RETRO REVIEW: Casino Royale (2006)

Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Daniel Craig as James Bond in CASINO ROYALE — Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / Eon Productions.

Directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye) — Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis.

Now that Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond appears to have come to an end after the release of 2021’s No Time To Die, I thought it would be fitting to take another look back at his first Bond-film, Casino Royale. From GoldenEye-director Martin Campbell, 2006’s Casino Royale was meant to reinvigorate the franchise and bring it into a new era distinctly different from Pierce Brosnan’s tenure that ended in 2002. With this film, the series’ new leading man, Daniel Craig, who was, bafflingly, the subject of much online and press criticism due to his blonde hair and blue eyes, proved to the world that he had the potential to be arguably the best Bond on the big screen.

Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: Casino Royale (2006)”

REVIEW: Nobody (2021)

Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell in NOBODY — Photo: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) — Screenplay by Derek Kolstad (John Wick).

At this point, it feels like we’re being inundated with action-thriller films that are trying to ape what made John Wick a huge success and a competent film franchise on its own. While I think these kinds of films can be quite good and entertaining, I also think films like Gunpowder Milkshake or Atomic Blonde have largely missed the mark, so I have become more trepidatious with this action subgenre than I was initially. This is exactly why it was so refreshing to me that I greatly enjoyed Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody, which is yet another action-thriller in the vein of John Wick (also co-written by Derek Kolstad).

Continue reading “REVIEW: Nobody (2021)”

REVIEW: No Time To Die (2021)

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s NO TIME TO DIE — Photo: Nicola Dove / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios / Universal Pictures.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga — Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

When I rewatched Sam Mendes’ SPECTRE the other day, I was reminded of the fact that the previous film in the Bond-franchise was released all the way back in 2015. A lot has happened since then, so much so that you may have even forgotten about all of the behind-the-scenes drama that transpired long before No Time To Die became the first major film to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After several rounds of rewrites, the shift in director, production, and the pandemic, the fifth and supposedly final film in the Daniel Craig-era of the James Bond-franchise has now finally been released. Thankfully, in spite of the real world drama that threatened to ruin it, this is actually a spy epic that is suitable as a true tribute to Daniel Craig’s bumpy but extraordinary time as the iconic agent. It isn’t the best film in the Craig-era, but it is a very memorable chapter in the franchise.

Continue reading “REVIEW: No Time To Die (2021)”

Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Summer ’21, Pt. 3: ‘The White Lotus,’ ‘Malcolm & Marie,’ and More

Alexandra Daddario and Jake Lacy in THE WHITE LOTUS — Photo: HBO.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I once again talk about my experience of trying to catch-up on some of the 2021 films released earlier this year, but this time I also want to talk about a show that I was surprised I liked as much as I did. What did I like about The White Lotus? Is Malcolm & Marie better than its reputation? Are Antoine Fuqua and Stefano Sollima’s latest action films any good? Well, scroll down to find out what I think about all of that (and more) in yet another jam-packed edition of Additional Bite-Sized Reviews!

Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Summer ’21, Pt. 3: ‘The White Lotus,’ ‘Malcolm & Marie,’ and More”

REVIEW: Dune (2021)

Josh Brolin, left, as Gurney Halleck and Timothée Chalamet, right, as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures.

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.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Dune (2021)”

REVIEW: Minari (2021)

Steven Yeun as Jacob Yi in Lee Isaac Chung’s MINARI — Photo: A24.

Directed by Lee Isaac Chung — Screenplay by Lee Isaac Chung.

Though the act of spoiling a film or a show is, to put it mildly, frowned upon, I think the general idea is that a great movie cannot be spoiled, which is to say that it will still be great even if its plot or central surprise has been ruined for you. For a while, I think I actually shared that school of thought, and I can probably name a small handful of films that I love which were actually spoiled for me. Still, I am nervous when it comes to spoilers. I remember one of my friends once spoiled the end of a game in a series that I loved (and had introduced him to), and, as a result, I didn’t finish the game for quite some time. I guess, to me, it felt like it had been ruined for me, and, alas, when I finally finished the game it didn’t leave the same emotional impact on me that it appeared to have had on him.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Minari (2021)”

REVIEW: Chaos Walking (2021)

Daisy Ridley as Viola and Tom Holland as Todd Hewitt in Doug Liman’s CHAOS WALKING — Photo: Lionsgate.

Directed by Doug Liman — Screenplay by Patrick Ness & Christopher Ford.

On paper, this should be a huge hit. It’s a science-fiction action film starring Tom Holland of Spider-Man fame and Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame, they are surrounded by a more than capable cast including the incredible Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), and the film was directed by Edge of Tomorrow‘s Doug Liman. And yet this is a film that has been through quite a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It has gone through several rounds of rewrites and expensive reshoots, and it, reportedly, was the victim of poor reception at test screenings. After having had its release delayed several times, Chaos Walking is now here, but while it has all the ingredients of a film made for me, it just doesn’t work as a complete package.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Chaos Walking (2021)”

REVIEW: The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)

The Mitchell family (voiced by Maya Rudolph, Abbi Jacobson, Michael Rianda, and Danny McBride) in THE MITCHELLS vs. THE MACHINES — Photo: Sony Pictures Animation / Netflix.

Directed by Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls) — Screenplay by Mike Rianda & Jeff Rowe.

Sometimes it’s difficult to really gauge whether or not the hype for a film is justified or not. From the outset, what I had heard about The Mitchells vs. The Machines sounded really good. The premise was neat, I liked what I had seen of its animation style in trailers, but I wasn’t sure if it would work as a total package once I finally felt ready to sit down and watch the film, which had been on my watchlist for quite some time. The reactions that I had heard from my peers also made it sound like far and away one of the best animated films in years, which was overwhelming information that I didn’t know what to do with at that moment since I was a little bit too busy when it was released. I ended up waiting a considerable amount of time before I finally watched it, which meant that when I finally felt the urge to start up Netflix and watch their Lord & Miller-produced animated hit, the hype had sort of died down at least a little bit. So, having now seen the film, do I think the hype was justified? Well, yeah. Though I was trepidatious initially, the film more than won me over.

Continue reading “REVIEW: The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)”

REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings (2021)

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGENDS OF THE TEN RINGS — Photo: Marvel Studios / Jasin Boland / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton — Screenplay by Destin Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984), and Andrew Lanham.

The future of the movie theater industry has been the source of much debate in film fan circles during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Films have had their theatrical release delayed, some films have been released on premium-video-on-demand, such as Disney+ with Premiere Access, at the same time that they have been released in theaters, while, in the United States, most if not all Warner Bros. films from 2021 have been released in movie theaters and on HBO Max for no additional cost on the very same day, which was the case with The Suicide Squad. So, in addition to the fact that movie theaters have to accept the ongoing pandemic, movie theaters now also contend with subscriptions, streaming services, and premium-video-on-demand.

Now, it would appear that movie theaters have also begun to fight back against this trend with the one thing they can do, which is to refuse to release a studio’s film in theaters. Strangely, although it, unlike Black Widow, has not been released on Disney+ with Premiere Access, major theater chains have stuck by their Disney boycott with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In Denmark, I think only about ten theaters are showing it currently, which is a real shame because Shang-Chi is rad and well-worth the price of admission.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings (2021)”

REVIEW: Candyman (2021)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy in Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN (2021) — Photo: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Nia DaCosta — Screenplay by Nia DaCosta, Win Rosenfeld, & Jordan Peele (Get Out; Us).

Horror remakes, reimaginings, or sequels decades after a popular antagonist’s inception are inevitable. This movie studio trend was especially prevalent in the 2010s, when it was emphasized just how profitable decent-to-good horror films can be. One of the more stylized attempts was Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake, while one of the more disappointing attempts was Kölsch & Widmyer’s Pet Sematary remake. Horror remakes are a dime a dozen these days, but the current horror movie trend is the legacyquel — a portmanteau of legacy and sequel — which is a continuation of a previous film but one that takes place a long time after the events of the original film and often with entirely new characters. Another trend is that of ignoring some films in the franchise, for the purpose of taking the franchise in another direction. Such is the case with a legacyquel like David Gordon Green’s Halloween. Another legacyquel that ignores certain chapters in its own cinematic mythology, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, which really ought to have a different title for simplicity’s sake, follows many horror movie trends, but perhaps most notably those kickstarted by her producer and co-writer Jordan Peele.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Candyman (2021)”