M3GAN – Movie Review

TL;DR – A weirdly wonderful film, full of camp and tension.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

M3GAN in a pile of soft toys.

M3GAN Review

Artificial life discovering sentience is one of those thematic moments that can land you on the whole spectrum of cinema. It can be thought-provoking life After Yang, menacing like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or could flip about in between, such as Lost in Space. Today we look at a film that skews more towards the menacing, where we see that Asimov might have been on to something.

So to set the scene, Cady (Violet McGraw) is travelling with her family when tragedy strikes, and she is left alone to go live with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). Her aunt is not ready to be a parent, and both struggle to bond until Gemma shows Cady what she is working on. A new toy and AI robot girl called M3GAN (Amie Donald/Jenna Davis) that pairs and bonds with her primary user. Everything is going well until one day, when they have a conversation about death.

Continue reading

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Movie Review

TL;DR – A work of art that hits on every emotional level from start to finish.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Pinocchio but just a puppet.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Review

Some names instantly intrigue you when you hear they are attached to a project. Which is entirely what happened when I heard that Guillermo del Toro was going to make a Pinocchio film. This alone was enough to interest me. Then you discover that it will be an animated film, not just that, a stop-motion animation film, and the masters of puppets, The Jim Henson Company, will produce it. Well, that is a combination that could not be missed, and I am fundamentally glad I watched it.   

 So to set the scene, master craftsman Geppetto (David Bradley) lost his only child Calro (Gregory Mann), during the Great War when he was only ten years old. A stray bomb destroyed the church that they were working in, and it is a loss that he has never recovered from. Sometime later, Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), a travelling cricket, came to live in the tree planted at Carlo’s grave and watched as a drunk Geppetto laments over his lost son. But as that is happening, some old spirits from the forest who typically ignore humanity hear the pleas of the grieving father and when he cuts down the pine tree that was planted at the grave to turn it into a puppet. So The Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) looks over the creation and then brings that puppet Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) to life.   

Continue reading

The Mummy (1999) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR –.While some parts of the film have not aged well, it is still a fun romp from start to finish.   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan service that viewed this film.

Camels in the desert crossing sand dunes.

The Mummy Review

There are those films from your childhood that should stay there because revisiting them can never come back to those heights. One of those films is The Mummy. I have fond memories of over everyone crowding around the VCR to watch it and then the unfortunate moment when someone decided to hand out tea and coffee. Every couple of years, I will think about watching it again but then wonder if too much time has passed. But then, when they keep remaking it both in name with The Mummy and in spirit with films like Jungle Cruise means that no matter what, there is a core here that is timeless.

So to set the scene, in Thebes, the capital of the Ancient Egyptian Empire in 1260 BC and home to Pharaoh Seti I (Aharon Ipalé) and his High Priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). One fateful day, the Pharaoh’s mistress Anck-su-namun (Patricia Velásquez) and the priest were caught in their affair when Imhotep brushed the makeup from her shoulder, and they struck the Pharaoh down with his own blade. Soon they were all captured at Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead, and cursed for their crimes. In 1923 AD, Hamunaptra is at most a ruin, but for many, just a legend. But the French Legion found it and was massacred, with only Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Beni Gabor (Kevin J. O’Connor) surviving to tell others of the treasure and curse that may await you there. Three years later, one Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) might just take them up on that.

Continue reading

The Menu – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is one of those films that revels in subverting something that brings me great joy and captivates me the entire time it is doing that.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Warning – Some scenes may cause distress.

Oyster Foam, with lemon lemon gel

The Menu Review

There is always a delight when you walk into s film with no idea what you are about to witness. Even more so when that film goes to places, you would never have expected. Well, today we have just such a film which was taken to the next level with me only seeing it because of a mix-up, and I am delighted that mix-up happened because goodness, what an experience.

So to set the scene, we open at a boat dock as Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) wait in fancy evening attire. They and a bunch of important critics, celebrities, foodies, and businessmen are taking a trip to one of the world’s most exclusive restaurants, Hawthorne, run by Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), hidden away on its own island. The restaurant’s maître d’ Elsa (Hong Chau) takes them on a tour of the island, revealing all its natural bounties and constructed eccentricities. Everything has been tailored to each guest. The only issue is that Margot was not meant to be there, and no one let the restaurant or Chef know.

Continue reading

Bones and All – Movie Review

TL;DR – A modern fairy tale coming-of-age road trip through middle America where two young people find love while eating people because they are cannibals.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Warning – This film contains scenes that may cause distress

Timothée Chalamet's eyes

Bones and All Review

Rarely have I walked out of a film, and my first thoughts were, ‘well, that was a lot!’. However, I think that statement perfectly defines those first moments as the credits rolled and the multitudes of thoughts from the audience leaving the theatre filtered past me. If nothing else, Bones and All is a movie that elicits strong responses from the people who watched it, but I am not sure they were all positive.

So to set the scene, Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) spends time by herself at high school but finally starts to find some friends. She slips out of the house she is locked into to go to a sleepover, and everything is going well until she bites her friend’s finger off. Her dad Frank (André Holland), gives her 3 minutes to pack before they move, something they have clearly done before. Moving to a new state, Maren wakes up one morning to find her dad missing and only a tape-recorded note left. Maren then has to find her place in the world all alone/ Well, maybe not completely alone because there may be more people like her. But they may not be friendly.

Continue reading

Werewolf by Night – Movie Review

TL;DR – A delightful romp through times past, made with the techniques of today.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film.

Marvel Studios logo in black-and-white.

Werewolf by Night Review

Given that today is the culmination of the spoopy season, I wanted to delve into something a little horror or horror-adjacent. But I didn’t have much time between everything I had to do and what I wanted to see. Good thing something I needed to catch up on was only one hour long. Also, after loving his musical composition and watching his take on Short Treks, I wanted to see what Michael Giacchino could do with a longer runtime.  

So to set the scene, we open on a dark night in a mansion deep in the woods where Ulysses Bloodstone’s (Richard Dixon) funeral is about to take place. All across the globe, the hunters gathered because this was both a funeral and a hunt. Whoever of the death dealers wins the ceremonial hunt gets the coveted Bloodstone, a relic of immeasurable power. But one of the hunters may actually be the hunted?  

Continue reading

Nope – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a film that swings wildly, where you have moments of pure terror, but I am not sure it all comes together in the third act.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Warning – This film contains scenes that may cause distress.

a feild of waking inflatable men

Nope Review

Today, I look at a film that is quite difficult to review. Challenging in that from a production perspective, I have rarely seen a movie that works as well as this. But from a narrative perspective, there were moments that negatively impacted me that I am still trying to process the day after. It is also a film that is hard to talk about without immediately heading into spoilers that might impact your time with the film. Well, it might be difficult, but I’m still going to take a solid crack at it. As such, it is time to dive into our review of Nope.

So to set the scene, we open on a TV set in the 1990s, a sitcom with rows for audience seating, but only there is no one there even though the applause signs still flash. But we see a chimpanzee sitting with blood on its hands while a lifeless body lies in the background. Flash forward to the current time, and we are introduced to Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya), who works with his father Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David) at Haywood Hollywood Horses. A ranch that trains horses for TV and movie productions. While OJ is doing all the work and wondering where his sister Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) is, he hears something odd coming from the sky. Then what looks like hail starts hitting the ground on a clear day, but it is not hail but metal shrapnel like keys and coins, one of which strikes Otis Sr. in the head. While the siblings struggle to keep the ranch going in the wake of this tragedy, the story of the objects falling out of a plane just does not hold up, and they start to wonder what else might be out there in the sky.

Continue reading

Prey – Movie Review

TL;DR – a perfect blend of action and tension that makes you sit on the edge of your seat and makes your skin crawl every time you hear the predator’s sound.     

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is something at the end of the mid-credits.

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film.

Naru looks into the sunset.

Prey Review

There are some directors that when you watch their debut film, you know they will soar because this first film is already a master to watch. One of those directors was Dan Trachtenberg, who, with 10 Cloverfield Lane, terrified me when using one location and just three actors. But it has been a long transit between drinks, and I am happy to be able to watch his follow-up, which is a new take on the Predator franchise.  

So to set the scene, in 1719, on The Northern Great Plains in the land which is now called America, lived Naru (Amber Midthunder), a member of the Comanche Nation and a skilled axe thrower. One day when she was hunting a white-tailed deer, the animal became spooked by a loud noise from above. Seeing an alien spaceship in the clouds and interpreting it as a thunderbird, Naru knows it is time for her kühtaamia, where she hunts something hunting her. When a mountain lion takes one of the tribe, Naru, her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), and a group of young men search through the forest to find him, unaware that behind a cloaking shield, a Predator (Dane DiLiegro) lies in wait.   

Continue reading

The Black Phone – Movie Review

TL;DR – While The Black Phone made me deeply uncomfortable for its entire runtime, it also engaged me at every moment. Ethan is terrifying as the unhinged Grabber, and the young cast stepped up to the plate when needed.   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse.

The grabber stands with black balloons.

The Black Phone Review

Horror is one of those genres that I occasionally dip my toes in, but not one that I have ever done a deep dive in enough to be a true aficionado. I think part of that is probably a bit of self-care on my part, and the other is that some people get super into Horror, which is sometimes a bit intimidating. That has made me a bit more choosy about which horror films I see, moving more towards suspense than slasher. However, if there is one company that you know will put out a solid horror film, it is Blumhouse, and today’s film is not an exception.    

So to set the scene, in 1978, in the North of Denver, a young Finney (Mason Thames) is pitching to Bruce (Tristan Pravong) in a little league game. He scores two strikes, but Bruce hits it for a home run on the final ball. Finn is a bit dejected, but Bruce commends him on his swing, telling him that ‘he almost got him’. Having won the match, Bruce rode high as he went home, right up until a black van pulled out in front of him, and he was never seen again. Sometime later, as Finn and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) walk to school, they see missing photos of Bruce and wonder if he will ever be found as the Grabber (Ethan Hawke) has taken more kids and no one can seem to stop him.

Continue reading

Last Night in Soho – Movie Review

TL;DR – Well Last Night In Soho is a film that threatens to go off the rails at any moment yet somehow manages to hold on just by its fingertips   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, but there are images during the credits

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse

Warning – This film features sequences with flashing lights

Last Night in Soho. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Last Night in Soho Review

Some directors out there have built up such a strong reputation that you know you will be checking out their next film no matter the genre/tone/story. For me, one of those directors is Edgar Wright, who has never once bored me with one of his films. Indeed, we have already gotten his take on a talking-heads documentary this year with The Sparks Brothers, and I was not going to turn down the chance to see two new films from him in the one year. I will say that this is a film that is best seen with as little information as possible, so if you are intrigued, you may want to stop reading here.

So to set the scene, Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) lives in rural Cornwell but has always dreamed of being a major fashion designer in London. She is obsessed with the style of the 1960s and capturing that time in her work. It was good news for Ellie when she got accepted into the London College of Fashion; thus, she made the long trip into the big city. After some interesting interactions with her roommate Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen), Ellie moves into a bed/sit in Goodge Place being rented out by Ms Collins (Diana Rigg). This old lady had owned the property for decades. It is perfect for Ellie, but as she sleeps, she visits an apparition from the past, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a singer and dancer in 1960s London. 

Continue reading