REVIEW: The Last of Us – “Left Behind”

Bella Ramsey as ‘Ellie’ and Storm Reid as ‘Riley’ in HBO’s THE LAST OF US — PHOTO: HBO / Liane Hentscher.

The following is a recap and review of the seventh episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

In the seventh episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the masterful video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled Left Behind — we flash back to Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) in FEDRA school. She gets into fights in school and may be headed down the wrong path in life, but then an old friend, Riley (played by Storm Reid), stops by and gives her an adventure in a nearby mall. Left Behind was directed by Liza Johnson and written by Neil Druckmann (co-creator of The Last of Us video game franchise).

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REVIEW: We Have A Ghost (2023)

David Harbour and Anthony Mackie in WE HAVE A GHOST — PHOTO: NETFLIX.

Directed by Christopher Landon — Screenplay by Christopher Landon.

Christopher Landon is a rather interesting up-and-coming horror filmmaker. Reportedly scheduled to remake Frank Marshall’s Arachnophobia, Landon has made a career off taking well-trod genre fare and giving it a modern feel and often with a comedic slant. Among other things, he co-wrote D. J. Caruso’s Disturbia (a thriller that is so close to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in the concept that it led to a lawsuit) and several Paranormal Activity films, before he became a household name for horror film fans by writing and directing his Happy Death Day films (slasher comedies that runs with the time-loop concept from Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day) and Freaky, 2020s horror comedy reinterpretation of the classic body swap story Freaky Friday. His latest film, We Have A Ghost, is similarly placed squarely in the horror-comedy genre-blend and it, too, wears its inspirations on its sleeves. Most of Landon’s previous films as a director have been decent-to-good, and although We Have A Ghost doesn’t reach its full potential, it’s still a pretty decent but derivative little family film. 

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Top Ten TV-Shows of 2022

It’s time. I’ve seen everything that I feel like I need to see before I can publish my best TV/streaming shows list for 2022. Today, I’ll list ten shows that I think were absolutely fantastic last year. You’ll find a lot of different shows on this list. Some of them are big franchise entries, but there are also new favorites and an experimental show that I was obsessed with last year. So, without further ado, let’s get to it. Counting down from ten to one, these are the best television shows of 2022.

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REVIEW: The Last of Us – “Kin”

Gabriel Luna as ‘Tommy’ and Pedro Pascal as ‘Joel’ in HBO’s THE LAST OF US — PHOTO: HBO / Liane Hentscher.

The following is a recap and review of the sixth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

In the sixth episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the masterful video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled Kin — Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) reach Wyoming and search for Joel’s brother, Tommy (played by Gabriel Luna), and Joel starts having panic attacks. Kin was directed by Jasmila Žbanić (Quo Vadis, Aida?) and written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).

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REVIEW: Somebody I Used to Know (2023)

Alison Brie and Danny Pudi star in Somebody I Used To Know — PHOTO: Scott Patrick Green/Prime Video

Directed by Dave Franco — Screenplay by Dave Franco and Alison Brie.

Somebody I Used to Know is Dave Franco’s second film as a director. The actor-turned-filmmaker has teamed up with his wife (and co-writer) Alison Brie, of Community, Mad Men, and GLOW fame, to make a modern romantic comedy with an indie look and references that make it clear that the filmmakers behind Somebody I Used to Know are fully aware of the films they’re aping. The film isn’t merely derivative; you know where it’s going almost from the minute the premise has been introduced to you. 

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REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Kathryn Newton as ‘Cassie Lang’ and Paul Rudd as ‘Scott Lang’ in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — PHOTO: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Directed by Peyton Reed — Screenplay by Jeff Loveness.

Trilogies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe aren’t really trilogies. You can’t watch the Iron Man or Captain America trilogies without knowing what happens in the Avengers films. Or, of course, you can, but it would be a strange exercise as those trilogy films eventually reference other films, are reliant on those other films’ setup, or are direct continuations of a film that isn’t technically in that very trilogy. This has also been true of the Ant-Man trilogy. If you just watch Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp (both directed by Peyton Reed), you’ll definitely have some questions about why Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is under house arrest and about what the hell happened in the 2018 sequel’s mid-credits scene, in which most of the cast suddenly disappeared (thus stranding Scott Lang in the so-called Quantum Realm). Similarly, those who have decided to live under a rock (or simply ignore every other Marvel movie — including two of the biggest films of all time) would probably be really confused as to what happened between the 2018 sequel and this 2023 sequel. I suspect very few people would find themselves in that situation, but I mention all of this because the interconnected nature of the incredible achievement that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) can be both very exciting and confusing depending on who you ask.

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REVIEW: Shotgun Wedding (2023)

Jennifer Lopez as Darcy Rivera and Josh Duhamel as Tom Fowler in Shotgun Wedding. — PHOTO: Ana Carballosa

Directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) — Screenplay by Mark Hammer.

The start of the new year is going by so fast. I’m still trying to catch up on some late 2022 releases, just as I’m trying to see notable 2023 releases. Well, one of the films I missed in January was Amazon Prime Video’s release of the Jennifer Lopez-led action rom-com Shotgun Wedding. I’ve now finally had the chance to check it out. And, well, in spite of a relatively star-studded cast, it’s mostly just ‘okay.’ It’s nowhere near as good as the films it’s clearly modeled after. 

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REVIEW: The Last of Us – “Endure and Survive”

Keivonn Woodard as ‘Sam’ and Bella Ramsey as ‘Ellie’ in HBO’s THE LAST OF US — PHOTO: HBO / Liane Hentscher.

The following is a recap and review of the fifth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

In the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the masterful video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled Endure and Survive — Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) team up with two brothers, Henry (played by Lamar Johnson) and Sam (played by Keivonn Woodard), in an attempt to get out of Kansas City safely. Endure and Survive was directed by Jeremy Webb (The Last of Us: Please Hold to My Hand) and written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).

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REVIEW: The Last of Us – “Please Hold to My Hand”

Bella Ramsey as ‘Ellie’ and Pedro Pascal as ‘Joel’ in HBO’s THE LAST OF US — PHOTO: HBO / Liane Hentscher.

The following is a recap and review of the fourth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

In the fourth episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the masterful video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled Please Hold to My Hand — Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) are on their way to Wyoming to find Joel’s brother. But when they have to take a detour, they are ambushed in Kansas City. Please Hold to My Hand was directed by Jeremy Webb (Downton AbbeyThe Umbrella Academy) and written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).

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REVIEW: Decision to Leave (2022)

Tang Wei as Seo-rae in Park Chan-wook’s DECISION TO LEAVE — PHOTO: CJ Entertainment.

Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; Joint Security Area) — Screenplay by Park Chan-wook and Chung Seo-kyung (Lady Vengeance).

Since the release of Park Chan-wook’s 2016 period piece masterpiece The Handmaiden, longtime fans of his have had to wait quite a while until his next feature film. Since then he has co-written Lee Kyoung-mi’s The Truth Beneath, worked on short films with his brother, produced the Daveed Diggs-led series adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, and directed the underseen but quite strong limited series adaptation of John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl. Six years is a long time to wait for a new film from such a gifted auteur. Now that I’ve finally had the chance to see his latest film, Decision to Leave, it brings me great joy to state that it was worth the wait. Decision to Leave, which earned Park Chan-wook the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, is one of his best films. 

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