Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

THE GOLDFINCH (2019): The Things I Liked…

The Goldfinch (2019), Ansel Elgort, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Goldfinch (2019), Ansel Elgort, Warner Bros. Pictures

The Goldfinch is a movie for which I had high hopes post trailer viewing. The primary reason is the reliable cast and intriguing themes. 

Starring Ansel Elgort, Luke Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard and Sarah Paulson; director John Crowley’s film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt. A story that follows Theodore Decker, a young boy who loses his mother in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An event that leads to him being taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side, New York family. And from there we get to see the highs and lows of young Theodore’s life as he grows up.

Not particularly’ is unfortunately the answer to the question of whether I enjoyed watching The Goldfinch. The only sort of good news is that I didn’t hate the performances. Yet, I can’t deny that the movie left me disappointed. 

The Goldfinch (2019), Sarah Paulson, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Goldfinch (2019), Sarah Paulson, Warner Bros. Pictures

Part of the problem is the two-and-a-half hour-long runtime which felt excessive. Second, young Oakes Fegley is a talented performer. However, it proved distracting to me, how little he resembled Ansel Elgort, especially since he’s supposed to play the younger version of Elgort’s character. 

The Goldfinch isn’t focused on grief the way I expected. Yet, I’m not mad at that. My issue is more that whatever the film had to say, it could have been better-executed story edit/structure-wise. The lack of satisfaction and the emptiness I felt during much of, and by the end of the movie took me back to that feeling of leaving a dinner party you’d been looking forward to with a largely empty stomach. 

Okay, there were one or two highlights, Young Decker’s relationship with Jeffrey Wright’s character and the tiny little crush I may have had on Aneurin Barnard’s character. Overall, I’m sure it’s unsurprising that I’m having trouble thinking of reasons to suggest you give The Goldfinch a chance. However, Tartt’s book is a Pulitzer Prize winner. So maybe read it if you haven’t already. 

Happy Film Loving 

G

LOCKED IN (2021): The Things I Liked…

Locked In (2021), Mena Suvari
Locked In (2021), Mena Suvari

It’s my curiosity about how thrilling movies set mainly in one location can be, that had me watching crime/thriller Locked In. The other motivation is Mena Suvari (an actress I’ll always appreciate because of American Beauty (1999), one of my favourites.

From writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez, Locked In has some suspenseful scenes. It’s the suspense-filled moments that had me watching through to the very end. Even though by the halfway point, I’d already given up on the movie being the kind I insist others watch. 

The performances aren’t the problem. Locked In is simply not as clever as it needed to be for the viewing experience to feel worthwhile. There are parts of the film where I had to look away as if to signal to the room (since I was watching the movie alone) that what was happening on screen wasn’t up to standard. 

The suspenseful moments and the satisfying last scene are the parts that made me happy. If you’re especially curious about Locked In, then do what you must. Otherwise, how about Locke (2013)Carnage (2011) or Phone Booth (2002)All three are good movies set either completely or predominantly in one location.

Happy Film Loving

G

TOM CLANCY’S WITHOUT REMORSE (2021): The Things I Liked…

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021), Michael B. Jordan
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (2021), Michael B. Jordan

I had a feeling that Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse wouldn’t be completely terrible; simply because of some of the key talent involved.

The likes of Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Guy Pierce can often be relied upon to deliver watchable performances. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that director Stefano Sollima’s movie could do with some improvements..

I tuned in because the idea of Jordan as a Navy Seal on a vengeance mission was very appealing. And things became especially exciting and suspenseful after the thirty-minute mark, when Jordan’s John Clark was officially in badass mode.

These were the moments that Without Remorse proved most exciting for me; during the action/suspenseful sequences. I particularly enjoyed a scene inside a prison cell that’s very reminiscent of a key moment in Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn’s Starred Up (2014), a prison movie I highly recommend. 

For seasoned film fanatics such as myself, though well executed in parts, I found a fair amount of what took place in Sollima’s Without Remorse relatively cliche’d. As impressive and fun to watch as the action scenes are, I wish that the whole movie felt more polished throughout. And certainly less like a Netflix/Amazon movie that didn’t quite meet its potential.

It is for these reasons, plus the moment or two of dialogue that didn’t sit so comfortably in my ears, and Jodie Turner Smith’s character seeming almost too young to be Clark’s superior that I have to say… only if you’re supercurious, then give Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse a chance.

Happy Film Loving 

G

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Marvel Entertainment
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Marvel Entertainment

I liked The Falcon and the Winter Soldier immediately, thanks to a tense, action-filled first few minutes. This is precisely what I’d been hoping for from a series about two of the Avengers. Even more so considering my disappointment with the first two episodes of WandaVision (2021). 

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s six-part series is an action/adventure that sees Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) adjusting to the world following the events of Avengers Endgame (2019). And it’s not long before they have to deal with a new, earthly enemy.

My partiality to a beautiful bromance makes it no wonder that the scenes of Mackie and Stan on screen together are my favourite. The moments when they appeared separately or not at all were often engaging too. Nevertheless, ‘fully engaging throughout’ is not how I can best describe The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There are periods when it feels flat, less urgent, less exciting, and lacking my favourite element of all; the fun action and an adequately speedy pace. 

The other issue I have with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is its main villain, Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman); a character whose story/villainy I just didn’t fully buy.

Overall, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is good but I can’t say that I love it in its entirety. However, I will remember it fondly for the bromance/action. Especially in episode one, towards the end of the fourth episode and much of episode five. Make time if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving 

G

MORTAL KOMBAT (2021): The Things I Liked…

Mortal Kombat (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures
Mortal Kombat (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

I haven’t watched many video game movies. That’s largely because upon release of the films of the past, even though the trailer may have had me super excited, soon after release, I hear nothing but bad things. 

Mortal Kombat, a hugely successful video game I’ve played in the past, and the story of the search for Earth’s greatest champions to fight in a high stakes battle for the universe is a fun movie. One with great special effects and an engaging story. 

Mortal Kombat isn’t perfect, but it is the best movie based on a video game that I’ve ever seen. Starring Jessica McNamee, Joe Taslim, Josh Lawson, and Hiroyuki Sanada, and more; I had so much fun that I thought about how proud I hope everyone who made it is. Because more than twice, the words ‘This is so fun/cool’ escaped my lips as I beamed. The fight choreography and special effects are my favourite thing. Then comes the characters and all else.

If you’re familiar with the game, then you know that this is a violent film. However, it still didn’t feel as gruesome as some Tarantino movies I’ve seen. 

There’s one moment in director Simon McQuoid’s film where a key moment involving Cole Young could have been executed slightly differently because it deserved more to be made of it. Yet, a few seconds later, that minor disappointment was behind me and I was back to hoping that everyone involved is super proud of what they’d achieved. It’s likely that the action was just relentless, engaging and fun enough to think about, let alone care about the areas the movie could improve. But what can I say? I wanted fun action and great special effects, which I got.

Even if you’ve never played the game, watch Mortal Kombat. And if you’ve seen other fighter/action/adventure video game movies, by the end of this one, you may just have a new favourite.

Happy Film Loving

G

NOBODY (2021): The Things I Liked…

Nobody (2021), Bob Odenkirk, Universal Pictures
Nobody (2021), Bob Odenkirk, Universal Pictures

From the writer of John Wick (2014), Derek Kolstad; action/crime/thriller Nobody is a movie that has some notable scenes. Yet, overall… unpopular opinion warning… I didn’t find it as good/fun as John Wick. Instead, Nobody felt more like a John Wick ‘spinoff.’ Only it’s less cool, less stylish, less fun, and unfortunately a lesser story.

Even with the moments I felt stood out most, specifically the opening song, the brief but cool scene involving Bob Odenkirk’s character’s seated father, and the dialogue plus set-up during the all-important meeting at the Russian club, Nobody still had me feeling far from satisfied.

Director Ilya Naishuller’s vengeance story about a man who is forced to return to his past dangerous activities isn’t exactly new. Furthermore, the way the story is written/delivered didn’t leave me feeling emotionally connected enough to all that was happening. I’d hoped that once the fight sequences began, at least they would be so cool and fun – the way much of John Wick is. I was wrong.

Watch Nobody if you’re curious. It looks like a lot of people enjoyed it. Just don’t be surprised if you like John Wick more. I consider Keanu Reeves’s movie to be more impressive in every way that matters… to me. 

Happy Film Loving 

G

MY COUSIN VINNY (1992): The Things I Liked…

My Cousin Vinny (1992), Joe Pesci
My Cousin Vinny (1992), Joe Pesci

My Cousin Vinny is one of those movies I’ve heard people reference several times over the years. And finally, a few nights ago, the mood hit just right for a classic 90s movie session. Especially after I heard a popular podcaster mention how great Oscar-winning actor Marisa Tomei is in the movie.

My Cousin Vinny, a comedy/crime movie directed by Jonathan Lynn is the story of two New Yorkers, Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield). Two young men who contact Vinny (Joe Pesci), a loudmouth lawyer with zero trial experience, after they find themselves accused of murder in rural Alabama.  

I’ve been a fan of good courtroom scenes for a long time. And luckily for me, My Cousin Vinny captures those moments well. To the point where the courtroom scenes are my favourite thing about the movie. There are also some amusing scenes to enjoy and good performances by all, including Tomei who is as good and gorgeous as the podcaster insisted.

What I like least about Lynn’s film happens near the start. Particularly when one of my least favourite comedy tropes is used. The one where two people don’t realise that they’re talking about two completely different things. I haven’t found the use of said trope funny since the first time I saw it in a film, TV or stage production. It’s the reason I had to quit watching the cult comedy series Arrested Development. They shamelessly overused it, completely to death! I mean, full disclosure, I did binge-watch a bunch of episodes in one sitting. But surely, the writing formula shouldn’t be that obvious.

I say watch My Cousin Vinny if you’re especially curious. It’s certainly not a bad movie. And it has some highlights. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t love it. Or maybe you will.

Happy Film Loving

G

THUNDER FORCE (2021): It’s…

Thunder Force (2021), Melissa McCarthy, Netflix
Thunder Force (2021), Melissa McCarthy, Netflix

Bridesmaids (2011), This Is 40 (2012) and Spy (2015) are my three favourite Melissa McCarthy movies. The Heat (2013), Tammy (2014) and The Boss (2016) are the ones I found most disappointing. 

The not so great news is that McCarthy’s latest Ben Falcone written/directed comedy/action/adventure Thunder Force falls firmly at the bottom of the latter category.  

I honestly tried my very best to give Thunder Force, the story of estranged childhood best friends reuniting and ending up with superpowers a fair chance. It’s just unfortunate that the writing and pacing left me desperately wanting. 

What makes it worse is that I wasn’t even tired when I hit play to watch a hopefully fun comedy in the afternoon. Yet, twenty minutes in, I awoke from a rather pleasant impromptu nap. A situation I feared might occur, especially after an unnecessarily long and unfunny bit of dialogue about salmon and a rock near the start of the movie. Nevertheless, I held on in desperate hope that things might turn around at any moment.

Things did not get better, not even a little bit. As such, after giving the movie one very last try, only to find myself waking up from my second nap in half an hour, I had to put an end to the madness.

Looking back, the most memorable parts of Thunder Force include the one brief moment involving rabbit-like teeth. And the other is the presence of Pom Klementieff as Laser. 

Thunder Force is a film you watch, only if you absolutely must because you’re much better off revisiting the first three movies I mentioned at the start of this post.

Happy Film Loving

G