Tag Archives: Film Reviews

TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS – PENINSULA (2020): The Things I Liked…

Train to Busan Presents - Peninsula (2020), Lee Jung-hyun, Dong-won Gang,
Train to Busan Presents – Peninsula (2020), Lee Jung-hyun, Dong-won Gang

Train to Busan Presents – Peninsula, the sequel to my second favourite Korean film, Train to Busan (2016) has unfortunately not managed to escape the dreaded ‘sequel curse.’ The curse being that movie sequels are rarely, if ever, better than, let alone as good as the original.

Set four years after South Korea was devastated by a zombie attack, the story of Peninsula follows a former soldier who managed to escape overseas. The same soldier takes on a mission to go back. And to his surprise, there are survivors.

Had Peninsula been absolutely terrible, I’d have stopped watching and I probably wouldn’t commit any words to type about the experience. ‘Great’ is not a fitting word to describe Peninsula. Yet, there are a few moments in director Sang-ho Yeon’s movie that I’ll remember fondly. The first being the ‘daughter’s driving’ and the second involves a scene or two where the action is so intense that I had to pause to catch my breath.

As for specific elements that didn’t work well, part of what made Train to Busan great was the humorous moments. There’s sadly none of that in Peninsula. Furthermore, the zombie makeup looked as good as the first time. But the first movie had much better zombie action sequences.

Performance-wise, generally, everyone did well. Yet, they were let down by the film’s reliance on many very familiar tropes. The most frustrating moment of all frustrating moments in Peninsula concerns the use of an overly familiar trope to the most EXCESSIVE degree; to the point where it was r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. Ridiculous!

If you haven’t already watched the original movie, please do so because it’s great. Now, try your best to forget that this new one exists. That is, of course, unless disappointing sequels happen to be your thing.

Happy Film Loving

G

SYLVIE’S LOVE (2020): The Things I Liked…

Sylvie's Love (2020), Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha
Sylvie’s Love (2020), Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha

I found plenty to enjoy in writer/director Eugene Ashe’s romance/drama Sylvie’s Love. A delightful movie that’s dreamy, stylish and romantic in a way that’s both old fashioned and modern; thanks to the visual style, costumes, lead character and the 1957 setting.

Starring Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Aja Naomi King and Regé-Jean Page; Sylvie’s Love is just the kind of well-acted escape one needs from time to time. It’s a film that deals with the kind of predicaments/challenges most, if not all of us can relate to when it comes to friendships, romantic relationships, family and life, in general.

I enjoyed Sylvie’s Love as a story that happens to be about more than the romantic love between Sylvie and Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a young man with dreams of becoming a saxophone player. In my mind, the movie should almost be called ‘Sylvie’s Loves’ because it’s also, to a significant extent about her professional aspirations/love. For, she is a woman determined not to lose herself and what matters to her, regardless of external pressures from various angles.

Don’t be surprised if, by the end, Sylvie’s Love has you reflecting on just how helpful it is to have people in your circle looking out for your relationship.

For those who enjoy jazz music, like a little romance and or the costume design in shows such as The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, you’ll likely be glad you watched this one.

Lastly, if you’re wondering whether Sylvie’s Love shares strong similarities with the impressive If Beale Street Could Talk, (2018) the answer is ‘only in the sense that both stories feature the love stories of two young black Americans. Meaning, Sylvie’s Love isn’t going to completely shatter your heart due to a tragic and hugely unjust, racially motivated event.

Happy Film Loving

G

DEATH TO 2020 (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Death To 2020 (2020), Cristin Milioti, Netflix

My favourite thing about Netflix’s Death to 2020, a comedic retrospective of the year that was 2020 is the phrase ‘Prime Ministerial scarecrow, Boris Johnson.’ I laugh every time I re-read it, because it’s true.

There’s certainly a handful of more amusing moments within the show, whether it’s courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Lisa Kudrow, Leslie Jones, Cristin Milioti or several others. Nevertheless, one of my key issues with Death to 2020 relates to how disjointed it feels; even with the narration used to bring everything together.

Furthermore, the show felt a lot like a less amusing version of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; even though I’ve only ever experienced The Daily Show via the best clips on their Youtube Channel.

Unfortunately, Death to 2020 also had me nodding off to sleep a few times. A reality I can blame on the above reasons, and the fact that my favourite comics already helped me laugh at 2020, a little closer to when much of the madness was happening.

I say give Death to 2020 a chance if you’re curious. You may not be as avid a consumer of current comedy as myself.

Happy Film Loving and a fantastic 2021!

G

MAN OF STEEL (2013): The Things I Liked…

Man of Steel (2012), Henry Cavill, Warner Bros. Pictures
Man of Steel (2012), Henry Cavill, Warner Bros. Pictures

Three things I realised while watching director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013)

  1. Henry Cavill is a great Superman.
  2. Christopher Nolan, a.k.a ‘Inception (2010) and Tenet (2020) director Christopher Nolan’ wrote the script. Had I known this beforehand, I’d have watched the movie much sooner. Nolan’s involvement may also be why the musical score was so noticeably good. You know, as per most if not all Nolan films.
  3. This third point is a tad random buy here we go: To my (I want to say ‘expert’) eyes, Diane Lane and Paula Pattern (not in the movie) look as though they could be related. Do you see it?

I enjoyed most of what happens in Man of Steel, from the music, performances, very engaging story to the special effects and action. Yet I can’t deny that I did start to lose interest after the two-hour mark when there was still another twenty-three minutes remainig. 

Other things that stood out less positively include the fight sequence between Superman and General Zod (Michael Shannon) towards the end. It just wasn’t quite the exciting well-choreographed face-off I expected. Also, there’s a strange moment in the film when a military officer references Superman’s ‘hotness’/attractiveness. Instead of being funny, the dialogue felt more out of place.

I know it’s been seven years since this movie was released, which means you’ve probably seen it already, if not more than once. Nevertheless, I say Man of Steel is worth watching. Particularly because of Cavill and all the other positive points mentioned above. 

Happy Film Loving

G

POSSESSOR (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Possessor (2020), Christopher Abbott, Neon
Possessor (2020), Christopher Abbott, Neon

I’m not surprised that director Brandon Cronenberg’s new sci-fi/thriller Possessor has a moment or two that took me back to the work of his well-established director father, David Cronenberg. A.k.a the man behind one of my favourite crime/dramas, A History of Violence (2005)

The signature both Cronenbergs share is, of course, the visceral violence; something that’s present in Possessor, the story of a secret organisation that drives its agents to inhabit other people’s bodies so they can assassinate targets for money. 

One might say that I was never going to love this movie considering its premise of picking unsuspecting strangers to kill. And that’s partly true because I don’t love this movie for reasons including the way the dark premise is executed. However, there’s also the fact that throughout I felt as though something was missing in the narrative structure. 

Possessor tried hard to be something; whether it’s clever, engaging or memorable. Unfortunately it just never succeeds at it for me. There’s also the seemingly rushed/confusing last quarter which presented more questions than answers. Furthermore, there’s a moment in the movie where some dialogue about a parasite/worm that suggests Possessor was likely inspired, in part, not just by young Cronenberg’s father, but also by Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).

I enjoyed Christopher Abbott and Tuppence Middleton’s performances most. Still, overall, I say only watch Possessor if you absolutely must.

Happy Film Loving

G

FATMAN (2020): The Things I Liked…

Fatman (2020), Chance Hurstfield
Fatman (2020), Chance Hurstfield

Unlike many, it seems, I had a good time watching Mel Gibson’s latest action/comedy/thriller, Fatman, the story of a young boys revenge on Santa Claus following one too many extremely disappointing Christmas presents. 

As great as Walton Goggins and Gibson were, for me, as expected after seeing the trailer weeks earlier, I was most impressed by Chance Hurstfield, the disappointed child. Such magnetic on-screen presence for a young man. So much so I’m rather  excited to see what he does next.

The music, smart pacing and the way the dialogue induces laughter in unexpected places is part of what makes writer/directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms’s movie very watchable. 

For me, Fatman is precisely as good, dark and refreshing as I dreamed. Give it a chance for the seasonal movie difference it offers. Perhaps it’s the very kind of difference you didn’t know you were missing. 

Happy Film Loving

G

THE PRINCESS SWITCH 2 – SWITCHED AGAIN (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix
The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix

When I decided to watch The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again, I wasn’t expecting great things. I was hoping for a sort of watchable Christmas movie experience that I’d be able to get through with a smile on my face, in part thanks to the Christmas filled mise en scene.

Instead, what happened within 10 minutes of the viewing experience gave me a strong urge to reach for my phone and do other things while it played. I definitely could have aborted the whole experience, but something told me to leave it playing. Nothing improved with time, of course. But at least it made the room look extra ‘Christmassy’.

What exactly is wrong with The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again? Let’s just say that it’s the kind of story and execution that’s really best enjoyed by preteen girls/children. I should have known.


Nevertheless, in the event that, like myself, you often leave less than great Christmas movies playing in the background because you like the ambience they help create, maybe, for that reason alone, hit play on The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again. You could even leave it playing with the volume down while you pick a Christmas soundtrack to blast through your home. Now that’s an idea.

Happy Film Loving 

G

GREENLAND (2020): The Things I Liked…

Greenland (2020), Gerard Butler, STX Films
Greenland (2020), Gerard Butler, STX Films

Starring Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin and Andrew Bachelor; Greenland is not a terrible action/ thriller, one about a family’s struggle to survive in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh; I generally have no complaints about the special effects or the performances. The only reason I wouldn’t call Greenland a great movie is linked to elements of the story edit and how the movie feels a tad longer than it needed to be.

Additionally, I may be expecting far too much from the government here, yet, I remain unconvinced that they’d have handled the ‘notification of selection’ quite as carelessly as they seem to in this movie.   

Even though Greenland isn’t perfect, I found it adequately entertaining. As such, give it a chance if you’re curious, and especially if you’re into disaster movies/good special effects.

Happy Film Loving 

G