Directed by M. Night Shyamalan — Screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, and Michael Sherman.
Like you may have read previously elsewhere, M. Night Shyamalan was once dubbed ‘the next Spielberg.’ It was meant as a great honor but became a bit of a challenge to live up to. After four or five disappointments in a row between the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, Shyamalan was no longer being compared to Spielberg but rather known for his reliance on twists and his cameo appearances, as well as for his kind of unconvincing dialogue. With The Visit and Split, fans of his — and I consider myself a fan — started to believe that he was making a return to form with simpler premises and genuinely strong films. Then Glass was released — the conclusion to his Unbreakable trilogy — and it was another crushing disappointment — a cruel twist on his supposed ‘return to form’ for fans of his. He’s not done, though. In 2021, he released Old to mixed reviews, and, this year, he’s got Knock at the Cabin to showcase his talents with. Unfortunately, neither of those films fully worked for me. They aren’t outright disasters like some of the works that derailed his career, but even though they indicate that Shyamalan is on his way back, they also show that he still has a ways to go before being back ‘in form.’
Directed by Rian Johnson — Screenplay by Rian Johnson.
In 2019, Looper and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson released his original ‘whodunnit’ ensemble crime mystery Knives Out. It was a huge success as it received critical acclaim and notable Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar nominations. The film also helped to bring new life to the ‘whodunnit’ genre. It was so successful that this year there are several of those stories including See How They Run and the Apple-series The Afterparty. The massive success also led to a bidding war for Johnson’s Benoit Blanc-led Knives Out sequels. That bidding war was won by Netflix (they paid a whopping $469 million) and they have released its first sequel today just in time for Christmas. It brings me great joy to report that Glass Onion is almost exactly as good as the original film that preceded it, even though it no longer feels quite as fresh.
Directed by James Gunn — Screenplay by James Gunn.
I’ve made it no secret that the Guardians of the Galaxy films mean a great deal to me. I saw the first film in theaters with my family when we greatly needed something to smile about and we all absolutely loved it. It came around at the exact right time, and James Gunn’s spin on these C-List Marvel characters has made them family favorites (and I’m sure that isn’t just true in my family). I’ve often said that it had the potential for a Star Wars-like impact on a generation, and so I thought it was a hilarious and brilliant idea for James Gunn to add to his overarching narrative about this group of Guardians with a holiday special, as Star Wars’ infamous 1978 holiday special is still spoken about to this day. Thankfully, whereas the Star Wars special was criticized so much that it has never been officially rereleased, this Guardians of the Galaxy special feels much more appropriate to the tone of the films it has spun off from. Like how Werewolf by Night was an entertaining Halloween Marvel Studios special presentation, James Gunn’s Christmas special is exactly what I needed to reconnect with the holiday spirit just in time for December.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) — Screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth.
When science-fiction neophytes first lay their eyes on the marketing material for Denis Villeneuve’s latest science-fiction film, Dune, they should be forgiven, if they immediately remark that it looks like an imitation of Star Wars — or other similar films. Obviously, they would be under a false impression, but, after all, it is a little bit strange that one of Star Wars‘ most obvious sources of inspiration — Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune — has not previously generated a widely known or appreciated adaptation.
In fact, the Dune property is perhaps especially renowned for being difficult to adapt. Famously, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried but failed to get an adaptation off the ground, while David Lynch’s adaptation from 1984 was critically panned. Those ‘failed’ attempts are, in fact, more widely known than the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series that the franchise also spawned. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have now entrusted auteur Denis Villeneuve with the job of adapting Frank Herbert’s rich, influential, and dense source material, and I think that was a very smart decision.
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.
Overview is a new monthly article that provides my readers with a brief overview of the articles or reviews that I have written, as well as additional bite-sized thoughts on films or shows about which I do not intend to write thorough reviews.
In May of 2020, I finally continued my ‘Best of the 2010s’ genre-specific lists, I watched a handful of new releases, and I wrote about the upcoming release of the so-called Snyder-Cut, which was finally announced. But that’s not all I did this month. Let’s take a look back at what I watched and what I wrote in May 2020.
The review does not include spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, (dirs. Anthony & Joe Russo) but you should absolutely expect spoilers for every film that came before it in the connected universe.
“All that for a drop of blood,” Thanos, the Mad Titan, groaned in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War moments before Doctor Strange relinquished the time stone to save Tony Stark’s life. Soon the not-so-seasoned Avengers turned to dust. The teenaged talking tree, the brave wall-crawler, an African king with a seemingly impenetrable suit made to look like an anthropomorphic big cat, and a quippy, tricker-happy, 70s music-loving outlaw — all gone from one moment to the next. Those left standing were left to live with their mistakes, as the Avengers had now well and truly lost even though a Norse God, multiple supersoldiers, an eccentric billionaire, and a magical surgeon — to name a few — had fought long and hard to save fifty-percent of the known universe. They failed. If those sentences made no sense to you whatsoever, then Avengers: Endgame isn’t for you. If, however, you’ve been waiting to see — nay, obsessing about — what comes next for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, then Endgame was designed for you. It is a somber epic like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Avengers: Endgame is peerless in scope and attention to detail, as well as moving from start to finish. Continue reading “REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame (2019)”→
The following is a review of Avengers: Infinity War — Directed by The Russo Brothers.
“To challenge them is to court death,” the Other, a servant, said to the ‘Mad Titan’ Thanos in the mid-credits scene of 2012’s The Avengers, which was the culmination of the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Four years earlier, at the end of 2008’s Iron Man, the mysterious Nick Fury kicked-off the cinematic universe by telling Tony Stark about the ‘Avengers Initiative.’ A lot has happened since then — misfits and unlikely heroes have teamed up to save foreign worlds, a teenage wall-crawler has protected his neighborhood, and long-lasting friendships have been torn apart by the actions of a brainwashed super-soldier. Continue reading “REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)”→
The following is a review of Blade Runner 2049 – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Filmmaking is a business, and some business decisions just do not make sense. Indeed, some might say it makes no sense to make Blade Runner 2049 under the conditions that it has been. The original Blade Runner, which was directed by Ridley Scott, was originally met with mixed reviews and, to the best of my knowledge, it didn’t find much success at the box office. Continue reading “REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)”→
The following is a review of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – Directed by James Gunn
The first Guardians of the Galaxy film was very special to me. It arrived at the right time for me and family. My Godmother had just passed away, and Guardians of the Galaxy was the first film we saw as a family since she had passed away. Guardians of the Galaxy made me laugh, it made me cry, and I, to this day, still think of it as one of my favorite films of all-time. It had a huge effect on me.