REVIEW: Luca (2021)

“Luca” Still Image – Photo: Disney / Pixar.

Directed by Enrico Casarosa — Screenplay by Jesse Andrews & Mike Jones.

Pixar’s Luca, which is available to watch right now with a Disney+ subscription, is a, pardon the pun, fish-out-of-water coming-of-age story about Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), a teenage sea monster, who is curious about what exactly happens above the surface of the water. His parents — voiced by Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan — tell him to stay away from the surface out of a fear that the sea monster-fearing humans might catch him. But Luca, like another Disney-protagonist once sang, wants to be where the people are.

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REVIEW: The Mauritanian (2021)

Tahar Rahim as Mohamedou Ould Slahi in Kevin Macdonald’s THE MAURITANIAN – Photo: STX Films / Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by Kevin Macdonald – Screenplay by M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani.

Kevin Macdonald’s The Mauritanian is a legal drama based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir Guantanamo Diary. The film tells the true story of Mohamedou’s experience as a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in which he was subject to so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ which essentially amounts to torture. The film juxtaposes the perspectives of two lawyers — Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Nancy Hollander (played by Jodie Foster) — who are both trying to make sense of exactly what made Mohamedou (played by Tahar Rahim) confess to crimes of terrorism. To do so, Nancy and Stuart must try to gain access to thousands of redacted classified documents.

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REVIEW: Army of the Dead (2021)

Dave Bautista in Zack Snyder’s ‘ARMY OF THE DEAD.’ — Photo: Clay Enos / Netflix.

Directed by Zack Snyder — Screenplay by Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, and Joby Harold.

There is always something special about films that return a filmmaker to his beginnings in some way, shape, or form. Such a film may not always end up as a ‘return to form,’ but for a filmmaker to return to his roots is undeniably exciting. Before Zack Snyder became a fanboy favorite as the director of multiple different graphic novel adaptations such as Man of Steel or 300, his very first feature film was the 2004 remake of the 1970s horror classic Dawn of the Dead. The remake, which was written by James Gunn, is still my favorite film that Snyder has directed, so I was naturally very excited when it was announced that he was returning to the zombie horror sub-genre with Netflix’s Army of the Dead. Although it’s certainly not as good as his previous zombie flick, Snyder’s latest film is definitely worth checking out on Netflix.

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REVIEWS: Steve McQueen’s ‘Small Axe’ Film Series (2020)

Letitia Wright as Altheia Jones-LeConte in “Mangrove.” — Photo: Des Willie / Amazon Prime Video.

When British filmmaker Sir Steve McQueen makes a film, you pay attention. McQueen has quietly become one of the best directors of his generation with critical darlings such as the perhaps underseen Michael Fassbender-led films Hunger and Shame, the Oscar-winning Solomon Northup-biopic 12 Years a Slave, and his 2018 heist film Widows, which did not get the awards attention it deserved. In 2020, McQueen released a collection of films — an anthology — titled Small Axe at film festivals and later on, for example, BBC or Prime Video (on the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s streaming service in my territory).

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REVIEW: WandaVision – “The Series Finale”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the ninth and final episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the ninth (and supposedly final) episode of WandaVision — appropriately titled The Series Finale — Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) must fight for her family’s continued existence as Agatha Harkness (played by Kathryn Hahn) threatens their safety by trying to absorb Wanda’s life force and powers. Meanwhile, the Vision (played by Paul Bettany) goes up against an all-white version of himself, who is on a mission to terminate Wanda Maximoff. In the series finale, our friends and foes battle it out while the future of the Hex is very much up in the air.

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REVIEW: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Daniel Kaluuya (center) as ‘Fred Hampton’ in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Directed by Shaka King — Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King.

Next week, Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah may have become the winner of one or multiple Oscars at the 93rd Academy Awards, which, in theory, was supposed to honor the best films of 2020, in spite of the fact that this film was released in 2021. This is the result of a change to this Oscar season’s eligibility period due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and this now means that select films released in early 2021 may also qualify to compete against 2020 films at the Oscars.

In general, this was a rule change that I am very much against as I absolutely do think that there are enough good films from 2020 that the Academy should honor, instead of adopting some odd eligibility window for the sake of giving more time to studios to release films that absolutely could’ve competed at the 94th Academy Awards instead. Regardless, I actually highly recommend Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah, and, if it had been released in 2020, it probably would be one of my favorite films of that year.

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REVIEW: Sound of Metal (2020)

Paul Raci and Riz Ahmed in SOUND OF METAL — Photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Directed by Darius Marder — Screenplay/Story by Darius Marder, Abraham Marder, and Derek Cianfrance.

If I’m not mistaken, Darius Marder’s first narrative feature film, Sound of Metal, was originally slated to be released in Danish theaters in December of 2020. However, when all of Denmark’s theaters were then ordered to close due to another lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the film was basically put in some sort of limbo. This week, on April 12th, 2021, I finally got the chance to watch one of my most anticipated films of the 2020 awards season, when it was released on Amazon Prime Video. In short, it was definitely worth the wait.

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Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Mar. ’21: ‘The Empty Man’ and ‘Servant’

Tony Revolori and Toby Kebbell in “Servant,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I recommend an underseen horror film that I, however, have mixed feelings on, and then I tell you about my experience of watching the second season of Apple TV+’s Servant, which, I thought, didn’t advance the plot all that much.

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REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (left) and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (right) in Wonder Woman 1984 — Photo: DC Comics / Warner Bros.

Directed by Patty Jenkins — Screenplay by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham.

The highly anticipated sequel to Patty Jenkins’ 2017 film, Wonder Woman, has finally arrived in Denmark. The film was released in theaters around the world (and simultaneously on HBO Max exclusively in the United States) in December of 2020, but, a week, or so, prior to the theatrical release in Denmark, all Danish theaters were ordered to close due to the second wave of the Coronavirus global pandemic. At the time of writing, theaters are still closed. This also means that Wonder Woman 1984 eventually skipped Danish theaters entirely.

In the mean time, frustratingly, the film was not made available for premium-video-on-demand in Denmark, and it took the distributor this long to release the film on HBO Nordic. That’s right, almost exactly three months after it was released on a streaming service in the United States. But now, thankfully, that wait is over. I’ve finally had the chance to watch the sequel to the hit 2017 superhero film led by Gal Gadot. Unfortunately, while I appreciated the original film, this sequel just feels misguided.

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REVIEW: Palm Springs (2020)

Andy Samberg as Nyles (left) and Cristin Milioti as Sarah (right) in Palm Springs. — Photo: Hulu.

Directed by Max Barbakow — Screenplay by Andy Siara.

I am a sucker for time loop movies, and, like most people, I have been a huge fan of these films since I saw Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day as a kid and fell in love with the concept and the film. Although I had seen him in the original Ghostbusters film prior to my first viewing of Groundhog Day, his quintessential time loop classic from 1993 was actually the film that made me a true fan of Bill Murray.

Similarly, Edge of Tomorrow, another fantastic time loop film, boosted Emily Blunt’s career, and, though it may be too early to tell, the Happy Death Day-film series ought to do the same thing for Jessica Rothe. Every time loop film released after 1993 stands on the shoulders of Groundhog Day, and, even though Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day are great films in the subgenre, there are many films that fail to build off of that formula in a satisfying way. Fortunately, Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs is a refreshing and timely (more on this later in the review) time loop film.

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