Movie Roundup – October 2021

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My average number of movies per week took hit in October due to a few factors. Firstly, Siggy and I went to see my mum and actually went out a few times for meals and only watched the sort of crappy TV the elderly enjoy while we were away from home – Bargain Hunt, Strictly Come Dancing and Coronation Street for example. Secondly, I discovered Corridor Crew on YouTube and spent hours watching their VFX and reaction videos instead of movies. And thirdly, unfortunately, we got COVID. So, for a few days I didn’t feel like doing anything beyond lying in bed feeling sorry for myself and reading.

That said, here’s 11 films I did watch. As usual there may be minor spoilers but I’ll try and avoid any major ones. I’m still not feeling 100% tickety-boo after my run in with that spiky virus, you could say I feel a bit rickety-poo, so this post won’t be as long as some of usual movie roundups. Hopefully, normal service will resume next month.

Free Guy (2021) is an action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) from the studio who brought you Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King twice. It’s a surprise therefore to find that the story is quite original, very funny and hugely entertaining. At last here’s a film that’s not a remake, not a sequel, not a prequel but backed by a great team and a budget big enough to pull off some amazing looking visual and practical effects.

Sure there’s some comparisons that can be made to Tron, The Matrix, Ready Player One and more obviously The Truman Show, but it has an overwhelming sense of ‘here’s something different’ while still exploring gamer tropes. There’s some fun gags and Easter eggs and of course some Star Wars and MCU fan-service, but beside all that Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast as non-player character who comes to realise the world is much bigger and complex than he first imagined. It is my favourite film of the month.

Black Widow (2021) is the much-anticipated origin story for Scarlett Johansen’s MCU character who made the hero’s ultimate sacrifice in the Infinity War/Endgame Avenger’s sandwich. Problem is, it’s not really an origin story at all and more of an MCU formulaic team-based romp along the lines of Red Sparrow. How many times do the makers of these films need to blow up a huge flying fortress?

Again, the visual effects are great but there’s not much in the action or the script that shouts of anything particularly original and I’m sad to say even the fight sequences aren’t as kick-ass as I expected. Best performance has to go to Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family).

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is another much-anticipated visual effects heavy film mashing together the stories of Godzilla: King of Monsters and Kong: Skull Island. The plot, the Hollywood physics and the dialogue are truly laughable, but the film really delivers on the monster fight sequences.

There are three truly epic battles between the titular foes which also includes the appearance of a genre favourite in the form of Mechagodzilla – three for the price of two – you can’t go wrong!

The Green Knight (2021) is an Amazon Original written and directed by David Lowery who made A Ghost Story, so I kind of expected it might be weird and perhaps a bit slow. It was both, but I really enjoyed it.

It’s another exploration of the acceptance of death and the circle of life wrapped up as a medieval legend. The cinematography and symbolism are excellent, but I can certainly understand why some viewers, perhaps expecting another King Arthur type film, didn’t enjoy it.

Bloodshot (2020) is an extended version of this trailer with the addition of some awful dialogue, accents and being told we’re looking at ‘London’ but all the cars have American number plates and the buildings are obviously in the U.S:

My suggestion is to enjoy the trailer and then sit and imagine a really great film based on what you’ve seen. Give yourself a few minutes to do that, and then thank me for saving you 1hr 49min watching this danged film. Happy Thanksgiving folks. It’s a turkey.

The Forgotten Battle (2020) is a Dutch film which if I remember correctly has been dubbed rather well into English on Netflix. It is sent in WWII, November 1944, when Operation Market Garden was in full swing. Allied soldiers are trying to surround the flooded isle of Walcheren in Zeeland, to cut off the German army.

The film follows the lives of three young characters which inevitably connect up toward the end of the film. A doctor’s daughter in Zeeland ends up tangled up with the Dutch resistance, a Dutch soldier fights for the Germans but the more he sees the more he doubts he’s fighting for the right people, and an English glider pilot crash lands on his way to Arnhem and ends up fighting on a different front to the one he was supposed to be on. It’s a very good war story with good production and a ‘warts and all’ attitude to telling a story we shouldn’t forget.

Charlie’s Angels (2019) is written and directed by Elizabeth Banks and has a few fun and cool moments, but is essentially so predictable as to make it very much like watching a Kingsman film but with women instead of men. While it’s not as shit as Bloodshot it’s certainly not one of the best films in this list. I never really enjoyed the original TV series or the two other movies, so I can’t really tell you if this film does anything to help the cause.

I Think We’re Alone Now (2018) is an ’empty world’ sci-fi film starring Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Elle Fanning (The Great) and then later Charlotte Gainsbourg and Paul Giamatti pop up in small roles. Most of the film is centred on Dinklage and then when she pops up in his life unexpectedly Fanning’s character.

I absolutely love an ’empty world’ film and this is a good entry into that genre. Both lead actors play their roles well and I don’t have a single criticism to lodge against this one. I really enjoyed it, and was glad that no zombies turned up. Are we one COVID mutation away from a similar scenario? Time will tell…

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Episode II) (2002) really should need no introduction. It is an effects-heavy middle chapter to the story of the origin of Darth Vader with some janky looking visual effects, some ground-breaking scenes that push the limit of what was possible at the time and some questionable acting and dialog from Hayden Christensen.

I watched it because I felt I had to as part of my reverse Star Wars marathon I embarked on a few weeks ago. I did enjoy it more than I expected to, but it’s certainly not my favourite Star Wars movie, or indeed prequel movie. The source of many an Internet meme and of course a kick off for the mostly very good animated The Clone Wars TV show.

Princess Mononoke (1997) is a classic anime animated by Studio Ghibli with a great cast for the English dub and story adaptation by Neil Gaiman. It compares interestingly to the story of Avatar. However, there’s no clear villain in the story with different groups of people fighting over the fate of the forest.

It’s great to watch (show me a Studio Ghibli film that isn’t) with quite a dark storyline in places for a kid’s film. The ending didn’t quite work for me though – with no clear resolution for any of those involved.

Flash Gordon (1980) has been digitally restored and remastered in 4K and looks very nice on my OLED television. It’s a stone-cold classic which doesn’t take itself too seriously in transporting the viewer into the world of the Saturday matinee serialised adventures of American sports star Flash fighting the evil Ming the Merciless. The special effects show their age with semi-transparent green effects and miniatures wobbling along on wires, but the set and costume designs are great and the story is a lot of fun. And let’s not forget the cracking soundtrack by Queen.

Fun fact – both films Queen provided music for (Flash Gordon and Highlander) feature the lines – “who wants to live forever!”.

Again, apologies if this post seems rushed, but my mind is elsewhere at the moment. Hopefully, I’ve given you a good indication of what to avoid and which films I thought were a good use of your time.

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