MS. MARVEL (2022)

Among the better Disney+ Marvel series.

Super sweet and charming, plus it’s refreshing to have a completely different perspective in the MCU.

Strong emphasis on culture, history and family from a Pakistani/Muslim perspective, made accessible by an extremely charismatic performance from Iman Vellani.

There’s a bit of a change-up in her powers compared to the comic, but I kinda get why. It makes her a bit more unique in the MCU, since Reed Richards is due to arrive in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, and Marvel seems pretty much allergic to using The Inhumans for anything. It works here to tie them back to her heritage, and by the end of the season she’s using them in a way that’s practically the same idea, only done with sparkly gemstone type effects instead of stretchiness/Embiggening.

The villain arc is a bit weak, but it’s got youthful energy to spare, and a lot of fun production design.

Young Avengers lineup is looking promising!

Still, it’s fair to feel fatigue with the endless parade of superhero stuff, and it’s nice to have something lighter on the roster.

Recommended.

UNCHARTED (2022)

Who is this actually for?

It’s middling as an action film in its own right, and alters so much about the characters and lore from the games that it’s certain to irritate its established fanbase.

CG is wonky, performances don’t fit, characterizations are wrong, plot is so full of holes and leaps that it limps from one sequence to the next. Almost everyone is miscast, and those who aren’t are wasted.

Steals a few famous sequences from the games, but forgets that the joy of them comes from the interactivity, so having badly chopped recreations slapped together completely fails to capture any of their kinetic excitement or snappy writing.

The Uncharted games exist as a way of modernising classic Indiana Jones-type movies, which themselves were modernisations of pulp adventure serials. Taking the games and putting them back on film feels like a copy of a copy of a copy.

Apparently this was successful enough to declare it a franchise, so look forward to a bunch more utterly benign movies completely missing the point, I guess.

Watch something good instead.

RESIDENT EVIL: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)

Awful.

Just staggeringly bad all the way down.

The writing is terrible, the direction is terrible, the characters are terrible, the vfx are terrible, the acting is terrible, the adaptation is TERRIBLE.

And worst of all, it doesn’t even have the decency to be fun. Just excruciatingly boring from start to finish, with the worst creative decisions made at every conceivable turn.

I couldn’t even be bothered painting anything for the review, so enjoy my warning scrawled with my left hand.

Do not watch. Do literally anything else.

CHIP ‘N’ DALE: RESCUE RANGERS (2022)

Well this was a fun surprise.

Basically, it’s modern-day Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, all the way from blended animation/live action through to the Noir mystery detective story.

Cameos are an absolutely hilarious mix of unexpected cuts, absurd jokes and examples of just how deep Disney’s bench of IPs actually is these days.

Mulaney and Samberg are perfect casting, the animation is great, the concept and execution are excellent.

Solid comedy, well recommended.

THE ADAM PROJECT (2022)

Above average family action film, but never quite rises to truly exceptional.

All the individual elements are well done: the cast is charismatic, the VFX are top notch. But there’s something in Shawn Levy’s execution, same as with Free Guy… they’re kinda flat?

A bit too polished and clean, so that all the real quirk and personality has been buffed out of them. They feel like products. Products with heart and charm, sure, but never truly unique enough in their own rights to elevate them above pretty good.

My hope is that having the Molyneux sisters (Bob’s Burgers) handling the script and Kevin Feige doing his Marvel overlord thing, the next Levy/Reynolds collab on Deadpool 3 will really click.

As for The Adam Project, it won’t stick with me longer than the next big action film I see.

SPIDER-MAN: No Way Home (2021)

A brilliant conclusion to the Tom Holland/Jon Watts “Home” trilogy, that is almost impossible to discuss without severe spoilers for the back half of the film.

Best appreciated knowing as little as possible beforehand, but I’ll still keep from spoiler discussion until after the click-through below.

The shortest spoiler-free review is: it’s bloody great, go and see it.

Fundamentally, this is taking MCU Spidey and directly addressing the criticisms levelled at this incarnation (Iron Boy Jr, a lack of Uncle Ben, too many advantages compared to the traditional depiction) and playing hardball with them to set up what may well prove to be the most wonderully accurate cinematic Spider-Man we’ve ever seen. Personally, I’ve always loved this Spider-Man, but to see how they’ve maneuvered the franchise into what it will be going forward is an absurdly impressive feat. Everyone gets their cake.

Some CG is a little wonky, but it’s balanced out by some fantastic Dr Strange sequences (Multiverse of Madness hype!) and wonderful character work. I genuinely believe Tom Holland will win over a lot of his haters with this one.

Look, spoilers are all over the internet, try and get out to see it as soon as you can. Otherwise, I’ve barricaded spoilers behind the jump.

Highly recommended.

SPOILERS BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Continue reading “SPIDER-MAN: No Way Home (2021)”

TED LASSO s02

It’s back!

We actually let the season mostly play out before binging it all in the week leading up to the finale — it’s the kind of show that brings such a good mood with it that you want to savour its short run but also hook as much into your veins as you can manage at once.

How to adequately describe Ted Lasso? From the outside it looks like a fairly boilerplate sports dramedy, but it very quickly reveals itself to be fundamentally about caring, support and growth. Season one was such an absolute burst of sunshine for 2020, and earned all the praise it received for its smart, brilliant character work while retaining a wonderfully high degree of emotional intelligence and a refreshingly blunt approach to conflict.

And this season doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly, this actually marks something of a slightly darker tone than season one. Jason Sudeikis has described this as the Empire Strikes Back before we get to Return of the Tedi for the third and final season next year.

The infectious sincerity and kindness is still present, but it’s not trying to sell you something saccharine or hollow. There are plenty of big emotional moments and they always feel true and genuine, even to a bitter old cynic such as myself.

Honestly, if you haven’t gotten on board I can’t push it on you strongly enough. From someone who couldn’t give two shits about football, I am incredibly invested in this wholesome show.

Highly recommended!

NARCOS (s01-03)

A little late to the party on this one, sure, but better late than never.

The sort of prestige crime drama usually reserved for HBO, it marks a period of Netflix when they were trying especially hard to establish themselves as a viable rival. It really shows.

Usually I avoid discussing plot since I often prefer myself to be able to start watching something without knowing where it’s going, but that approach is kind if moot here since Narcos is explicitly about the burgeoning cocaine trade in Medellín, Colombia during the 1980s and 90s — most notably charting the rise and fall of legendary cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Performances are fantastic. Story is tense, engaging and frequently horrifying as the drug war escalates and corruption seeps into everything. Interests become conflicted, power shifts, lots of innocent people get caught in the crossfire.

A dark and depressing tale, the effects of which are still being felt to this day.

Recommended.

THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)

Absurdly violent, ridiculously silly and very, very entertaining.

The smartest move was definitely to just ignore that they made one of these in 2016 and throw a whole pile of fresh C-list characters into the grinder.

Never once takes itself seriously, yet manages to take enough time to bring an emotional core to each of these assholes to make the stakes stick and the action meaningful.

Soundtrack’s great, characters are fun, story is appropriately bonkers. Most importantly, it’s a good time!

Easily the best DC film, requires zero comic knowledge to enjoy.

Definitely recommended.

BLOOD RED SKY (2021)

Terrorists hijack a plane and unwittingly set off a vampire hiding onboard.

If nothing about that premise makes you immediately say “fuck yeah” then I don’t know what more I can tell you to sell it. It’s ridiculous and it’s fun and it takes itself just seriously enough to stay firmly a horror movie with an emotional core rather than to devolve to a trashy comedy like it easily could have.

Makeup work is great, cast is solid, execution is exactly what it needs to be.

An A-grade B-movie.

Recommended.