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.
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.
TL;DR – The sleigh bells ring as Santa takes out one henchman after another.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
Violent Night Review –
Some concepts for a film intrigue you by their very existence. For example: what if Santa must carve his way through a pile of mercenaries to save a young girl who truly believes in him? A concept that answers once and all the question ‘is Die Hard a Christmas film?’ by straight up making it one. Well, that is a film that gets my immediate attention.
So to set the scene, Santa (David Harbour) is getting wasted in a bar in Bristol, England. The constant consumerism of Christmas is wearing him down, and this might be his final year. Meanwhile, in Greenwich, Connecticut, Linda (Alexis Louder) is picking up Jason (Alex Hassell) so that their daughter Trudy (Leah Brady), can have a normal Christmas. Well, as normal as you can when you are separated, and you are part of one of the wealthiest families in America under the all-seeing eyes of matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo). But as Santa arrives at the house to drop off Trudy’s presents, Mr Scrooge (John Leguizamo) and his gang storm the house, kill the staff and take the whole family hostage. There is $300 million on the line, and now Santa is stuck in the middle of it.
TL;DR – This visually stunning film is held back by unneeded musical moments that feel more like filler than integral.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.
Encanto Review –
Animation is a medium that, when used to its best, can radically transform your experience of a story, but which is usually related to being a lower form of filmmaking. Today we look at a film that uses the strengths of animation but then also feels like the medium held it back from its true potential.
So to set the scene, 50-years before the start of the film, the Madrigal family and their community were on the run from enemies, and just when they were surrounded, and all was lost, magic happened. A magic candle created a sanctuary for the community and a sentient house and gave the family magical powers. This continued from Abuela Alma Madrigal (María Cecilia Botero) to her daughters and grandchildren. However, when it was Mirabel’s (Noemi Josefina Flores) turn, there was no magic power for her. Now grown up, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) works to prove herself for the family as her cousin Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz) prepares to find his magical power. However, while things go well, cracks start appearing in the house, and soon all the magic is trouble.
TL;DR – John Wick was the gold standard for action films and John Wick Chapter 2 continues this with brutal action, and a deeper insight into this fascinating world.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Now it should come as no surprise that I love the first John Wick film, from the action, to the world building, to the sheer commitment of Keanu Reeves put into preparing for the role. Indeed I wrote a whole article on how it sets the gold standard for Worldbuilding and Visual Storytelling. The issue is that when you love the first film it is always a bit difficult to look at a sequel with an objective lens, on the one hand, you may be blinded by rose tinted glasses, or you may judge it harshly because nothing can live up to the expectations the first film made. With this in mind, I approached John Wick 2 cautiously but I am still happy to say while it did not quite live up to the first film it is still an amazing film in its own right. Its action is still as good as the first, we delve deeper into this world they are creating, and we get to see what happens when a movie is perfectly cast.
TL;DR – A simple paint by numbers comedy, funny but ultimately a bit disappointing
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
I went and watched Sisters right afterThe Revenant, as a way to decompress after that spectacle of filmmaking. Given that both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are incredible comedians separately and together they are amazing I had really high expectations for Sisters. So was it funny, well in places yes it was, but it was also comedy paint by numbers, where you can chart the course of the film after about 20 minutes in.
TL;DR – A really good action flick and an example of world building done right.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
John Wick has been out on DVD/Digital Download for some time and with a sequel now on the cards, I thought I would have a look back at one of the better action films in recent times.
The basic plot of John Wick is that the titular character John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a man who was once in deep in the Russian mob, and through an impossible act he freed himself and settled down with his new love, only for her to pass away. The last thing his wife did was buy John a puppy so he could move on from his grief. The son of the Russian Mob boss Iosef (Alfie Allen) mistakes him for an easy mark, this is an error, a grave error.