REVIEW: The Suicide Squad (2021)

David Dastmalchian, John Cena, Idris Elba, and Daniela Mechior in THE SUICIDE SQUAD — Photo: Jessica Miglio / Warner Bros.

Directed by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) — Screenplay by James Gunn.

Over the years, I have certainly not tried to hide the fact that I think 2016’s Suicide Squad, which was directed by David Ayer (though he has repeatedly made it clear that the film was essentially taken away from him as a result of studio interference), is, to put it mildly, one of my least favorite films ever made in the superhero genre. That 2016 film certainly reeked of studio interference, it was an almost incoherent mess, it was needlessly grimy and at times quite ugly, it used a decent soundtrack as a crutch and in a way that became incredibly tiring, all the while failing to get you to care about the characters or the relationships they were building. There were some decent things about it, but, on the whole, it felt like someone had tried to turn Ayer’s vision into a shameless imitation of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and that just didn’t work for the film that Ayer had envisioned.

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REVIEW: Stowaway (2021)

Daniel Dae Kim in Joe Penna’s STOWAWAY — Photo: Netflix.

Directed by Joe Penna (Arctic) – Screenplay by Joe Penna & Ryan Morrison.

Back in 2019, Joe Penna released his feature-length directorial debut, the Mads Mikkelsen-vehicle Arctic, which was a gripping story of survival in the face of a hopeless and cold wilderness. I was extremely impressed by Penna’s debut film, as it felt real, as it had a lot of heart, and since it rarely felt Hollywood-ized. It also helped that Mads Mikkelsen delivered one of his best performances in Penna’s underseen debut.

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REVIEW: Jungle Cruise (2021)

Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Frank, and Jack Whitehalll as MacGregor Houghton in Disney’s JUNGLE Cruise — Available now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra — Screenplay by Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, and John Requa.

There are many films that have been turned into theme park attractions as a direct result of their popularity. However, the reverse doesn’t happen successfully as frequently. We rarely see great films that are instead based on popular attractions. Disney did find that kind of success, when Gore Verbinski turned the Pirates of the Caribbean-attraction into a beloved film franchise. It wasn’t Disney first or last attempt at making a successful film out of one of their many theme park attractions, but they have all mostly failed to garner the same success that Verbinski’s beloved films did.

Some of the not-so-successful attempts include the Eddie Murphy-led The Haunted Mansion and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland. Jaume Collet-Serra’s Jungle Cruise is based on the Disney attraction of the same name, and, even though it is not a true home run for Disney, I think it’s definitely the best of its kind since Verbinski’s swashbuckling action-adventure trilogy set sail.

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Top Ten TV-Shows of 2020

Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler, Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul: Season 5, Episode 10 — Photo: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television.

It is kind of incredible just how much streaming services have overtaken the top tier of what we still refer to as ‘television shows.’ Perhaps we need to find another name for these series. Some of them are released all at once, some are released week-by-week, but almost all of the shows on my list were released on streaming services, and, in my case, I watched all ten of my top ten television shows on streaming services. In the 2020-edition, there are plenty of ‘familiar faces,’ as it were, but it’s also the first time that both Apple TV+ and Disney+ have made an appearance on any of my end of the year-lists. But where do the top shows on these relatively new streaming services land on my top ten, and what is the best show of the year? Let’s have a look!

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Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Summer ’21: ‘Mare of Easttown,’ ‘Cruella,’ and More

Emma Stone as ‘Cruella’ in Disney’s live-action ‘CRUELLA’ — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I reveal my mixed thoughts on the Emma Stone-vehicle Cruella, and then I recommend three television shows, one of which I’ve been meaning to review for several months. This edition of Additional Bite-Sized Reviews is jam-packed!

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REVIEW: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Karen Gillan as Sam in ‘Gunpowder Milkshake.’ Photo: Reiner Bajo / Netflix / StudioCanal.

Directed by Navot Papushado — Screenplay by Navot Papushado & Ehud Lavski.

While the Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s John Wick from 2014 was a fantastic and emotionally involving revenge action film, I didn’t initially like the idea of making it a franchise. Eventually, though, I warmed to the idea and grew to really appreciate the Keanu Reeves-led stylized action franchise, and I became invested in the films’ epic underworld which was surprisingly complex. With the success of Stahelski and Leitch’s action franchise, similar films were produced to varying results. Unfortunately, in spite of its impressive cast, Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Mikshake feels more like an imitation of Stahelski and Leitch’s impressive world-building than a successful original film.

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REVIEW: Black Widow (2021)

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, David Harbour as Alexei, and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW — Photo by Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios.

Directed by Cate Shortland — Screenplay by Eric Pearson — Story by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson.

After numerous delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow is finally here. Out now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first film in its so-called Phase Four — which also already includes Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki — but it is also the first theatrically released Marvel Studios product in two years (since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home).

My fellow Marvelites and so-called True Believers can now rejoice as the wait is finally over. However, while I’d say the film is quite good and, at least to some extent, worth the wait, I also have to say that it is clear as day that this film is ‘out of time’ in more ways than one, which makes the film feel quite strange even though it is ‘just’ a long-awaited solo film with a beloved character.

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REVIEW: The Tomorrow War (2021)

Still image — Chris Pratt in ‘THE TOMORROW WAR’ — Available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) — Screenplay Zach Dean.

Several years ago, there was a time when me and my father would watch and rewatch science-fiction films so much so that we knew the dialogue by heart. I can’t possibly tell you the amount of times that I’ve seen, for example, Stargate, which I have a lot of love for. When I was a kid, my father would always steer me towards horror or science-fiction films, and therefore it was a great joy for me to be able to watch this film with my father. Although I had some problems with the film, I genuinely had a lot of fun with it, and I know that if I were still a kid today, then he and I would watch The Tomorrow War over and over again.

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Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’ is the First Masterpiece of 2021

Still Image from Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’ — Available on Netflix now.

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve watched the ending of Bo Burnham’s previous comedy special, Make Happy. With his closing song “Can’t Handle This,” he showed everyone watching the kind of uniquely gifted talent he is. I remember thinking so many times about the line from the song that intimated that Burnham struggled to make himself happy, and I also learned since then that he quit stand-up comedy shows due to him having suffered from severe panic attacks on stage. But his talents off the stage have nonetheless shone since then, which was evident from his incredible directorial feature film debut, Eighth Grade.

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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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