Alice Darling is a powerful film about abusive relationships.

Pushed to the breaking point by Simon, her psychologically abusive boyfriend, Alice rediscovers the essence of herself and gains some much-needed perspective while on vacation with two close girlfriends. However, Simon’s vengeance is as inevitable as it is shattering, and once unleashed, it tests her strength, her courage, and the bonds of deep-rooted friendships.

I’ve said before in my reviews that some of the hardest topics to talk about in film are sexual assault and abusive relationships, Alice Darling not only nails the topic down very well but it keeps things at a very grounded level. 

Let’s address the obvious and if you have heard people talk about this film you probably already know this by now, but Anna Kendrick gives such a fantastic performance. She gives a heartbreaking and very raw performance that really sticks with the viewer and she does such a fantastic job of portraying the behaviors of what people go through in abusive relationships. Such as wanting to deny they are abused, show how scared they are, say things are fine when in reality they really aren’t. All of that is portrayed here in a very grounded and raw feel that really captures the atmosphere and feel of the film, Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku play the friends of Alice (Anna Kendrick) they both give tremendous performances and have very investing conversations with one another. 

The film really does such a great job of portraying friends who are very worried for one another when one of them ends up being abused. In this case Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) are very worried for Alice and ask if everything is okay and ask about Simon (Charlie Carrick), these scenes lead to a lot of very real conversations and really shows the power of friendship especially towards the end. 

The film doesn’t show any violence take place it more so describes what Alice is going through, she is constantly worried about not “screwing up” and even with the smallest mistakes she freaks out, which is painful to really see. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times and can really get to the viewer, but that’s how it succeeds it shows the reality of how horrible these abusive relationships really are. 

Alice Darling is available on all VOD platforms. 

9/10 A


Bruiser is a coming of age film with powerful themes of family.

14-year-old Darious explores the boundaries of his manhood with Malcolm, his strict but loving father, and Porter, a charismatic drifter. When Darious learns Porter’s true identity, he is thrust into a conflict between the two men.

Bruiser is one of those coming of age stories that has a lot more to it when you really look at it. The film starts out as one, but evolves into a film that tackles a lot of themes that really compliment the film well. 

The performances are all really strong here particularly Jalyn Hill, Trevante Rhodes and Shamier Anderson all three really compliment each other well and have some of the strongest moments I’ve seen so far this year. Jalyn Hill previously portrayed Emmett Till in last years Till the absolute mind blowing range between portraying Emmett Till and this role is quite fascinating and really shows Hill’s talent quite well. Two completely different roles that have very different meanings and he hits them both out of the park flawlessly. 

Bruiser is also a directional debut from Miles Warren and it’s one hell of a directional debut for sure, Warren captures a lot of the usual coming of age movie elements but makes them his own and puts in a lot of family elements and wanting the family to connect to one another. He also shows the effects of fighting, how it can damage families, bonds or relationships. The film does this in a way that while has been done before is still very investing and really grabs the viewer’s attention. 

The only major flaw is the ending mostly, it doesn’t compliment the rest of the movie very well and it doesn’t quite give the striking powerhouse blow that the rest of the movie had shown previously and does come off as a little rushed. 

However that doesn’t take away that Bruiser is such a strong film, it’s a very investing film that really holds your attention with a lot of strongly portrayed themes. Definitely be sure to check this one out. 

Bruiser is available on Hulu. 

8/10 B+

One Fine Morning is investing and raw

A young single mother raising an 8-year-old daughter struggles to take care of her father, who’s been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. While trying to secure a decent nursing home, she runs into a married friend and they begin an affair.

Something that I’ve always appreciated about Mia Hansen-Løve’s films is she always captures the sorrows, beauty and much more in very grounded situations. The situations themselves tell the story through the character’s actions and the writing always does such a beautiful job describing of what’s been showing, that is the exact case for One Fine Morning. 

Léa Seydoux once again really hits it out of the park with another strong performance, she plays such a grounded role that has so many moments that really show her at her best as an actress. Mia Hansen-Løve goes all out in making the film work as much as possible, her very naturalistic approach of filmmaking truly works here especially when combined with the camera work that’s just so pleasing to look at. The acting from everyone else is truly fantastic especially Melvil Poupaud who takes on a role that is quite frankly very hard to pull off, playing a character that can be easily written off as “unlikable” but still manage to make the viewer believe him when he says he cares for Léa Seydoux’s character is quite the accomplishment. 

As far as writing and direction goes like I said before there’s this very naturalistic approach to it, Mia Hansen-Løve makes sure to take this approach and stay with it throughout the film. It gives the film a very grounded look and feel that immediately connects the viewer especially with the interactions between the characters. It’s a beautifully written film that should most definitely be seen! 

One Fine Morning is available in theaters. 

8/10 B+

We Have a Ghost is a flawed but fun gateway horror movie.

The discovery that their house is haunted by a ghost named Ernest makes Kevin’s family a social media sensation. But when Kevin and Ernest get to the bottom of the mystery of Ernest’s past, they become targets of the CIA.

Christopher Landon really has shown he’s quite a great director in recent years. He went from Paranormal Activity The Marked Ones and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse to Freaky and the Happy Death Day movies. So how does his newest film We Have a Ghost stack up? 

Let’s start as usual with the performances, I got to say David Harbour is quite great here. He doesn’t speak out the movie and instead uses his facial expressions to tell his character’s story which I have to give credit where credit is due is not an easy task. He really does a great job of building his character and really making him charming to the viewer, his bond with Jahi Di’Allo Winston is also really beautiful as well. Sure it might be another one of those “child or teenager befriends a creature or something supernatural” type of story but the two really make it entertaining and charming. 

Jahi Di’Allo Winston and Anthony Mackie are also pretty great, as I said before Winston has a beautiful bond with Harbour. Mackie just has some really strong screen presence here, the humor can definitely be a bit hit or miss but for the most part I do think they get the jokes down pretty well. The movie is definitely a gateway horror movie which as I said before in my reviews while I’m not a huge fan of the sub-genre I’m glad it exists. We Have a Ghost is actually one of the better ones, mainly due to the combination of dramatic moments, comedic and a few horror ones as well. 

The glaring problem however is it’s 2 hours and has absolutely no business being this long, this is what ultimately really holds this movie back from being anything more than just a harmless movie. You really start to feel it’s length by the time the third act rolls around and the third act is what you expect it to be. Luckily Christopher Landon’s style is present here and one thing Landon is quite good at is he knows how to entertain an audience, and there is tons of moments here that do just that. 

Overall while We Have a Ghost isn’t one of Landon’s strongest movies it’s at the very least quite fun, this is something I will probably never come back to but I am glad to have watched it. 

We Have a Ghost is available on Netflix. 

6/10 C+

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania an extended TV episode.

Ant-Man and the Wasp find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the introduction to Phase Five. Phase Four was the very definition of a mixed bag leading towards the bad side (Wakanda Forever, Loki and a few others are exceptions.) so this was definitely the chance to start the new phase off strong…that did not happen unfortunately. 

To be absolutely fair I do think Quantumania is a bit better than some of what phase four had to offer and it is definitely better than the last Ant-Man movie (Ant-Man and The Wasp), but that honestly does not mean much when it suffers a very common problem that a lot of the MCU has been facing lately. Before we get into that there are the positives. 

Like everyone has said and will continue to say Jonathan Majors easily steals the show as Kang, he plays such a strong villain and puts his powerhouse acting ability into the role which leads to some quite fantastic moments, similarly Michelle Pfeiffer does a fantastic job here as well, she plays Janet Van Dyne who is actually decently written here, granted there are some scenes where had the writing been so much stronger the character could have improved. But from what was shown it wasn’t too bad, Pfeiffer and Majors are truly at their best when they share the screen together and are able to combine their talent. 

Lastly there’s the father and daughter relationship that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) that while does come off a bit basic at times, it’s mainly due to Paul Rudd and Kathryn Newton being so likable as performers that really makes it work, because Cassie Lang as a character was just not exactly well written at all here. But as I said Newton takes what she’s given and makes the most of it. 

Unfortunately everything else is a complete and total mess that just about sums up the main issues currently going on with the MCU, first off the movie is just the usual MCU formula again. Rather than tell a story the movie focuses on introducing the main villain of the new phase Kang, which while is nice it sacrifices writing, storytelling, character development and much more. Most of the other characters are given almost nothing to do especially Hope and Hank who are largely given a backseat this time around. 

MODOK is unfortunately not used well at all, he only really serves as a sort of example I’ve used in the past with a lot of MCU films and that’s “the Dragon Ball Z movie henchmen effect) which basically means he’s given a few scenes and then gets written out of the movie. Darren Cross (played by Corey Stoll) makes a return from the first Ant-Man, what’s shocking is somehow this movie manages to make Cross even less interesting to the point where him as Yellowjacket was more investing than him as MODOK. But what really hurts MODOK is the stuff the movie decides to do with him towards the end, it’s the usual MCU humor that flat out makes very little sense given Darren Cross’s personality and the story. 

Lastly Quantumania just doesn’t risk any stakes, which I imagine is going to be a huge problem with this phase given that it’s about the Multiverse. Which if you aren’t going to risk any stakes or do something out of the ordinary at least try and build interesting characters and story elements, which is what this movie really lacked. The Star Wars similarities are painfully obvious and really don’t serve any point other than for someone to point and say “hey isn’t this like Star Wars?” 

Overall Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is basically an extended TV episode, it’s main purpose is to introduce the main villain which as I said Majors is one of the best parts. But doing just that sacrifices just about everything else. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is available in theaters. 

4/10 D+

Sharper losses it’s sharpness at the third act.

Motivations are suspect, and expectations are turned upside down, as a con artist takes on Manhattan billionaires.

Sharper is a prime example of when someone says “the ending completely breaks the movie.” There’s definitely a lot here that really contributes as to why that’s the case and how it leaves the viewer feeling very cheated. 

Before that let’s talk about the positives which are easily the performances, Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Briana Middleton and Justice Smith all give really strong performances that contribute to the film, combine that with some genuinely great character moments that do give these characters actually something to say and do and you have yourself what could have been a tense little thriller. The writing in the first two acts was tight and focused with a lot of dialogue that really builds the atmosphere and the interactions of the characters as well, while not every single moment was perfect in the first two acts as it was ultimately something that has been seen before and done better in other places. The great moments stood out and outweighed the bad ones by a huge margin. 

When the twist in the third act rolls around however is when things completely flip around, throughout the movie the writers wanted to establish and show how smart and actually rational the characters are. The twist completely contradicts that and really jumps the shark when it comes to believability, when you sit and think about it for less then 20 seconds you quickly realize how nonsensical it really is. This might be a bit of overconfidence on the writers part but what might have looked like a huge shocking twist that nobody will see coming on paper ends up being a terrible twist that completely contradicts character moments and the plot in general. 

Sharper is available on Apple TV+

5/10 C

The Amazing Maurice is not so amazing.

Maurice is a streetwise ginger cat who comes up with a money-making scam by befriending a group of self-taught talking rats. When Maurice and the rodents meet a bookworm called Malicia, their little con soon goes down the drain.

Would you believe if I told you that The Amazing Maurice was at the Sundance Film Festival? I didn’t see it at the festival mainly due to two things, one the movie looked horrible and two it was coming out very soon anyway. And I don’t think I needed bragging rights for The Amazing Maurice of all movies. 

Anyway the movie itself is quite honestly about what you would expect, while it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it was going to be. As it does have some genuinely interesting ideas floating around, the rest of the movie is just more on the bland side. Perhaps the most baffling thing about it is Hugh Laurie voicing Maurice, there’s some unintentional funny moments that really make Laurie quite fitting for the role plus he honestly does not do a half bad job. He works with what he has with the script and actually makes the most of it, in fact the same applies quite well to the rest of the cast. Particularly David Thewlis as The Rat King. 

The animation while not anything good could have been a lot worse, does it look like one of those mobile game ads you frequently see? Yes but here it’s not as bad or very obvious, as they do try to change it up at times and some darker tones or get creative with the animation. 

Honestly what really hurts the movie mostly is the narration, the fourth-wall breaks and the writing, the movie attempts to be a bit darker which I guess makes sense since the movie is based off of a book that was a twist on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Pied Piper.” Which may seem a bit off putting to some since the movie sort of marketed itself as this cute cat movie, which I’m all for the movie being a bit darker. In fact that was the movie’s strongest elements by far, it’s just when they mixed with fourth-wall breaking jokes and some very forgettable writing it became sort of an identity crisis. 

The fourth-wall jokes really don’t land and as said before really don’t match the tone that some of the movie is going for, the characters are just sort of there. None of them are particularly memorable outside of Maurice himself and The Rat King everyone else doesn’t get a whole lot to do. 

Overall The Amazing Maurice is definitely not as bad as expected, there is definitely some level of wanting to make the movie itself work. But is dragged down from bland writing and unfunny fourth-wall breaking. 

The Amazing Maurice is available in theaters. 

4/10 D+

The Strays is a forgettable Get Out clone.

A Black woman’s meticulously crafted life of privilege starts to unravel when two strangers show up in her quaint suburban town.

I typically don’t like calling movies “another Get Out clone” because I feel like that it’s such a common trope when it comes to critiquing film, plus half the time said movie is almost nothing like Get Out at all. With that being said however there are times when a movie pushes things way too far and is quite obviously trying to be a clone and that is very much the case here with The Strays. 

The Strays is basically if you took every single element that made Jordan Peele’s Get Out work so well and managed to make them dull in every single way possible. Outside of the performances especially from Ashley Madekwe who really gives it her all with such a lacking script, plus a few scenes that are decently effective due to the atmosphere. You are really left with a movie that just does not have a whole lot going for it. 

It uses the topic of race which had the potential but unlike Get Out the movie doesn’t have anything really insightful to say about it, the movie more less repeats what was already said but does it in such a puzzling way that I’m not even sure the writers knew what they were doing. 

Overall The Strays is a movie that presents itself as being super deep when in reality it’s just a clone of a better movie as well as being Netflix release date filler. 

The Strays is available on Netflix.  

3/10 D-

Die Hart the Movie is a mess.

Follows a fictionalized version of Kevin Hart, as he tries to become an action movie star. He attends a school run by Ron Wilcox, where he attempts to learn the ropes on how to become one of the industry’s most coveted action stars.

Die Hart the Movie I somehow didn’t hear about up until Friday when it got released and that’s mainly due to a friend of mine who said that the movie was also released (I did the usual out today posts on Twitter I do that every Friday). The premise of the movie did have me a bit intrigued, I do like the whole idea of actors and actresses playing themselves…but this was rough. 

The positives mainly come from John Travolta and Josh Hartnett who are both very fun and really try their best with such an unfunny script. Everything else is very hard to sit through, Kevin Hart is once again just not funny at all. Every single joke that Hart has made in the past is shown here and if it didn’t work back in the other movies it most certainly doesn’t work here.

Perhaps the most noticeable issue is how strange the editing is or how much of a mess of the story is, well when you find out that this movie is just an re-edited version of Die Hart the TV series from Quibi things start to make a lot more sense when it comes to why the movie is such a gigantic mess. I can’t comment on the series since I haven’t seen it (I hadn’t even heard of it until doing research a few days ago) but trying to cram in everything from a series into a movie that has horrendous pacing was never going to work. 

Die Hart the Movie is available on Amazon Prime Video. 

2/10 F

True Spirit is a solid inspirational story.

An Australian teenager plans to become the youngest sailor to have travelled the world alone. In doing so, the intrepid 16-year-old not only seeks to fulfil her dream, she also faces her greatest fears at the same time.

True Spirit is based on the true story of Jessica Watson a 16 year old who was determined to sail around the world all by herself, she accomplished this in 8 months and is the youngest person to do so. 

True Spirit might be your standard inspirational movie, but at the very least it has the quality to back it up. While the writing and the filmmaking can have a very Disney Channel Original Movie type feel to it, it’s the performances mostly from Teagan Croft and the family themes that push this one to the finish line. There’s some genuinely heartwarming moments and inspirational ones that really get the viewer invested in what’s being shown, there’s some genuinely nice shots of the ocean and the atmosphere of being alone at sea is definitely present. 

As I said the writing can be on the weak side, particularly during the beginning when the movie is getting the ball rolling, however the movie at least backs it up with the charming performances and telling Jessica Watson’s story quite well. 

True Spirit is available on Netflix. 

6/10 C+