The DC Comics Cinematic Universe (DCCU) is always playing catch-up to its way cooler, much more interesting big brother, The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thus far, it's been a dark and dreary go: Films from "Man of Steel" all the way through the ludicrously loud and over-saturated "Wonder Woman 1984" have experimented with different tones and angles, and none have really worked all that well in crafting a cohesive universe.
So instead of re-inventing the wheel, writer/director James Gunn takes a previous formula and shakes it up a bit, and it's a pretty delicious concoction. While the new "The Suicide Squad" shares a name with the 2016 "Suicide Squad" film, it is actually a closer spiritual cousin to "The Guardians of the Galaxy" films...films that Gunn knows all too well, since he wrote and directed both of them.
In making "The Suicide Squad," its inhabitants and the universe they exist in way less serious than most every other DCCU movie to date, he basically creates a bloodier, more comically violent anti-version of "The Guardians of the Galaxy" films, and in doing so, he brings something to the DCCU that it has yet to experience: A sense of FUN.
The new documentary film, "Enemies of the State," (available on 7/30 on VOD), has all the ingredients for a good true-crime story. There are secret agents, hackers, FBI and CIA cover-ups, stolen thumb drives with confidential government files on them and a seemingly normal American family caught up in the middle.
But what exactly is "Enemies of the State" trying to say? It paints a daunting picture of what the government does behind-the-scenes when faced with a supposed national security threat, but even as it ended, I wasn't exactly sure what I had just been told, or even what to believe based on what had just been presented to me.
Never in all my years as a film critic have I been so confident that the general public will despise a film as much as I predict they will despise "The Green Knight."
It's an incoherent mood piece, a jumble of themes and ideas that never coagulates into anything of substance...its repetitive score and desaturated motif is dripping with style but nothing else. In other words, it's the perfect vessel for film critics to laud as "high art," despite a guarantee that 99% of them who fancy themselves able to derive meaning from such sludge will also have no idea in hell as to what they just watched. It is...different...that's for sure, so it's applauded for its non-conformity.
Well I somewhat courageously declare that "The Green Knight" is cinema without soul. The best that it has to offer, I guess, is that it does at least answer that age old question: What does the fox say?
If you are already predisposed to hate Disney and all that the mega-conglomerate stands for, the new "Jungle Cruise" is bound to rub you the wrong way. It's an over-stuffed, over-produced chaotic romp, that just seems to be full of excess (and CG) around every corner. However, with Emily Blunt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at the center of the mess, their friendly chemistry is just barely able to keep "Jungle Cruise" from straying completely off-course.
If you don't know your Flints from your Dukes, your Scarletts from your Lady Jayes, or your Snow Jobs from your Beach Heads, then you might overlook "Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins" as just another throw-away action-franchise wanna-be. But for fans of the original "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" cartoon series, this new film is packed full of content that will have you brimming with nostalgia-fueled joy.
Yes, despite the cold critical response it's received thus far, "Snake Eyes" could very well be the start of something special: A cinematic universe that at least has the depth of characters and storylines to eventually go toe-to-toe with Marvel, with albeit a smaller but much more fervent fan-base.
M. Night Shyamalan has built a career on horror-mystery movies that don't always work, and that all seem to be chasing the lightning-in-a-bottle he found with his 1999 mega-hit, "The Sixth Sense." After a long string of clunkers, his 2016 "Split" got his fans excited that he was finally "back," but the follow-up, 2019's "Glass" all but shattered those high expectations.
With "Old," he effectively makes a feature-length Twilight Zone episode that isn't among his worst films (this is no "The Happening" or "After Earth"), but it is far from his best. And if "The Sixth Sense" or "Unbreakable" is too high a bar to set, even on its own, "Old" doesn't exactly revel in anything that feels new.
The soapy, melodramatic romance, "The Last Letter from Your Lover" has it all when it comes to what one might expect from such a film: Forlorn lovers, forbidden affairs, characters with amnesia, car wrecks, handwritten letters complete with voice-over, lavish costume designs and sets, chance encounters, and a love that spans decades.
It's a bit predictable and unapologetically cheesy at times, but it's also reminiscent of a different era of film...they just don't make movies like this one anymore, so it feels oddly invigorating to see that this sort of classic romance is still alive and well, at least on the big-screen.
For those that thought that the recent Fyre Festival was a sham, wait until your memory is jogged about the disastrous Woodstock '99. All of its ugliness is brought to light in the stunning and captivating new HBO Max documentary, "Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage."
Review: Inquisitive doc 'Meat Me Halfway' offers up some delicious facts about the food industry, and ourselves
The best documentaries don't come in with just a purpose, but with a question. Although "Meat Me Halfway" may be low-budget and without massive distribution, it arrives both purposefully and with a genuine interest - a thirst - for answers to the questions it's raising.
This food documentary doesn't try to shove anything down the viewer's throat (pun intended), and it thrives on how accessible it's guide, Brian Kateman, is, and how passionately he approaches the idea that maybe there is middle-ground when it comes to eating a healthier diet.
Middle-ground, you say? That's not exactly where people tend to meet these days. Even the effort to do so feels refreshing.
The first "Escape Room" film dropped with little fanfare back in January of 2019. But the low-budget teen-friendly horror film - capitalizing on the growing popularity of "escape rooms" across the country - was a modest hit, grossing over 150 million worldwide, having been made for under 10 million.
It's star, Taylor Russell, was relatively unknown - and she still is - but Russell is an absolute A-list star in-the-making (mark my words). Her likability and talents raised that first film above other throw-away teen horror films, and her continued presence in this sequel has elevated "Escape Room" to one of the most unlikely, yet entertaining, original IP franchises-in-the-making in recent years.
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