Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

Prisoners of the Ghostland
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi, Young Dais, Charles Glover, Cici Zhou, Louis Kurihara, Tetsu Watanabe, Takato Yonemoto, Shin Shimizu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
1-gif-review

Content Note: child sexual abuse (alluded to), misogyny

Plot:
After his granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) disappears, the Governor (Bill Moseley) turns to desperate measures to find her. He frees a notorious criminal and turns him Hero (Nicolas Cage), though not without precautions to ensure his compliance. Thus the Hero makes his way to the Ghostland where Bernice is suspected to be. The Ghostland is a dangerous place, and the Hero has his work cut out for himself.

Prisoners of the Ghostland didn’t work in the slightest for me. Way too shrill and loud, way too little sense. If I hadn’t been sitting right in the middle of my row, I probably would have left early. As is, I napped here and there but I should have just stayed away entirely.

The film poster showing the Hero (Nicolas Cage) standing atop a giant warrior helmet with skulls, other people and a huge clock that seem almost part of the helmet.
Continue reading

Dune (2021)

Dune
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
Based on: Frank Herbert‘s novel
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chen Chang, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clémentine
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism

Plot:
Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and Bene Gesserit Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice that keeps interstellar travel going. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit (Charlotte Rampling) comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

Dune is pretty much the epitome of an epic hero’s journey – with all the advantages and disadvantages of that. It’s a faithful adaptation with only few modernizations in the story and characters – and that, too, comes with its own problems. I guess, how much you like this film will strongly depend on how much you like the source material and how much you like the colors grey, brown and beige.

The film poster showing a moon, science fiction machinery, sand and a sandworm as a background. In the foreground, Leto (Oscar Isaac), Paul (Timothée Chalamet), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Chani (Zendaya), Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and Gurney (Josh Brolin) as floating heads in different sizes.
Continue reading

Catfight (2016)

Catfight
Director: Onur Tukel
Writer: Onur Tukel
Cast: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ariel Kavoussi, Damian Young, Stephen Gevedon, Giullian Yao Gioiello, Tituss Burgess, Peter Jacobson
Seen on: 10.9.2021

Content Note: alcoholism, misogyny, (critical treatment of) queermisia

Plot:
Vanessa (Sandra Oh) has a good life, a husband (Damian Young), a son (Giullian Yao Gioiello) and loads of money. So what if she has a bit of drinking problem, too? One night at a party, she runs into Ashley (Anne Heche). Ashley and Vanessa used to be in college together and hated each other back then. And, really, nothing has changed. Ashley is an artist now, helping out her caterer girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone), and horrified at the bourgeois life Vanessa leads, while Vanessa doesn’t take Ashley’s art seriously and finds her anti-establishment rants ridiculous. Their simple small talk quickly turns into a series of barbs and finally things get so out of hand that their lives are forever changed by the encounter.

Catfight, to me, was an utterly bleak and joyless film. I just couldn’t bring myself to like it.

The film poster showing Ashley (Anne Heche) holding Vanessa (Sandra Oh) in a chokehold.
Continue reading

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Based on: Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin‘s character
Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Benedict Wong, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 6.9.2021

Plot:
Shaun (Simu Liu) tried to built a life for himself, away from his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) and Wenwu’s private army, the Ten Rings – including actual ten rings that give Wenwu awesome powers. And for the last decade, Shaun has been pretty successful in his endeavor. Not even his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) suspects that there is more to him than a party-loving valet. Until a group of fighters led by Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) attack Shaun and he has to finally confront his past, his family, and his future. Not without Katy, though.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a thoroughly enjoyable film with a good mix of fighting, emotions and humor. I had a very good time with it.

The film poster showing Shaun (Simu Liu), his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) looming large behind him, wearing the ten rings. The two can be seen fighting as smaller figures in the front. Other important characters are arranged around them.
Continue reading

Sweet Girl (2021)

Sweet Girl
Director: Brian Andrew Mendoza
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz, Philip Eisner
Cast: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Adria Arjona, Justin Bartha, Raza Jaffrey, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James
Seen on: 3.9.2021

Plot:
Ray (Jason Momoa), Amanda (Adria Arjona) and their daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) used to be extremely happy together until Amanda got very sick and the medication that was her last hope of survival was too expensive, and the generic version pulled before it ever reached the market. After her death, Ray has sworn revenge on the pharmaceutical company that is responsible for the decision. And Rachel can’t help getting dragged into his plans.

Sweet Girl is at its best when it isn’t focused on the action. Unfortunately, it seems to be convinced otherwise. When it should have remained simple, it goes big. But still, it’s worth it for Momoa and the father-daughter-chemistry he has with Merced.

The film poster showing Ray (Jason Momoa) and Rachel (Isabela Merced) walking fiercely. He is holding an axe and his face is bruised.
Continue reading

Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss
Seen on: 1.9.2021

Plot:
Erin (Nicole Kidman) is a police officer, only barely holding herself together. When a body turns up with markings that connect it to an undercover case from the very beginning of Erin’s career, she re-opens the investigation, she knows that her past has finally caught up with her – and that she may finally set things right.

Destroyer very cleverly cast Nicole Kidman against type, but I often felt that it relies to hard on that cleverness, on Kidman’s sallow looks. It is a decent crime movie, but it could have been a little more.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Erin's (Nicole Kidman) face with deep shadows under her eyes in blue and red light.
Continue reading

Free Guy (2021)

Free Guy
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Matt Lieberman, Zak Penn
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Taika Waititi
Seen on: 16.8.2021

Plot:
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller and his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) is a security guard in the bank. Everyday they go into work and everyday the bank gets robbed. More than once, mostly. Guy is a cheery person, though, but he does wonder whether life holds more for him than bank robberies. He dreams of the girl he saw once, though Buddy doesn’t believe she exists. Until Guy really does see her, decides to break his routine and talk to her – Millie (Jodie Comer), as he learns. What he doesn’t know, though, is that his world is actually a game and Millie is a player, while Guy is an NPC, a non-player character, who shouldn’t be able to make the decisions he makes. Also, Millie is playing for a particular reason.

Free Guy looked fun, but I didn’t expect it to be as much fun as it was. It’s a film that I think will satisfy gamers, as well as people like me who only have a rudimentary knowledge of the kind of computer games that it plays with. I’d say it’s a full success.

The film poster showing Guy (Ryan Reynolds) from behind, standing on a rooftop overlooking a city skyline full of plans, rockets, hot air balloons, parachutes and an explosion. He has a goldfish bowl with a goldfish in one hand and a disposable coffee cup in the other.
Continue reading

The Suicide Squad (2021)

The Suicide Squad
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Based on: various comic characters
Sequel to: Suicide Squad
Cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Peter Capaldi, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Jai Courtney, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, Storm Reid, Alice Braga, Taika Waititi, Pom Klementieff
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 9.8.2021

Plot:
The Suicide Squad has some new recruits and a new mission on Corto Maltese. Instructed by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), they are dropped off on the island that recently saw a regime change. And so, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), RIck Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) find themselves on different paths to the island capital to gain control of a secret weapon in a stronghold in the city.

I was debating with myself whether I actually wanted to go see The Suicide Squad, given that Suicide Squad wasn’t good (to put it mildly), but ultimately my love for the cast won out. And I’m glad it did – The Suicide Squad is a whole lot of fun.

The film poster showing Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), RIck Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) in a star-like formation, surrounded by explosions.
Continue reading

Project Power (2020)

Project Power
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Amy Landecker, Machine Gun Kelly
Seen on: 23.7.2021

Plot:
There’s a new drug making the rounds – a drug that give you extraordinary powers for exactly five minutes, although you won’t know which powers you’ll get until you try. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is trying to safe some money by selling some of it. One of her customers is police officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is afraid that the police is outmatched if they don’t use the drug themselves, but who is very interested in finding the people behind the drug. Equally interested, but for very different reasons, is Art (Jamie Foxx), an ex-soldier. By chance, Robin brings Frank and Art together – and they start to investigate.

Project Power is okay. It’s neither particularly good, nor particularly bad, although it has moments of both.

The film poster showing Robin (Dominique Fishback), Art (Jamie Foxx) and Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) standing in a vague V-formation with Art at the center-front, holding up a glowing pill.

[Slight SPOILERS]

Continue reading

6 Underground (2019)

6 Underground
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco, Corey Hawkins, Lior Raz, Payman Maadi, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Kim Kold, Lídia Franco, James Murray
Seen on: 21.7.2021

Content Note: white saviorism

Plot:
A few years ago, a tech billionaire faked his own death to become One (Ryan Reynolds), the leader of a mercenary group set to kill the dictator of Turgistan Rovach (Lior Raz), to put his more liberal brother Murat (Payman Maadi) in power and free Turgistan with the move. But the first mission he and his team of five, only known as numbers Two (Mélanie Laurent), Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Four (Ben Hardy), Five (Adria Arjona), and Six (Dave Franco), go on is an utter disaster – and does not bode well for their overall goal.

After watching F9 and Black Widow, I wanted to keep up the action comedy mood. When I saw the preview still on Netflix for this film, I felt like Ryan Reynolds would probably show me a good time. What I missed was that this is a Michael Bay film, and it’s absolutely one of his worse ones. Dammit, 6 Underground was really and truly bad.

The film poster showing the 7 recruits in various action poses, with One (Ryan Reynolds) taking the center.
Continue reading