Time: 117 Minutes Age Rating: Violence, cruelty & content that may disturb Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Sebastian J. Cricket
David Bradley as Master Geppetto
Gregory Mann as Pinocchio
Burn Gorman as the Priest
Ron Perlman as the Podestà
John Turturro as the Dottore
Finn Wolfhard as Candlewick
Tim Blake Nelson as the Black Rabbits
Christoph Waltz as Count Volpe
Tilda Swinton as The Wood Sprite and Death Director: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
A father’s wish magically brings a wooden boy to life in Italy, giving him a chance to care for the child. However, the two of them have to struggle to find a place for themselves as Italy becomes embroiled in fascism.
For a bizarre reason, there were 3 Pinocchio movies released in 2022. One was called Pinocchio: A True Story which quickly became a laughing stock after the first trailer was released, and then there’s the live action remake from Robert Zemeckis which wasn’t received that favourably either. However, there was a third Pinocchio adaptation helmed by Guillermo del Toro, which was a stop motion animated film. While I didn’t watch the first two Pinocchio adaptations, I’m pretty confident that this is the best of those films from this year.
This movie tells its captivating story well, there is so much love and passion on display here. There is a good tonal balance between being sweet and uplifting as well as being darker and emotional. The core of the store is childlike, and has the sense of wonder that’s in del Toro’s other movies. However, the story is surprisingly complex, heavy and unafraid to get dark, which you can quickly pick up on when you learn that the story is set in fascist Italy under the rule of Mussolini. This is another movie Del Toro movie which has his signature exploration of socio-political themes including grief, religion, war and morality, and they are well handled.
There is a large voice cast assembled for Pinocchio, and the voice acting really is strong. Gregory Mann excellently embodies the character of Pinocchio excellently. However the standout for me was David Bradley, who brought so much pain and emotion to Gepetto. Other standouts include Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, while the rest of the cast including Ron Perlman, Finn Wolfhard, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman and John Turturro also deliver in their roles.
Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson directed this, and their work is truly fantastic. The stop motion animation is gorgeous and stellar, everything looks like a work of art, and the movements are flawless. The creature and character designs are great, and the set pieces, backgrounds and production design are wonderful with so much detail. The score by Alexandre Desplat is good and fits the movie well. The songs and the singing sequences are decent and fit well into the movie, but honestly aren’t that memorable.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a mature, charming, magical and wonderfully crafted film, with stellar voice performances, and fantastically stunning stop motion animation. Even if you are familiar with the classic Pinocchio story, I highly recommend checking this one out. Strong contender for the best animated film of this year.
Age Rating: Cast:
Regina King as Angela Abar/Sister Night
Don Johnson as Judd Crawford
Tim Blake Nelson as Wade Tillman/Looking Glass
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Calvin “Cal” Abar
Andrew Howard as Red Scare
Jacob Ming-Trent as Panda
Tom Mison as Mr. Phillips
Sara Vickers as Ms. Crookshanks
Dylan Schombing as Christopher “Topher” Abar
Louis Gossett Jr. as Will Reeves
Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt
Jean Smart as Laurie Blake
Hong Chau as Lady Trieu Creator: Damon Lindelof
When masked vigilantes are treated as criminals by government agencies, some band together to start a mutiny while others aim to stop it before it yields chaos.
I had heard about HBO’s Watchmen for some time, and I’ve been meaning to watch it. I read the graphic novel, and I’m a big fan of the Zack Snyder movie. It was hard to imagine what a follow up to the graphic novel would look like. The end result was not what I expected at all, and yet was more than welcome. HBO’s Watchmen is incredibly bold and ambitious, incredible on just about all fronts, and is one of my favourite TV shows in recent years.
I’ll do my best to talk about the show without spoiling anything. First of all, something to address is the source material itself. HBO’s Watchmen is a sequel to Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen. If you read the original graphic novel, then you’re all set for this show. If you haven’t, I’d recommend reading it. However if you really aren’t into reading comic books or graphic novels, the simplest alternate way to get up to speed thoroughly would be to check out the 2009 movie (director’s cut preferably), and afterwards looking up the differences between that and the novel, especially with the ending. The reason why I say this is that despite much of HBO’s Watchmen’s story being standalone, the world it exists in is very specific and strange. So it really pays to have some level of familiarity with it, not to mention many major aspects of the plot from the original story are significant parts here. Now you could go into it completely blind and still enjoy it, but having that background definitely adds something to the show. With all that being said, HBO’s Watchmen still manages to be a standalone story. It’s in tune with the nature of the original comic, it’s very much in that world and there are a couple of characters from the original Watchmen story who make appearances. However, it is its own thing and doesn’t just ride off the success of the source material.
The writing throughout the show was great, I was riveted throughout all 9 episodes. There are fully realised characters with depth and motivations, the dialogue is great, and the plotlines were fascinating. Before going into the show, I did hear about how Watchmen started slow and how some people had to persist through it before it hooked them. I wouldn’t say that its that slow, the early episodes are establishing the characters and with setting up the overarching mysteries and questions of the show. I was intrigued with the characters and plotlines, and I was satisfied with the answers that were given at the end of the story. With that said, some parts of the show might be confusing for the most part, but by the end everything becomes clear. Some of the structures of the episodes can be disjointed with regards to the narrative, but I found that the risks actually worked quite well. It clearly has no interest in pleasing a mainstream audience, and really commits to the strangeness, which I’m glad they did. The sociopolitical commentary, thought provoking themes and the connections to real life events were quite effective and notable aspects of the show. The original Watchmen story was a take on American exceptionalism, the show carries almost a similar take, this time on white nationalism. It spends time investigating America’s racist heritage and handles relevant real-life issues like racism, white nationalism and generational trauma, and I thought it handled it well. It’s not subtle at all, but I loved it for that. This show even opens with the Tulsa Massacre of the early 1920s, an event that some Americans today didn’t learn about until they watched the show. If there’s any problems I have, it’s just that there are some characters that I liked that I would’ve liked to have seen more of, specifically Tim Blake Nelson’s Looking Glass, and Jean Smart’s Laurie Blake. Each of them have an episode more focusing on them and they really shine, especially Looking Glass, who I found one of the best characters of the show. However it’s not really their stories, so it’s not too much of a flaw. So far, another season hasn’t been announced for Watchmen, but honestly I though it ended quite well and I’m not sure where they’d go from here if they were to continue the season. I’m satisfied with the point they ended the show on.
The cast are all great, every character is memorable and the casting for each was perfect. Regina King plays the lead character, and she’s incredible in her part from beginning to end. She conveys an incredible amount of emotion and energy into her performance. It’s not just her though, the likes of Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson and Hong Chau are all exceptional in their roles.
Each of the episodes are directed very well. The cinematography is great and visually stunning, and this show is full of impressive and memorable shots. The use of colour is particularly great, some of the shots are definitely inspired by the framing of some panels in the original graphic novel. All of the show is well made but one of the stand out episodes was episode 6, which is a flashback episode. Not going to give too much away but there are so many stylistic choices made which was outstanding and added a lot . It’s not really an action show, but the moments of action are directed quite well. One of the most standout elements of the show on a technical level is the electronic score from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, which is extraordinary and heightens many of the show’s best moments. The pair have composed plenty of outstanding scores for movies and tv, but this has to be one of their best works to date.
HBO’s Watchmen is fantastic, audacious and gripping from beginning to end. The cast are perfect on their parts, the writing is fantastic, and it’s an incredible continuation of the Watchmen source material. I’d recommend doing whatever you need to do to get up to speed with the original story and jump right into this show as soon as you can. It’s one of the best pieces of live action comic book media I’ve ever seen.
Time: 119 minutes Age Rating: Violence, cruelty & offensive language Cast:
Adam Driver as Daniel Jones
Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein
Jon Hamm as Denis McDonough
Jennifer Morrison as Caroline Krass
Tim Blake Nelson as Raymond Nathan
Ted Levine as John Brennan
Michael C. Hall as Thomas Eastman
Maura Tierney as Bernadette Director: Scott Z. Burns
FBI agent Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) performs an exhaustive investigation into the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA adopted new interrogation techniques.
I heard about The Report for a little while, it was about an important topic about the report of the CIA’s use of torture, and had a lot of talented people involved with the likes of Adam Driver, Annette Bening and Jon Hamm. It’s turned out to be quite good and overall well made, if a slightly too procedural.
The Report is a straight forward movie. When it comes to movies based on true events like this, there’s a certain kind of genre where it just seems to give cliff notes of information that could’ve been taken from Wikipedia. The Report is sort of that but out of those types of movies, it does this the best. It keeps you engaged to learn everything that’s happening, at least that’s what it did for me. There’s a lot of information being tossed at you, but even if you don’t remember everything perfectly, there’s enough there that you can grasp what’s going on. As you can probably tell already, it’s not an easy watch by any means, given the subject matter. Even outside the flashback scenes which features some torture, it can be maddening and frustrating hearing about all of what happened, and it’s meant to have you feeling that way. I’m not quite sure that The Report will hold up outside of the first viewing, still well made and all that, but after knowing everything it has to say, there’s not much point watching it again. I guess one problem with this movie is that while you’d expect the movie to not go into too much depth with many of the supporting players, you’d expect something with the lead character, that being Daniel Jones played by Adam Driver. It’s verbally expressed early on that Jones isn’t close with anyone, and you can really tell that he’s really committed to this case, but that’s all we learn from him. Not necessarily a bad thing mind you, they can sort of get away with that given the nature of the protagonist, and it’s not necessarily something that’s bothering you if you’re engaged with the rest of the movie.
The Report has got a great cast who perform very well in their respective roles. Adam Driver continues to prove himself one of the best actors working today. As I said, the movie doesn’t really go into him as a person, but Driver’s acting overcomes that, and once again gives a very strong lead performance. The supporting cast with the likes of Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Tim Blake Nelson, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Corey Stoll and more all provide good performances too.
I haven’t seen a film from director Scott Z. Burns (he made his last movie over a decade ago, which I haven’t seen), he’s mainly a writer for movies like Side Effects and The Bourne Ultimatum. He’s pretty good as a director, even if he doesn’t really have much of a distinct style. The cinematography is rather basic and not necessarily attractive or stylish, but I guess that fitted the tone and subject matter of the movie quite well.
I wouldn’t say that The Report is a great movie, but it is an important movie for sure. It’s tightly written and directed and features some really good performances from its talented cast. Yes, it’s a ‘cliff notes’ movie, but it’s a very well made cliff notes movie. It gives you a generally good idea of what happened in an interesting and engaging 2 hour long movie. Definitely check it out when you can.
Time: 121 Minutes Age Rating: Violence & offensive language Cast:
Gerard Butler as United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning
Morgan Freeman as President Allan Trumbull
Danny Huston as Wade Jennings
Michael Landes as Sam Wilcox
Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Martin Kirby
Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Piper Perabo as Leah Banning
Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Helen Thompson
Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.
I really liked Olympus Has Fallen, it was a throwback to R rated action movies from the 80s like Die Hard and it was entertaining for what it was. I even thought London Has Fallen was okay enough, a noticeable step down from the first movie but I found some enjoyment in it. However I wasn’t exactly really excited for the follow up with Angel Has Fallen. Along with the second movie taking a noticeable drop in quality already, the new plot was quite different from the past two movies, and I was getting Taken 3 vibes from the third instalment, and that’s never a good sign. Having watched it, I can say that it was some dumb fun for 2 hours, probably a little better than I expected it to be.
Angel Has Fallen is another over the top action flick, with a plot that you’ve seen many times before and done better. It’s a different plot from what you’d expect from a movie in this series. This time its Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning being on the run after being falsely accused of trying to kill the president. The sudden change in the type of plot seems pointless but I guess it was a better decision then just doing the past two movies set in different cities. It’s rather predictable in plot and you can get a general idea of where it’s going pretty early on. For example there’s a shadowy secret villain presented during the movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who it is just through process of elimination. Still, it isn’t too much of a problem once you’re 30 minutes into it. Something that’s interesting is that they almost took like a Skyfall sort of approach with regards to how they treat the main character (if you know what I mean), I guess that’s at least something different that they’re doing with this movie in the series but it doesn’t add up to much really. Side note but for some reason it has a mid credits scene as a joke, and I don’t know why they included it.
Gerard Butler once again does pretty well as Mike Banning, he’s got a handle on this character as his go to action role. Seeing as how this is the third time he’s played him and he’s probably going to reprise his role multiple times, it’s working out for him. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman here, he doesn’t even get much to do, despite being the president this time, he’s out of commission for most of the runtime. Nick Nolte plays Butler’s father and he was a standout in the movie whenever he was on screen. Danny Huston makes for a decent villain, his character is pretty one note and nothing special at all, but Huston elevates the role just a bit with his performance. Side note, no, Aaron Eckhart’s character who was the president in the previous two movies doesn’t appear here or isn’t even acknowledged, not a big deal but it was a little weird not having even a mention of him.
The direction by Ric Roman Waugh was fine for a standard action movie. The action is pretty standard but still entertaining. It’s nothing special and the action scenarios aren’t as extravagant as the previous movies, but on the other hand it’s didn’t fall into feeling a little lazy like London Has Fallen did at some point. Some of the CGI was pretty bad at times and could be a little distracting (mainly an early scene involving drones), but I’ve seen much worse.
Angel Has Fallen was what I expected, familiar, generic and pretty silly, but still entertaining enough for what it is. If you liked the other movies in the series then check it out for sure, you’ll no doubt have some fun with it. Otherwise you’re probably not going to get anything out of the third movie. If you haven’t watched the other movies and you’re still interested in it, you can jump right into this with no problem. Recently it was announced that there would be more movies in the Mike Banning/Has Fallen series. While I’m not overly enthusiastic by that proposition, I don’t mind it, they provide some brief entertainment for what they are.
Time: 112 Minutes Age Rating: Violence Cast:
Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Liv Tyler as Betty Ross
Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination
Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns
Ty Burrell as Leonard Samson
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross Director: Louis Leterrier
Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately seeks a cure for the gamma radiation that contaminated his cells and turned him into The Hulk. Cut off from his true love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and forced to hide from his nemesis, Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Banner soon comes face-to-face with a new threat: a supremely powerful enemy known as The Abomination (Tim Roth).
I’ve seen every MCU movie released before 2015 at least twice, the exception being The Incredible Hulk, which is a movie I’ve been meaning to rewatch for the longest time (I think I’ve only seen it in 2008 prior to recently). Saying that The Incredible Hulk gets a bad wrap would be an understatement, it seemed to be completely forgotten by the rest of the MCU bar one character, even Thor: The Dark World seemed to be held in higher regard by some people. I was really curious as to how I would feel about it, and I’m glad to say that I liked watching it, even though it’s nothing all that great. It was at least better than the 2003 Hulk movie.
Most of the movie isn’t anything special but it does some really interesting and effective things. First thing I’ll say is that its opening credits is among the best from the superhero movies I’ve seen, it does the origin story of the Hulk and conveys a lot within a couple minutes. It means the movie doesn’t have to spend a lot of time retelling the origin story. Making a Hulk movie is not easy by any means, which you can tell by looking at both this movie and the 2003 film. While the first Hulk movie was an experimental and very slow burn of a movie, The Incredible Hulk is more of a standard action movie, but it overall works better. The film takes a more horror movie approach to how it treats the Hulk. They really make the Hulk feel like this unstoppable force that Banner is trying to get rid of and avoid. The first Avengers might’ve had a bit of that, but outside of that there wasn’t this struggle, so it was at least interesting to see that here. The third act goes into a standard two large characters fighting each other and causing a lot of destruction type of climax, and it’s at this point that the film kind of loses you. Not that it’s terrible, just wasn’t as interesting as what came beforehand. It also really wraps things up really quickly. Parts of the movie can be a little cheesy but that’s I guess it’s a little unavoidable (because again, it’s a movie about the Hulk). While you might’ve enjoyed what you saw for the past hour and 50 minutes, you sort of forgot what you just watched. In fact it’s probably the most forgettable movie in the MCU.
Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner/Hulk, I’m not going to go into whether he should’ve been kept for the later MCU movies, but I do think he did a really good job. He really sells the idea of Banner as a fugitive hiding from the government and wanting to find a cure. He doesn’t really go through much development, but Norton elevates his role quite a bit. What I will say is that in this movie, Bruce Banner seemed to be more of an action hero kind of character instead of the scientist, and it might’ve been nice to see a little more of the latter, because on the whole he seemed to fit the role a lot more than Ruffalo did. Liv Tyler plays Betty Ross and she was really good, the moments that Norton and Tyler get together are effective enough. Even though I know that Mark Ruffalo is now playing Banner and nothing that happened in this movie is referenced in the other movies, it would’ve been nice to see Betty appear again somewhere in the MCU. William Hurt was good as General Ross, who’s really going after Banner/Hulk for a large portion of the movie. He’s also the only actor from this movie to make it into other MCU movies. Tim Blake Nelson is good in the brief role, he’s hinted at becoming a significant character from the comic (that I’m not familiar with), though as you probably guessed it never amounted to anything in the future movies. Tim Roth is the main antagonist, firstly as Emil Blonsky and later as Abomination. As Blonsky, Roth is really effective as a power hungry soldier really going after Banner, the character himself doesn’t have a lot to him but it’s his performance that made him work very well. When he becomes Abomination, he becomes more of a standard monster for Hulk to fight but as previously mentioned, was at least enough of a physical challenge.
Louis Leterrier’s direction of The Incredible Hulk worked well enough for what it is. It really does feel like a superhero movie from the 2000s, it’s rough and grimy and like the first Iron Man doesn’t feel like it’s in the MCU. Most of the action scenes worked well. The parts with Edward Norton being front and centre in the action scenes instead of the Hulk were good, especially one where he has to escape while keeping his heart rate down so he doesn’t Hulk out. The action scenes involving Hulk were mostly decent. The visuals haven’t exactly held up well but parts of it are alright. The design of the Hulk is a bit of a mixed bag and the visual effects on him can be a bit hit or miss. On the other hand, the ugliness really worked for this monstrous take on him. On the other hand he can look really dated (still much better looking than the Ang Lee Hulk however). As for the design of the Abomination, it was a departure from the comics but considering how silly looking the comic version was, it’s not surprising they made the change. I just wish they made the design a little more interesting as it was very generic looking. The score by Craig Armstrong was also quite good.
The Incredible Hulk is for sure one of the weakest movies in the MCU. If it came to marathoning the Marvel movies before Endgame and you had to skip one movie, it would be this one. It’s not bad, just nothing really that special and a little forgettable. With that said, The Incredible Hulk was still entertaining enough, and it was at least interesting to see how they handled the Hulk here. Outside of its datedness, this is probably the best that a Hulk movie could really be. Worth a watch if you’re curious about it but by no means essential viewing.
Time: 133 Minutes Age Rating: Cast: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs
Willie Watson as The Kid
David Krumholtz as Frenchman in Saloon
E. E. Bell as Saloon Piano Player
Tom Proctor as Cantina Bad Man
Clancy Brown as Çurly Joe
James Franco as Cowboy
Stephen Root as Teller
Ralph Ineson as The Man in Black
Jesse Luken as Drover
Liam Neeson as Impresario
Harry Melling as Artist (Harrison)
All Gold Canyon
Tom Waits as Prospector
Sam Dillon as Young Man
The Gal Who Got Rattled
Zoe Kazan as Alice Longabaugh
Bill Heck as Billy Knapp
Grainger Hines as Mr. Arthur
Jackamoe Buzzell as Boarder #3
Jefferson Mays as Gilbert Longabaugh
Ethan Dubin as Matt
The Mortal Remains
Tyne Daly as Lady (Mrs. Betjeman)
Brendan Gleeson as Irishman (Clarence)
Jonjo O’Neill as Englishman (Thigpen)
Saul Rubinek as Frenchman (René)
Chelcie Ross as Trapper Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
An anthology film comprised of six stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.
The Coen Brothers have done some good movies in the past but I can never tell how much I’ll like their movies. Hail Caesar wasn’t particularly liked loved a lot of people but I really liked it, whereas their beloved movies Fargo and Inside Llewyn Davis I liked but didn’t love, not to mention I didn’t like their comedy ‘classic’ Raising Arizona at all. This isn’t the first Western movie that they have done, with No Country for Old Men and True Grit showing that they are great with the genre, but it is the first anthology movie that they’ve done. It’s such a weird idea for them and I really didn’t know what to expect. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a odd mix of western stories written and directed by The Coen Brothers that range from okay to actually pretty good. I’m glad I watched it but it’s far from the filmmaking duo’s best.
Now the movie is split into 6 different chapters and it’s just impossible for me to talk about the movie on a whole without talking about them individually. Therefore, I’ll separate my review by the individual chapters. The first chapter is The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It’s about Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson), a cheerful outlaw and singer who comes across other outlaws and hilarity and chaos insures. So much of this chapter is cartoonish and over the top, I was entertained by it but I was expecting much more. Really the highlight of this chapter was the titular character of Buster Scruggs played by Tim Blake Nelson. He’s so over the top and full of energy that it’s fun to watch him, he’s almost like a cartoon character put into live action. While all of the chapters were directed well, this was particularly well directed and put together. Though it was fun, by the end it just comes across as a fun skit written and directed by The Coen Brothers rather than them actually making part of a movie. I’m not exactly sure why they decided to name the whole movie after this chapter, it’s way shorter than I thought it would be and was just sort of funny and that’s it. While I had fun with this chapter, it did make me nervous about the rest of the movie, and whether it would be just fun western skits for the entirety of the movie. Know that despite what I said, I actually had a lot of fun with it and it’s really good. I just wish that it was longer and had more of a purpose.
The second chapter is titled Near Algodones and stars James Franco as a cowboy who tries to perform a robbery. The best thing I can say about it indicates at least that each chapter of this movie will have a different tone and story, it’s not cartoonishly goofy as Buster Scruggs and is a little more serious, yet it has some effective dark comedy and James Franco is also good in a role that we don’t usually see him in. Again though, it feels so incredibly short, around the length of Buster Scruggs and probably even shorter. The whole movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes long yet they couldn’t seem to make each of them at least 20 minutes long. The found footage anthology movie V/H/S seemed to have longer segments. However, it’s not just that it’s short, while Buster Scruggs can get by with it being a goofy comedic skit, Near Algodones is a more serious story, and so doesn’t have that to fall back on. While it wasn’t bad by any means, there wasn’t really anything particularly interesting or even that entertaining about this chapter, outside of some slightly humorous moments. Having watched this segment, I had even more worries about how the overall movie would be.
The third chapter is titled Meal Ticket, starring Liam Neeson as an travelling impresario with an armless and legless artist played by Harry Melling. Again, significantly different tone and type of story and it was such a weird choice of story to make in the western setting, especially in contrast to the previous two stories. However, it’s from this point that things started to look up for the overall movie. It didn’t really have any comedy whatsoever, thankfully though it is done much better than Near Algodones. It’s about as long as the Buster Scruggs segment yet we actually get to learn more about the characters and their situations. Both Neeson and Melling are also great in their roles and their subtle performances made the chapter even better. This story isn’t what you’d typically think of when it comes to western stories but it really works for this movie. It’s a lot more atmospheric and darker from the others, also with a rather bleak ending which fits right along with The Coen Brothers’ other dark endings, all around Meal Ticket was pretty decent.
The fourth chapter is titled All Gold Canyon and is about Tom Waits as a prospector who arrives in a mountain valley and decides to dig for gold, again, very different kind of story compared to the others. Something that’s immediately different is the setting. The first two segments were very desert-western based, and the third mostly took place at towns in night. The fourth chapter however takes place in a beautiful and green field, making it by far the most visually stunning of all the segments. It’s longer than the previous segments and is the easiest to watch of all the segments. It’s really just Tom Waits in the story in terms of characters, and he carries it very well. Overall one of the better chapters of the movie.
The fifth chapter is titled The Gal Who Got Rattled, which is about a woman (Zoe Kazan) and her brother (Jefferson Mays), who are traveling in a wagon train towards Oregon. Now I heard from some people how the movie falls apart from this segment as well as the 6th chapter. It doesn’t feel like a typical Coen Brothers’ movie, both in concept and in terms of writing and dialogue. It is also the longest of the 6 segments, and is more drawn out with a slower pace, which feels really jarring compared to the prior segments which moved rather fast. I will say that it does feel like the most well rounded of the stories. Most of the other chapters feel like either brief snapshots of what the stories as full complete movies could be, or random skits. The Gal Who Got Rattled on the other hand actually works as a short film on its own, with characters effectively fleshed out. You could probably even see the segment turned into a full length movie. The actors all did a great job with their performances particularly Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck and Grainger Hines. Although it’s very out of place compared to the other chapters, The Gal Who Got Rattled is at the very least one of the better segments.
The sixth chapter is titled The Mortal Remains, and is about five people who ride in a stagecoach together to Fort Morgan. It feels like such a weird story to end the movie. Admittedly while I was on board with every chapter leading up to this, when it got to this one I sort of switched off. After the 30+ minute long segment of The Gal Who Got Rattled which was on such a large scale, it felt like an alright place for the movie to stop. However it was immediately followed by 5 people just talking, and through a lot of it, I just didn’t care what was going on, at least before the halfway point. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments to it though, after the halfway point it does pick up quite a bit, also Jonjo O’Neil, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, Tyne Daly and Chelcie Ross were quite good in their roles. However it still is one of the weaker of the stories.
To summarise: whether you like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs or not, there’s no arguing that it really feels like a Coen Brothers movie… well there are at least plenty of glimpses of it. A lot of the direction and writing, especially the dialogue and dark comedy feels quite a bit like The Coen Brothers’ work. I can see some of these segments working as entire full length stories. Since they titled the movie after the first chapter, I couldn’t see why they didn’t just make the whole movie about that. And if The Coen Brothers’ were committed to doing a bunch of short stories, it might’ve been better if they just made it a mini series, 6 episodes with each episode ranging from 40 minutes to an hour. They don’t really have any connections to each other whatsoever, and each of the stories don’t really seem to serve any point except to every time come to the conclusion that it was rough living in the Wild West. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of good things to this movie. It is visually stunning throughout all the segments and are directed well, and the actors do great jobs, particularly Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a bit of a mixed bag, while all the chapters are well directed and acted, much of the segments are way too short and aren’t interesting enough and as mentioned above aren’t as great as you’d hope given who worked on them. If you’re a fan of The Coen Brothers, I’d say definitely check it out, it’s on Netflix and will just be 2 hours and 10 minutes of your time. As for the rest of you, I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it. Despite my thoughts on some of the segments and the overall movie, I will praise the Coen Brothers for at least trying something different. It is one of their weakest movies though.
Time: 100 Minutes Age Rating: Violence Cast:
Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch
Kate Mara as Susan “Sue” Storm/The Invisible Woman
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing
Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom/Doctor Doom
Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm
Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Harvey Allen Director: Josh Trank
Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Kate Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom (Toby Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.
Ever since its release, Fant4stic has received worldwide criticism, making only half of its budget back and having a 10% on rotten Tomatoes, there’s also been news of Fox interfering with the movie during filming. I will say that I don’t hate this movie but I don’t think it’s good either. It is an interesting take on the Fantastic Four with great actors and good ideas. However it is let down by a slow pace, obvious reshoots and a horrendous final act.
This movie is a different take on the Fantastic Four, it aims to be much darker, grittier and more of a Science Fiction film, with elements of horror which I can give credit for. The main problem of the movie is that there is not much of the four doing anything in this movie, it takes a long time before they even get their powers. The film feels like it’s trying to build its world but forgets to be its own movie. The best two scenes of the movie is when they are on Planet Zero and when they discover their powers, it actually seemed like Sci-Fi horror. The second act doesn’t have much going on, and feels extended for no reason. The final act though is one of the worst climaxes I’ve seen in any movie. Doom pretty much returns to earth to destroy it (because why not?) and despite how powerful Doom is made out to be, the final fight with him (which is also their only fight) is about 5 minutes long (even though he has the ability to kill people just by looking at them). It breaks the slow tone that the rest of the film was going for and feels rushed, probably a reshoot as well.
The acting was decent but it’s pretty clear that these actors are underused and don’t have much to work with. The worst part was that Marvel’s first family didn’t really feel like a family, most of them only bond in the first act, and then are reunited to fight Doom. Toby Kebbell was wasted as Doom, he was decent in the first act but he’s only the villain in the last act of the movie and was completely underdeveloped. I couldn’t even tell it Kebbell was playing Doom in those latter scenes.
The special effects are fine for the most part but there are many times where it’s quite obvious that green screen was used, especially when in ‘Planet Zero’. I also think that The Thing’s design was much better than the 2005 version but again, the CGI at times looks fake. There are many scenes where it’s pretty obvious that there have been reshoots, whether it be Kate Mara occasionally wearing a fake wig or Miles Teller having disappearing and reappearing facial hair.
Fant4stic has many flaws but it’s not the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. The acting was decent, there was some good ideas but a lot of it was wasted and did nothing with it. It culminated in the worst final act of a superhero movie that I’ve seen and the movie is overall a massive disappointment. It is worse than the 2005 Fantastic Four because it least had the four acting like a team and the tone fitted much better. I’ll have to see Rise of the Silver Surfer to see if it’s the worst Fantastic Four but in any case, Fant4stic was a let-down, I’ve still seen worse from 2015 though.