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Fear Street: 1994 (2021)
To be honest, I didn't have particularly high hopes for this movie. While I wasn't familiar with any of the source material and didn't look at the trailer or anything, it just seemed like it would be very middle of the road. I am not going to say 'BOY WAS I WRONG' rather, I was pleasantly surprised.
PROS: -The actual horror elements are pretty good, it has some explicit gore, a variety of kills, some suspenseful elements and manages to avoid an over reliance on jump scares.
-The 90s nostalgia factor works fairly well, albeit overused at times.
-The story is intriguing, it drew me in and made me want to know what would happen next.
-The actors mostly seem like they could be older teenagers, rather than some obvious 30 year old with a backpack in a highschool looking like that Steve Buscemi meme.
CONS -Some of the characters are a bit cliché or just straight up unlikable at times, although I wouldn't say any of the actors are particularly weak in the roles, more so that the dialogue is occasionally cringe inducing.
-As mentioned above, the 90s nostalgia is a bit overdone and nowhere is this more obvious than the soundtrack.
OVERALL: This isn't high art or groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it is a competent, interesting film. The story moves along at a good pace and the kills and violence aren't just one note, they do a variety of things to keep them fresh.
As of this writing, this film has almost 300 1 star ratings, and I genuinely cannot fathom why.
If you're looking for a fun, violent, 90s nostalgia slasher flick this is well worth spending 1hr 40 minutes on.
The Game Changers (2018)
Cherry-picked Studies and Anecdotal Evidence Undercut the Message
Like a lot of people who have scored this movie negatively, my issue isn't with legitimate questions surround farming, sustainability, plant vs animal products, ethics, veganism etc. My gripe is with the poor presentation of data.
Firstly, there were the cherry cherry-picked studies. At one point they state a study found consumption of milk could reduce testosterone in men. The study in question did kind of find that, but with a few very important caveats. The sample size was less than 20 overall, with just 7 men consuming the milk of pregnant cows and the testosterone reduction was temporary. But that nuance doesn't support their point, so it is easier for them to say: 'Studies find that milk consumption reduces testosterone in men.' This is, at best, an overly broad interpretation drawn from very limited data, but this is just one example throughout the film.
In my opinion, what is worse than cherry-picking and misrepresenting scientific conclusions, is the complete subjective/anecdotal slant of the whole film. The rationale goes something like this. Conor McGregor fought Nate Diaz. Conor McGregor ate meat and Nate Diaz didn't. Nate Diaz won the fight . Ergo plant diet is better than animal products diet.
There are so many issues with this type of reasoning that it is utterly absurd to draw that conclusion. You've got two elite level fighters with differing experience, fighting styles, body types, workout regimes with one taking the fight on short notice and the other having to move up a weight class on short notice having prepared to fight a different fighter. This is not a commentary on the fight or who was the better fighter on the day (or overall), it is simply highlighting the ridiculous logical leap the producers take by cutting out all the variables that don't service their narrative.
It would be akin to saying Subject A drinks urine to treat their cancer. Subject A is still alive. Subject B underwent chemotherapy for their cancer. Subject B died. Ergo drinking urine is a better treatment than chemotherapy. I understand this is an extreme example, but the logical leap taken is the same. It has isolated a single solitary factor from an extraordinarily complex set of variables in order to service an agenda.
I was very interested in this 'documentary' when I first heard about it. There are legitimate questions to be asked about the efficacy of certain diets, the environmental impact of industrial agriculture, questions of morality and more. But this documentary didn't answer or address them. Instead the viewer is treated to misinformation, anecdotal experiences and a clearly slanted perspective.
What could have been an interesting topic addressed in a meaningful way is instead a weakly structured and poorly presented propaganda piece. On the surface, the citations spread across the screen seem impressive, but once you dig into the underlying studies, it would be charitable to call some of the data weak. A more accurate way to catagorise the data would be to say it was willfully misinterpreted to service a narrative replete with subjective stories that are not, in any way, grounded in science.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
I wanted to like it but . . .
I was genuinely excited for this movie. I loved the first two which were a staple of my childhood. When I found out this was being made, I avoided all the marketing I could so I could watch it cold. No trailers or reactions or speculations.
First, the good aspects of it. Winter's hasn't missed a beat as Bill, his delivery is on point and he seems to have picked up right where he left off in Bogus Journey.
Brigette Lundy-Paine also does an amazing job as Ted's daughter, managing to channel some of younger Keanu Reeves' gestures and body language.
Finally, it got a couple of genuine laughs from me, I won't say which parts to avoid spoiling it.
Now there are the negatives. I enjoy Keanu Reeves as an actor, I love a lot of his films including the earlier Bill & Ted films but something about this performance didn't gel. It feels like he couldn't fully let himself go and be the harmless dumb guy from the earlier films. There is an edge or a stiffness to his performance.
But the main issue I have with this film, is simply that Bill & Ted have a minimal impact on the plot. Again without spoiling the film, there are essentially two plots running in tandem. This would be fine if both plots drove the movie and then came together in the third act. Instead there is one plot, clearly driving the movie, and then there is the plot involving Bill & Ted. Ultimately, their actions actually don't play much of a role in the events of the film. With a minimum of editing, you could completely remove them from the film and not impact the ultimate outcome.
I don't believe this was a cynical cash-grab or anything, it just didn't work for me. The once goofy chemistry between Reeves and Winters is stunted which could be overlooked if the plot was strong, but it is definitely the weakest of the three films by a comfortable margin.
Ex Machina (2014)
Intelligent Science Fiction
This is a thought provoking film on the nature of artificial intelligence, humanity and ultimately truth itself.
Fair warning this is a slow burn, character driven piece with little to no action. But if you like science fiction that is heavily grounded in science that raises interesting questions, this might be right up your alley.
Overall I found it very engaging and it keeps you guessing.
Far from its predecessor but not that bad
Terminator 2 is one of my favorite films of all time. Perfectly cast and paced. Great balance of action and humor. This is not that. I recently went back to this for the first time in maybe a decade. I saw it in the cinema when it first came out and thought it was pretty mediocre.
On viewing it again, I can say it is alright. It doesn't really feel like a terminator film but there are some good action set pieces and nice twists that make up for it.
If you are are willing to look past its flaws (and there are two pretty cringy/bad moments) it is not as bad as you might have heard.