Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night) — Screenplay/Story by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio, and Chris McKay.
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood was going to give Dungeons and Dragons another try as a major motion picture given the massive success of Stranger Things, which, I feel, has helped to popularize the tabletop role-playing game yet again. That’s right, I do remember watching the woeful 2000s Courtney Solomon film Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times way back when (it’s crazy to think that The Fellowship of the Ring was released only a single year later). The 2000s D&D film is as bad as its reputation would have you believe, but it does have Jeremy Irons and Marlon Wayans, so I guess that’s something. The difference between the film from 2000 and this year’s Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein is night and day. Honor Among Thieves genuinely is a great time at the movies.
With my best television shows of 2022-list having now been released, it’s time to stop delaying these awards posts. Just like the last few years, I’m splitting up my awards into two parts. This post — the first part — celebrates the best in television, superhero storytelling, gaming, and in music. The film awards will be revealed in an upcoming post, but, for now, we’ve got a lot of great stuff to get to. So, let’s do that!
Directed by Matt Ruskin — Screenplay by Matt Ruskin.
Boston Strangler is based on the true story of the investigation into the 1960s serial killer known as the ‘Boston Strangler.’ The film primarily follows Boston Record American reporters Loretta McLaughlin (played by Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (played by Carrie Coon) as they try to investigate the story and break through small cracks in their profession’s glass ceiling.
Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods — Screenplay by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.
The first time I saw the trailer for 65, I was immediately hooked. Here was a sci-fi film, with an excellent leading man, that appeared to dare to do something else with dinosaurs than the Jurassic Park sequels did. ‘Dinosaurs versus Adam Driver with sci-fi weapons’ was a concept that was always right up my alley. I was curious to find out what novel sci-fi twist or spin that writer-directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (the duo who wrote A Quiet Place) had hidden up their sleeves. However, 65 didn’t have all that much hidden in the final film that wasn’t already apparent from the trailer and this was a massive disappointment to me.
Directed by Jamie Payne — Screenplay by Neil Cross.
The British crime drama series Luther has been on my watchlist for quite some time. Recently, with the release of Luther: The Fallen Sun on the horizon, I decided to finally check it out, and, so, I’ve spent the better part of a week binge-watching the British series that proved to be a successful star vehicle for Idris Elba whose magnetic screen presence elevated the series above lesser genre fare. I liked the series quite a bit, but, admittedly, the show started to lose me around series four, and the show didn’t hold my attention or interest as well in series four and five as it had done earlier. This did make me nervous about the film, as it was written by the series’ writer and creator and directed by the man who directed the fifth series. While The Fallen Sun is not without faults (it’s incredibly obvious what it’s trying to be), I must admit that I found it to be more arresting, gripping, and watchable than both series four and five.
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 Will Merrick and Nick Johnson — Screenplay by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson.
The filmmaking medium is constantly in a state of development and reinvention with artists seeking to find new ways to tell audiovisual stories. The found-footage genre was a huge trend that still pops up every now and again nowadays, and the latest found-footage-esque trend is the screenlife, or screencast, genre where the entire story is told by showing computer screens, smartphone screens, or the like. The Unfriended films are solid horror examples of this (as is Rob Savage’s Host, a terrific COVID-set horror film about Zoom video calls), and Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching starring John Cho is probably the best film of its kind. Searching followed a scared father searching for his missing daughter. The editors of Searching Nick Johnson and Will Merrick have ‘graduated’ and now serve as directors of its ‘standalone sequel’ titled Missing. On the whole, Missing is a really solid feature directorial debut, but it also feels really familiar and isn’t quite as good as the film it is following up on.
The following is a recap and review of the eighth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.
In the eighth and penultimate episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the critically acclaimed video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled When We Are In Need — Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) encounters a group of survivors that may be more trouble than they seem. When We Are In Need was directed by Ali Abbasi (Holy Spider) and written by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).
Directed by Michael B. Jordan — Screenplay by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin.
It would be fair to say that Michael B. Jordan is, to a certain extent, following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone. Not only has he taken over as the lead of the Rocky franchise, which is now spearheaded by Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis “Donnie” Creed, but his films have followed similar patterns as Stallone’s Rocky films. With Creed III, the extent to which Jordan is following in his footsteps has reached a new level with Jordan taking on directing duties just as Stallone eventually did for one of his most beloved franchises, which he appeared to exit at the end of Creed II (I thought it was a sweet ending to his story, though it sounds like he isn’t happy about the series moving on without him). Ryan Coogler’s Creed was a beautiful and moving knockout blow, Steven Caple, Jr.’s Creed II was solid but formulaic (and felt too much like a sequel to Rocky IV), and, now, Michael B. Jordan’s Creed III is similarly formulaic but it is also a strong and satisfying response to some of the reservations that I had about Creed II.
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).