Some beautiful shots that prop up a meandering narrative that’s a full hour too long, without any really distinct thrills of its own in a franchise that usually defines itself by unique thrills. There’s no memorable sequence that compares to anything from Casino Royale through Skyfall. There’s nothing here that holds a candle to the more recent Mission Impossible films.
And that’s the problem, really. Skyfall felt like a very natural conclusion to Craig’s James Bond, but now we have another film having to re-tie things up, unfortunately now including loose threads from the terrible Spectre. It feels anticlimactic and played out, especially since we kind of already did this dance already, and better.
The highlight is a brief Knives Out reunion with Ana de Armas, who blusters in to kick ass and be absurdly charming for about 15min before vanishing from the film entirely.
All the classic Bond tropes are present: a gadget car, a transforming vehicle, a fancy trick watch, a henchman with a gimmick, a villain with a visual hook, a stylish island lair, and a monstrous global plot.
But it keeps forgetting to have fun and just be a Bond movie, rather choosing to focus on lackluster relationships with Léa Sedoux and Christoph Waltz. It’s making the same mistake as Spectre of trying to force engagement by tying things together retroactively, but that’s not what a Bond film is meant to be.
The fourth best Craig Bond film, or the second worst depending on your perspective.
The best jokes are things that were clearly thrown into the background by a VFX crew who’ve spent a lot of time in GTAV or Saint’s Row, but otherwise it’s a pretty boilerplate action/comedy/romance that asks you not to think too hard about any of its pretense.
Some good throwaway cameos, visuals absolutely nail the aesthetic, cast is charismatic.
Writing’s flat, and even Taika Waititi can’t make some of the dialogue sound good. Lots of the jokes don’t really land. Pacing is all over the place, making it feel both too long but also like it doesn’t have the time to do anything more than lip service to its more interesting ideas.
It does that weird trope movies do where they show a lot of people around the world all simultaneuously watching a livestream and yelling encouragement that just feels entirely false, like they’re trying to artificially inflate investment in the stakes that people don’t really have. Stop cutting away to people who aren’t involved in the action.
Overall, an extremely medium movie. Better than Ready Player One, with about 90% less cynical brand recognition. Not sure how much that says though.
An absolutely baffling Japanese-American neon Western wherein Nicolas Cage is strapped into a bomb suit to rescue a governor’s daughter who has gone missing and maybe ghosts did it or maybe it’s a curse?
There has to be a fascinating story behind the production. This is a hot mess. It’s weird and surreal, disjointed and kind of hilarious, but not entirely clear how much is intentional or how much is the result of some insane catastrophy.
There are no establishing shots so the whole geography of the world feels about a hundred feet from anything else. Things appear and disappear without motivation or explanation.
At one point Nicolas Cage has a ball blown off and screams “MY. TESTICLLLLLLE!!” with the strangest delivery of any line, possibly in any film. This is what you come for in a Nicolas Cage film.
And yet, it’s still wildly boring for long stretches and even its most absurd moments and creative shot work only manage to sporadically elevate it to actually compelling.
The best fight sequences in the MCU spiced up with a real kind of classical martial arts film flavour. Bucks the usual Marvel first-movie formula and takes a hard right turn in wild Asian mysticism and fantasy in the back half which was a pleasant surprise.
Compelling villain (the legendary Tony Leung!) and a solid emotional through-line. Simu Liu kills it in the title role, Awkwafina brings a great levity without falling into comic movie bathos. There’s some significant deviation from the source material but it’s all for the better.
And I mentioned that the fight scenes are great fun, right? Choreography feels frantic and snappy and the editing doesn’t get in the way. Sure, the climax turns into an insane CGI party, but it feels fitting for the high fantasy turn.
A little bit Hong Kong martial arts flick, a little bit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a little bit classic MCU. Very promising for the future direction of Marvel, they’re setting the bar high for Phase Four.
An abandoned motel straddling the California/Nevada state lines plays host to six strangers with dark pasts.
The cast is inspired, the production design is excellent and the stagecraft is fantastic. Cinematography is creative and makes the whole production feel like an elaborate stage play. Soundtrack is stacked with 50s bops.
Pacing’s a little off and it drags some in the back half, but its style and character performances really elevate it as a solid, well executed Noir thriller.
A colourful celebration of Latin American music, soundtracked by and starring Lin Manuel Miranda as the titular kinkajou.
Skews to a younger crowd, with bright colours and high antics. Some of the designs are honestly pretty ugly but the story has heart and the songs are all original Mirandas, including some great performances from Gloria Estefan.
Good for the kids, but lacking that extra layer of depth that makes an animated film truly great and memorable.