Since "Avengers: End Game" in 2019 and the pandemic that would follow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been mostly a slow-burn...much of the excitement has shifted away from cinemas to at-home Disney+ series like "WandaVision," "Falcon & The Winter Soldier" and "Loki," with the MCU having started to set the stage for its "Phase Four." The only theatrical MCU film since "End Game" has been "Black Widow," a movie that chronologically took place back following the events of "Captain America: Civil War," so it feels like forever since the movies have actually propelled us forward in any major way towards whatever the MCU might have in store upcoming.
With "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," the Marvel origin-story formula is palpable, but while it fails to launch us forward into the teased "multi-verse" that we know is around the corner, it introduces one of the coolest, original characters the MCU has seen in quite a while: Shang-Chi. Unlike the TV shows that have introduced possible "new" versions of The Falcon, Captain America and Loki, Shang-Chi and the artifacts known as the "Ten Rings" feel fresh, and they open up new possibilities for the MCU at large.
"Nine Days" should be required viewing heading into the 2021 awards season. It has a slow, deliberate and contemplative pace, and deals with some complex themes, but unlike some other recent pretentious art films (cough cough "The Green Knight" cough cough), "Nine Days" is fully accessible to anyone with a soul.
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 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.
Director Alexandra Aja has made a career out of horror. Films like "Crawl," "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Piranha 3D" clearly show his skill as a growing master of the genre. With his latest film, "Oxygen" ("Oxygéne" as it's known by it's original French title), he leans more heavily into science-fiction while still flexing his usual muscles.
The result is the most effective movie to date that deals with the isolation, desperation and claustrophobia associated with the recent pandemic, even though "Oxygen" has nothing to do directly with it.
If you were a kid in the 90s, there's a great chance that your parents did not let you anywhere near the "Mortal Kombat" video-game. The game alone, with its ultra-realistic graphics, excessive violence and its patented "fatalities" end-moves sparked a national debate on video-game violence and led to the creation of a video-game ratings system that is still in use today.
In other words, it was super bad-ass. "Mortal Kombat" was the bloody cousin of the neutered "Street Fighter" franchise, and it has since grown into one of the most massive, successful video-game properties of all-time, spawning more than 20 game versions, a 1995 film (and it's horrible 1997 sequel) and now this 2021 movie incarnation.
Like it's big-screen predecessor, the new "Mortal Kombat" knows its audience and in that vein, it delivers what's expected. If you were offended then, you'll most likely be offended now, and if you're new to the whole thing, you probably won't think that this is anything all that special at all, given that blood, gore and violence have become pretty mainstream across all mediums, since the "Mortal Kombat" video-game debuted back in 1992.
"Director's cuts" are not a new concept...as far back as Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush," filmmakers and auteurs have tinkered and fiddled with previously released versions of films, trying to perfect their original visions, right wrongs of the past, or undo the meddling of those pesky movie studios who apparently are only in business to feverishly attempt to suppress creator's masterpieces.
In case you're not on Twitter, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" (coming Thursday, March 18th exclusively to HBO Max) is not your average "director's cut" of a film, and actually has quite the story behind it. It's not a vanity project. It is in fact, a labor of love and an example of unfinished business being made whole.
But let's not bury the lead, for those reading this in wild anticipation: This is a vastly improved film compared to the 2017 version. The new film - at over 4 hours!!! - is somehow a more focused and centered film than it's 2-hour-long predecessor. In other words, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" will be a direct smash hit with its target audience...but to the rest of the world, it will present itself as a mountain perhaps too steep to climb or worse, an effort in futility.
to Gal Gadot is back in what is clearly the most highly-anticipated film of 2020. Much of that anticipation built during the pandemic, when "Wonder Woman 1984" found itself delayed from its original June 5th release date, to August 14th, then to October 2nd, and finally landing on Christmas Day. It was the last and only superhero movie still standing, as other films such as "Black Widow" were pushed off of the 2020 calendar completely.
Even its Christmas Day release was in jeopardy, with many expecting that it would move yet again with COVID cases continuing to climb across the country. But that's when Warner Bros. made the bold move to not only keep "Wonder Woman 1984" in theaters, but to simultaneously release it on HBO Max, a move that has since shaken up the entire movie industry.
Well, it pains me to report that we should be careful what we wish for. While many might be thrilled just for the chance to watch a superhero movie on the big-screen once again, I sure wish there was a better one for us to experience. "Wonder Woman 1984" is a mess of a film - several steps worse than the 2017 effort - and dare I say one of the worst movies of 2020.
"Monster Hunter" has a plot and characters only a video game from the early 2000s could respect. This is a movie so stupid, that by the time the talking cat pirate shows up, you won't even think twice.
George Clooney produces, stars in and directs the new Netflix sci-fi drama, "The Midnight Sky."
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