Slumberland is a bland fantasy adventure.

A young girl discovers a secret map to the dreamworld of Slumberland, and with the help of an eccentric outlaw, she traverses dreams and flees nightmares, with the hope that she will be able to see her late father again.

I wish there was a lot to say about Slumberland a $150 million dollar budget Netflix original directed by Francis Lawrence, but to be quite honest there really isn’t. The movie at least looks a bit more appealing to the eye when compared to Red Notice and The Gray Man, but that’s mainly due to the fantasy elements here that actually do give the movie some sort of life. Jason Momoa puts on a very different type of performance here that is genuinely charming, Marlow Barkley also gives a charming performance as well, for a Netflix child actor performance this is definitely one of the better ones. The main issue comes in story wise where it plays out way too similarly to a lot of fantasy movies, the whole “person discovers a new land full of creatures” has been done far better before, what’s very unfortunate here is Francis Lawrence’s direction is just nonexistent here, maybe it’s because this is entirely different from what he usually does but a lot of what makes his direction interesting is just not here. The raw emotions in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 2, the strong chemistry in Water For Elephants, the sense of building a strong atmosphere in I Am Legend and so on. It often times looks like the movie is going to try and do something interesting but quickly goes back to playing it way too safe. Every now and then you get some charming moments with Momoa and Barkley but otherwise this is very forgettable and definitely overstays it’s welcome with a nearly 2 hour running time. Overall despite my many complaints Slumberland isn’t exactly terrible it’s rather forgettable and just sits there as another addition to the forgettable Netflix movie pile.

Slumberland is available on Netflix.

5/10 C

The School Of Good And Evil is another bland Young Adult adaption.

Best friends Sophie and Agatha find themselves on opposing sides of an epic battle when they’re swept away into an enchanted school where aspiring heroes and villains are trained to protect the balance between good and evil.

I like that Paul Feig is continuing to try and tackle different genres instead of sticking with comedy, because he did a surprisingly excellent job with A Simple Favor, so I was a bit curious what he was going to do with The School for Good and Evil, long story short this movie is complete and total mess, this is what you would get if you took every young adult adaption movie from the early 2010s and blended them together. You would get this directionless Frankenstein monster of a movie that has no idea what it’s trying to do, Michelle Yeoh is the standout here and she’s pretty much shelved throughout the movie. Getting very little screentime compared to everyone else, speaking of which everyone else does an okay job. There aren’t any flat out bad performances but there aren’t any good ones either, a lot of them are just there and I guess get the job done. The writing is filled to the brim of melodrama, typical young adult movie cliches and very weak world building. Lastly there’s Paul Feig’s directing style that really doesn’t do anything for the movie, there’s attempts to throw in some comedy but it’s more of that young adult movie adaption humor that is often dull. Lastly what really seals the movie’s fate is the pacing combined with the running time why this movie was 2 hours and 27 minutes I will never know. But it did not do the movie any favors at all, the pacing was truly dreadful and the build up was just not worth the end result.

The School Of Good And Evil is available on Netflix.

4/10 D+

Mona Lisa and The Blood Moon is an entertaining ride.

When a struggling single mother befriends a mysterious woman who has supernatural powers, she sees a lucrative opportunity to make some fast cash. However, their crime spree soon draws unwanted attention as the cops start to close in.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is an interesting little movie, that while story wise it really isn’t anything special it makes up for it with a lot of other elements that go together quite nicely. The cinematography combined with the setting of New Orleans is truly a lot of fun and adds to the movie’s overall atmosphere, the performances are overall pretty solid particularly Jeon Jong-seo and Kate Hudson who have great chemistry and really steal every scene they are in together. Craig Robinson is also a fun addition as well, the direction from Ana Lily Amirpour (director of The Bad Batch and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) is really fantastic here, we get more character development than we usually would when it comes to films like this. There’s some character driven moments that are very investing and really drag the viewer into the film, Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon might be Amirpour’s weakest film mainly due to the story feeling a bit too recognizable, but it’s still a very entertaining movie that I do recommend giving a watch, it’s a solid introduction to her work.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is available on all VOD platforms.

7/10 B

Monster High: The Movie…is a Descendants clone

When Clawdeen begins attending Monster High, she discovers a devious plot that would not only destroy her school, but it would also reveal her half-human, half-werewolf identity.

Oh man what is there to say here? I’m clearly not the target audience and I’m sure there’s kids out there who will like this fine enough, but this whole movie seems like Nickelodeon saw what Disney was doing with The Descendants and Zombies then tried to be exactly like that. Even though Monster High is based off of the fashion doll franchise from Mattel, it comes off as a horrible Descendants and Zombies clone. The only positive I can really give this movie is the cast were at least trying their hardest with what they were given, everything else from the songs that aren’t particularly memorable, the writing and the shoehorned villain makes for a bad kid’s movie that is a chore to sit through.

Monster High: The Movie is available on Nickelodeon and Paramount+

1/10 F

Hocus Pocus 2 is about the same as the first movie.

Three young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world.

Hocus Pocus 2 finally releases after several years of the being on those “sequels that should have been a thing by now but haven’t” lists, there’s honestly not a whole lot to comment on here as Hocus Pocus 2 is about the same as the original. Which might be good for people who absolutely adored the first movie, I was never a huge Hocus Pocus fan it’s a fun little movie but that’s all it really was for me. Hocus Pocus 2 falls in the same line, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are still quite fantastic as the Sanderson sisters and are clearly having a blast, the entertaining atmosphere is still quite great and keeps a lot of the atmosphere from the first one, the flaws mostly come from the characters and the jokes really not being as strong, I get they wanted to put in the whole modern setting idea in the movie and at times it works. But other times it really mirrors what a lot of other movies do with this exact plot line, so it definitely leads to a lot of “seen that and it’s been done better before” type of moments. The overall message is charming enough and there’s some cute moments towards the end that did put a smile on my face, there’s definitely some level of charm that went into this movie that can be appreciated. It just falls a little short of being a little too identical to the first movie.

Hocus Pocus 2 is available on Disney+

5/10 C

Medusa has a lot of themes but falls short.

A gang of young women in Brazil try to control everything around them, including other women, by roaming the streets and beating up those they deem too sinful.

There’s definitely a lot going on here thematically with Anita Rocha da Silveira’s Medusa, there’s themes of beauty standards, physical and mental trauma for women and even some Greek mythology or tragedy Included as well. Unfortunately this is the type of movie where those themes aren’t explored all that well, the filming and visuals are at least quite captivating and at times hypnotic as well. There’s some solid acting bits here that give the characters some personality and give them time to shine. The main problem here is the running time it’s 127 minutes long, which you would think would give it more time to explore it’s themes. However it somehow ends up being very surface level at best and drags for the sake of dragging, the writing is nowhere near as strong as the movie thinks it is. It introduces themes, does a little bit with them and then moves on to the next idea. Medusa is definitely not a terrible movie as it is very well made but this is the very definition of style over substance.

Medusa is available on all VOD Platforms.

5/10 C

Three Thousand Years Of Longing is a flawed but very fun ride.

While attending a conference in Istanbul, Dr. Alithea Binnie happens to encounter a djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. This presents two problems: first, she doubts that he’s real, and second, because she’s a scholar of story and mythology, she knows all the cautionary tales of wishes gone wrong. The djinn pleads his case by telling her fantastical stories of his past. Eventually, she’s beguiled and makes a wish that surprises them both.

George Miller returns with Three Thousand Years Of Longing a movie that I was very excited for, I’ll start with what really worked here. Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba truly hit it out of the park here, both do a fantastic job in their roles and truly deliver some quite captivating moments that work well in the movie’s favor. The visuals combined with the filming are very stunning, there’s so much attention to detail in a majority of the scenes and really pull the viewer into the movie’s own world. There’s some really well done ideas that are done beautifully and executed well, the movie definitely captures a human aspect to the story as well when it goes further than just granting wishes. The main flaws consist of the pacing moving a bit too slowly especially during the third act, some ideas needing a lot more time to develop. Particularly ideas that are introduced during the third act that needed a lot more time to be expanded upon, finally the third act itself being the weakest part of the movie. While the third act isn’t necessarily bad it doesn’t quite capture you or bring you into it’s universe like the first two acts did. But overall Three Thousand Years Of Longing is a solid movie from George Miller. It definitely could have been a lot more but for what it is it’s not bad.

Three Thousand Years Of Longing is playing in theaters.

7/10 B

Quick Reviews: The Lost Girls and First Love (2022)

Four generations of Darling women deal with the aftermath of their adventures with Peter Pan in Neverland. Like her grandmother and her mother Jane before her, Wendy must escape Pan’s hold on her and the promise he desperately wants her to keep. As her daughter, Berry, comes into Peter’s orbit, Wendy must fight to save her relationship with her daughter while reconciling her legacy.

For a movie that’s supposedly inspired by Peter Pan you would think this would get far more advertising but instead it very quietly gets put on to VOD platforms and I can see why. I honestly couldn’t tell you what exactly happens during the movie because it’s a huge mess filled with bad writing, a horribly constructed story and very poor acting outside of Iain Glen and Louis Partridge (which I’m questioning how on earth they got him to be in this). The main issue that hurts The Lost Girls basically sums up to “seen that and it’s been done way better before” you are better off watching any other Peter Pan related movie or just watch an actual adaption.

The Lost Girls is available on all VOD Platforms.

1/10 F

The story is described as a poignant look at a young man’s difficult entry into adulthood.

If you went by the poster you would probably expect another teen romance movie, that isn’t what this movie is luckily. Instead it’s more about bonding with family, Hero Finneas Tiffin is actually not that bad here (miles better than he was in After movies) Sydney Park is also pretty solid here as well. There’s a lot of touching moments that work mainly due to the cast having decent chemistry between one another, what sort of stops this movie from being even better is there are moments where the pacing feels way too long and also rushed at the same time. The movie starts to lose focus towards the end and just crashes before it can finish with it’s ideas. Overall not exactly bad just not enough meat on it’s bones to make it worth while.

First Love is available on all VOD Platforms.

5/10 C

Strawberry Mansion is a bizarre sci-fi experience!

In a future where the government records dreams and taxes them, a dream auditor gets caught up in an ageing eccentric’s dreams.

Strawberry Mansion is definitely something…and I mean that in the best possible way. Without giving anything away the film is a very trippy and bizarre film that keeps surprising you with a lot of stunning visuals and it’s own world. It takes the sci-fi genre and completely flips it upside down, the filming has this style to it that creates this atmosphere that adds so much to the film. The style it goes for is dreamlike with surreal visuals which builds the film’s world quite well and makes the film standout, the writing is really well done with some interesting dialogue between the characters and builds up moments that will make you question “what am I watching?” The final act unfortunately does lose a bit of steam and definitely feels weaker than the rest of the film, however the rest of the film is absolutely well done and takes you for a one of a kind experience!

Strawberry Mansion is available on all VOD Platforms.

8/10 B+

Big Gold Brick is a messy movie that has no idea what it wants to be.

An enigmatic, middle-aged father of two enlists the help of fledgling writer Samuel Liston to pen his biography. The circumstances leading up to the arrangement are astonishing, and efforts to write the biography are quickly stymied by ensuing chaos.

The major problem with Big Gold Brick is that it’s so uninteresting, this is the very definition of a movie saying or showing so much but saying and showing so little. There was some interesting stylistic choices at times and there’s a few moments that did get a laugh out of me due to how bad they were, but that was not worth enduring 2 hours and 12 minutes of complete and total nonsense, what baffles me is how Megan Fox, Oscar Isaac (although he’s really not in it that long it’s a cameo.) and Lucy Hale are in this. Megan Fox definitely tries her best with what she’s given but the problem is her character is very flat and has no personality, but the same can be said for the rest of the characters. I completely understand the type of comedy Big Gold Brick was trying to go for but it completely misses it’s mark. Lastly there’s the running time which has absolutely no reason to be 2 hours and 12 minutes long, there is so much here that could have been cut and the movie would not have changed at all. Overall Big Gold Brick is a terrible movie that feels like you just wasted your time.

Big Gold Brick is available on all VOD Platforms.

2/10 F