Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

THE UNFORGIVABLE (2021): The Things I Liked…

I’m glad that Sandra Bullock said yes to The Unforgivablea well-executed tale of one woman’s journey to reconnect with her sister after finishing a twenty-year prison sentence.

Directed by Nora Fingscheidt, what stood out immediately, in addition to the excellent performances, is how engaging the story is. I cared about Bullock’s character and couldn’t wait for everything to unfold. At the same time, the pacing and story edit are both so good to the point where I hardly found myself wanting things to move faster.

Then there’s the perfectly complementary musical score and the kind of tense moments that never have one too sure about how things will unfold.

Even though there is one moment where I felt the catalyst that was supposed to lead to a key character’s change of heart was insubstantial, The Unforgivable is still worth watching. 

See it for the generally well-executed story and because Viola Davis, Rob Morgan, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Bernthal make up the supporting cast.

Happy Film Loving 

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THE GUILTY (2021): The Things I Liked…

The Guilty, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riley Keogh, Paul Dano and Ethan Hawke’s latest crime/drama/thriller about a demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk is well-acted, though not exactly perfect.

Director Antoine Fuqua’s film is intense, and I like that immediately it’s clear that Gyllenhaal’s character, Joe Baylor is far from the model police officer. I enjoyed how the intensity built up as the movie played, especially since the action takes place in two rooms. Nevertheless, at times I did find myself frustrated by the pacing. 

Another frustration is the story edit towards the end when we learn the truth of Keogh’s character. I’m not sure what could have happened differently. However, I am sure that the story edit in that moment and one or two others left me wanting. 

The most expected thing about The Guilty, besides a good performance from Gyllenhaal, is the increase in my appreciation for the work that first responders do. Especially the ones who do absolutely everything they can to help. 

I was surprised not to recognise any of the voices of the well-known actors. Specifically the ones the audience only get to meet through how they sound when they speak to Joe Baylor on the phone. I still can’t tell you which characters Paul Dano, Ethan Hawke and Peter Sarsgaard played. Is it just me?

Give The Guilty a chance if you’re curious. The story will break your heart in multiple ways, and the intense moments are a highlight, even if you end up wishing for a slightly different story edit. 

If you want a brilliantly executed story set in one place, and where you only meet the other characters through their voice over the telephone, I can’t recommend Locke (2013) enough.

Happy Film Loving

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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

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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 

GODZILLA vs. KONG (2021): The Things I Liked…

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

The main reason I wanted to watch Godzilla vs Kong is the monster fight. What proved most disappointing is that I found the fight sequences to be ‘just ok’ at best. 

The special effects were impressive and I particularly appreciated the city lights in Hong Kong, as well as the film’s smart use of colour. Other highlights include Brian Tyree Henry who came across very convincingly as the investigator/conspiracy theory enthusiast. 

As someone who enjoyed Kong Skull Island (2017), I was expecting an equally engaging story with Godzilla vs Kong. Especially where the fight sequences were concerned. It’s unfortunate that by the twenty-minute mark, I found myself wanting to fast forward to the monster face-off, rather than sit through the tired human stories I was supposed to buy into.

My desire to skip to the fun moments is partly because I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief enough, not to notice how silly and cliché the story felt at times. I also missed Tom Hiddleston’s character from Kong Skull Island and found myself wishing he were in this movie. Because that way, he’d have helped ground things a little more. 

If you’re curious about the special effects, watch Godzilla vs Kong. You may find yourself thinking that it feels sillier than expected, but you will most likely enjoy the CGI and the lights.

Happy Film Loving

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TRUST (2021): The Things I Liked…

Truth (2021), Victoria Justice, Vertical Entertainment US
Truth (2021), Victoria Justice, Vertical Entertainment US

Trust, the new drama starring Matthew Daddario, Victoria Justice, Lucien Laviscount and Katherine McNamara has some notable high and low points.

The standout highlight in a story about a New York gallery owner and her husband, as they each face exceptional temptations, happens to be the beautifully lit shots of Paris, and particularly, New York City. So colourful and vibrant are said images, that for a moment I suspected the makers of Trust likely brokered a deal with the New York City Tourism Board. 

Additionally, Justice’s attire and the gorgeously lit Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant, the very one featured prominently in the film’s trailer are two other highlights. I can only hope the latter managed to survive the pandemic so I can visit in the future.

The acting isn’t terrible. But I did find the dialogue cringe-worthy in parts. A truth that made me realise that Trust is not at all as sophisticated as the movie it initially reminded me of, namely, Last Night (2010)

Other low lights include the less convincing moments in Laviscount’s Dublin accent and the editing. Particularly the decision to reveal an important piece of the puzzle at the very start; a decision that seemed unnecessary, at best. 

Overall director Brian DeCubellis’s film is one you watch if you’re curious about the highlights. And or, you’re a fan of the cast. Otherwise, I recommend Last Night (2010) instead; for an arguably smarter and more sophisticated execution of a similar story.

Happy Film Loving

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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

COMING 2 AMERICA (2021): The Things I Liked…

Coming 2 America (2021), kIkI Layne, Amazon Prime Video
Coming 2 America (2021), kIkI Layne, Amazon Prime Video

I had a good time watching Coming 2 America, the sequel to Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones’s 1988 comedy classic Coming to America.

Director Craig Brewer’s film isn’t quite perfect but the parts that it gets right gave me so much joy, that I’m barely mad about the ones that didn’t fully work. 

There’s a fair number of memorable funny moments, many of which you won’t see coming. And several of them feature Wesley Snipes and Leslie Jones. Another key highlight is, of course, Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem. I was so happy to be fully present in the moments the camera was on Murphy (one of my favourite standup comics); whether it be Akeem in the present day, or young Akeem via the clever usage of old footage captured for the first movie. In this way, for me, watching Coming 2 America felt like catching up with an old friend you hadn’t seen for a very long time. One with whom you shared some of the best times of your life.

Coming 2 America (2021), Eddie Murphy, Amazon Prime Video
Coming 2 America (2021), Eddie Murphy, Amazon Prime Video

As for what I wish had been different about Coming 2 America, in no particular order, some of the de-ageing of Murphy wasn’t the best. The part of the story I consider the weakest has to be the love story. That element felt forced and rushed. 

I know very well that Coming 2 America is supposed to be focused on Prince Akeem’s son. Yet, a part of me wanted the camera to focus more on Akim. I’m going to blame that on how very appreciative I am of Murphy’s general comic excellence.

Watch Coming 2 America if you haven’t already. The first movie is undoubtedly better, but there’s much fun to be had with this sequel. And chances are, you won’t want to miss the highlights mentioned above and more. Especially the performance at the party near the end. That moment had me so happy, that as soon as it was over, I had to rewind and relive it all over again. It’s been a while since I’ve partied, so maybe that’s part of the reason.

Happy Film Loving

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