Reviews

‘King Richard’ Review

From the Fresh Prince, to the King of tennis. Will Smith delivers the performance of his career at the perfect time in his life. One of the years best, a heartfelt, hilarious and emotional journey that showcases just how remarkable the story of Serena and Venus Williams really was.

King Richard movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams

The American dream, everyone has one. For Richard Williams it was to raise the greatest two women’s tennis players to ever walk the Earth. In a time when tennis was portrayed as a predominately white sport, they were walking uphill to begin with. From Compton to the biggest stage, the remarkable story of this family is inspirational to say the least. Sports movies can always come across as such cliches, something that always has a “happy ending.” One thing I really liked about King Richard was how raw and authentic it was and it really doesn’t sugar coat anything. One of the best sports movies in recent memory and one of the strongest films of 2021.

This family had to fight for everything they had and Richard (Will Smith) was always front and centre. He was different, he was doing things his way. It was the definition of his way or the highway. In a time of crazy sports Dads, at the time, the media and people around Richard truly didn’t understand his madness or just how much he was sacrificing for his family. He was a mad scientist who always had a plan for his daughters and nothing would stop that plan from happening. He was hard on his kids, but in the best way possible. Hard working, good grades, humble, polite, everything you want to teach your kids. He just wanted to keep his kids off the streets and propel them into a better life. That should be the goal for any parent, provide a better life for your children then you ever had. I would say Richard and his wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) achieved just that.

That’s where this movie begins, on the shoulders of Richard and Brandy Williams. Will Smith gives a memorable performance, the best of his career. What I loved most about it, it didn’t feel like Will Smith. He’s a megastar, bigger than most of the movies he is in. He’s a classic actor, he rarely changes his appearance, he’s just Will Smith in everything he does, but not here. He transforms into Richard Williams, and I was blown away. He does a few things, whether it’s his voice work, the way he walks, or the way he appears like sometimes he’s not all there. I’m just so happy he has finally given the definitive performance of his career, because it was beautiful. His counterpart Aunjanue Ellis is a strong female lead. Giving us the most impactful and emotional monologue of the film that serves a reminder that no matter how much Richard was in the forefront, he did not do this alone. Brandy is a strong and smart women, who helped mould all of her daughters into the impactful women they are today.

One thing that people need to realize, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) wanted to tell this story. They were proudly behind this project from the very get-go. Just because they are not in the forefront of the movie, doesn’t mean they aren’t a big part of it. Their father did so much for them, that they wouldn’t be who they are today without them and they wanted to showcase this to the world. Both girls who represent these world class athletes are fantastic. Just not with their acting chops but with their tennis abilities. They are going toe-to-toe with some terrific actors in this. The movie just feels so 90’s, from the cinematography, the outfits, how Richard feels about country clubs and rich white folks. It all feels so blended together and so naturally, unlike some more recent sports movies, this just feels like it’s on another level. Some truly fantastic visuals, that make it feel like a real awards contender. The thing that I was most impressed with, the actual tennis scenes. They are filmed so well, not many cuts and edits, they really let these ladies go out and play. The thing with most sports movies or shows, they don’t actually showcase the cast playing the sport the movie is about. They went out and got real tennis players to help elevate this movie and it works. Even Jon Bernthal comes in for half the movie and gives a different performance. He’s an energetic tennis coach, that has the best moustache in 2021. We are so used to him being a cold character, or a bad ass, and this was just a fun performance from a really great actor.

Emotional beats throughout help separate this from just the generic sports flick. There are two scenes in particular that, in my mind, the film needed and wouldn’t come across as successful if they don’t put them in there. You are reminded how hard it can be and will always be for black families in America and some families need to go the extra mile every single day to sometimes provide just safety and food for their kids. I loved how they didn’t shy away from where they came from and how hard they had, 5 girls in one bedroom, problems on the streets and potential dangers around every corner.

Reinaldo Marcus Green is an upcoming young and impressive director, again, this is an elevated sports drama. He brings something new and brought one hell of a cinematographer with him. I hope we can celebrate with Will Smith during awards season, because I think it’s just his time. This is a must see and honestly my favourite movie of the year.

King Richard = 91/100

Reviews

‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Review

Strap on your proton pack and hop in the Echo 1, because the Ghostbusters are back. A true love letter to the franchise, Jason Reitman follows in his fathers footsteps and serves up a worthy sequel.

When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was written and directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman, the original director of the classic 1984 Ghostbusters. Some would say this is the passing of the torch, that Jason, who literally grew up on the sets of the first two Ghostbusters movies, was always destined to make a Ghostbusters movie himself. This movie is clearly a love letter to not only his father and everything he built within the Ghostbusters universe, but his childhood as well. Much like the directing duties being passed down a generation, so is the job of busting and capturing ghosts. We see the grandchildren of the legend Egon Spengler learning about their family history and their true destiny in life to finish what their grandfather started all those years ago.

For some, Ghostbusters is their childhood, something they grew up on, a warm place that serves as a reminder for when things were simpler. People much like myself have been waiting a very long time for a continuation of this beloved franchise, and I think this served as a great launching pad. It’s something that can gravitate towards the veteran fans and something that will suck in a ton of new ones.

The story is simple, things have changed, there hasn’t been a ghost sighting for nearly 30 years and the Ghostbusters are no more. It doesn’t mean that everything is quite so simple and when Egon casts himself into solitude in the remote and small town of Summerville, and it leaves his friends and family wondering why. Enter his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). With nothing of their own, they assume that Egon might have left them something, at first glance it feels like he left nothing, until Phoebe digs a little deeper and starts to unravel the mystery of Summerville and who her grandfather really was. Nothing to his name except his old farmhouse, the family decides to make the most out of this situation and give Summerville a chance. Callie never truly understood why her father left her and she believes that he’s nothing more than an asshole. Even his old friends are stumped at his behaviour and haven’t spoken to him in a long time.

McKenna Grace steals the entire movie. The quirky and awkward kid, who is a spitting image of Egon, who would have made Harold Ramis very proud. She’s funny, a bad ass and carries the movie on her back. She’s never had any friends, so when she meets Podcast (Logan Kim) a curious kid who loves conspiracy theories and all things ghosts and supernatural, they become instant BFFS. She also befriends her summer school teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd). It’s Mr. Grooberson who leads Phoebe down the eventual Ghostbusters rabbit hole when she brings in a ghost-trap she found at her grandfathers home to school. That’s when all hell breaks loose and it’s up to Finn, Podcast, Phoebe and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Finn’s pseudo girlfriend to jumpsuit up and take down some ghosts.

This is a small movie, it feels warm and homie. No giant action set pieces or massive explosions, this is a kick-start for something bigger to come. There are some really fun moments, and certain sounds, like a proton pack getting switched on will immediately bring a smile to your face. This movie is about family, finding yourself and understanding that sometimes people have to do things without any explanation at all. If you’re a fan of the franchise I honestly thing you will enjoy this movie, that obviously leans on nostalgia in a big way, but what did you expect? I think that’s what makes it so special, and feel so familiar, whether it’s the same score as the original, certain sounds, or just the familiarity of the entire franchise. This isn’t trying to be something it’s not, or something new. This is a direct sequel that wants to honour its predecessor and built on the beautiful foundation that was built so many years ago.

It can feel like a rehashing of the first Ghostbusters, but I think that’s the point. I’m happy this is the route they decided to take, and happy that they give our new characters a lot of time to shine. Where they go from here is up in the air, it will depend on box-office numbers I think, but it certainly sets itself up for another movie, that promises to be bigger than ever. Let’s just say, the movie ends with the Ghostbusters back in business.

It takes a while to get going, they don’t bust their first ghost until almost the hour mark of the movie, but we need time to understand what’s going on and actually the very first scene of the movie is so well done and you immediately get a little emotional. You know what’s coming, but you still can’t help but get up and cheer for when it does. It’s something I’ve waited my whole adult life to see and I’m so thankful that it did. The final act of the movie is a ton of fun, some jokes don’t land, but this movie wasn’t going to be perfect, it just needed to make me feel a certain way and mission accomplished. How they handled everything with Harold Ramis was beautiful and I’ll be disappointed if this franchise doesn’t continue going forward. They really unlocked something with McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard, they make awesome Ghostbusters and it’s time to strap a proton pack to Paul Rudd for the sequel.

This is everything I wanted this movie to be, so to me, it’s perfect.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife = 88/100

Reviews

‘Spencer’ Review

Kristen Stewart disappears as Princess Diana, giving us her finest performance to date. A haunting and chilling character study that promises to be one of the best movies of 2021.

During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.

Being famous is tough, being Princess Diana was a whole other story. Spencer dives deep into the psyche of what it was like to live this kind of lifestyle and the immense pressure that comes with it. This movie can make you feel uncomfortable at times, mainly due to the amount of tension in the air, making you feel like you’re walking on glass for 2 hours. The story takes place during a three day stretch, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as we see a Royal Family gathering that makes Diana a little uneasy to say the least.

For 2 hours we sit and watch Diana slip further away, realizing this life isn’t for her anymore and more importantly not for her sons. Being watched constantly, she is starting to feel the weight of the world and is growing tired of this lifestyle. She’s drifting apart from her husband and is becoming aware that this sort of life isn’t meant for her. Director Pablo Larrain is able to beautifully capture all of this. The use of the score, which is chilling, haunting and makes every scene seem so tense. Everyone in the movie and in the audience is on pins and needles, it’s like watching a dormant volcano bubbling at the surface, waiting to erupt. Pairing this with stunning set design, cinematography and costume design, this movie is all around magnificent.

Lets be clear, this movie belongs to Kristen Stewart and her alone. Basically in every single scene, she transforms into Princess Diana and it is a marvellous and poetic performance. She’s a shoe in for an Oscar nomination and I would be shocked if she doesn’t walk away with a lot of gold come awards season. Her performance is quiet yet powerful, she’s loud but never manages to raise her voice. You are waiting the entire film for this woman to erupt, to scream, to do something, and it never happens. She acts out, whether it’s cutting herself, saying ridiculous things to the staff, or leaving every dinner to go regurgitate whatever food she had managed to get down, but she never fully breaks. Watching her breaking down is draining, because you are rooting for her all while realizing what tragedy awaits this woman in her future.

Some striking and colourful images and outfits really help capture certain moments of the film, with one scene in particular that takes place around candlelight that will surely be the Oscar reel for this film. It’s heartbreaking to watch and I’m sure Diana’s sons William and Harry would think the same thing. Diana just wanted to be herself, while everyone around her was telling her that she had to be two different people, after a while that can beat anyone to the ground.

You feel exhausted by the end of the film simply because of Stewarts performance. This is the story of the lead up to her and Charles divorce, and you can see why this life wasn’t meant for her. The score really plays such a vital and important role in the movie because it sucks you into every scene. Some parts feel very Joker-ish while others reminded me of The Shinning. The score just makes it feel like such a thriller that something terrible could happen at any moment, I haven’t really felt that in a movie in a long time.

This is just a beautiful movie that makes you feel all sorts of emotions. Oscar nominations in bound for sure. This reminds me of The Favourite from 2019, about ten nominations and a lock for Best Actress. I really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to watching it again.

Spencer = 84/100

Reviews

‘Eternals’ Review

Embark on the MCU’s most vast movie yet. Introducing us to the Eternals who need to come together to protect everyone on Earth, while trying to discover who they truly are.

The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

When you think of stability within a movie franchise, the MCU usually comes to mind. Everyone loves it, and so do the critics. It’s rare that a movie isn’t met with high praise and warm words, until recently. The newest addition to the family has been met with the worst reviews for a MCU to date, and after seeing the movie myself – I’m not sure why. Sure, this movie doesn’t come without its flaws, as Superhero movies tend to do these days. It boils down to this, the MCU is expanding to the point of no return. With the ever expanding roster of new characters, ideas and universes, it can get difficult to keep track of everything, but that shouldn’t be a flaw with the movie at hand. Eternals is vast, it’s huge in scale, providing some of the biggest themes the MCU has to offer. We are dealing with literal gods and some of the strongest and most powerful beings in the entire MCU.

So who better to bring in than Oscar winner Chloé Zhao. Fresh off her impressive year, she brings a little extra flare to the MCU. Providing us with some of the best visuals, landscapes and emotional moments to date. Alongside, a cast that is longer than a CVS receipt. Each Eternal brings a unique set of skills, whether it’s super speed or strength, the ability to shape shift objects, control minds, invent the most badass technology or simply be Superman. And that is just the tip of the iceberg with these people, and respectfully they all have their own moment to shine and showcase their awesome powers. When the leader of this group Ajax (Salma Hayek) suddenly falls, she appoints a new leader of the Eternals Sersi (Gemma Chan) to take her place. They have been on Earth for 7000 years, peacefully and quietly providing assistance whenever a certain foe known as Deviants are involved. So when the end of the world is upon them, Sersi rounds up the rest of the team like Danny Ocean and sets out to save this world.

Prepare yourself, we got Sprite (Lia McHugh) not to be confused with the soft drink, Ikaris, who is basically Superman (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) a Bollywood star who can turn his hands into deadly weapons, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) who is the technology expert, Druig (Barry Keoghan) the mind shaper, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) the speedster of the ground, Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok) the heavy hitter, and finally Thena (Angelina Jolie) the Goddess of War herself. Together they make or made one happy family, now separated for centuries. The standouts for me were Makkari and Kingo. I thought the speedster was so well done, and Kumail crushed his role. His arc and comedy were some of the best parts of the entire movie. When you have this much acting talent within the cast, some scenes are going to feel heavy and emotional, and I’m so glad they let each one of them spread their wings.

They must come together once more and overcome their differences to deal with the possibility that their entire existence has been one big lie. Introducing us to so many new and likeable characters is no easy feat, in fact, it’s one hell of a mountain to climb. With so many new people and a movie that deals with giant themes and elements, it can feel a little over bloated at times. Overstuffed with ideas, but in order for the MCU to grow, certain seeds need to be planted. This isn’t simple times anymore, we are dealing with cosmic deities who make Thanos feel like a cakewalk.

One thing I did appreciate about Eternals, it didn’t feel green-screen heavy. Chloé wanted to shoot a ton of stuff on location and you can tell. There is a ton of amazing imagery and visuals sprinkled throughout. The diverse cast helps propel the movie when it feels like it hits a bit of a snag. The movie is long, but when you have so much material at hand, what did you really expect? The middle certainly feels slow, but the third act is something to behold, when everything is up for grabs and these awesome new heroes get to showcase what makes them super. It’s going to be awesome to revisit these guys and gals again and see them interact within the MCU more. That’s the thing about going forward and getting introduced to all these new characters, I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

Don’t go into this movie just thinking about Rotten Tomatoes. Judge for yourself. It’s fun, cinematic and there’s a lot of good in this movie. No where near the bottom of the barrel for the MCU

Eternals = 71/100

 

Reviews

‘Dune’ Review

Denis Villeneuve has out done himself with his latest outing. Delivering us with an epic science-fiction space opera that makes you believe in cinema again.

Dune (2021) - IMDbFeature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

Let’s just this out of the way first. Dune is masterfully and beautifully directed by Denis Villeneuve, cementing himself as perhaps the new King of science fiction. From Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 to now Dune, each new experience he has grown as a film-maker, and continued to submerge us into new depths of some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen.

Escape reality and enter into the world of Arrakis, where the land will literally kill you. Whether it’s the heat, that is too hot for any man to survive or the sand worms that will swallow you up in a matter of seconds. It would be like watching a man step on an ant, that’s how small these people are compared to the great sand worms of Arrakis. The Atreides are a nobel family that have been sent to planet Arrakis to make peace and finally bring some sort of balance to their universe. Duke Leto (Oscar Issac) Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their son Paul (Timotheé Chalamet) make up this royal family that is home to one of the greatest armies in the entire universe. Leading this army is Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) who plays a stiff but intense close ally to The Duke, and their fearless compainion Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). Both of these dudes just shine in this film. I certainly believe this is the strongest outing of Jason Momoa’s career and will go even further and say he is the best part of this movie.

With Dune comes a big responsibility, this is a beloved franchise of novels that fans have been waiting to see a great live action adaptation take place. There is so much lore, so much backstory and characters being flushed out especially in the part of the novel that this movie is covering. I wondered how they would accomplish this ginormous task. Glossing over certain things and not developing certain characters more was bound to happen, but I’ll say this. They do it so organically in the movie, not cramming all the information down your throat, and let you get immersed into this world before dropping a bunch of exposition on you. It was a herculean task to bring this novel to life and they did it flawlessly I believe.

So what exactly is Dune all about? Two words, desert power. Paul is dreaming of a girl on Arrakis; Chani (Zendaya) and he’s not quite sure what his dreams truly mean. If you’re going into this movie expecting a ton of Zendaya I hate to break it to you, but she serves as mostly a music video girl, you’ll understand once you see it. But remember, this is only the beginning. This movie is all about Paul and his story about self-discovery and learning who he is truly meant to be. On one hand, Paul is bound to the throne after his father Duke. He is meant to be a great political leader and needs to learn how to not only lead but what is important in being a great leader. On the other hand his mother Lady Jessica, she is part of the Bene Gesserit, which is almost a secret society. They are basically witches, who use a higher power, “the voice” to control everything and everyone behind closed doors. Reserved for females only, the tide shifts when Jessica starts teaching Paul the ways of this unique and powerful gift. The world doesn’t run on Dukin’ Doughnuts anymore, but rather spice. It’s the most prized possession and when going to Arrakis a world full of it, Paul quickly realizes that it isn’t actually the most valued commodity on Arrakis, but rather its people, the Fremen. Banished to the underworld of this desert planet, they will ultimately play a vital role in changing the course of this intense power struggle.

Why is this movie so special? Because these are the exact kind of movies that are made when you think of movie theatres. The scope, the size, the sound, are all magnificent, it’s honest to god holy. See this on the biggest screen possible and you are actually being transported to another world. It all feels so rich and vast while not thinking “this is just one big CGI cluster-fuck.” How Denis Villeneuve is able to pull off such remarkable visual effects all while keeping his movie so grounded is beyond me. One of the things he does best in this movie, is making you realize how large the size of something is, whether it’s a space ship, an army marching towards their enemies or one of the breathtaking sand worms. His eye for focusing on one target that is rather small and surrounding it by just immense scale is truly world class film-making.

Dune is this generations Star Wars, hell the book was published before Star Wars and it’s clear that George Lucas was a fan of the material. There are so many parallels between the two, that it only makes sense. This is a science fiction masterpiece that will go down as one of the very best science fiction movies to ever be made. It is film-making at its finest and as I’m sitting here writing this review, we just got word of the Dune sequel and life is great, and movies are just back. Go see Dune.

I fully expect this movie to clean up at the Oscars, probably a clean sweep of every technical category and I won’t be shocked if both Ferguson and Chalamet are nominated for their acting, because both give emotional and raw performances.

Dune = 95/100

Reviews

‘The Last Duel’ Review

Ridley Scott delivers another epic, this time a medieval affair that showcases some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, where friends becomes enemies and relationships are pushed to the brink.

The Last Duel' Is From Three Different Perspectives Similar To 'Rashomon'

King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.

If you were to tell me a movie with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Adam Driver, a movie that was directed by Ridley Scott, would be a complete and utter box-office bomb, I would have called you crazy. The Last Duel suffers from only one thing, being a real film. We live in a world now, where every movie that average movie-goer sees, has to do with Superheroes or is already a large existing IP of some sorts. Even myself, I found it weird to sit down and watch a flick that didn’t have any larger stakes at hand, that wasn’t going to be apart of any larger than life expanded universe and I’ll tell you this, it was lovely.

This is an adult movie, it deals with trauma, rape and the consequences of such evil behaviour. How Ridley Scott dives into this material is through the perspective of our three main characters. Matt Damon plays Jean de Carrouges and he is a noble knight and one hell of a warrior, who just wants to be respected, all while trying to be remembered and have his name passed on throughout the generations. His chapter is first and it tells the events leading up to the tragedy that falls upon his wife. This is a slow burn, but we do get blips of action and when it happens it’s really great. It’s brutal and dirty and looks exhausting as I’m sure combat was back in the 1300’s. The longest of the three chapters of the story, it dives deep in to Carrouges awful luck, whether it’s money, his family or not getting the attention or respect that he rightfully deserved.

His friend, well at the beginning of this story, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) is a fellow Squire, that is almost the polar opposite of Carrouges. He is considered handsome, he has it all, and most importantly he is well respected throughout France. Driver plays him well, the relationship between these two men is strong, but ultimately jealously and bitterness threatens their relationship and is the demise of their tenured friendship. Le Gris has it all, money, woman and respect, so when he sees something he wants, he goes after it and that’s exactly what he does and it becomes his downfall. The second chapter is strong, it showcases Ben Affleck’s Pierre d’Alecnon who is a powerful man and makes Le Gris essentially his right hand man. Affleck is brilliant here, playing a rambunctious, horned up man who loves woman and places his trust in all the wrong people. Driver and Affleck are having the time of their lives all while making Carrouges feel small and unimportant. Taking land that is rightfully his away from him, and not appreciating the amount of blood he is shedding for their rightful King. In the end the thing Le Gris wants most in his life, becomes is ultimate demise as he finds out with unlimited power does not mean life does not have consequences.

In the third and final chapter we get the point of view of Carrouges wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer). The tragic victim of it all. We relive her horror twice in the movie, and through her eyes and her perspective it’s even more disheartening and spine-numbing. She’s unlike most woman at this time, educated, loyal can speak multiple languages. She has a heart of gold, who is loyal to her husband and just wants to start a family before it is too late. She doesn’t gain the respect of Jean’s mother, who is almost at fault for what occurs to her, because like most woman of that era, things happen and you should just deal with it. She stands up for herself, without anyone thinking she is in the right. So when Jean comes to her aid and honour both of their lives are at stake when Carrouges and Le Gris fight to the death in the duel. If her husband loses that means she was lying and must be burned alive because that is “the will of god.” She and Jean want justice and to finally put their demons at rest, which culminates in one hell of a fight.

Performances across the board are fantastic, from heartbreaking to hilarious, again Affleck is all over the place in this movie and it’s great to see him spread his wings and fly again. Beautiful cinematography with a chilling score. Some of the scenes looked like they were exhausting to shoot, all of the battle stuff and it’s great to see a movie look like a real life movie, instead of the green screen treatment a lot of movies get these days. Shot on location, with big sets and tons of extra’s it was simply refreshing.

The movie can drag a little bit, but it’s enough meat on the bone to keep you engaged the entire time and it sucks a movie like this crashed and burned at the box-office, but i think it will still be an awards contender. Support movies like this please and thank you.

The Last Duel – 73/100

Reviews

‘No Time To Die’ Review

What a terrific send off for Daniel Craig as 007. A fitting end to his Bhond saga that ties up loose ends and brings his story to an emotional conclusion.

James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Remarkable that Daniel Craig served as 007 for 15 years and made 5 worthy additions to the Bond franchise. But much like every other James Bond before him, time simply ran out for this suit wearing, martini drinking special agent. Fans have waited a long time for this final outing, due to the pandemic, No Time To Die had its fair share of release dates before settling on a Fall 2021 date. It was worth the wait, because not only did this movie live up to the hype, but it’s seeing success at the box-office.

Just when Bond thinks he’s made it in life, retired from the Academy and settled down with the woman of his dreams Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) he stumbles upon a controversy and her past and within a matter of mere moments his life comes crashing down before him. 5 years later, Bond is still semi-retired when an old friend Felix (Jeffrey Wright) comes knocking at his door to help with “one final mission.” Like any good friend Bond agrees and his last hooray turns his world upside down, bringing his past, present and future all together in a tour de force that will entertain fans like no other. One of the most impressive achievements of this film, is the run time of 2 hours and 47 minutes that doesn’t drag at all. No Time To Die doesn’t drag for a second, because the second you think you’re getting a break in the action, you’re right back in the thick of things.

Meeting old friends and making new ones along the way. Bond is reunited with M (Ralph Fiennes) Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) while meeting the new 007 (Lashana Lynch) and Paloma (Ana de Armas). Bond is only as good as his cast of characters around him and the new additions are fantastic. The sly but cool new 007, Lashana really stole a lot of the scenes she was part of and her banter and chemistry with Craig was amazing. Ana isn’t given much screen time but she knocks it out of the park. She plays a new comer, a cooky yet loveable secret agent, that’s just happy to be there and doesn’t mind knocking back a few drinks on the job, a perfect fit for Mr. Bond. Where these characters end will up with the upcoming revamp of the franchise is beyond me, but they are all so perfectly casted, I hope they plunk a new 007 in with these people, rather than recasting the entire franchise. I feel like that would be a massive step backwards, because these characters still have stories to tell, and there are certain moves going forward that they should be apart of.

With every Bond movie comes a classic new villain. Some are better than others, some are so bad you can’t remember their names. I think Rami Malek’s (Safin) falls somewhere in the middle. He gets a pretty awesome introduction to open the movie, but technically we don’t really meet him until halfway into the film and his character is so quiet and never really posses a threat that he almost feels forgettable. It’s whats at stake that Bond is afraid of not the villain and I wish it was the other way around. He is trying to protect what is most important to him, and when he realizes he can no longer do that, the film becomes very emotional. We get that from the only memorable scene with Malek in it, the final confrontation between Salfin and Bond.

Director Cary Fukunaga brings it with a stylish entry, that features tons of gorgeous cinematography and clean cut action. The visuals and landscapes throughout the movie are beautiful and it just feels like an epic conclusion. An emotional score that has you weeping in certain moments, all help put the bow on this James Bond present. So you really can’t ask for much more with a Bond film, perhaps a stronger villain, but at the end of the day, this movie was about finishing Daniel Craig’s time as Bond and they did it to perfection in my opinion. Everything comes full circle. In the end Bond leaves this world knowing that he left the most beautiful thing in the world behind.

It was a hell of a run for Daniel Craig, so cheers to him.

No Time To Die = 86/100

Reviews

‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Review

You can’t help feel like this movie wanted to be something it’s not. It almost immediately falls flat on its face and never fully recovers

Eddie Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kassady, who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution

Venom was a feel good movie when it was released 4 years ago. It was different and maybe not for everyone but it made a killing at the box office and it was inevitable that a sequel was going to happen. The natural progression was to introduce a little anarchy, a little carnage……

I have very few good things to say about this movie, in fact the nicest thing I can say is that the most enjoyable part of the entire movie is free to watch because SONY released it as a clip to promote the film. Now Venom was weird and off the rails, but almost in the best way possible. Venom 2 is just on some sort of weirdo steroids that leads to no where and we end up getting some pretty bad performances and pretty much zero action.

After “saving” the city, Eddie Brock and his new pal Venom are still having the same problems. Venom wants to eat people and Eddie just wants his career to get back on track. The dynamic between the two is great, it’s fun, but there’s almost none of it happening and they go just over the top with it. They just leaned so hard on the weirdness that it felt so unnatural and forced this time around. So when they go visit their pal Cletus Kassady (Woody Harrelson) Eddie is upset that Venom is better at his job than he is. Talk about a serious misfire for casting. Wow, Harrelson is just god awful in this. Even from the Venom post-credit scene, I knew he wasn’t right for Carnage. He took his character from Natural Born Killers and just turned it up and down and spun it all around for a unmemorable performance. Yes Venom and Carnage look great but at the same time I also didn’t like the design of Carnage. They just made him red and bigger and that’s not always the case for the character. Carnage has an amazing prison escape sequence and it’s the highlight of the film, but that’s it. They wasted Carnage and rather cast someone to play the character they cast someone who’s name will look good on the poster. They don’t even feel like they are in the same movie.

The film is going by so fast, the pacing is insane. They don’t even give us time to be with these characters and understand Carnage a little more. The movie flies by, introducing more than one new foe. We meet Cletus’s girlfriend Shriek (Naomi Harris) who is so over the top, I couldn’t believe it. For a cool character and the dynamic between her powers and Carnage’s weakness was such a great idea and they just don’t even spend time on it. She’s just a looney cartoon wondering around this movie. Michelle Williams is back because I’m pretty sure she has too. So let’s make her the damsel in distress because why not right? She doesn’t want to be here and it’s obvious.

We don’t even get to see Venom try and be a good guy, I was hoping for him to have a scene at the start of the movie where he’s doing some good and kicking some ass but that never happens. With Andy Serkis directing I had high hopes for this film but it’s the worst movie I’ve seen this year. It’s all wasted potential. Venom is barely around, this isn’t the proper Carnage and nothing really happens. This whole movie is building towards the post-credit scene and it’s a shame. Cool, that’s the direction they are going but to waste a movie just so we could have some 90 second fan service is beyond me.

I’m just not sure what went wrong because I think the fist Venom is far superior because it even had a little more scariness to it. That’s the thing, Carnage is suppose to be crazy and terrifying and they couldn’t even do that right. Maybe it was the PG 13 rating but Carnage should have been straight out of a horror movie and he was just Venom but red.

Let’s see where they go from here but I’m glad that’s over and so is this review.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage = 43/100

Reviews

‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ Review

The best origin MCU flick since Iron Man. Shang Chi delivers on everything you would want in a comic-book movie. Packing a serious punch behind Simu Liu, who is the newest addition to the Avengers roster.

Shang-Chi" is an unapologetically Asian triumph about an unapologetically Asian superhero | Salon.comShang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.

Boy, it sure felt great to be back at the cinemas watching an MCU flick. The next phase of the MCU is upon us and it is already reaching new and spectacular heights. Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is a master of Kung Fu and now possesses the all-mighty Ten Rings. Something the MCU has severely lacked is great hand-to-hand combat fights and that stops here because Shang-Chi has some of the best fight sequences ANY comic-book movie has to offer.

Again, the team over at Marvel has taken a lesser-known character and made them into a rock star, because you may or may not like their formula but it works. The MCU is essentially the Buckleys of film-making. Not saying the MCU is awful, but that, it just works.

Shang-Chi follows the aforementioned on a journey of self-discovery after he ditches his heritage and his family, to try and start a new path for himself. He has his trusty sidekick Katy (Awkwafina) who is always down for some karaoke, laughs, and never leaves his side. She was terrific in this role, her comedy was spot-on, and she didn’t feel out of place. They didn’t just make her some background love interest, she actually has things to do and much like her friend Shang-Chi, she too is on a journey. This film is about self-discovery, not running away from your past, and realizing that you have greatness inside of you. That being mediocre isn’t the way to go through life and that you’re stronger than you think. It was really well done and it resonates with a ton of our characters, including Shang-Chi’s sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). Meng’er shines as the baby sister who just wanted to fit in and show that it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone and anyone can achieve greatness. All three of the hero leads work so well together and it felt like we had been with these people before. They will blend flawlessly into the MCU and the larger scope of things and I can’t wait to see that happen.

Now for the villain. Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) was AMAZING. One of the strongest villains in the MCU in recent memory. He has a purpose and felt connected to everything going on within the film. He can be caring and kind but then has a switch that can go cold and calculated in a matter of seconds which made him a worthy foe for our heroes. He kicks ass and took no prisoners and much like any family man, he loves his family but has a misguided ideology of what it means to be a good father. One gripe with the film and a lot of MCU movies are, why are they killing off all the bad guys after just one movie? There is always room for more story with these people and I’ll never understand that. The MCU loves to kill off the bad guy at the end of every movie like the good guy ‘needs to win” but that just closes the door on a ton of sequel possibilities.

This movie certainly packs a punch. The action is astonishing, with a bus sequence that is by far one of the best MCU action scenes yet. Every punch feels like it matters, you and the people inside the movie feel it. The fight scenes are so well-choreographed that you can’t wait to see them go back to this well for future movies. I can’t say enough good things about the bus sequence because it’s everything the MCU has to offer at its very peak. The 3rd act gets a little CGI-heavy, but honestly, the movie deserves it. The whole movie is so grounded, especially with the first two-fight sequences that of course there’s going to be an epic showdown at the end, that involves two giant monsters, but I loved it. It felt earned and showcased what this movie is all about. Embracing other cultures.

Overall, I had a ton of fun with Shang-Chi, it’s the best MCU origin flick in a long time. Showed us that the MCU isn’t slowing down, and added some new depth and likable new characters. You can’t really ask for more!

Shang-Chi = 83/100

Reviews

‘The Suicide Squad’ Review

James Gunn brings it with the latest entry into the DCEU. With a ton of heart and more violence, you can shake a stick at.

The Suicide Squad' Isn't a Typical Superhero Movie - The Atlantic

I can’t think of another director working today that is capable of taking ordinary and lesser-known comic book characters and turning them into captivating, crowd-pleasing “heroes” than James Gunn. This serves as a reboot almost, more like a launching pad for the next wave of convicts turned superhero hand-picked by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). You know the drill a bomb is implanted in their skulls and if they misbehave or go off mission, bye-bye birdie.

Enter Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Rat-Catcher 2 (Daniela Menchoir), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) Kingshark (voiced by Sly Stallone), and bringing back everyone’s favorite Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman). This is the new group of rag-tag heroes set on a mission to save the world from the inner galactic starfish Starro. First things first, this new team is incredible, who have terrific chemistry and play off one another so well. All having their moments to shine, fight amongst one another, and most importantly try to right their past wrongs. Among the team, I can’t even say one stands out more than the others because the new squad is actually so damn memorable. Polka-Dot Man being in a comic-book movie and having unbelievable powers? Who would have thought it? King Shark can flip a switch in a heartbeat from a lovable cute idiot, to someone who will literally rip you in half. Bloodsport is without a doubt the brawn of the group, the leader if you must. I loved his entire concept and his bag of tricks that were his weapons. Rat-Catcher 2 was the heart. Her love for not just rats but everyone in the group was heartwarming and she brought such a positive light to the film. The person who really surprised me the most was John Cena. Going from WWE to big Hollywood movies is never an easy task, but he was so impressive here and had some of the most emotional and raw scenes in the movie.

As for the two previous squad members, I felt Harley and Flagg were both insanely elevated this time around. Margot Robbie again kills it in this role, each time she’s portrayed Harley, she knocks it out of the park. As for Rick Flagg, he wasn’t at the forefront but it felt he was more important and actually cared way more about the team this time around. James Gunn manages to incorporate horror, action, humor, and heart, all simultaneously and it works so well. When it wants to be emotional it works and when the action hits, it hits hard. Harley Quinn has an all-time DCEU moment, while the third and final act of the film is so much fun.

It just feels like a breath of fresh air for not only the DCEU but comic book movies in general. The stakes are high, but it doesn’t feel like that, just seeing new comic book characters brought to life is always entertaining. When those characters come across the screen as well as they do here, it’s even better. The jokes mostly land, some don’t but with James Gunn directing you can expect a bunch of jokes and some will be better than others. Even some of the most violent and brutal action ends up being one of the funniest parts of the film and it feels like something only James Gunn could pull off.

Just from top to bottom, The Suicide Squad is a quality film that won’t be for everyone, but I loved every single second of it. This is what a comic book movie should feel and look like. Bright, splash pages coming to life. Absurd characters popping off the screen, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. We need to see these characters again soon because they were all home runs, and I hope maybe they will pop again in another DCEU movie. King Shark not having a little cameo in Aquaman 2 just seems like a missed opportunity if you ask me. Tons of fun, plenty of laughs, and many memorable moments.

The Suicide Squad – 83/100