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.
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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.
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Minotaur (2006)

Minotaur
Director: Jonathan English
Writer: Nick Green, Stephen McDool
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Van Der Water, Tony Todd, Lex Shrapnel, Jonathan Readwin, Rutger Hauer, Maimie McCoy, Lucy Brown, James Bradshaw, Fiona Maclaine, Claire Murphy, Ingrid Pitt, Ciaran Murtagh
Seen on: 2.9.2021

Content Note: racism, sexualized violence, sexism, ableism

Plot:
Every year, Theo’s (Tom Hardy) village gets raided and some young people taken to the great palace to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The only one who has always been protected is Theo as he is supposed to become the next leader of the village. But when The Leper (Ingrid Pitt) tells him that his big love, abducted a couple of years ago, may still be alive in the Minotaur’s labyrinth, Theo is determined to go. He gets himself on the ship with the sacrifices and sails to Deucalion’s (Tony Todd) and his sister Raphaella’s (Michelle Van Der Water) court to confront them and, more importantly, the Minotaur.

Phew, you can file this film under “Things I Have Watched for Tom Hardy” and “Things I Have Watched So You Don’t Have To”. Trust me, Minotaur is not some kind of underrated fantasy gem, it is just a collection of pretty offensive and very bad fantasy stereotypes.

The film poster showing Theo (Tom Hardy) in the center and Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water) to the left of him and Deucalion (Tony Tood) to the right.
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The Green Knight (2021)

The Green Knight
Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery
Based on: the legend of Gawain
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Erin Kellyman, Joel Edgerton
Seen on: 26.8.2021

Content Note: mention of rape

Plot:
Gawain (Dev Patel) likes to drink and sleep with Essel (Alicia Vikander), a sex worker in the local brothel. He does not like to take things seriously or to take on responsibility. His uncle the King (Sean Harris) and his Queen (Kate Dickie) see something more in him though, and his mother (Sarita Choudhury) also has plans for him. But on Christmas, Gawain’s reckless fashion leads him to accept a game from the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) in probably the worst way – with long-reaching consequences.

The Green Knight is an intense film with absolutely stunning images that did get a little exhausting for me at times. But I’d still recommend it, especially on the big screen.

The poster showing Gawain (Dev Patel) wearing a golden crown, a dark look on his face.
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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.
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Jungle Cruise (2021)

Jungle Cruise
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, Veronica Falcón, Dani Rovira, Quim Gutiérrez, Dan Dargan Carter, Andy Nyman
Seen on: 30.7.2021

Content Note: colonialism

Plot:
Lily (Emily Blunt) is a scientist, an archaeologist and an adventurer – even if the establishment doesn’t want to hear her theories about the Tears of the Moon, a mythical tree that can supposedly cure all ills and that she is sure isn’t just a myth. Not even when she sends her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) to speak for her to academia. But with the discovery of a long-forgotten relic, Lily is sure that she can find the Tears of the Moon, even if she has to deploy creative methods to get it. Soon, she and MacGregor make their way to the Amazonas river where they hire skipper Frank (Dwayne Johnson) and his boat to get them to the tree. But they are not the only ones after the Tears of the Moon. And Frank comes with his own troubles, too.

Jungle Cruise was super entertaining (in a surprisingly gory way). I honestly didn’t expect to have as much fun with it as I did, even if the film isn’t without issues. But I’d say, the entertainment outweighs the issues by far.

The film poster showing drawings of Frank (Dwayne Johnson) and Lily (Emily Blunt) in front of a jungle background. Below them, we can see Frank's boat going over some rapids, as well as other characters in the film, much smaller.
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Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat
Director: Simon McQuoid
Writer: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham
Based on: the video game
Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mehcad Brooks, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Chin Han, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson
Seen on: 22.6.2021

Plot:
Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is a MMA fighter and has gotten his fair share of beatings – as long as he can earn some money for his family (Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent), he’s happy to do it. What Cole doesn’t know, though, is that he is actually the descendant of a legendary fighter, a champion of the Mortal Kombat, which in turn makes Cole eligible to fight in the next Mortal Kombat, too. Since Earth lost the last nine tournaments against Outworld, another loss would mean that Earth goes to Outworld. Permanently. That’s why Shang Tsun (Chin Han), leader of the Outworld fighters, won’t take any chances and has sent Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) to kill all possible champions before the tournament starts. Next on the list: Cole, who finds himself on the run with Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), trying to figure out his powers.

I was overjoyed to see that Mortal Kombat still got a cinema start after all, but I seriously misjudged the film. I really didn’t expect it to be as bad as it is.

The film poster showing a face in a mask that shows only the eyes, the left side is Scorpion, glowing with fire. The right side is Sub-Zero frosted over with ice.
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Chaos Walking (2021)

Chaos Walking
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Patrick Ness, Christopher Ford
Based on: Patrick Ness’ novel The Knife of Never Letting Go
Cast: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Demián Bichir, David Oyelowo, Kurt Sutter, Cynthia Erivo, Bethany Anne Lind, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, Ray McKinnon
Seen on: 21.6.2021

Content Note: cissexism

Plot:
Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) is the last boy in Prentisstown, a settlement town on another planet. When the human settlers arrived, the men got telepathic powers. Shortly after their arrival, the native inhabitants killed all the women and girls. Todd grew up knowing nothing but the Noise of the men around him, and as the youngest settler is just about to reach adulthood. But one day he is out and about with his dog Manchee and finds a crashed spaceship – and a girl (Daisy Ridley). He lets the Mayor (Mads Mikkelsen) know, but soon has doubts about how the girl is treated. Doubts that his guardians Ben (Demián Bichir) and Cillian (Kurt Sutter) strengthen. In no time, Todd and the girl – Viola – are on the run together.

I only recently read the book this is based on and hated it. But I watched Chaos Walking anyway because the cinema has air-condition and I knew I’d be getting my puppy a few days later which means no cinema for a while. And, okay, for Mads Mikkelsen. And even though my expectations were lower than low after my experience with the book, I was still underwhelmed.

The film poster showing Todd (Tom Holland) and Viola (Daisy Ridley) superimposed over an eclipse and a moon and a rocket.
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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham
Sequel to: Wonder Woman
Based on: William Moulton Marston‘s comics character
Cast: Gal GadotChris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro PascalConnie NielsenRobin Wright, Lilly Aspell, Amr Waked, Kristoffer Polaha
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 21.6.2021

Content Note: rape (dubious consent at the very least), racism, white saviorism

Plot:
Diana (Gal Gadot) has been living among the humans for decades now, occasionally making an appearance as Wonder Woman, but trying to keep those anonymous. For her day job, she works as an anthropologist in the museum where she meets her new, rather eager colleague Barbara (Kristen Wiig), as well as TV personality slash investor Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). While Diana does take a liking to Barbara, she distrusts Lord immediately. And with good reason – as an artifact that supposedly grants wishes goes missing. But not after fulfilling Diana’s biggest wish and bringing back Steve (Chris Pine).

Given it’s late cinema start, the cat was out of the bag regarding Wonder Woman 1984 and its quality, or rather lack thereof. With my expectatons approriately lowered, the film was ultimately okay, apart from the things that were categorically not okay.

The film poster showing Diana (Gal Gadot) as Wonder Woman in a golden, winged suit with the glowing lasso of truth.
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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Raya and the Last Dragon
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada
Writer: Qui Nguyen, Adele Lim
Cast: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Izaac Wang, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk, Dichen Lachman, Sung Kang
Seen on: 2.6.2021

Plot:
There used to be one country called Kumandra. But after a terrible plague, the Druun, that turned everybody it touched to stone, and that could only be stopped with the dragons – who all turned to stone themselves – the country split into five realms: Fang, Tail, Talon, Heart and Spine. The last of the dragon powers in form of a stone is in Heart, guarded by King Benja (Daniel Dae Kim) and his daughter Raya (Kelly Marie Tran). Benja would like to bring the five realms together again, but his plans don’t come to fruition. Instead, the magic stone is broken and the Druun return. There is only one hope for Raya now: finding Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon who supposedly was just lost and not turned to stone.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a beautifully animated, emotionally touching film. It is pretty much what you hope for when you go to watch a Disney princess film – an absolutely satisfying experience.

The film poster showing Raya standing in the middle, with Sisu above her. The rest of the image is separated in five parts, four representing one of the film countries and the fifth showing Raya and Namaari charging each other.
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