares here that are quite predictable and done like plenty of other horror movies have done, for example the classic ‘character looks at a room when they think there’s danger and see nothing, and when they turn around there’s something scary right up in their (and the audience’s) face’ is present multiple times. I do appreciate how graphic and disturbing Muschietti is willing to take this, he really does not hold back in the darker and twisted aspects. The CGI for the most part is good but some of the larger effects are a little too cartoonish and silly at times. Benjamin Wallfisch also returns to provide the score for the sequel and it’s once again effective and elevates the movie even further.

Looking at the reactions, it seems that that It Chapter Two won’t work for everyone perfectly. Despite some of the messiness and some of the issues I have, I do like Chapter Two more than Chapter One. Although I haven’t read the book, I know about it, and I saw the miniseries, which really didn’t work. With these two movies it’s an achievement in itself that they managed to pull this off, and them being as good as they are is. Considering the amount of content that Stephen King packed into that one book (and some of the weirdness that was understandably cut from it in the movies), I think this is probably as good as an adaptation of the book as we’ll probably get. If you weren’t a fan of the first movie, I’m not sure that you’ll like the second. If you like the first movie at all however, I do think it’s at least worth checking out Chapter Two, otherwise you’ve really only seen one half of the story.

Assassination Nation (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Odessa Young as Lily Colson
Suki Waterhouse as Sarah Lacey
Hari Nef as Bex
Abra as Em Lacey
Bella Thorne as Reagan Hall
Bill Skarsgård as Mark
Joel McHale as Nick Mathers
Maude Apatow as Grace
Colman Domingo as Principal Turrell
Anika Noni Rose as Nancey Lacey
Director: Sam Levinson

High school senior Lily (Odessa Young) and her three best friends (Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra) live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies and chats — just like the rest of the world. Their small town gets turned upside down when an anonymous hacker starts to reveal personal messages and secrets of thousands of people. As anger erupts into full-blown violence, the four girls soon find themselves in a fight for their lives against an armed mob.

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I heard some things about Assassination Nation for a while, it was rather polarising for some people, and some referred to it as a better version of The Purge. Some loved the movie, others really disliked it. Going in not knowing much outside of that, I ended up falling somewhere in the middle camp on Assassination Nation, I don’t hate the movie but I do hate aspects of it. While the idea of it could’ve worked, it was just way too full of itself , obnoxious and trying way too hard to be ‘edgy’ and satirical that most of it doesn’t really land. Not that it doesn’t have some decent parts to it but it doesn’t make up for all the parts that don’t work.

From the very beginning, Assassination Nation is pretty rough. It’s really worth noting that the movie is very much a satire on modern day culture, especially with social media and partially focussing on high school kids who are on their phone all day, with it acting as a modern satire on the Salem Witch Trials. While on paper it sounds like it could be something good, the satire is so incredibly blatant, and obnoxiously so. Usually I don’t have a problem with in your face satire, both Sorry to Bother You and Vice are satires that aren’t particularly subtle that are among my favourite films of the year. I’m not sure what went wrong with Assassination Nation that didn’t work for me but here it just felt really annoying and pretentious (and trust me, I usually abstain from using that word because I hate it but I don’t know what else to call it). I think its because it comes across like the writer/director believes it to be like the greatest thing ever, is absolute genius, and smarter than it really is, even if he doesn’t necessarily feel that way. I can’t tell whether Assassination Nation will work for you or not, if you want to know for sure, you’ll just have to watch the movie for yourself. First of all the movie starts by giving a Trigger Warning and it just seemed like it was a way to be ‘edgy’. The movie starts from the very beginning going right into the social commentary. It got to the point where the movie just feels like the film embodiment of the meme ‘We Live In A Society’ (if you don’t know what it is, its not worth looking into it). The in your face satire that annoyed me mostly comes from the dialogue, which can be very cringe inducing and a pain to listen to at times. Making that worse is that while I can get what messages and themes they were going for, they don’t achieve it very well by the end and it just sort of disappears. Side note but you can tell from the beginning that it’s trying to be a female empowerment movie (it’s pretty hard to not notice this, given that the movie doesn’t know what subtlety is), but there are many moments in here that were incredibly questionable to that and very inconsistent. I didn’t care at all about any of the characters, they were unlikable, annoying, bland, or all 3. The lead characters were the closest to being watchable but I still didn’t care much about it all. So on top of the satire being ham fisted and obnoxious, I had no investment whatsoever in the story. If the whole town just blew up I wouldn’t have cared, in fact it probably would’ve been cathartic. It got to the point where I just wanted to watch the original Purge movie again instead, which is a feeling I never thought that I would ever have. Eventually Assassination Nation gets much better later on in the third act as it leans in more towards being somewhat like The Purge but that’s when there is like 40 minutes left of the running time and even then it doesn’t completely make up for the rest of the movie. With that said, if you’re like an hour of the way into the movie, just know that you may be entertained by the last act, so don’t jump out of it just yet.

Some of the ways characters act are meant to be satirical and over the top, a lot of the time they really come across as being obnoxious a lot of the time (the dialogue doesn’t help much) but the actors at least do the best they can in their roles and with what they have. The leads, Odessa Young, Sukie Waterhouse, Haris Nef and Abra are all good in their roles.

Something I can say is that the visual direction by Sam Levinson is pretty good. It’s got quite a good look, he definitely knows his way behind a camera, visually it is really a stunning looking movie. With that said, having scenes with very neon lighting isn’t enough to just make me love the movie, it doesn’t make up for the script. Despite there being a Trigger Warning at the beginning of the movie to seem ‘edgy’, it is genuinely a very violent and graphic movie and not for the faint of heart. Now I have a high threshold for movie violence, but whenever there’s a bunch of gratuitous violence that’s unneeded, it can turn me off and that’s the case here. It just added more onto the feeling that Assassination Nation was just trying way too hard.

Assassination Nation doesn’t work as well as I think the director thinks the movie is. While there are parts to it that are alright, with a messy script that comes across as trying way too hard, I did not have a particularly good time with the movie. With that said, I heard some very divided reactions, so I’m not sure how you’ll feel about it. I guess if you’re curious enough you could check it out but honestly I don’t think you’re missing out on much if you decide not to watch it. Maybe if I was still in high school or something I might’ve liked the movie a lot more.

Atomic Blonde (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains graphic violence, sex scenes, offensive language & nudity
Cast
Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton
James McAvoy as David Percival
John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld
Til Schweiger as The Watchmaker
Eddie Marsan as Spyglass
Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle
Toby Jones as Eric Gray
Bill Skarsgård as Merkel
Director: David Leitch

Sensual and savage, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who’s willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

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While one half of the directors of John Wick continued with the sequel, the other half (David Leitch) worked on an adaptation of a graphic novel titled The Coldest City which resulted in Atomic Blonde. With the talent of the director, as well as the talent of actors involved such as Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, how could I not be excited? And it lived up to expectations. The actors were great in their roles (particularly Theron and McAvoy), the story was interesting enough and David Leitch’s direction were all great.

Atomic Blonde’s plot isn’t anything special but it works for the movie. There is enough twists to keep you invested in what’s going on from start to finish. Whether all the twists will hold up on a second viewing remains to be seen. The plot kept me pretty interested throughout and I was consistently entertained. One last thing I want to address, I know a lot of people will go into Atomic Blonde expecting Jane Wick but don’t, Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is not like John Wick, and the world that this film is isn’t the criminal underworld from the John Wick universe. The only thing similar in both the John Wick films and Atomic Blonde is the excellent direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. No, Atomic Blonde doesn’t have the fascinating world that John Wick has, but it doesn’t need to. For what the movie that it was aiming to be, Atomic Blonde succeeded very well.

Charlize Theron absolutely owns her role as Lorraine Broughton, she’s fantastic in her action sequences and actingwise she is fantastic as well, she really does have a screen presence. She steals every scene she’s in. However another showstealer is James McAvoy, who is also great in his role as a very wild, shady and morally ambiguous character. There were times when both McAvoy and Theron were on screen and I couldn’t tell who stole the show more. McAvoy was definitely one of the highlights of the film. Other actors like Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, John Goodman and Eddie Marsan were really good in their roles.

David Leitch’s direction naturally is great. This movie like John Wick is very stylised and was one of the highlights of the film. Unsurprising the action is great with the cinematography capturing all the action clearly, the stunts and choreography looked genuine especially from Charlize Theron and they were very entertaining overall. Probably the most standout action sequence is inside a apartment and at a stairwell later in the movie, it is brutal and unrelenting. It is also a long 7 minute unbroken take (or at least appears to be). That was the best action sequence in the film, so incredibly done. I guess maybe the only negative I can say that its not consistent as to whether the action scenes are stylistic or realistic and brutal and they feel distinctly different from each other but that’s a minor issue. The soundtrack is also really great, along with Tyler Bates’s score, there is a bunch of classic songs that play very well in the film.

Atomic Blonde is a really good action movie, the actors was good, Theron and McAvoy stole the show and it had some truly great action sequences. For those wondering, no, I wouldn’t quite consider it at the level of quality of the John Wick movies but honestly it doesn’t need to be. I actually wouldn’t mind a sequel to Atomic Blonde if it actually happens, I would love to see more of Lorrain Broughton in action. To repeat a point I said before, don’t go in expecting Female John Wick, maybe expect the similar action but that’s it, Atomic Blonde is its own thing, and I’m glad it is.

Allegiant (2016) Review

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Allegiant

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Shailene Woodley as Beatrice “Tris” Prior
Theo James as Tobias “Four” Eaton
Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior
Zoë Kravitz as Christina
Miles Teller as Peter Hayes
Jeff Daniels as David
Naomi Watts as Evelyn Johnson-Eaton
Octavia Spencer as Johanna Reyes
Maggie Q as Tori Wu
Bill Skarsgård as Matthew
Ray Stevenson as Marcus Eaton
Director: Robert Schwentke

Tris (Shailene Woodley) escapes with Four (Theo James) to journey beyond the wall that encloses Chicago. For the first time, they leave the only city and family they have ever known to find a peaceful solution. Once outside, they learn shocking new truths that render old discoveries meaningless. As the ruthless battle threatens humanity, Tris and Four quickly decide who to trust to survive. Tris must ultimately make difficult choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

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I’m not a huge fan of the Divergent series. It’s not bad, it’s harmless but I’m not excited to see every instalment that’s coming. So naturally, I wasn’t looking forward to Allegiant, it didn’t help that this is another young adult third book series split into two parts (they obviously tried to cover that up with the title), and I expected Mockingjay Part 1 all over again. After seeing it, I can say that Allegiant isn’t bad, it’s above average but I can’t in good conscience call it a good movie. The acting is fine, the action is fine and the story is full of plot holes and problems, it’s a Divergent movie, it’s exactly what you expect.

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Although I read the two previous books, I haven’t read the final book, so I can’t comment on the accuracy and/or what was left in, I can only comment on Allegiant as a movie. I have to say, this movie does have some pretty boring moments at times. Like with the previous movies there are still plenty of plot holes, inconsistencies and some of the characters aren’t very well written, which would make it hard for the actors do perform well (which I’ll get into later). The way the movie ends feels like it’s the end of a series, but of course that’s not the case, this is only part 1.

'The Divergent Series: Allegiant'

Acting effort is stronger here than in Insurgent. However a lot of the characters are badly written so they don’t really have much to work with. Tris not well written and isn’t as smart as in the previous movies, Shailene Woodley really doesn’t have much to work with. The film constantly tries putting her and Four (Theo James) together for romantic scenes and it seems completely forced. The other supporting actors are fine. Jeff Daniels is a great actor, but his character is so uninteresting and as a result, the movie just doesn’t give him a chance to shine. The one actor who I think did quite well was Miles Teller, his character was written finely enough and Teller did put quite a bit of effort into it.

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The action like in the previous movies is fine and mildly entertaining. Some of the CGI is fine, other times it is so obvious and quite fake. Also a lot of the designs are so generically futuristic and uninteresting, so it doesn’t really help matters. There are many times when it’s quite clear when characters are in front of a green screen, it was almost like I was watching the Star Wars prequels in that aspect.

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If you are a Divergent fan, you might like this movie. However if you don’t really like the previous movies and are hoping for an improved movie in the series, you won’t get that. It’s quite similar to the previous two movies in terms of the level of quality, when it came to the story, acting and direction. However due to the fact that I felt bored during certain sections of the movie, I’d say it’s slightly more flawed than the others. Now with the final instalment titled Ascendant coming out next year, I’m not looking forward to it. But if all the previous instalments have proven anything, it’s that these movies will always end up as being ‘okay’, so I don’t expect this last movie to be bad.