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.
While My Father’s Dragon might not be up to par with some of Cartoon Saloon’s other films such as Breadwinner, Song Of The Sea or Wolfwalkers. There is still the imagination and charm here that was present in the other movies. Despite being based on the 1948 children’s book of the same name, there is still tons of imagination here mostly through the animation that really gives a lot of scenes a chance to pop out to the viewer. Jacob Tremblay and Gaten Matarazzo are both very solid here and give plenty of strong moments that really make the film stand, the friendship between Elmer (Tremblay) and Boris The Dragon (Matarazzo) is genuinely sweet even when they fully like each other at first. The main criticism mostly stems from the other characters and the third act, the other characters don’t really get a whole lot to do unfortunately. There was some interesting parts with the mother that I thought the movie was going to elaborate on but unfortunately never got around doing that. The rest of the characters are just kind of there for the purpose to move the story forward, the third act goes exactly how you would expect it to and really doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done many times before. But luckily the charm is still there and as I said before the imagination is still creative, there’s plenty of cute moments that kids will definitely love.
When you take a look at the war film genre you often don’t see too many anti-war films, it’s a type of film that I really appreciate it because it has an entirely different perspective plus it really shows the tragedies of war. Plus how nobody really wins at the end, two most recognizable ones are Come and See and All Quiet On The Western Front. All Quiet On The Western Front is based off of a 1929 book of the same name written by Erich Maria Remarque, the book was later adapted into a 1930 film of the same name which would go on to win best picture at the Oscars. Fast forward to 2022 and we have a new adaption that is just as powerful and meaningful as the 1930 film from all those years ago. For starters as soon as the film begins the film immediately grabs the viewer’s attention with its cinematography there’s so much attention to detail here which only adds to the gory and disturbing battle shots that show up in the film later on. The cinematography also has this perfect war like atmosphere that truly hits home the point of how terrible war really is, it hits all the beats necessary to get the viewer into a state of terror and tragedy. The performances are absolutely masterful with every sense of the word, especially from Felix Kammerer who plays Paul so well that it’s truly captivating, the very beginning really captures this well. With Paul and his friends being sent out to war, some of his friends not knowing truly how serious war really is and only hits them harder and harder when they see lives being taken. The film isn’t afraid to show how war mentally effects the people involved and how it can really kill you on the inside as well, it can completely lead people to many states such as completely shock and trauma which we the viewers get to see a lot with Paul and the others. We see the differences of how the soldiers have to survive and hopefully get to go home to their loved ones where as the generals don’t really have the same worries, I mean sure something could happen to them but they are normally very well guarded where as soldiers like Paul have to fight to survive. The film does a fantastic job of showing this by cutting back and forth between the chaos on the battlefield and dialogue scenes of the generals, a lot of this is really shown at full force during the final act of the film where Felix Kammerer’s performance get’s even more powerful. It completely blossoms into this brutally honest performance that still has not left my mind since I saw it a 2 weeks ago, it’s truly one of the best performances of the year and one that will leave you with goosebumps. The film itself is a brutally honest one, it doesn’t sugarcoat anything it’s a film that lays out the tragedies of war and tells the viewer that in the end nobody really wins during a war. Lastly there’s the atmosphere of the film which combined with the cinematography is truly striking, there’s so many scenes that capture the horror of war and add so much terror to it. Overall All Quiet On The Western Front completely nails the message of the book and the original film, it’s definitely hard to watch but it’s a very necessary watch that truly hits all the right notes.
All Quiet On The Western Front is available on Netflix.
Henry Selick (director of Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and James and The Giant Peach) is back in the directors chair and it’s such a beautiful sight to see. Wendell & Wild is such a creative film that has a lot more to it than you would expect. The movie has a lot of commentary on capitalism and the prison system and it establishes that quite quickly, a private prison company known as Klaxton Korp has taken over a town and the viewer can tell how damaged and lost the town is due to the clever use of color. Speaking of which the animation is truly beautiful, it’s great to see stop-motion animation still kicking as it’s a genre of animation that is truly creative in every single way possible. There’s so much atmosphere and color to the film that it really makes the film it’s own character, speaking of which the characters are truly well written. Wendell and Wild are truly fun characters with a huge amount of depth to them as well being humorous, Wendell is played by Keegan-Michael Key and Wild is played by Jordan Peele. The film is just another reminder of how well the two work together, their comedic timing is truly unstoppable and when the two want to display serious moments they will definitely display some very strong ones. The protagonist Kat played by Lyric Ross is truly fantastic, the depth to her character goes a very long way. Including some flashbacks and her strong desire of wanting to see her parents again, the cherry on top is the Raúl Cocolotl a character who is trans played by Sam Zelaya. Raul is such a very well written character that adds to the overall film especially the bond between Raul and Kat which develops over time. Wendell & Wild is truly a bold film that really hits it out of the park with it’s themes, characters, character development and atmosphere. This is a film that will definitely go on to be a classic during Halloween time for years to come.
I really don’t have a whole lot to say here..Enola Holmes 2 is a sequel to Enola Holmes which came out in 2020, a movie that I found to be pretty okay for what it is, Enola Holmes 2 is definitely an upgrade from it’s predecessor although not that much has changed. There’s still the incredibly charming performances from Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill that completely steal the show throughout the film, where as the first movie felt more of a background movie this one offers more depth to the characters. We actually get some character moments that do add certain character arcs, the fourth wall breaking does get to be a bit much after awhile as it does tend to repeat the same sort of jokes that other movies have. The running time combined with the pacing in some areas also tend to drag a bit, but there’s a lot of genuinely charming bits here that make up for it!
The Good Nurse is based off of a 2013 book of the same name by Charles Graeber which the book is about serial killer Charles Cullen. The true story of The Good Nurse is quite disturbing and I highly recommend reading about the case as it is very interesting. Right off the bat Jessica Chastain gives a really strong performance, she puts a lot of heart and emotion into the role that really captures her role. Eddie Redmayne is actually quite great here, it’s been awhile since he’s given a very solid performance but he really hits out of the park during the third act where he actually becomes very intimidating. It’s a great transformation of his performance that goes from being kind enough to downright chilling, while the writing during the first two acts isn’t anything to write home about. The third act on the other hand really pushes the movie into a thrilling atmosphere that invests the viewer quite well, the movie is just barely over 2 hours which does start to drag a bit during the second act. But luckily the movie quickly does get a lot better as it goes on, overall The Good Nurse is a solid enough crime drama with some very thrilling moments that I would recommend.
I’m not even sure where to begin with Blade Of The 47 Ronin, I’m sure the first question on everybody’s mind is “how on earth did 47 Ronin one of the biggest critical and finical failures of 2013 get a sequel?” To recap 47 Ronin released at the tip end of 2013 with little to no advertising and was attempting to be a fictionalized account of the forty seven ronin an actual group of real samurai under Daimyo Asano Naganori in 18th century Japan. A neat premise but very poor execution that had some okay action scenes and for whatever reason had Keanu Reeves involved, it was a largely forgotten about movie that nobody really thought of until last week when the sequel came out. Blade Of The 47 Ronin takes place 300 years after the first movie and has very little connection with the first movie, this one really ends up being more of a below average samurai movie that while like the first movie actually have some okay action scenes especially considering the budget of the movie. There really isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done before, the cast at least seems to connect with each other really well and for the script they are given they don’t do a horrible job, but the problem stems from being a beat by bear story. It’s another one of those “this certain person is the only who can defeat so and so now they have to find their true power.” It’s a lot of seen it and done it way better, if you took away 47 Ronin away from the title you would think this was just some terrible samurai movie. Much like the previous movie the characters are very poorly written who are given one or two personality traits and that’s it, lastly the movie is lacking in identity at least with the first movie you can actually point to what the movie is and what it was trying to do, with this one all you can really say is that it’s a bad samurai movie with a few decent moments. Blade Of The 47 Ronin much like it’s predecessor is going to be largely forgotten about, it makes complete and total sense on why this was quietly shoved on to Netflix.
Luckiest Girl Alive has the right material to be a really interesting movie on some very heavy subjects but the way the movie is crafted leaves it very disjointed. Mila Kunis does a really great job it’s definitely one of her best performances in awhile, the movie taking on subjects such as rape and school shootings comes as a surprise from this movie. On the surface it seems like it’s going to be another Netflix mystery movie that falls in line with what they usually release. But when these subjects do come up and are shown it comes as a shock, when the film does tackle these subjects it does a pretty good job of nailing down the point. However mixing these important subjects with a very subpar story is when the movie starts to fall apart, the cutting from the past and present is very messy plus it does not give the viewer nearly enough time to fully digest what exactly happened despite being almost two hours long. Lastly the movie juggles way too many ideas at once, between trauma, the mystery element, school shooting and rape it does well with certain ideas but leaves a lot more to be desired about others. Luckiest Girl Alive isn’t a bad movie it’s just a disappointing one that could have really been a home run.
I do want to start this review out by saying that this film is not for everyone, which should be a given considering a lot of what the film contains. It’s a very depressing and dark film that really doesn’t hold back some of which I will be getting into. Also I want to point this out now because it’s not being said enough, Blonde is NOT a biopic it’s based off a book of the same name that came out in 2000 written by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s also a fictionalized take on Marilyn Monroe’s life and career. Although sadly some of the stuff in the film aren’t far from the truth such as the abuse she went through, to start off Ana De Armas is absolutely incredible as Marilyn Monroe, she truly captures a lot of Monroe’s actions, her voice and her overall personality. Which ultimately makes the film that much more tragic down the road, the use of black and white, cinematography and the editing are all quite fantastic. They create this nightmare inducing film that really hits the viewer harder and harder as it goes on. Each of the three create hauntingly stunning scenes that capture a lot of dread, tragedy and depression, from the very first scene the film establishes the tone and that the film isn’t going to sugarcoat anything. We see Norma Jeane Mortensen as a child and how the film sets up it’s start into a huge nightmare. As the film progresses we see a lot of abuse, many people treating Monroe like she isn’t human and so much more. Ultimately what Blonde is showing is a tragedy of someone who wants to make it big, how fame is truly evil and how the industry uses it’s actors or actresses. It’s to the point where it becomes a horror film about fame and how it can damage someone who simply just wants fame and to star on the big screen. The ending is truly depressing and wraps the film up as terrifying as it can be, Monroe was someone who did not have an easy life at all and there is much to this day we do not know about her and quite frankly we may never will. It’s a truly dark film that is going to stick with me for a very long time.
Athena is one of those films where after you finish watching it you sit in silence just thinking of what you just saw mainly due to how powerful and striking the film is. Talk about a film that is aiming to be as raw as possible, after a kid is killed by the police everything completely slams down in France, particularly in Athena where chaos, protests and violence take place. The cast is truly fantastic for starters each performance is as raw as they can possibly be it genuinely feels like you are watching chaos happen in real time, the cinematography combined with the setting and atmosphere is truly top notch. The film immediately brings the intensity from the beginning of the film and keeps it for the rest of the film, combine that with such a striking beginning and you truly have a film that is one of the best portrayals of a huge rebellion. The direction from Romain Gravras is truly raw in every single way possible, there’s this huge factor to it that really blends in with the rest of the film. It’s truly hard hitting film that you must experience for yourself.