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Candyman (2021) Review


Candyman (2021)

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror, suicide & content that may disturb
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy
Teyonah Parris as Brianna “Bri” Cartwrigh
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Troy Cartwright
Colman Domingo as William “Billy” Burke
Vanessa Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy
Director: Nia DaCosta

For decades, the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green were terrorized by a ghost story about a supernatural, hook-handed killer. In present day, an artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) begins to explore the macabre history of Candyman, not knowing it would unravel his sanity and unleash a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.

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I was looking forward to the new Candyman movie, the original film was a horror classic and for very good reason. The 2021 film had some very talented people involved from Jordan Peele as one of the writers, to Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the lead actor, and I really liked the looks from the trailers. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, and while I definitely have issues, I do like it on the whole.


Before watching Candyman (2021) I highly recommend watching the original Candyman released in 1992, because there’s callbacks and references which won’t hit the same way if you haven’t seen it. This latest Candyman is very much a sequel set decades later, and you’ll get more out of it if you’ve seen the first film (on top of it being a really good film that’s well worth seeing). Plotwise the premise is initially similar as the protagonist is trying to uncover the local legend of the Candyman. It starts off well with a good setup, so I had a good feeling about it initially. I liked the horror elements, and I particularly liked how it made an effort to build upon the mythology of the Candyman as established in the original. However I have to say that overall the script has a lot of issues and is easily the thing that holds the film back from being great. First of all, the actual writing is mixed with some wonky dialogue, out of place humour and generally dull characters. Storywise it is a bit of a mess too, I wouldn’t say I was bored but there were some dull moments. The film introduces a lot of subplots but they don’t go anywhere and most of them aren’t concluded properly. The same goes for the character arcs, its almost like the film is a bit rushed or cut down. By the end much of the story felt underdeveloped and the conclusion was rushed, and so I felt unsatisfied. Candyman 2021 is way too short at 90 minutes long, it should’ve been much longer to flesh things out.


Another aspect of the writing worth talking about is the themes. Like the original film there’s a lot of social and political commentary, and I was interested how the movie would handle them. The 2021 film has  some particularly timely and relevant themes its working with, including gentrification and police brutality. Unfortunately the way they handled the themes was a bit messy to say the least. It’s very blunt and on the nose, and it’s not inherently bad to be less subtle about it. However it’s to the degree where the film tells the audience about the themes. Candyman (2021) is definitely more into telling over showing. Instead of allowing the audience to interpret the themes of the film, it has characters literally talk about them. Not only that but they try to cram so many ideas into this one movie (a particularly short movie at that) and while that is certainly bold and ambitious, it doesn’t really succeed. By the end it touches on a lot of topics but doesn’t really explore them or end up saying much by the end, which was disappointing.


There’s some good acting in this film. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is in the lead role here, and he’s great as to be expected. Teyonah Parris was good in her part, Colman Domingo was also good, although his character’s arc felt cut short. Outside of those three however, there’s some bad supporting roles and weak side performances.


This is the first movie I’ve seen from Nia DaCosta, but she’s definitely shown herself to be a great filmmaker here. The film is visually striking and stunning with beautiful cinematography and camerawork. Some of the best scenes of the movie were sequences that made use of cutout puppetry animation, often used for exposition, I loved the presentation of them. It does a fairly decent job at building up its atmosphere and tension. The horror is great with some well staged death scenes, although the use of CGI is a little distracting. Finally the score is eerie and haunting, really setting an effective mood throughout.


Candyman (2021) is in some ways rather disappointing. It had some good ideas but with its script it felt both overstuffed and undercooked, and it is holding back much of the film. With that said I still think it’s good, from the main performances to Nia DaCosta’s impressive direction. If you watched the original Candyman and liked it, I do think this new film is worth checking out.

WandaVision (2021) TV Review



Age Rating: 860940[1]
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany as Vision
Debra Jo Rupp as Sharon Davis
Fred Melamed as Todd Davis
Kathryn Hahn as Agnes
Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau
Randall Park as Jimmy Woo
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Director: Matt Shakman

Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabet Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has started introducing their own TV shows exclusive to Disney+. However unlike some of their other shows like Agents of Shield and Agent Carter, they’ll be starring characters from the movies, some of them including The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki. The first of these shows to be released was WandaVision, which looked like a sitcom of sorts starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. Admittedly I was doubtful about it, I was unsure about the look from the trailers, but it did at least seem to be trying something different from the past entries. Additionally, I still like the MCU even if I wasn’t as into it as I was pre-Endgame, so I knew either way I was going to watch it. Starting the show it actually turned out to be quite good. By the end, there are definitely some problems with it, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth watching.


I’ll do my best to not reveal the plot for people who haven’t seen it. What I can say that the show at first starts off like a sitcom starring Wanda and Vision, like how it was advertised. One of the biggest surprises is that the sitcom stuff is actually good. Even though it does become something else a little later as certain reveals shed light on what is going on, the writing is strong, I could actually watch a full on sitcom with Wanda and Vision. If you watch the very early episodes and aren’t satisfied that you don’t know a semblance of what’s really going on and that’s becoming a problem for you, I recommend getting to episode 4. At that point it starts to really have a large explanation for what’s happening. I guess it was rather inevitable that it would get to that point, though it was starting to move away from what I liked early in the show. Nonetheless, I liked the approach and focus on the characters of Wanda and Vision throughout the whole show (particularly Wanda). The overall conclusion of the show is pretty much a standard MCU climax that you would expect from the movies. It doesn’t particularly do anything terrible but it’s a little disappointing as it finishes a little predictably and typically. I guess it was a fitting enough end to the story, if a bit predictable. None of my issues came because popular fan theories didn’t happen or that there weren’t lots of cameos (that disappointed some). With that said, there is a reveal earlier in the show which builds to literally nothing by the end of the season, and made it feel pointless. If you watch the show you’ll know what I’m talking about, I wasn’t a fan of that. In terms of other faults I have, each episode have credits that are like 7 minutes long, they were like movie credits length And because of the short length of most of the episodes, the end credits can sometimes be like a third of the runtime. Given the lengths of the episodes, the show seemed bingeable but it was released weekly so that was a bit of a problem. So the show cut to end credits popping up with “standing by” on the screen, it always gave a very frustrating feeling, with the length of the episode being even shorter than we thought it would be. Something that was frustrating was the sudden addition of mid/end credits scenes in roughly the last few episodes of the show. To suddenly to start with them in the later episodes is jarring and also annoying given that those scenes are actually important. In fact I try to imagine someone watching the show without watching the those credits scenes, and I’d imagine that I’d be out of the loop. I know that MCU is known for credits scenes but they could’ve handled it better in the show. I actually had to go back to the finale episode because it turns out that there wasn’t just a mid credits sequence (which I saw), but there was an end credits scene which I completely missed. These two annoyances aren’t show-breaking but they were some frustrations that stood out for me.


Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are the leads and they are great in their parts. Wanda and Vision are characters that could’ve been handled better and better utilised in the movies, and WandaVision gives them the chance to really meet their fullest potentials, diving into their characters, and giving them strong moments. From comedy to drama, the two of them pull it off really well. The early episodes of the show are particularly the most fun I’ve seen Paul Bettany having in a movie. However this is definitely Elizabeth Olsen’s show, she really gets to shine here. With this and her soon to be appearance to Doctor Strange sequel, it shows that Wanda is going to have a more present role in the MCU. There is also a solid supporting cast as well. It includes Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (playing the grown up daughter of Maria Rambeau from Captain Marvel), Randall Park returning as Jimmy Woo from Ant Man and the Wasp, as well as Kat Dennings returning as Darcy from the Thor movies, the three of them were good in their parts. There’s also a standout performance from Kathryn Hahn as a nosy neighbour to Wanda and Vision, who also steals pretty much every scene she’s in.


All episodes of this show are directed by Matt Shakman, and he’s done a good job with it. I particularly liked the sitcom stuff and how it mimics some of the major sitcoms from each decade it explores, starting with the 50s and gradually making its way to the 2010s. This includes the use of black and white, aspect ratio changes, music and laugh tracks. Even the effects to show the powers of the leads are handled well in those older sitcom sequences. I also liked the more odd moments where you can tell that something is off, and cracks start appearing in the world that Wanda and Vision are currently in. It effectively gives an unnerving feeling, that’s unfortunately only in like the first half of the season. The visual effects are pretty good and are mostly on the level of the MCU movies. With that said, some of the visual effects in the last episode with the climax don’t look that great. However MCU movies effects are generally pretty decent, so as it’s a tv show it’s a little worse.


WandaVision is a pretty good mini series, adding some unique aspects not really seen in the franchise beforehand, and I liked the performances of Olsen and Bettany and the handling of their characters. If you’re a fan of the MCU and haven’t watched it yet I do recommend it, the short length of the episodes makes it easy to speed through now. Even if it does fall back on familiar MCU territory as it goes on, it’s good to see it at least attempt different things. I am curious to see where the MCU goes next.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
KiKi Layne as Clementine “Tish” Rivers
Stephan James as Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt
Regina King as Sharon Rivers
Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers
Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers
Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty
Ed Skrein as Officer Bell
Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers
Michael Beach as Frank Hunt
Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt
Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt
Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt
Finn Wittrock as Hayward
Diego Luna as Pedrocito
Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez
Dave Franco as Levy
Director: Barry Jenkins

In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish (KiKi Layne) vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

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If Beale Street Could Talk has been a movie I’ve been meaning to see for a while and it’s partly the reason why I have been holding off on making my favourite films of 2018 list. The main standout part was that it comes from Barry Jenkins, the writer/director behind Moonlight, an excellent film that rightfully won Best Picture of that year. I had been hearing so many great things about his latest film and I am so glad I waited to see it. I had a great amount of anticipation for If Beale Street Could Talk, and yet it blew me away, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Like with Moonlight, the film was written by Barry Jenkins, this time it’s based on a book of the same name by James Baldwin, however you can really feel that this is a Jenkins movie. It’s actually pretty difficult to explain why If Beale Street Can Talk works as well as it does, however I’ll do my best. Everything about the writing, from the story, to the dialogue and the characters feels so incredibly real and genuine, you really feel like you’re watching a real story with real people. You just get so emotionally invested with the characters. Yes, given the premise you’d be right to say that it’s quite melancholic at some points, because it is, given that it’s surrounding a black man being put in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. However it’s not just one big long depressing watch, it feels very natural and human, with happy moments, humorous moments, sad moments and the like. Honestly the only thing about the movie that I might take issue with might be that there’s a scene where we get to see the families of both Tish and Fonny, and while we get a brief look at the family dynamics, we don’t get a dive enough into the conflicts beyond that one scene, it’s a very minor nitpick however and isn’t that big of a problem. The movie ends on a bit of an open note, but it was the perfect ending for the film.

There are a lot of actors involved with the movie and they all do a great job, no matter how big or little their roles are. KiKi Layne and Stephan James play the leads of Tish and Fonny, and they are really great. We only get some glimpses into their romance in the time before Fonny is arrested, however in the moments we get, they are very believable together and their chemistry is truly great. Often times when it comes to a romance movie, even if it gets most aspects well, I would feel very underwhelmed if I’m not truly invested in the lead relationship. Thankfully, Beale Street’s central romance works excellently. Layne is particularly wonderful in her role as the central lead, definitely deserving of a lot of praise. Regina King is really great as Tish’s mother, I can see why she’s the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress at this upcoming Oscars. Brian Tyree Henry is also briefly in the movie as a friend of Stephen James and while he’s not in a lot of scenes, he is a standout in his screentime. The rest of the cast were all really good. Even those who show up for a scene or two, whether that be Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal or Ed Skrein, they do great jobs at making themselves memorable for their screentime, and not necessarily just because you recognise them.

Barry Jenkins once again directs absolutely wonderfully here, like with his writing you can definitely tell this is a Jenkins film from his direction. Everything is so perfectly put together. I also noticed that there were plenty of visual storytelling moments, they are very sublte and small, and not a lot happens, but they tell so much. It’s a beautiful looking movie, with James Laxton’s great cinematography really adding a tremendous amount to the movie and at times really giving it a dreamlike vibe. That vibe is also helped by the score composed by Nicolas Britell, which was great.

If Beale Street Could Talk is fantastic and one of the all time best films of 2018. It’s a heartfelt and emotional movie, it’s perfectly written, the performances are great and Barry Jenkins’s direction was fantastic. I am absolutely astounded that despite floating around multiple film awards, it was shut out for Best Picture, had it been nominated this year it would’ve been my pick for it. I’m not sure how it ranks against Moonlight, I’ll need to rewatch it to be sure, but If Beale Street Could Talk is still a fantastic film on its own and is an absolute essential watch.