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10/10
One of Cinema's Great Revenge Stories!
26 January 2020
Django is an unflinching look at America's past of slavery and the Old West: and Tarantino brings his timelessly inventive style to tackle one of the United States' most sensitive topics in its storied history. This film is a blood-soaked revenge story that packs SO much oomph in its character arcs, its great music and punchy dialogue. It takes slavery and uses that idea as an out-and-out crucifixion of the idea throughout Django Unchained's 2-hour and 45-minute runtime.

This film was an experience to remember at the movies when it came out, and rewatching it is still a powerful if somewhat harrowing experience because of the slavery aspect. Django doesn't pull its punches with the story's brave exploration of the pre-Civil War American South and its very well thought-out direction and closure of the character's arcs are done in ways that some of the best self-contained screenplays of the past managed to pull-off so seamlessly: i.e. Casablanca, Star Wars(1977), Back to the Future, Pulp Fiction (of course), Toy Story and Her (2013). Django's a fantastic film that's not only a pleasure to watch over and over because of its revenge but also a crucial piece of film history thanks to confronting slavery within the context of a good-old-fashioned Western.

For such a heavy movie it's a masterpiece of its craft and what it's standing for: taking on American history and giving the audience unmitigated truth and vengeance in its confrontation of slavery.

Django gets 5/5 stars.
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Toy Story (1995)
10/10
The stuff of cinematic dreams.
18 January 2020
Toy Story became one of 1995's surprise hits after a troubled production that saw Woody's character go through a complete overhaul: he went from being a controlling jerk (there's a Black Friday Reel on YouTube that shows what could have been) to a wise leader who watches out for his friends and only gets shaken up when a new toy, Buzz Lightyear, is changing his world that shakes his place and stability amongst Andy's collection of toys. It's a simple story of protagonist-confronted-by-inciting-incident 'stuff' but this simplicity and true-to-their-heart cast of characters makes Toy Story such a great film that takes full advantage of its creative and multi-layered world.

It's one of the world's defining animated movies thanks to its full-circle screenplay and top-notch character development never being squandered during the film's (admittedly) short runtime of 81 minutes. That doesn't even matter anyway: Toy Story is one of those landmark movies people will never get tired or revisiting over the years. It's just a pure joy to watch and rewatch.

Toy Story gets 5/5 stars.
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1917 (2019)
10/10
The kind of film that makes some real noise in the world.
13 January 2020
1917 was based off Sam Mendes' grandfather's account of the First World War and the film proved to be an unbelievably powerful reflection of the horrors the world faced after Franz Ferdinand's assassination in 1914. You can feel the desperation, angst and terror the soldiers faced at the time: and the film's use of one-shot-takes gives the viewer the impression they're actually there WITH the battalion of British Allied Soldiers. It's ridiculously well-done whilst being very harrowing stuff, and it all really happened (at least the tension around Operation Alberich was firmly rooted in history).

This film's like a one-shot Dunkirk but tries capturing the dehumanizing qualities of war from works like All Quiet on the Western Front and War Horse. 1917 is a war movie that gives a new perspective on tried-and-true historical cinema, and it's World War One setting is oddly fitting for today's political dilemmas, mistrust of authority and national interests clashing with the individual soldier being used as a pawn to achieve whatever means to an end. Historical stuff aside, the bunker booby-trap scene with the rat was set up beautifully and the way this film was made gives that scene undiluted tension and fright when you see what happens on-screen. Seriously, that scene might become the stuff of cinematic legend and used as a how-to guide on delivering unexpected shocks from an unlikely place.

1917 is pretty damn solid cinema and the direction delivers a lot to the character of the film's story itself: it's one continuous journey that's as relentless as war itself and its immersion is groundbreaking stuff.

5/5 stars. It's a great experience with an impactful story.
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10/10
40th Anniversary Review of the Movie
4 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
***Spoiler Warning***

The Empire Strikes Back came out three years after the original Star Wars and six years after The Godfather: Part II, the sequel that changed movie sequels forever; and Empire was a follow-up for the ages. This film showed that the Star Wars universe was a cinematic world that had real grit and 'teeth' to it: even after the triumphant ending in the previous movie this one is defined by The Empire relentlessly pursuing The Rebellion in the wake of The Death Star's destruction during the Battle of Yavin 4, and it shows that 'fairy-tale endings' always have a deeper aftermath to them than you think and that hard-won battles need to keep going if the enemy is to falter.

The Empire Strikes Back is the sequel that came to be THE golden standard for movie sequels; without it there'd be no necessary sequels that are thought out for narratively creative reasons as opposed to monetary reasons. This film also proved to be quite the shocker when it came out in 1980: we finally found out what happened to Luke's father, and he wasn't killed by Darth Vader; he became Darth Vader himself. This soon became THE greatest cinematic plot-twist of all-time, and forty years on it's still a hard one to top (if not outright impossible). It was Star Wars' equivalent of Citizen Kane's 'Rosebud' moment and both those twists are still great narrative pillars for filmmakers to get inspiration from today.

Star Wars is inseparable from cinema itself: it's become a legacy of a franchise that came from George Lucas' desire to pay homage to the Flash Gordon serials from the 30s, and just like cinema itself people still actively discuss the series and medium to this day in ways that people dissect philosophy and religion to their heart's content. It's fun to look deeper into the things we love, and it's life-changing when you find newfound wisdom to make your mind and will stronger in life. Cinema may not be the same as it was decades ago (neither is Star Wars), but there's still plenty of new changes that show old and new techniques can become harmonious with one another: technology is not substitute for hard-earned storytelling or wisdom, but progress can help expand one's understanding of what they couldn't comprehend before.

The Empire Strikes Back is one of cinema's all-time titans, and this is what sequels dream to become: an immortal experience that's set a bar so high it takes something truly incredible to surpass it (whoever may dare try to do so that is). 5/5 stars.
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The Mandalorian: Chapter 8: Redemption (2019)
Season 1, Episode 8
10/10
This is some of the very best storytelling Star Wars has to offer!
29 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The Mandalorian is a very well thought-out chapter in the Star Wars canon and it's done something no one thought Disney could do with the franchise under its wing: unite the fandom in loving the same production so finely done by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau (Jedi veterans). It's got the story people wanted to see after Return of the Jedi: a lawless galaxy inhabited by Bounty Hunters with varying degrees of honor and wisdom: and there's no all-powerful authority to stop them in the Outer-Rim territories.

This episode plays like a movie that's paying off dozens of set-ups from a few movies before it, except this is a television episode: a part of a series that's had more vision and time to shine than The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. It's really quite wonderful what they've done in this episode: crammed in so much and it didn't feel rushed, be it the stand-offs or the rag-tag team of outlaws helping each other survive an Imperial Assault on a bar. Oh, and the Force is very strong in this one indeed: and it gives 'Baby Yoda' his time to prove his narrative-worth in the series.

Redemption is a suitable title for this episode, because this feels like a redemption of the old-school Star Wars people continue to love through and through.
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Frozen II (2019)
6/10
It's pretty average stuff.
20 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
**Spoilers Ahead**

The Frozen franchise hasn't even become a trilogy and it's already an exhausting and redundant presence in the world of animated cinema. The first film was just fine on its own: no need for a sequel at all, and 'Let It Go' was a good enough song before it got replayed and parodied to the point everyone got sick of it completely. Now this sequel is the obligatory backstory-scouring entry that is too predictable to really be all that engaging as a movie, but the animation is phenomenal (if nothing else that much can be said). It's a shame this sequel doesn't go for a bolder-darker-deeper story that would have justified the film's existence in the first place.

Is the film bad? No. Is it good? Eh, it's okay. It's a spectacle that doesn't offer too much beyond some of its admittedly catchy songs and nice imagery. It's an okay film to one of animation's most successful outings of the decade. My guess is that the money was speaking rather than the artistic intentions of the filmmakers trying to tell a compelling story. Two different cultures historically divided somehow uniting in the midst of a hostile conflict? It's very familiar stuff that doesn't offer too much in the way of surprises, and it plays pretty much the way you expect things to go. That's essentially what the film teases and outright reveals before the second act. Why? There's no sense in killing the sense of surprise THAT early on in the film. We get it: Elsa and Anna's mother was part of the Northuldra, the rival culture of Arendelle. Basically, Elsa's mother saved their father and this remained a secret for years (even though it would've helped letting the kingdoms know about this act of hospitality in war). Blah blah blah, Elsa is the fifth spirit after earth, fire, water and air and tippy all is well and ends well, right?

This sequel is what you'd expect it to be, and for what it is it's harmless stuff, although its lack of creativity doesn't help things for the film. It's okay and the kids will love it.

Frozen 2: a sequel we definitely didn't need in the first place but it's bound to put some smiles on your face.
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The Mandalorian (2019– )
10/10
Beautifully Expands the World of Star Wars.
19 December 2019
The Mandalorian is a pop-cultural milestone: it's the first ever live-action Star Wars television show and it looks like a multi-million dollar film from Hollywood, and has the pacing of a well-done HBO show that refuses to rush things unnecessarily. It's also the flagship show of Disney+. Star Wars finally has everything Star Trek kept boasting about for years: stories covering EVERY discernible medium, including (at long last) serialised live-action tv dramas amongst miscellaneous adaptations throughout the years.

This show rocks: it's a fully-fledged Space Western that honours everything that made the Original Trilogy great by just having seamless world building shown through the title character traversing the galaxy one planet at a time. It doesn't worry about building a bajillion teases for a sequel or whatnot: it just tells a story that happens to be in the Star Wars Universe and its naturally-paced beats and action makes this show a worthy continuation of George Lucas' legacy. The main character never shows his face, but you never need to see it to know that The Mandalorian is a hardened man built by his code of honour, his culture and he's like 'Blondie' from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. He's a firmly-developed badass that he'd probably make Batman quiver (if the two would ever meet at all). The Mandalorian, or simply 'Mando', is a warrior who knows the balance between life and death, code of honour and self-righteousness, tact and recklessness; this guy is one you wouldn't dare double cross under any circumstances because he'll make you pay big time if you betray his trust.

This series is already building up to be something that's more firmly realised and thought-out than The Sequel Trilogy as a whole, and it's a nice expansion of the Star Wars canon overall. Here's hoping that Season Two will get even deeper into the galaxy far, far away: maybe have the Mando take on some outcast Jedi and show the difference between the cultures of the Jedi and Mandalore. There are so many possibilities with this show and its off-shoots in the future that it's fair to say Star Wars has a bright future in live-action television.

If you're trying to find a reason to subscribe to Disney+ or haven't found one yet, this is the reason why it'll get even bigger and better in the future: that's not even including the other non-Star Wars shows on the horizon for the service. It's a good time to be a Star Wars fan and it'll keep getting better on the tv side of things too.
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7/10
It's a fan-service machine that respects Star Wars' legacy.
19 December 2019
There is going to be a fiercely fought debate over whether or not this film is good or bad, but The Rise of Skywalker is how The Skywalker Saga ends (officially); though fans don't have to accept that, because The Original Trilogy was already conclusive enough. This film, I think, is a 're-conclusion' of the saga. Did we really NEED this movie? No. We did not. Though The Force Awakens was a great re-introduction to the Star Wars universe, The Last Jedi tried too hard to disrupt the strands of the previous film, and The Rise of Skywalker wraps it all up by being a fan-service love-letter instead of being a closing chapter to a cinematic saga. I consider these movies to be 'extensions' of the Original Trilogy that can either be accepted or not accepted by the audience.

So what was good about the movie? It has gorgeous imagery that's got some great action set-pieces, but the story's jump-from-point-A-to-point-B video-game side-quest-completing structure muddles the pacing and emotional investment you have in the film. It didn't need to be a 'collectathon' video game to satisfy the fans who hated The Last Jedi: they just needed to deliver what the fans wanted and that was clear-cut closure on The Force Awakens' arcs (though Return of the Jedi already ended the Star Wars Saga). The music's still goosebumps-inducing stuff and the world is still as deep and immersive as ever; it's just a shame we couldn't end this trilogy with Carrie Fisher still being with us. And that's what hurt about The Rise of Skywalker the most: we were left poorer because of what happened in real life affecting not only the franchise but leaving fans and her family sadder when one of our childhood icons passed away far too soon. I'll miss Carrie: she was a legend and will be inseparable from Star Wars' legacy. And for the most part I reckon The Rise of Skywalker honours her legacy rather well, even if it's very wanting for Carrie to still be here with us.

This movie's fine stuff: it's good but not great, entertaining but not life-changing, sweeping if somewhat unfocused in terms of its story. It is Star Wars and it's abundantly clear to everyone and their dog that the franchise is going to continue WELL and truly past Episode IX. It's now become a franchise as endless as James Bond and the MARVEL Movies whether audiences like that or not. Here's hoping that the next movies re-orient themselves around philosophical ideologIes of wisdom as opposed to contemporary politics getting in the way of a clear-cut story.

Star Wars has become a beast of a franchise and it's grown significantly from its humble beginnings as a mid-budgeted movie from 1977; it's become a never ending colossus of pop-culture that's got one of the most passionate fan-bases on the planet. And just like any fandom we should respect differences in opinion and sentiment that comes along the way.
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Knives Out (2019)
10/10
I didn't know what to expect, and I came out thoroughly happy and amused.
12 December 2019
Knives Out is Rian Johnson's latest feature-film and this film shows that the guy has a real knack for twisty storytelling and that he's a multi-genre man of his trade. Yes the guy directed The Last Jedi, which has adversely affected some people's perceptions of this movie, but this film is a totally different beast of an experience. And I'd say this film's easily better than The Last Jedi.

Knives Out follows the story of mystery-author Harlan Thrombey's death and how The Thrombey Family deals with the fallout of the chaos: and through this set-up we get the best Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot-inspired character in a long while: Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig. The film's something of a miracle: it's a whodunit story with an all-star ensemble of Hollywood actors and it's NOT a sequel or adaptation of a pre-existing work from Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle, though you can definitely feel their influence in the highly complex and intellectual nature of their stories in Knives Out.

This film's got super-sleuth galore in its cast of characters and writing, and it's got some truly fantastic cinematography to go with it. It's so well directed, thought-out and realized that it's easily one of 2019's most daring cinematic outings; it shows that the British aren't alone in doing great whodunits, and there's plenty of variety to work with in crime fiction in today's world.

Knives Out is pretty damn solid cinema and an achievement for Rian Johnson. It's great, especially on the big screen.
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The Irishman (2019)
10/10
Netflix did a great thing giving this three-hour epic life.
5 December 2019
I think it's fair to say that this is Netflix's first TRUE blockbuster on the service; their previous 'original' offerings were more niche films that didn't have room for wide-release cinemas, but The Irishman is VERY different from the likes of Bird Box, Roma and Okja in that it's a $150-million crime epic starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino all being directed by Martin Scorsese himself. It's an experience that's showing 2019's challenging the landscape of cinema, television and multi-media entertainment itself; and Netflix is leading the charge, and it's going to still stand strong against Disney + and Amazon Prime.

The Irishman has all the best elements of Goodfellas, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street: this film has dry wit, humour and intense violence all surrounding the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, whom Pacino brings very dynamic, hilarious and cynical charm in his performance. It's a three-hour saga that shows organised crime's thinly-veiled difference between government corruption, extortion and openness of personal character (something even the most honest men can struggle with). It's honest art even if it's somewhat confronting on human nature's somewhat contradictory nature. And it's those kinds of films that show why crime cinema is so important to the creative landscape of cinema. Martin Scorsese's done another great piece of art with this paradigm-breaker of a movie, and he's shown Netflix can stand its own against the Major Hollywood Studios.

The Irishman is a long movie but it's rewarding and fulfilling entertainment. It's a showcase for what Martin Scorsese has done so well in his movies, and it's never gratuitous repetition for the sake of nostalgia. It's new territory that's still got an atmosphere of familiarity to it without undermining the film's story.

The Irishman gets 5/5 stars.
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6/10
Enjoyable but flawed continuation of the Terminator Saga.
4 December 2019
Terminator Dark Fate is the sixth Terminator movie: a sequel in a franchise that tries pretending the sequels after Terminator-2 never happened. Only this time Dark Fate is now purported to be the direct canonical follow-up to Judgement Day, and it's a journey that has a very strong sense of déjà-vu.

This film is another passable offering but its close proximity within Genisys' release in 2015, discarding the events of the first two Terminators making them redundant and pointless for this film's story make Dark Fate a ham fisted reimagining of James Cameron's iconic franchise. It's a well-meaning but debilitating hodgepodge of ideas trying to make a long-standing franchise seem fresh again. The story here is trying to show a blurred line between humanity and machines; and for the most part it succeeds in conveying this, but it isn't a unique aspect to the Terminator method anymore; they already did the whole enhanced-human thing in the last two movies. So what's the point of this movie? I'm not entirely sure; it's really here to assert James Cameron's future ownership of the franchise.

Terminator is a franchise that's become as iconic as Star Wars, James Bond, Batman, the MCU, and Alien. That's just naming a few franchises Terminator is comparable to, and I wish that the recent movies respected the legacy of the original two films. It's unfortunate that Dark Fate doesn't have that respect.

Dark Fate's watchable, but when you're talking legacy sequels to legendary movies it's reasonable to expect something more... bold and expansive for the original work.
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6/10
It's okay.
22 November 2019
Terminator 3 has the misfortune of following up on Terminator 1 & 2: an impossibly difficult task that can only result in shortcomings if James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd and Linda Hamilton aren't even touching this production at all. Terminator 3 is a noble if fatally flawed follow-up on two of sci-fi cinema's greatest stories; there was no way Terminator 3 could follow up on the T-1000 in Judgement Day and the story there was wrapped up just nicely. So where was the real need to continue? Well, it was because Judgement Day was a box office tsunami: and they HAD to do a sequel in some form I guess.

Terminator 3 is a well-meaning but overly-stuffed and pandering venture in the Terminator canon. It's loaded with fan-service in reference to the first two Terminators: there's that psychologist from the first two movies, and the T-800's pacifism in T-2 is visually referenced in the form of 'Human Casualties: 000' screen-text from Arnie's point-of-view. Noble efforts, but it's unnecessary if it doesn't add anything new to the story.

T-3 is okay. It's passable action and escapism, but the original Terminator and Judgement Day are still the best by a ridiculously wide margin.
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10/10
It goes without saying that Terminator 2 is sublime action cinema.
22 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
***Spoilers ahead***

James Cameron struck pure gold when he made the first Terminator, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day is just as impressive as the first movie (if not more so). This sequel delivers everything a great sequel deserves and needs to accomplish: expand the world of the original work in a very natural, bold and ambitious way that explores the uncharted areas of the story. Judgement Day is to The Terminator franchise what The Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars; and all the sequels that came after it one can try all they like, but they can't live up to THIS colossal masterpiece of sci-fi action.

Judgement Day is bucket-loads of fun, and it still holds up ridiculously well against more 'modern' cinema. It's films like these that are like fine wines; they get better with age it would seem. And when you revisit the film there's something you didn't notice the first time you saw it: re-watching a film this good is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, just like the film's premise of the T-800 saving John Connor from being assassinated by the T-1000. There's hardly anything pointless in the film's story: it's a microcosm on human volatility, machinery learning from humanity's worst impulses and applying said experience to improve upon its own purposes (good or bad) and that a cause worth fighting for (saving a life) is never a pointless endeavor.

Terminator 2 is one of those rare flawless films that, in spite of being a 'genre-piece' from the 1990s, transcends most cinema of its ilk in ways that many films just don't seem to get: it's not genres that determine a good story (or film) but the essence of the experience you get from it and the overall impression it leaves on the audience that helps the film become a transcendent journey.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day has probably been judged countless times already, but who's to say that new incite is redundant when it comes to classic films like this? I'm not pretending I'm saying anything that hasn't already been said about Judgement Day, but my point is that it's still fun and insightful reviewing these movies on one's own terms. It all boils down to expressing our own experiences watching these things in full, and everyone's two-cents on a movie is different to the next. And that's what makes movie-watching so damn great.

Terminator 2 gets 5/5 stars: I could keep going on and on about why this film's great, but there's no need to keep going. I'll just let it speak for itself.
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10/10
35 years on and The Terminator remains fantastic storytelling.
8 November 2019
This movie's still got it: punchy action, great techno-music adding to the 80s charm embedded in the production, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's greatest cinematic performance as The Terminator himself.

The Terminator is part-thriller, part-body-horror (via the T-800's disregard for its own flesh and eyes), part-neo-noir, all adrenaline-infused action telling a story of survival and desperation. It's a multi-genre and self-contained masterpiece that captured everything special about cinema in the 80s; and it's the film that catapulted James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood stardom.

This film's always been a favourite of mine, and it's still great rewatching over and over again. It's just one of those movies that you can keep rewatching and find something new almost every time you rewatch it.

Hollywood can keep trying to make a sequel to this and Terminator 2; it doesn't change the fact that the first two Terminator movies are incomparable classics of the sci-fi genre.

Is there anything about this movie that hasn't already been said? I'm not sure, but I can say that this movie's had a wonderful impact on people's creativity, and modern Hollywood owes a lot to this humble film and James Cameron.
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Fargo (2014– )
10/10
Reviews for Seasons 1 and 2.
17 October 2019
This show delves right into the universe of the original film and takes advantage of its self-liberating anthology-method of storytelling. These stories taking place in Minnesota are all perfectly wacky, unsettling and non-contrived in its handling of uncontrollable chaos affecting the locals of Fargo.

This is American suburbia told in a way that's a far cry from the atypical stories told in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles: its more neighbourly form of storytelling differs from the swashbuckling metropolitan spectacle you'd get from crime films from Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan, and Fargo is like a crime story written for a small in-land American community affected by the typical murder-mystery scenario found in British TV murder mysteries like Silent Witness or Midsomer Murders (only Fargo does it much better).

Fargo is black-comedy with teeth and just because it's darkly comic doesn't mean it shies away from the drama; if anything, the comedy comes hand in hand WITH the drama, as is the style of some of The Coen Brothers' best films. Considering this series was inspired by the 1996 film that won them the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in '97, it's nice knowing that this series isn't a ham-fisted shoehorning of the film's mythos, but rather an unrealised expansion of the movie's world.

This show is very good, very dark and very impactful in its exploration of crime and suburban life being greatly affected by out-of-hand chaos determining the fates of a tightly-knit community.

Fargo is a 5/5 star marathon of storytelling.
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Joker (2019)
10/10
Easily 2019's most confronting movie.
12 October 2019
Joker has everything Suicide Squad WANTED to be: a villain centric-film that gets into the nitty-gritty of baddy psychology and never pulls its punches in its approach to exploring mental-illness, present-day dystopian America (even though this film's set in 1981 you still feel the relevance in relation to Trump's America in 2019) and showing that baddies don't fight for saving the world, but for themselves. This film is an anti-thesis to a MARVEL Studios film: Joker doesn't have a team of superheroes trying to save the world for the better, but rather one single man that represents the disillusioned masses of metropolitan citizens launching a revolution against the city's 'elite' socialites who don't understand the underprivileged people they're supposed to support.

Joker is 2019's most nihilistic Hollywood offering and it's a far-cry from the feel-good nature of Avengers: Endgame, where the superheroes fight for a cause that has a clear-cut end in sight that can be achieved; Joker takes place in a grey world where every character is a moralistic blur and the place they live in may or may not outright define their underlying character. This is a villain-film through and through and it doesn't try and pretend The Joker is a heroic figure who will save Gotham from itself: if anything, he's a by-product of Gotham's social-rot and he's part of a bigger and crazier problem that is the city's feeling of collective negligence and hostility towards privileged people.

If you want a happy-go-lucky blockbuster that tells a tale of optimism and hope for loners suffering with mental illness, be warned that this movie isn't the right one for you. It's comic book filmmaking that has no superhero to root for: just the villain.
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9/10
Sharp crime-caper that's a capsule on the cyclical nature of crime never paying.
10 October 2019
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels shows what British cinema is capable of when you focus on desperate people living in Britain's criminal underbelly terrified of owing their nasty bosses overdue, and unrealistically large, payments. The film's sharp, fast-paced editing and sepia-tone highlights this film being an energising story told from cynical and conspiring criminals unsure of what tomorrow holds for them.

Guy Ritchie does a damn fine job playing with the inherently destructive ways of criminal livelihoods, and that it's fun for observers but never for the 'actors' who actually get caught up in needlessly difficult trouble. We're watching and laughing; the characters would cuss at us for daring to do that because of their suffering. And this film works as an Uber-Dark-comedy because of this self-awareness: the way it's playful with the nastiness instead of being overly soppy for it.

This is a very entertaining caper film through and through.
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Tuca & Bertie (2019)
7/10
Noble effort, but not Bojack Horseman-levels of longstanding story.
8 October 2019
Tuca and Bertie is harmless(?) adult-animated fun that's more a complimentary side-piece for Bojack Horseman rather than being its own thing outright. It's got nice dynamic energy in its animation and it's beautifully absurd, but the pacing is a little too wonky to let this stuff just happen right out of the gate. It's nice and the characters have enough depth to them, but Bojack's already tackled the same issues this show is flaunting as its underlying themes.

Despite the issues I had with the pacing, I think this show deserved at least another two seasons: because sometimes shows deserve to grow than to be cancelled per-maturely. Shame on Netflix for not promoting the series properly: it could've become a long-running classic.
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10/10
Probably among the series' strongest episodes. And a masterclass for Netflix.
8 October 2019
As a whole, this series has been rather remarkable, but some of the episodes stand out like a classic movie truly does on its own terms. The Dark Crystal is a beloved cult-classic 80s property that's been sprung back into the modern limelight thanks to Age of Resistance taking Jim Henson's, and the film's, legacy very seriously. This show rolls with the high-concept wonder of high-fantasy in a way that's comparable to the seamless wonder of the original Star Wars Trilogy and The Lord of the Rings movies; the big difference from those stories is that this one is full of three-dimensional Muppets that have just as deep personalities as regular humans.

This episode is a naturally sound middle-chapter in a non-forced prequel story that gives us unspoken yet crucial territory to the world of The Dark Crystal movie, and its exploration of life, wisdom and deceit is unusually compelling given the fact we're in the wholly made-up world of Thra. This show has the pacing other prequels have struggled to master in the past: The Star Wars Prequels, The Hobbit Films and the Fantastic Beasts films are just a few prequel misfires that come to mind, and I'm relieved that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance shows that prequel storytelling doesn't have to be by-the-numbers padding at all. It's diegetic (natural) storytelling that plays out in a timely and non-superficial manner.

This is some truly good television right here.
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3/10
This was just bad. I'm sorry, but it just didn't stick the landing.
25 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
***Advanced Spoiler Warning***

The X-Men movies have been a very interesting case study in the world of superhero movies: they resurrected the genre when the first X-Men movie released in 2000 after 1997's Batman & Robin all-but sank the bankability of superhero films in the mainstream Hollywood scene. These movies would go on to become one of the most endearing franchises that had PLENTY of ups and downs in terms of quality: X-2 was a great sequel which got followed up by the infamous X-Men 3: The Last Stand. That film was followed by X-Men Origins: Wolverine (bad), which was then followed by X-Men: First Class (great), The Wolverine (okay) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (great), Deadpool (great), X-Men: Apocalypse (serviceable), Logan (fantastic), Deadpool 2 and finally Dark Phoenix (awful). This film should have been the send-off of a lifetime for fans of the X-Men, but it was one of the world's most petty cinematic whimpers. A bad movie strewn with some good moments here and there ultimately leading to an uneven film that doesn't achieve the seamless escapism of the best X-Men movies.

Dark Phoenix is a case study for what not to do in multi-million-dollar cinema: get a first-time director to helm a project when he's NEVER even practiced directing beforehand, make the last third of the film an inconceivably boring reshoot of a sequence that was supposed to be set in space but instead ends up on a goddamn train, and more eyesore visual effects ultimately leading to the film's own shortcomings being evermore present and embarrassingly obvious to the most casual viewer. You also don't make a spectacle exposition-dependent when trying to bring closure to a multi-year film series' story-arc. This was actually the first (and only) X-Men film I didn't see at the movies when it came out, and I'm glad I didn't see it. Watching it on DVD made it obvious how much Simon Kinberg and friends over at Fox second-guessed the movie to the production's detriment. This film hints at stuff we never see (the wonder of space or The Skrulls), moments we never fully grasp (Professor X's regret over controlling Jean's memories) and we never get an obvious understanding or emotional appreciation of THIS iteration of the X-Men's chemistry as a team dependent on one another as was done better in the other movies. When the film ends, it makes you feel like you've been on a journey unfulfilled and pointless, diminishing aspects of some of the world's greatest superheroes.

I'm sorry but I have to say it: this film made me appreciate X-Men: The Last Stand. I say this because it tried (and failed) to address and improve upon that film's shortcomings; and because it failed in doing so it ended up creating its own unique failures that couldn't be helped in the end. Some of the characters are still respectful as they were before (Magneto is still great, and Beast is good too), but they can't make up for the film breaking characters and their own little arcs just for the sake of making this movie seem like it's more competent than it actually was in the first place.

Dark Phoenix gets 1.5/5 stars.
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Sword Art Online (2012– )
6/10
This anime is simply okay.
8 September 2019
I've seen some episodes of this show, and I just don't find the Matrix-derived world inspiring. It's nicely done with the animation and all, but the story and characters just aren't that deep for me. To be fair they're serviceable nonetheless.

If I want to watch lucid dreaming in sci-fi I want to see something exceptionally unique to that story's take on the mind. Inception's done this, The Matrix did it, and even non-specifically: Terry Gilliam's Brazil did this and that wasn't a story about the mind but insanity in a dystopian metropolis. The animation's nice and the intros are nice, but there's not too much outside those areas frankly. It's noble in its scenario and imagery and kudos to the filmmakers not pulling punches with the spectacle.

This show, I watch for the visuals and not the story. Some nice stuff here and there and it does it's best to try and stand out from other anime's of its ilk.
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10/10
Rather well done continuation of Jim Henson's innovative legacy.
30 August 2019
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is another Netflix series that achieves a home-run in its first couple of episodes. Its story is very different to the original movie yet you can tell the series has the same aesthetic DNA running through every frame and scene. Age of Resistance has the same seamlessly realised escapism of The Dark Crystal movie and that's really saying something considering how modernised things have become in 2019 entertainment-wise: this still feels like the same movie universe audiences were introduced to in the 80s, only this time things aren't held back on a technical front.

Age of Resistance takes a cult classic film and continues the story of Thra and the Skeksis in very creative and layered ways, enhancing the world of the original movie.

This show is essentially Game of Thrones meets The Muppets (mixed with a teeny little bit of Zelda).
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9/10
Heart-wrenching documentary that meditates on the psychology of existence and entertainment: and how they've become inseparable.
21 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I Made You, I Kill You covers a man's traumatic childhood upbringing under the shackles of na abusive father who threatened to kill him with a kitchen knife when he was still just a little kid. This shows that the trauma of one's nurturers can have MASSIVE repercussions later on in one's life (the dude narrating the film can't look at someone slicing bread with a knife the same way because of his father's abuse); and sometimes the refuge of cinema is all that one has in one's own life sometimes.

It's a very depressing yet captivating documentary that deserves greater exposure and maybe even a feature length remake if necessary (it just needs a wider release though). This film is today's most necessary film focusing on mental health and personal reflections, and that one's past may never go away but moving on, confronting it and acknowledging it are among the many steps towards fixing one's self.

I Made You, I Kill You is an under-exposed and underrated masterclass in short documentary filmmaking.
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10/10
Just what Hollywood needed: an antithesis to 'Assembly-Line' franchise movies.
20 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
***Secondary Spoiler Warning***

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a bold and controversial take on 1969 Hollywood, and it's one of the year's strongest films and easily the bravest one of 2019. It's part crime-comedy-caper, part-alternate-history, all-pure-Tarantino-cinema. It's not afraid to take on the Tate Murders, Bruce Lee and Charles Manson in VERY different lights to actual history, and this self-contained piece of cinema is supposed to be a meta love letter to Los Angeles; it was never meant to be taken as a LITERAL parallel to what happened back in the time period.

This film's upset some people because of how Bruce Lee was portrayed in the movie and how its ending rewrites one of Hollywood's most senseless tragedies and takes on an alternate future where things are certainly brighter for Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. Kudos to Tarantino for making a movie that shows we aren't always bound by what happened in the past and that deviating futures can make for some rather witty cinema that isn't afraid to flip the bird to history for the sake of a love-letter film script that shows optimism can still exist in the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is visceral cinema that takes advantage of the alternate history deal and Tarantino will not pull his creative punches even in more modern contexts. It honours history yet it uses it to give the audience some new perspective that isn't anywhere near tasteless as some might think; it's capsule-cinema that makes its points quite clear and this film succeeds on those fronts tenfold.

This film gets 5/5 stars.
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The Boys (2019– )
9/10
Ridiculously entertaining parody of The Avengers and Justice League as a whole.
17 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This is it: the show to appease fanboys of BOTH MARVEL Comics and DC Comics, and it's because this show cross-amines the cliches prominent in both company's properties and scrutinises the godly power these individuals are given; this is a show about absolute power corrupting absolutely. This show is unofficially the greatest Superman series ever created thanks to its gripping Superman-analogue 'Homelander', essentially Supes and Captain America in a blender, being a direct narrative nod to Superman in the video game 'Injustice'. This show even evokes 'The Tick' through its satire on superheroes and through Huey (he's like Arthur sans the super suit). This is a show that cross-examines super powered people in a very original and rather unnerving way. What would happen if Superman lobbied for Congress to help integrate super-humans in the US Army, and what if Wonder Woman had survivor's guilt over a plane crash? It's around episode three that it scrutinises the Superman persona to a ridiculously sharp degree, and episode four where we see 'Homelander' as the self-centred prick he really is (through the show's analogy of terrorism in the 2000s like 9/11).

The Boys is funny, sharp, necessary and thought-provoking entertainment that criticises the inherent God Complexes that come into play with superheroes and super villains. This is a world where the line between hero and villain doesn't exist; and the dog-eat-dog world in The Boys is what the world needed post-#MeToo, post-9/11 and post-reboot-culture in Hollywood. This is more than simple black comedy: it's satire with an Orwellian sense of desperation and ambiguity.

The Boys is Amazon's best original series thus far. 4.5/5 stars.
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