Tag Archives: Film Reviews

THE GRAY MAN (2022): The Things I liked…

Thrills and action were promised. And thrilling action is precisely what Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling’s latest, The Gray Man delivered.

A key highlight of the Anthony and Joe Russo-directed action/thriller is all the action sequences that made it impossible for me to look away for at least two-thirds of the movie. Even more so during the scenes set in Prague.

Evans as the bad guy in a story about the CIA’s most skilled operative’s uncovering of dark agency secrets is a fun surprise. I rather enjoyed his well-dressed turn as a psychopath. Gosling has always been fun to watch in action roles, and The Gray Man is no different.

And to think that my Friday wasn’t quite going to plan today. It turns out that all it took was to watch the first ten minutes of The Gray Man to have me cheering and ‘woohooing’ at the thrilling action, smile-inducing dialogue, rich visuals and heart-thumping musical score.

Undeniably, perfect is not the word to describe The Gray Man. However, it is a perfectly entertaining escape that isn’t so easy to turn away from, especially during the highly engaging action scenes. 

If you’re a fan of the cast and directors, I implore you to alter your mood and take in all the highlights mentioned above, including the fun camera work.

Happy Film Loving

G

A SEXPLANATION (2021): The Things I Liked…

A Sexplanation, a comedy/documentary intent on righting all the wrongs of 36-year-old director Alex Liu’s all-American and certainly inadequate sex education is the kind of watchable 76 minutes I’d expected.

Since, unsurprisingly, my adolescent sex education also lacked some important details, especially by today’s standards, the film’s promise to uncover the much-needed hard facts and naked truths with some comedic flair had me simultaneously informed and entertained.

I enjoyed watching Liu’s journey as he sought guidance from the experts, asked his parents a bunch of highly awkward questions and shared his sex education experiences with some of his closest friends. 

More than the largely welcome puns and other amusing moments, it was great to see how finally getting the key information that a now 36-year-old Liu really needed much sooner, gave him a sense of peace. 

Besides the humour and the more detailed sex education lesson, there are two more memorable highlights in A Sexplanation. The first is the charming dynamic between Liu’s parents. And second is what happens as soon as the sex education experts and researchers are called upon to actually define sex.

I say watch A Sexplanation if you’re curious. Do it for a thoughtful and often amusing sex education lesson; thanks to one man’s review of the sex education experience of his youth. Particularly how life-changing it would have been to have received a more comprehensive approach much sooner.

Happy Film Loving

G

BLACK WIDOW (2021): The Things I Liked…

Focused on the story of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, we get to learn plenty about the avenger’s complicated past in an engaging tale that features unhealthy family dynamics, secrets, lies and some impressive action/fight sequences.

The main stars, Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are great. And unsurprisingly, as is the case with most, if not all Marvel movies, the musical score is impressive.

In addition to the action and music, my favourite thing about Black Widow is the sisterly dynamic between Pugh and Johansson’s characters. So much so that I’m ready for more Johansson/Pugh movies.

In terms of where Black Widow sits in my list of favourite Marvel movies, the understandably seemingly abrupt ending aside, I can say that I liked this movie more than I do Captain Marvel (2019). Which of the two films ranks higher for you? 

Your thoughts are very welcome in the comments below.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021): The Things I Liked…

As far as movie disappointments go, Suicide Squad (2016) is up there for me. And since I’m one of those ‘once bitten, twice shy’ people, I took my sweet time to watch The suicide Squad (2021); DC’s James Gunn directed attempt to redeem themselves. 

My main hope with Gunn’s movie was for the story to be great. And for the finished film to be worthy of Margot Robbie’s super captivating take on Harley Quinn. If you’ve seen the Suicide Squad Comic-Con trailers, then you understand.

I can say without hesitation that The Suicide Squad is unequivocally better than Suicide Squad (2016). But, did I love it? Well, my favourite characters are played by Robbie and Idris Elba; no surprises there. Robbie’s Harley Quinn isn’t even featured particularly heavily. But, thankfully, when she was on screen, missing her a little in other scenes proved just about worth it.

Story-wise, I had more fun with this second movie, thanks in part to one or two surprise twists and turns. There’s also the moments of excellent camerawork, stunt work, special effects and a particularly well-executed last quarter.

The Suicide Squad (2021), Idris Elba, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Suicide Squad (2021), Idris Elba, Warner Bros. Pictures

The parts that made my experience less than desired include the rather annoying characters who worked closely with Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller. There’s also a specific emotional scene between Elba and Cleo Cazo’s Ratcatcher that felt forced and not entirely earned. Lastly, I don’t love rats, AT ALL. But that weasel!

Perhaps I should just be grateful that this movie did a better job of weaving a story around many hardly known characters than the 2016 film. By ‘hardly known’, I mainly mean hardly known by non-readers of comic books, such as myself, of course. I’m certainly glad that Gunn’s movie is an improvement on the Suicide Squad story. Even if the film still has a somewhat empty/surface-level quality to it.

Besides The Suicide Squad being quite fun, particularly towards the end, both films are fixed in my mind as reminders of just how difficult it must be to deliver a truly great story, one that features many comic book characters. 

Watch it if you’re curious. There’s definitely some fun to be had. 

Happy Film Loving 

HAPPILY (2021): The Thing I Liked…

Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies
Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies

Happily, a comedy/romance about a happily married couple whose life takes an unexpected turn is a self-aware, self-indulgent movie that has one or two moments that are mildly satisfying. Unfortunately, for me, none of these moments adds up to enough to make the experience worthwhile. 

What Happily has to say about relationships and marriage did not need a whole movie to say it. At least not in the way it said it. Furthermore, what Happily ends up saying is unlikely to be what you wish it had to say; well, at least not in the way it says it. 

Writer/director BenDavid Grabinski’s film relies heavily on music to create a tense atmosphere. And I kept watching past the halfway point hoping that the pay-off would make all the excessive atmospheric music, and seemingly unnecessary slow-motion shots somewhat worthwhile, but no.

As for what I enjoyed about the movie, I like Joel McHale and Natalie Morales.

Lastly, watch Happily ONLY if you absolutely must because there have to be far better marital/relationship drama movies out there. I’m also sure there are good TV shows about ’best couples’ whose friends are jealous that their own relationships aren’t as passionate. I can’t think of any titles right now but I know they exist, good ones!

Happy Film Loving

G

THE LITTLE THINGS (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Little Things (2021), Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Warner Bros. Pictures
The Little Things (2021), Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Warner Bros. Pictures

As many can imagine, a thriller starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto is the kind that’s highly unlikely to disappoint, especially on the performance front.

All three Academy award-winning actors were great in their roles. I particularly enjoyed the tension-filled dynamic between Washington and Malek’s characters. I also happened to like the way Malek walks in this movie, but that’s neither here nor there.

Performances and walks aside, The Little Things is very unlikely to be what you expect. Writer/director John Lee Hancock’s serial killer movie is engaging and suspenseful; especially at the start. Yet, even though I appreciated the story that Hancock chose to tell, the way the film’s unexpected difference is executed resulted in a storytelling experience that left me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.

To be clear, I’m not dissatisfied because I didn’t get the ending I wanted. I’m left wanting because the story structure did a less than satisfactory job of managing my expectations.

Besides the already mentioned high points of this movie, one of the biggest positives of The Little Things, for me, is the musical score; the sound of which you’ll recognise, particularly if you enjoyed and or replayed the impressive trailer as much as I did. 

The Little Things is a movie you watch if you’re curious about the performances. And to find out how it’s different from what you typically expect from a serial killer movie, should you be so curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

FORD V FERRARI (2019): The Things I Loved…

Ford v Ferrari (2019), Matt Damon, 20th Century Studios
Ford v Ferrari (2019), Matt Damon, 20th Century Studios

Director James Mangold’s action/drama about the battle between car manufacturers Ford and Ferrari to win Le Mans in 1966 is a movie I’m glad to have finally watched. Especially considering that post-viewing, I don’t have anything negative to say about it.

Starring two of my favourites, Christian Bale and Matt Damon, it’s ultimately the verbal gymnastics in Ford v Ferrari that I enjoyed most. The well-written dialogue between the key characters resulted in plenty of entertaining testosterone, ego and passion-fuelled wordplay.

Additionally, there’s the beautiful friendship between Damon’s Carroll Shelby and Bales’s Ken Miles. And lest not forget the high adrenaline, edge of your seat and excellently captured driving footage.

Mangold’s ensemble cast which includes Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe is fantastic. As are the several standout scenes. Including the all-important meeting with Enzo Ferrari.

If you haven’t already, watch Ford v Ferrari because you too may just find yourself with the words, ‘Well, that was super badass and sexy’ escaping your lips.

Happy Film Loving 

G

MISSING LINK (2019): The Things I Liked…

Missing Link (2019), Hugh Jackman
Missing Link (2019), Hugh Jackman

Missing Link, the story of Mr Link (a Big-Foot-like character) and his adventures with explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), plus adventurer Adelina Fortnight is an animated movie I found to be fun in parts and watchable.

The reason I’m not more enthused by writer/director Chris Butler’s film is that story-wise, it felt oddly superficial and more basic than I expected.

What I did enjoy are the interactions between Lionel and Link, plus the moments of heart, most of which happen in the more engaging last quarter. Emma Thompson’s character is another welcome highlight, and it proved quite satisfying to see Lionel’s growth/evolution as the story continued.

I watched Missing Link because the cast which also includes Zoe Saldana and Zack Galifianakis intrigued me. Yet, overall, I wish I could include Butler’s film on my list of favourite animated movies I’ve seen in recent years, but I cannot. Nevertheless, I say give Missing Link a chance if you’re particularly curious. It may just be what you need when you’re after an easy-viewing animated film experience.

Happy Film Loving 

G