April 2022 In Review

Another month gone, another chance to see plenty of films. This was a light month for me, although it allowed me to watch some older classics and dip into the less-favourable side of superheroics. So, let's see what films I watched this past April.

April Fool's Day (1986) - 3/5 - I figured this would be an appropriate way to spend April 1st, and the end product was certainly fascinating. The story follows eight college friends who gather at the island mansion of their mutual friend, only for people to start turning up dead. It's off-putting how the kills occur off-screen, leaving only the aftermath instead of the grisly sequences 80's slashers traditionally delivered, while character moments seems to grind to a halt. The eventual revelations do much heavy-lifting for this film, shedding new light on past moments in exemplary ways, although I question whether they'd hold up on a repeat viewing. I do wish there was more tension and thrills in this film, yet I still had a fun time with these preppies stuck on an island.

The Ledge (2022) - 2/5 - A cat-and-mouse thriller that's unintentionally hilarious.

Morbius (2022) - 1/5 - In their latest endeavour to craft their own cinematic universe, Sony have given another feature film to a member of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. This time is Morbius The Living Vampire, a character whose hunger for blood is born from an experiment to cure a rare blood disorder. It's a film which hits every beat you'd expect in the most banal ways, while overlooking the journey to make those expected points work, yet I never expected it to be butchered in the edit. With character relationships sliced down to wafer-thin proportions, the film suddenly finishing on a non-ending, and an embarrassing pair of post-credits scenes, the forcible intrustion of "studio interference" looms large over this film. At least Matt Smith is having a blast in his role, although it just highlights how much more interesting he'd be as the lead. Instead, we have the boring alternative of Jared Leto unable to change facial expressions without the use of CG effects. This is most evident in a scene where Morbius talks about how he took human lives, an act which is meant to weigh heavily on his conscience, yet Leto recites the lines with a gravitas reserved for forgetting to tip the pizza delivery man. A film which truly sucks.

Best film of the month and Best
film rewatched: The Terminator

The Rock (1996) - 3.5/5 - I don't often enjoy Michael Bay, so I'm pleasantly surprised that this was such a blast. It's a familiarly plotted flick complete with exciting action sequences, brought alive with the expected explosions and nifty camerawork, particularly a point-of-view shot from a thrown knife. What truly brings this film alive for me are the tremendous performances poured into believable characters. Nicolas Cage inhabits his chemical weapons specialist who loves music and is nervous being in the field, sharing tremendous chemistry with Sean Connery, the only man to escape Alcatraz that's responsible for the films funniest lines. Give me more of this Bay rather than working on childrens franchises.

Turning Red (2022) - 4.5/5 - After delivering the excellent short Bao, Domee Shi makes her feature-film debut with the strongest Pixar film since Coco. The story is as exceptional turn on growing pains, as 13-year-old Mei finds herself transforming into a giant red panda whenever she gets too emotional. This is the catalyst for Mei to grapple with familial expectations, her own identity, and her love of boy-band tunes, all brought alive with stunning animation and terrific vocal performances. As everybody has said, this should've gotten a theatrical release.

Best film seen in cinemas:
The Worst Person In The World

Bao (2018) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - Empty nest syndrome as visualised by a mother's relationship with a dumpling baby. Humorous and heartfelt.

The Worst Person In The World (2022) [rewatch] - 5/5 - A poignant feature about the uncertainty of life, immaculately captured by Renate Reinsve's excellent performance.

Dance Flick (2009) - 0.5/5 - It's difficult to review multiple of these 2000s era spoof films, as the criticisms blend together. Another film more focused on making then-timely references without an idea of what satire or actual jokes are. A film where the "most hilarious" thing the filmmakers can imagine amounts to blackface or a guy kissing another guy. A film with all the grace of a reversing dump truck.

Best film watched for
the first time: Turning Red

Charli XCX: Alone Together (2022) - 3.5/5 - A documentary about the power of community, as fans and artist create an album over 5-weeks.

Ambulance (2022) - 2.5/5 - Desperate for money to cover his wife's medical bills, Army veteran Will Sharpe (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) turns to his criminal brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for help. Danny offers his brother a bank heist with a $32 million payday, although the heist goes wrong and ends up with the brothers taking a paramedic hostage in an ambulance, while trying to keep alive a shot police officer. The set-up is pure Bay, opening the door for the directors signature Bayhem and mass carnage in heartstopping sequences. There's a thrilling 90-minute film within, although it's lost in a meandering tale with an overlong runtime. Gyllenhaal embodies the Bayhem with his unhinged performance, while Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González do well in their well-rounded roles. By the end, I was fascinated by how the story unfolds as "We need to save this cops life, no matter how many cops we have to kill to do that".

Biggest Disappointment: Dr. No

Batman Forever (1995) [rewatch] - 2/5 - Considering this is the film where Tommy Lee Jones told Jim Carrey he could not sanction his buffoonery, it's baffling his portrayal as Harvey Two-Face is so irritatingly cartoonish. The result is rather boring and charisma free, despite some interesting elements.

Batman & Robin (1997) [rewatch] - 2.5/5 - Joel Schumacher's second try at adapting the caped crusader revels in neon, as the numerous subplots and dreadful pacing make this feel longer than it needs to. Yet its status as "one of the worst films ever made" are greatly exaggerated, as there's too many interesting elements and so much fun to be had. From Arnie having a ball delivering his ice puns to the random assortment of bat-gadgets, and especially the fascinating set-pieces, this is one of the most fun iterations of Batman put to screen. The depiction of Alfred's relationship with Bruce is genuinely touching, and it's nice to see the Bat-family expand in ways live-action iterations have yet to depict. A rewatch I can happily make, particularly compared to other Batman depictions.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) - 4/5 - A sincere love-letter to Nicolas Cage crossed with a fun buddy comedy, this is an utter blast.

Biggest Surprise: The Rock

The Northman (2022) - 4.5/5 - With his third feature film, Robert Eggers has shown that working for a studio hasn't diluted what made him such an exciting voice in modern cinema. His story is a breathless tale of Viking revenge, told as an engrossing epic about the destructive nature such brutality brings. Alexander Skarsgård is a force of nature as Prince Amleth, conveying his characters simmering ferocity as he seeks to avenge his fathers murder, while finding a kinship with a captivating Anya Taylor-Joy. Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe make terrific impressions in their scenes, while Claes Bang is an excellent presence as the source of Amleth's sorrow. My biggest question mark was Nicole Kidman, who held my attention despite her accent wavering and some moments feeling a bit too over-the-top.

This film works thanks to the feeling you're transported to this grimy world, courtesy of assured direction and stunning production design, where glimpses of eyeless seers, visions of family trees, and a lava-set battle are par for the course in this world Eggers has crafted with screenwriter Sjón. It's a phenomenal piece of work, and it's astounding this was a studio feature.

The Terminator (1984) [rewatch] - 5/5 - My favourite 80's slasher flick. Arnie captures the cold, unflinching attitude of a Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees with his stoic performance, while Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn are phenomenal as the final girl and time-travelled fighter who aim to prevent a dark future occurring through whatever actions they can contribute. Not to mention how unbearably tense this film gets, courtesy of James Cameron's phenomenal writing and direction.

Lords of Chaos (2019) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - From the opening narration, a comedic undercurrent is very well established to ensure the unflinching moments of brutality are all the more effective. Goodness me, they're bloody effective. Jonas Åkerlund has crafted a phenomenal look at Norwegian Black Metal that's open to all audiences, through the eyes of Euronymous. Rory Culkin puts an exceptional performance into this young man haunted by his best friends suicide, unable to escape the cycle of toxic masculinity so runs to it in destructive ways. A brilliant film.

Worst film of the month: Dance Flick

Starship Troopers (1997) [rewatch] - 4/5 - What a blast to catch this on the big screen. It's bonkers that a studio greenlit this $100 million satire on fascism and war propaganda, particularly when Neil Patrick Harris appears dressed as he is at the end. It's a shame the two least interesting actors lead this film, although the characters are captured so well throughout.

Dr. No (1962) - 3/5 - All of the Bond films are available on Amazon Prime, so I decided to start at the beginning and work through my blindspots of this series. This introductory film feels like the first draft of a Bond film which would be bettered in future instalments, while also feeling unlike a typical entry with its slow pacing. There's much of interest here, especially Sean Connery's performance in the lead role, although it's also an unfortunately dated affair. Not helping matters is how boring the titular villain is, particularly when he barely makes an impression during his 10-minutes of screentime. An interesting start to one of the biggest film franchises known to humanity.

Best film of the month: The Terminator
Best film seen in cinemas: The Worst Person In The World
Best film watched for the first time: Turning Red
Best film rewatched: The Terminator
Biggest Disappointment: Dr. No
Biggest Surprise: The Rock
Worst film of the month: Dance Flick

Number of films watched: 18