Time: 100 Minutes Age Rating: Cast:
Jenny Slate as Marcel (voice)
Dean Fleischer Camp as Dean
Isabella Rossellini as Nana Connie (voice)
Rosa Salazar as Larissa Geller
Thomas Mann as Mark Booth
Lesley Stahl as herself Director: Dean Fleischer Camp
Marcel, a 1-inch-tall shell, lives with his grandmother, Connie, the only residents of their town after their neighbors’ sudden, mysterious disappearance. When discovered by a guest amongst the clutter of his Airbnb, the short film he posts online brings Marcel millions of passionate fans and a new hope of reuniting with his long-lost family.
For the past months I had been hearing about Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. It seemed to be some animated movie which ended up being one of the most beloved movies of 2022. I never saw the trailer, but from my brief glimpses of it, I admit I was somewhat confused by the love. I wasn’t sure that I would get into it, but after it was nominated for best animated film, I thought I should at least check it out. I was pleasantly surprised.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On actually originated as a series of shorts which I haven’t watched myself, but after watching the film, I am interested in checking them out. The movie is a mockumentary about the protagonist Marcel, a living shell, and his grandmother. Things develop over the course of the film, but there isn’t a whole lot driving the plot, and its mostly just watching Marcel’s life. You’re sort of just along with the ride, and if you’re not on board in the first 30 minutes, then you’ll probably find the rest of the movie to be a bit of a drag. On the whole. I’d say that it was a pleasant watch. It’s charming, funny and witty, and quite optimistic on life. It goes for something somewhat profound and touching without feeling disingenuous. It’s not all cheery, there are some melancholic and bittersweet moments, and there are some unexpected tonal shifts. While these shifts can be sudden, there’s a pretty good balance throughout. While Marcel might be appropriate for kids, it does seem like adults would get more out of it than children, mainly with some of the mature themes and the dry humour. Marcel is about 90 minutes long and that was the right runtime, it didn’t feel like it overstayed its welcome.
There is a very small number of characters here, but it fits the contained nature of the film. The living shell protagonist Marcel is voiced by Jenny Slate and her voice helped bring this character to life; he’s likable and carries the movie well. There’s also his grandmother voiced by Isabella Rossellini, and director Dean Fleischer-Camp even plays one of the main characters too, playing the director of the documentary (also named Dean). I liked his dynamic with Marcel, considering he’s in much of the movie (albeit mostly off camera).
Dean Fleischer-Camp directs this well. Marcel is partly live action and partly animated, with everything appearing to be real except for the stop motion shell characters. The stop motion animation especially shines in the live action shots, and it feels real. It’s also deliberately filmed as a mockumentary/faux documentary, and it does appropriately resemble a real documentary, from the zooms, camera movements, audio and even some of the way dialogue is delivered. Finally, its accompanied by a nice and light score from Disasterpeace.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a funny, witty and heartfelt mockumentary with good stop motion animation. If you heard about how everybody loved the movie, I’d recommend keeping your expectations in check. It is a light and relaxed movie with very little drive, but I liked it for that.
Time: 105 Minutes Age Rating: Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen Nelson
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson
Will Patton as Deputy Frank Hawkins
Thomas Mann as younger Frank Hawkins
Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle
Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam
Dylan Arnold as Cameron Elam
Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace Director: David Gordon Green
The nightmare isn’t over as unstoppable killer Michael Myers escapes from Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) trap to continue his ritual bloodbath. Injured and taken to the hospital, Laurie fights through the pain as she inspires residents of Haddonfield, Ill., to rise up against Myers. Taking matters into their own hands, the Strode women and other survivors form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael and end his reign of terror once and for all.
I was looking forward to Halloween Kills. I quite enjoyed Halloween (2018), it definitely had its issues but as a follow up to the original film set decades later, I thought it was really good. After the success of that movie, two sequels were announced, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. I had high hopes for Kills despite receiving one of the most divisive receptions for a Halloween film. While I’m prepared to say I like the movie, it is very disappointing.
I could tell early on that the movie had some issues. The first 10 minutes are actually a flashback of the night of Halloween (1978). As well done as it was, essentially it’s just repeated information and doesn’t add a whole lot. That aside, plotwise it’s all a mess. While there were a number of characters in Halloween (2018), the focus was mainly on the Strode family. However after the ending with them almost killing Michael Myers in the last movie, Halloween Kills underutilises and sidelines them. Laurie Strode gets the worst treatment at all, having less than 15 minutes of screentime. The story mostly moves into a story about mob mentality as the people of Haddonfield are hunting down Michael Myers. While there were some good ideas and an effective scene or two, the attempts at social commentary and exploring cultural issues were misguided and didn’t work in execution. Some of the scenes where the people attempt to kill Myers are fine, they’re at least better than the scenes where people stand around and just declare that “evil dies tonight”. The movie also introduces the idea of Myers’s influence potentially turning the people of Haddonfield into monsters. However it only lingers on that idea for 5-10 minutes max before forgetting about it entirely. I really didn’t like was how they brought back characters from the 1978 film who were somewhat affected by Myers. It’s partially because it feels like the movie is relying so much on nostalgia, and tying all these people into the plot just felt so contrived.
The other aspect of the plot is that of Michael Myers continuing to kill. Although I like the portrayal of Myers here, his scenes just weren’t the best. Halloween Kills definitely leans into him being superhuman, he’s comically unkillable. While the kills are definitely there, the encounters with him are more ridiculous and not scary, and they generally feel the same way with little variety or emotional impact. It doesn’t help that you already know that Michael Myers doesn’t die in this one, given that the next film is titled Halloween Ends. So any expectation or tension that he might die in this movie is just not there. The third act is where it becomes a conventional Halloween movie and gives up trying whatever they were attempting before. While I would generally call it a lazy fallback, it definitely works a lot better than most of what came before. The structure is a mess as it jumps between these three aspects of the story, none of them done very well. The story is dull and lacks the suspense and atmosphere from the 1978 and even the 2018 film. Even looking outside of the plot, the script is a mess. First of all, the tone. Halloween (2018) had quite a bit of humour in the film that felt quite out of place, but you were able to see pass them, and it at least focused up in the second half. However, the tone in Halloween Kills is all over the place. There is the aforementioned story about trauma, as well as the town getting ready to fight the shape that haunted them. However, it increases the jokes and silliness, and as much as I want to say that this is deliberately leaning towards camp (especially with the over the top kills), it is still taking itself seriously. The dialogue is definitely schlocky and silly but unfortunately not in an intentional camp way. Worst of all was how expository it was, dumping a lot of information on you and spells everything out in a rather insulting way, especially when its just repeating information from the past films. I think for all the issues it has, the most damning thing about Halloween Kills was how reluctant it is to move its story. It doesn’t really serve to have much purpose outside of following the last film, and doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. Only a few notable things happen, and not a lot is learnt. It just feels like it’s there to be a filler movie before the actual finale with Halloween Ends.
The acting and characters are a mixed bag. Out of all of them, the highlights were the Strodes. While there is unfortunately much less of them, the trio of Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are great. It’s a shame that they don’t get many scenes together and they feel rather wasted. Laurie Strode’s Jamie Lee Curtis is shockingly underutilised especially given the last movie. This leaves Greer and Matichak to have more screentime, and they do work well in their parts at least. Unfortunately, Halloween Kills makes the decision to rely more on its supporting characters, a number of them meant to be people who were around for the night on Halloween 1978. It certainly doesn’t help that the characters in this movie make some really dumb decisions. This is a movie where someone makes a big rousing speech and declares that they will stay together as they hunt the killer, and shortly afterwards they split up. This is also a movie where a couple discover that someone is in their house, and their first instinct is to go inside and confront him. It only makes the non-Strode scenes even more frustrating to watch.
David Gordon Green’s direction was one of the best parts of the previous movie, and his work here is good, if not as great. The cinematography is gorgeous and stunning but devoid of the smooth long takes that made the first movie so effective. The atmosphere just isn’t there for this movie, and doesn’t really build up much suspense. Michael Myers himself is certainly one of the best parts of the movie. I liked his look with the burnt mask, and he is effectively menacing. However, his kill/scare scenes are a bit of a mixed bag. The title for the film is certainly apt, and the kills do deliver. This is one of the most violent Halloween movies, up there with the Rob Zombie films. It is brutal, gory and violent, so credit for that. However there was always something that irked me about those scenes. First of all the executions are what I imagine much of the Friday the 13th kills are like, not for scares or horror but for the audience to see the killer violently dispatching people. In fact, they felt more like Mortal Kombat fatalities more than anything else. There’s also something rather mean spirited in the way they just throw these kills in for the pleasure of the audience, and for as creatively violent as they are, ironically only 3-4 were memorable. One of the strongest aspects of the last Halloween movie was John Carpenter’s score which was amazing. While I don’t like his Halloween Kills score as much, it’s still one of the highlights and is distinctly different.
Halloween Kills is unfortunately quite disappointing. The script is an absolute mess that tries to be so many things and can’t deliver on any of them. Ultimately it feels like a placeholder and filler movie, a movie just to draw out the conclusion with only a few things that move the film forward. It’s not without its strengths. It is generally well directed, I liked Michael Myers, and although they were under-utilised I liked the main three actors. I just hope that David Gordon Green and co. can pull off Halloween Ends because I’m much less confident in it after watching Kills.
Time: 118 Minutes Age Rating: Violence and offensive language
Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard
John Goodman as William “Bill” Randa
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman
John Ortiz as Victor Nieves
Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks
Jason Mitchell as Glenn Mills
Shea Whigham as Earl Cole
Thomas Mann as Reg Slivko
Terry Notary as King Kong (motion capture performance)
John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.
Kong: Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. This film is also set in the same universe as Godzilla (a film that I liked) as the MonsterVerse is being created. Plus the cast and the trailers looked good, so I was definitely interested in checking it out. Although there are plenty of problems with this movie, Kong Skull Island is still a fun and solid movie, mostly due to the fantastic direction.
The story isn’t particularly special, above average, it’s serviceable for a Kong movie. The dialogue at times was hit or miss, some of it worked, some of it was cheesy and occasionally bad. Most of the comedy didn’t work, it only worked when it was delivered by John C. Reilly. One thing I will say though is that this movie definitely knows what it is. It knows its an over the top action movie and it delivers in that regard. Kong doesn’t show up a huge amount (like with Godzilla in his most recent film) but it doesn’t cut away from Kong just as he is about to do something awesome. He is in the movie in small enjoyable doses and was used very effectively, he was awesome when he was on screen. As for the last act… so fantastic.
Now this film has a lot of talented actors, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Toby Kebbell. Unfortunately the film kind of wastes them and they don’t get to do as much as you think they would. However, these actors do try as best as they can, they still were good enough, they just should’ve been given more to work with. The actor who steals the show is John C. Reilly. He is entertaining, and also the only source of comedy which actually works.
What makes this film work effectively despite its flaws is the direction. This film is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. This is his first ‘big’ film and I can say that he is a talented filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see more movies from him. The direction of this film is so great, on a technical level, everything is excellent. Something that was perfect was the cinematography, done by Larry Fong (Batman v Superman, Watchmen, 300). The film looks absolutely beautiful, not one shot felt out of place. The action is intense, the special effects looked great, there wasn’t a fake looking creature or effect. The film also does a good job at making it feel like its set in the 70s. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman also made things a lot more epic. The only criticism I have direction wise is some of the music choices and style felt out of place but that is it.
Kong: Skull Island definitely has some flaws with regards to its plot, characters and dialogue, but the overall direction boosts the film immensely, and almost makes me completely forget about all the problems. Overall I liked this movie about the same level as Godzilla, this film does some things better and some things worse. While the movie wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be, it was still quite a fun time. Also, make sure you stay after the credits, because there’s a post credits scene, and it’s well worth waiting to see it.