Here’s the latest batch of films I have watched, and for a change presented in the order in which I rate them. Update – to those of you who may have noticed this was originally a ‘midpoint’ roundup I say well done. I didn’t watch any other movies in January (apart from The Suicide Squad again, this time with Siggy), being wrapped up in binge watching true crime series on Netflix.
The Suicide Squad (2021) is my film of the month. The only reason I haven’t seen it sooner as I was hoping it would come down in price on Amazon. I was a tad disappointed with the first attempt at bringing this DC comic book to the big screen in 2016, but not so with this iteration. Yes it is super violent, but if you can accept that then you’re in for a treat. The adult-orientated film has great characters, lots of humour, some great eye-watering VFX and a well-paced action-packed story. There really is never a dull moment.
I’m not a huge fan of Idris Elba if I am honest but he was great in this as Bloodsport and it was certainly better than watching Will Smith flex his ego in the previous film. Margot Robbie gets another chance to develop the beloved Harley Quinn character and is central to making this film have some kind of moral compass and a lot of humour – especially when the squad go to rescue her only to find she’s escaped under her own steam. Joel Kinnaman (Altered Carbon) reprises his role as Colonel Rick Flag as does Viola Davis as his ruthless boss Waller. John Cena also shines as Peacemaker and it was great to see Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) on the big screen after discovering there was such a character in the game Lego DC Super Villains.
Yes there is glorified violence, an extended ‘friendly fire’ incident used for comedic value as Peacemaker and Bloodsport vie for the most impressive kill, lots of dick jokes and juvenile gags, but that’s pretty much what I wanted/expected from this film along with some ‘balls out’ action sequences, big effects shots and beautifully created visuals – basically what we didn’t get much of in Suicide Squad in 2016. It’s as close to having a well-drawn and inked comic book rammed into your face as you’re ever going to see I think, and I think it’s the best DC film there’s been in a long time. Too much? Okay moving on…
Don’t Look Up (2021) is a very funny satire, or dark comedy if you will, based around the idea that two scientists – played brilliantly by a scruffy looking Leonardo DiCaprio and a severe-fringed Jennifer Lawrence – discover a comet on a apocalyptical crash course for Earth. This is an extinction level event and so they rush to speak to NASA and the US President. In other films of this ilk (Deep Impact, Armageddon) this would lead to a full mobilisation of the army and whatnot and a daring mission to blow up the comet. In this film there is eventually a mission (to help the President’s midterm results) but it gets turned around after a deal is struck with big business to mine the comet for rare metals for consumer electronics.
Mark Rylance is great as the creepy CEO, who I am sure was modelled after the likes of Elon Musk, who then sets up his own mission to break the comet up into useful chunks and mine it. Surrounded by yes-men and with no interest in rigorous science Rylance’s plan goes badly off the rails. It’s no leap to interpret this film as a movie-sized metaphor for all that’s wrong in the world when it comes to the approach to climate change and perhaps COVID and the laughs I got from it where tempered from a realisation that if this happened in real life we would be fucked – and likely because of the reasons laid out in this film.
On a lighter note, Encanto (2021) was a film we watched as a family on Christmas Eve, but I’ve saved it up to write about it here. It was a perfect film to watch at Christmas with the family as, as usual, it is all about a family working together, eventually, for a greater good. Some of the songs are a bit naff to be honest, but for every dull one there’s a good poppy one to help the narrative along.
The star of the show really is the colourful and kinetic animation which really popped in UHD on my OLED TV. Sorry if I seem to be going on about it, but the difference it makes for VFX, gaming and new animations is huge. The story felt kind of similar to another Disney tale, where one member of the family has discover there place / role in life, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m sure someone mentioned it while we were watching but then I drank too much and forgot.
Together (2021) is an emotional tour-de-force of acting from James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan with only the seldom seen child actor Samuel Logan in some scenes. The whole story takes place inside the couple’s home with them talking to the camera about their relationship and the pressure of coping with the various restrictions and events that befall them during the COVID pandemic. It’s like a stage play made into a film and is quite intense – as if you are there with them but unable to speak.
Dolittle (2020) is fun film that feels like a Disney film but isn’t. Robert Downey Jr’s Welsh accent sounds like it had to be dubbed on in post-production and isn’t particularly convincing but aside from that the story is fun and the VFX mostly very well done for a kid’s film. The search for a tree that can heal any illness and perhaps even grant eternal life is a central premise of Jungle Cruise, but these time Dolittle and his animal chums are out to save the Queen of England.
Trying to thwart their plans is rival scientist Doctor Blair Müdfly, played by Welshman Michael Sheen in an ironic twist of casting. There’s a whole bunch of famous people doing the voices of the various animals Dolittle can converse with and the film is a family-friendly light-hearted romp that you shouldn’t to take too seriously.
Eternals (2021) is a long boring film. It’s great that Marvel Studios ticked as many diversity and inclusion boxes as they could find when casting this film, and the effects are great (as you’d expect given the budget), but the story feels like it’s a long stream of exposition padded out now and again by some cookie cutter action sequences. It’s like the opposite of The Suicide Squad in terms of pacing.
Compared to the very good Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings this film is too serious, too long and not overly original if you pick away at the edges. There were elements of Pinocchio (young non-human character who can’t grow old but so want’s to be a real human), Umbrella Academy (heroes with a range of strange powers have to work together to save the planet),The Revenant (someone getting beat to crap by a monster), Star Trek (big spaceship crashes shocker) and The Tomorrow War (creature design), and some far to lengthy explanations (from the opening text onwards for literally hours… sigh…) of the story, but explanation as to why the Eternals should be created to all be so annoying. Apart from some eye catching VFX there wasn’t a whole lot of truly interesting original things happening on screen and the dialogue certainly isn’t. it’s a mess. Yeah I didn’t like this film, but it’s not the worst one I’ve seen so far this month…
Cats (2019) by all accounts should have been so bad it’s good, but it wasn’t – it was just bad. There was something very creepy about the VFX – a cat human hybrid is something you might expect to see badly done on Doctor Who but not a major motion picture. The big name cameos were all a bit clunky and while I’m sure the filmmakers captured the essence of the stage show, it didn’t really surpass that, so why bother making a film in the first place. Oh Money? Sorry I forgot the ‘business’ bit of show business.
Also someone really needed to go out with a tape measure and measure some cats, because a lot of times they appeared either too small or too big compared to the props and sets around them. The only redeeming thing I can think of to say about this film is that the dance sequences and choreography were very nice to watch. See, I tried to be balanced.
And yet, even Cats it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen so far this month… No, that accolade goes to:
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) which is just awful in so many ways. It’s supposed to be a thriller but it’s not very thrilling. Disjointed and confusing but not thrilling. It’s supposed to be a comedy and it’s not particularly funny unless you like a lot of swearing and I mean a LOT. The only fucking check box the film manages to shitting tick is the ‘action’ box – yes there is fucking action. It’s quite run-of-the-mill action – you know fucking car chases, helicopters, explosions and whatnot, but at least there is some action oh and some motherfucking shooting.
I was looking forward to seeing this fucking film as I seem to recall the first fucking film was quite fucking funny, but something happened to the fucking characters along the way and this shitty fucking sequel just seems to have devolved rather than evolved into something worthy of perhaps making it a twatting trilogy with The Hitman’s Wife’s Cat’s Bodyguard or some fucking such. I’m sure James Corden would don his motherfucking mo-cap suit for another outing as a twatting cat if you waved enough fucking cash in his direction. Anyway, avoid, avoid, avoid. And apologies for the swearing but I was just demonstrating how stupid it sounds when over-used. Christ what a shitty film.