May 2022 In Review

Another month gone, and this one was full of 2022 flick, cinema trips to see Paul Verhoeven classics, and even an Uwe Boll film. So, without further ado, let's see what films I watched this past May.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022) - 2.5/5 - After the first Sonic The Hedgehog was a hit, of course a sequel would be made as immediately as it could. Perhaps the filmmakers could've taken a bit longer, as they seem to have worked on the film by saying "If it ain't broke, change as little as possible", as the overlong film once again takes time for Sonic to cause trouble at a bar, the human characters to have uninteresting subplots, and spends far too long on Jim Carrey pulling a tired retread of his 90s shtick. It's baffling the film stops the film so the humans can have their action sequences which could've been cut, but doesn't have time to show Tails' backstory and instead characterises him as a creeper that watches Sonic take bubble baths. A shame, as the character is otherwise adorable support, although Idris Elba steals the show as a dense Knuckles who regularly delivers the laughs. When these 3 characters are having their adventures, the film is an utter blast, yet it's a shame the second Sonic The Hedgehog film doesn't have enough of those iconic characters doing what people love to see them doing.

The Lost City (2022) - 3/5 - If it weren't for the performances, I would've found this to be an otherwise forgettable romp. The action beats and comedy are hit and miss, although those issues are forgotten about when Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock are such an entertaining duo. They do good work bringing alive these opposites, as a romance novelist trying to move forward with her grief and a cover model trying to impress his crush. Additional support comes in the form of a scene-stealing Brad Pitt and a memorably villainous Daniel Radcliffe, adding up to a fun flick that won't linger in the mind for long.

Wild Men (2022) - 3.5/5 - A darkly humorous tale about men who will escape to the wilderness instead of having an honest conversation.

Basic Instinct (1992) - 4/5 - From the attention-grabbing opening which unites sex and violence so vividly, while keeping the perpetrators face hidden to instill doubt regarding who it is, Paul Verhoeven keeps audiences on tenterhooks as the cat-and-mouse game unfolds across 127 gripping minutes. Central to this is Sharon Stone's star-making performance, stealing every scene as the calculating femme fatale who wraps Michael Douglas' enraged cop around her finger as he plummets further into a downward spiral. It's absolutely campy nonsense, and I loved every minute of it.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) - 5/5 - A multiverse tale with such boundless creativity and imagination that feels one of a kind, blending existentialism and familial emotion with kung-fu cinema and the most unbelievable choices of weapons. A film which takes the silliest of ideas and sincerely utilises them in the most thrilling and heartfelt ways. A masterful feat of directing which feels like the natural evolution of the Turn Down For What music video.

Hollywood is going down the multiverse route, but I'd be surprised if any of them match up to this.

Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness (2022) - 3.5/5 - In hindsight, it doesn't help that I saw Everything Everywhere All At Once the evening before, because few things will match up to such a masterful take on a similar multiversal idea. That doesn't diminish what's been done here, as the film's at its strongest when Sam Raimi is let loose to channel his past films and inject his unique style into the MCU, as evidenced with a unique take on music during a fight scene. It's the familiar Marvel constraints which hold matters back, particularly during a middle section which draws on fan-service and speculation in ways which drag. Outside of that, the display of magic is very interesting, the horror elements are particularly effective, and Elizabeth Olsen is the outright MVP. Plus, the post-credits scene is easily the best in the series.

Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
and Best film rewatched: Lilo & Stitch

A Simple Plan (1998) - 4/5 - What a tremendous change of pace for Sam Raimi, delivering a stripped-down affair which feels inspired by the Coen brothers. This character-driven piece focuses on 3 friends who discover a crashed plane which includes $4.4 million in cash. Taking the money causes their lives to spiral into paranoia and backstabbing, as this enthralling affair plays out in spectacular ways. A tremendous showcase for the cast, although Billy Bob Thornton towers above his co-stars with a quietly saddening performance that rightfully received an Oscar nomination. An overlooked gem in Raimi's filmography, from the opening which sets the scene remarkably well, to the haunting ending.

Pockets (2012) - 4/5 - Wanting to get his girlfriend a nice dinner, a homeless man tries to rob a stranger although his plans are scuppered by a surprising ability. A short that takes a single idea and brings it alive with such inventiveness and style. An early bit of promise for Daniels.

Tides of the Heart (2009) - 2.5/5 - Two friends sit on a bench and discuss hopes and dreams, before things take an unexpected turn. There's early promise for Daniels here, particularly with a needle drop at the end, but it feels unrefined and in need of further expansion.

Swingers (2009) - 2.5/5 - After a humorous gag involving the titles, one friend pushes the other on a swing before things get weird. There are fun ideas, surprises, and unnerving stuff packed within this one-minute short, and with more time to space them out this could've been great. As it is, it feels like something just to watch to be a Daniels completionist.

My Best Friend's Wedding/My Best Friend's Sweating (2011) - 3.5/5 - A groom's best friend comes to his aid on his wedding day, although his methods of helping have unforeseen consequences. The result would make a great commercial, and is a pretty fun short film with heart and humour to be found within.

Best film watched for the first time:
Everything Everywhere All At Once

Puppets (2011) - 3.5/5 - It's difficult to explain this short, particularly when it begins with the simple image of a man and a woman about to kiss. Where it goes from there is bursting with imagination, perhaps with more ideas than the short can sustain, but it remains a fun ride that shows much promise for these directors.

Happy Holidays (2010) - 4/5 - A festive short that takes an innocuous scene and makes it absolutely horrifying from another perspective. It's a fantastically dark twist on a familiar staple from festive films, and the ending is the cherry on top of this deliciously dark short.

Dogboarding (2011) - 3.5/5 - A fun short which takes a one-word pitch, and turns it into a fascinating music-video which gives the illusion of people skating on their dogs.

Possibilia (2014) - 4/5 - A 6-minute look at a couple contemplating breaking up, as it spans across multiple timelines as they work through emotions through an unravelling romance, while doomed to repeat their mistakes.  One of the more emotionally impactful shorts Daniels have created.

Benedetta (2021) - 4.5/5 - An exemplary piece of filmmaking from Paul Verhoeven, as a 17th century nun falls for another nun while seemingly performing miracles and seeing visions of Jesus. What's brought to screen is an intoxicating power struggle set in a convent, as phenomenal performances bring alive these exceptional characters.

Biggest Disappointment: Top Gun

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) [rewatch] - 5/5 - Bursting with googly-eyed creativity, laughs, exquisite action, and heartfelt emotion, this is a multiversal masterpiece.

Dobermann (1997) - 2/5 - A cat-and-mouse game between cop and robber that's more tiresome than thrilling.

Lilo & Stitch (2002) [rewatch] - 5/5 - What happens when a blue alien, genetically engineered to be destructive, lands on a Hawaiian island? He opens himself up to Elvis, finds himself a loving family, and learns he can be whoever he wishes to be instead of the abomination others call him. My favourite Disney film of all time, it was a pleasure to see this on the big screen, and cry all over again.

Rhino (2022) - 2.5/5 - After an impressive opening, this depicts the destructive nature of aggression with a dull familiarity.

Once Were Warriors (1994) - 4.5/5 - Before he moved onto directing Hollywood features such as Die Another Day, Next, and xXx: State of the Union, Lee Tamahori made an exceptional debut with this powerful film about a family trying to escape the pain they each face. Beth is determined to make a better life for her children and keep her family together, while being abused by her violent alcoholic husband, Jake. What's brought alive is a powerful and harrowing watch which contains hope within, while also being a phenomenal showcase for the cast. Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison deserved better opportunities to showcase their talents after this exceptional film.

Biggest Surprise: Once Were Warriors

Emergency (2022) - 4/5 - Blending one crazy night with systematic racism, this is an excellent combination of laugh-out-loud comedy and unbearable tension.

Firestarter (2022) - 2/5 - This was my first experience with Stephen King's Firestarter story, and it felt like an unfortunate miss. Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong are a likeable pairing, although they're trapped within a haphazardly edited film which lacked thrills and felt so uncinematic. At least John Carpenter helped deliver a good score.

Ghosts of the Ozarks (2022) - 2.5/5 - A film which cannot live up to its promise of intriguing mysteries, due to a lacking execution.

The Innocents (2022) - 3.5/5 - The kids aren't alright in this dark fable which shows how great power can bring out the worst in people.

S. Darko (2009) - 0.5/5 - It's difficult to believe not only that a sequel to Richard Kelly's ambitious mind-bender was wanted, but the outcome of such an opportunity resembles a remake with a lobotomy. This sequel retreads the same ground as the original, yet substitutes feelings of inventiveness and emotional power for general frustration. While the sequel is named after Donnie's young sister, Samantha, she never feels like a driving force of this story. Just an observer and plot device in a sea of one-dimensional characters that are brought alive with ham-fisted dialogue and lackluster acting, who react to death and destruction as though they're in a cheap perfume advert. Credit where it's due, the score was rather good, although the song chosen for the "Mad World" style sequence? Not so much.

Wild Things (1998) - 4/5 - A thrilling film that's equal parts fascinating, twisty, and sleazy.

Worst film of the month: Bloodrayne

Robocop (1987) [rewatch] - 5/5 - To see this on the big screen is an utter treat. Between Kurtwood Smith killing it as Clarence Boddicker, the slick satire which remains absolutely relevant, the exceptional action scenes complete with grisly gore, and Peter Weller selling the titular character so well with just his lower-jaw, Paul Verhoeven's cyborg Jesus tale remains an American masterpiece.

Top Gun (1986) - 2.5/5 - Growing up, I heard much about this through pop-culture which built it up in my head as an 80s cultural phenomenon I must see. Now that I've seen it, I must admit that it did very little for me. Tony Scott can absolutely shoot an aerial sequence, and Anthony Edwards is a wonderful delight among a talented cast, although I otherwise found myself bored by this piece of military propaganda. The most tiring thing is the lead character played by Tom Cruise, as this familiar tale sees a cocky Navy pilot grow to become *checks notes* a cocky navy pilot. At least Kenny Loggins provided some ace tunes.

The Bob's Burgers Movie (2022) - 4/5 - A charming slice of hilarious fun, bringing low-key thrills to the big-screen along with its loving family.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) - 4.5/5 - As somebody who didn't care for Tony Scott's 80's original, this follow-up floored me with how good it was. What's been brought to screen is a marvellous showcase for high-flying spectacle which is stunning to behold on the big screen, centered around feelings of guilt and regret that are brought alive in magnificent ways. Between the superb performances and the emotional impact, this left me teary-eyed and stunned. It's a shame Kelly McGillis never got invited back for this sequel, or even mentioned, although thank goodness they did right by Iceman and Val Kilmer.

Lux Æterna (2022) - Review will be coming

Bloodrayne (2006) - 0.5/5 - Everytime I watch another Uwe Boll film, I am stunned that he managed to have a career for as long as he did. It's a struggle to believe in much this film showcases, such as its world or its characters, because the performances feel so uninterested and the direction is so uninteresting. A film that wants to get from Point A to Point B, but waits until after showing Point B to decide whether to show Point A, and feels uninterested in getting audiences to care about the journey in-between. Not even worth it for Ben Kingsley wearing what looks like a LEGO hairpiece.

Best film of the month: Lilo & Stitch
Best film seen in cinemas: Lilo & Stitch
Best film watched for the first time: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Best film rewatched: Lilo & Stitch
Biggest Disappointment: Top Gun
Biggest Surprise: Once Were Warriors
Worst film of the month: Bloodrayne

Number of films watched: 32