REVIEW: All Quiet On The Western Front (2022)

Felix Kammerer as ‘Paul Bäumer’ in IM WESTEN NICHTS NEUES — PHOTO: Netflix.

Directed by Edward Berger — Screenplay by Ian Stokell, Lesley Paterson, and Edward Berger.

Can a war film ever truly be anti-war? A lot has been said on the topic over the years, with François Truffaut often being attributed to the quote that “there is no such thing as an anti-war film,” and Steven Spielberg reportedly disagreeing completely in an interview with Newsweek in which he stated that “every war movie, good or bad, is an anti-war movie.” With respect, I think both of their black-and-white absolute statements miss the mark. Certainly, there are war films that aren’t explicitly anti-war in case they showcase heroism or glorify the act of fighting for one’s country. Some would definitely argue that Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan fell prey to some of these war movie pitfalls. On the other hand, I also think the Truffaut quote is a strange generalization. Actually, with All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), I think Edward Berger has done an excellent job of recreating the hell of World War One in a way that knocks you out, shakes you up, and sends waves through you.

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REVIEW: Barbarian (2022)

Bill Skarsgård as the mysterious ‘Keith’ in BARBARIAN — PHOTO: 20th Century Studios.

Direction and Screenplay by Zach Cregger.

Zach Cregger’s Barbarian, one of the most entertaining surprise hits of the year, follows Tess Marshall (played by Georgina Campbell), as she arrives at a remote house that she has booked, only to find out that someone else, Keith (played by Bill Skarsgård), is already staying there due to the house having been double-booked. When Tess finds out that there isn’t really an open motel close by, she has to decide if she feels comfortable staying at the house with this total stranger. What she doesn’t know is that the house isn’t exactly what it seems.

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REVIEW: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities – Season One (2022)

Tim Blake Nelson and Sebastian Roché in ‘Lot 36’ from GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES — PHOTO: Netflix.

Series Created by Guillermo del Toro.

Just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, Netflix released a spooky four-day event with eight episodes (two released each day) of the brand-new horror anthology series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. The Oscar-winning filmmaker has assembled eight directors and had each of them direct their own hour-ish-long episode. Admittedly, not every one of them is an outright hit, but, as a collection of horror curiosities, del Toro’s anthology series definitely does its job, and, if you follow the two-a-day release schedule, then you may find that their spot in the season wasn’t entirely random. Horror aficionados gather around because this one is for you.

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REVIEW: The Bear – Season One (2022)

Tensions can sometimes reach a boiling point in THE BEAR, in which a star chef takes over a dirty Chicago family restaurant — PHOTO: DISNEY+/FX.

Series Created by Christopher Storer.

In Christopher Storer’s The Bear, we follow the employees and cooks at the dirty, failing Italian beef sandwich shop, the Original Beef of Chicagoland, as its owner has died by suicide and his brother, Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White), takes over. Carmy, an experienced chef with fine-dining experience, wants to change the way things are done in the restaurant much to the frustration of some of its employees, including the de-facto manager of the shop, Richie (played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who is the most unruly of the bunch.

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REVIEW: House of the Dragon – Season One (2022)

Emma D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra standing close to the Iron Throne in HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — PHOTO: HBO

Series Created by Ryan Condal & George R. R. Martin.

If I am being totally honest, I didn’t really miss Game of Thrones. Its final season made some missteps that soured me on it to an extent that I didn’t really think much of the spin-offs in development. Still, out of this idea that I like to at least try to complete what I’m following along with, I gave it a go (also because I quite liked the cast). And I am happy to report that it didn’t take long to hook me. The first season of House of the Dragon is Game of Thrones at its very best. It is an outstanding first season of television that well and truly won me back.

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REVIEW: Black Adam (2022)

Dwayne Johnson is BLACK ADAM — PHOTO: Warner Bros.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise) — Screenplay by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani.

Does anyone really know what Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Comics are doing with their immensely popular comic book characters on the big screen? Half the time it sounds like they want to copy what Disney and Marvel are doing, and the other half it sounds like they want to do a little bit of everything. That latter suggestion is unfocused but it is also a little bit exciting that they are prepared to do anything. That we can get a deeply gritty Halloween-set Batman film and a more brightly colored tongue-in-cheek superhero comedy for all ages in Shazam! with DC Comics is good fun, but I’m not sure fans, general audiences, or the higher-ups are on the same page. Some fans want a patient build-up in the vein of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some want a return to Nolan-esque grittiness, and others are desperate for Zack Snyder’s vision for the DC universe to live on. Time will tell if they can have it all, but, in trying to appeal to the most amount of people, Jaume Collet-Serra’s underdeveloped Black Adam raises some eyebrows, as it feels very much like a film that has been tinkered with by higher-ups so much over the years that it has gone stale, which is a shame since Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has been waiting for 15 years to make his mark as the titular antihero.

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REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Season One (2022)

Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in THE RINGS OF POWER — PHOTO: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Show Developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay — Season Directed by J. A. Bayona, Wayne Che Yip, and Charlotte Brändström.

Late next year we’ll be twenty years removed from the release of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That means it’ll also be twenty years since ten-year-old me sat in a theater and sobbed as Frodo said his goodbyes. Peter Jackson’s first three films in the Tolkienverse fully got me. I remember asking my mother if movies would ever get that good again, and she assured me that they would. She was right.

However, you wouldn’t know it from Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien trilogy, the prequel films, The Hobbit trilogy. Those three films disappointed someone so deeply emotionally invested in the universe so much that I chose not to see all of them immediately as they were released in theaters. So, I was skeptical when it was announced that a return to Middle-Earth was on the horizon at Amazon Prime Video. However, while it suffers from some notable problems, I think the first season of The Rings of Power mostly works. In any case, I’m happy to say that I loved being back in a universe that I didn’t realize I had been missing for quite some time.

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REVIEW: Halloween Ends (2022)

Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode eventually goes toe-to-toe with Michael Myers one last time in David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN ENDS — PHOTO: Universal Pictures.

Directed by David Gordon Green — Screenplay by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green.

Do bankable film franchises really end? These days it really doesn’t feel like it. Horror franchises, like other genre franchises, can be brought back to life again and again and again. Heck, these days reboots can just ignore several films that came before and chose to only acknowledge one or two films in the franchise, and audiences will still accept it. So, well, regardless of what happens in this film, does anyone truly believe that Halloween will really end? This skepticism is coming from a guy who thought this franchise probably should’ve ended with Steve Miner’s Halloween H20, which I liked. Honestly, I would’ve been fine with them ending it after the 2018 reboot.

Because let’s be honest, this — 2018, Halloween Kills, and this film — shouldn’t have been a trilogy. It should’ve just been that one ‘Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode a la Sarah Connor’ film to end the franchise with a bad-ass one-on-one confrontation. But then some higher-up probably wanted more, and so we got a pretty awful and aimless middle part, in Halloween Kills, and now, with Halloween Ends, a really messy conclusion that both wants to live up to the promise of the 2018 film and try something new. It doesn’t completely work, but I admire the attempt.

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REVIEW: Halloween Kills (2021)

Jamie Lee Curtis in HALLOWEEN KILLS — PHOTO: Universal Pictures.

Directed by David Gordon Green — Screenplay by Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green.

On October 31st, 2022, people all around the world will be celebrating Halloween, the favorite holiday for all horror fans, but if you choose to believe the marketing for the latest film in the franchise named after the aforementioned spooky holiday, Halloween ended last weekend when David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends (which I have yet to see), the last film in his Michael Myers-focused trilogy, was released. I certainly have my doubts about whether or not they’ll actually let the dust settle on John Carpenter’s stories horror franchise.

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REVIEW: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – Season One (2022)

(L-R): Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk / Bruce Banner and Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer “Jen” Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Show Created by Jessica Gao — Directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia.

The first Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe series, WandaVision, was released in early 2021. Now, in October of 2022, Marvel Studios has fully released eight different Marvel series on the Disney streamer. While I’ve enjoyed watching all of them, I really do think that many of them would’ve been better as films, as these shows — like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — still swear by the classic Marvel template. Honestly, I think only WandaVision, Loki, What If…?, and Ms. Marvel were right to be made into series rather than films. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, however, is the kind of story that feels appropriate for the streamer as a series. It doesn’t take the overarching Marvel storylines all that seriously and, even though I’m a fan of the MCU, that feels really refreshing.

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