“I’m not the killer that little girls call ‘hero.'”
An entry into the MCU that touches on familiar themes but pulls the universe into the realm of spycraft with ease, which makes it feel different enough from (and comparitively fresh in relation to) the rest of the films in this sprawling series. More importantly, though, Natasha Romanoff is finally given substantial character development and time to be both human and, damn it, silly. Is it too late? Definitely, but better late than never.
Another place I think the film really succeeds is in its use of humor. While most MCU movies make jokes, even if they’re not comedies like Thor Ragnarok or Guardians, there is a dark undercurrent of trauma in Black Widow‘s jokes that I feel enhances out understanding of the characters’ (Yelena, especially) horrid experiences at the hands of the villain.
If anything, I’d say the action is the weakest part of the movie and the action is actually pretty solid.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Taskmaster is so damn cool. This version of Taskmaster, that version of Taskmaster, whatever version of Taskmaster. I’ve always wanted to be Taskmaster because I don’t want to work for years honing an ability to fight like Captain America, I just want to watch Chris Evans and be able to fight like him.”
“If this was a movie, this would be the part where the villain’s plan suffers a setback.”
The Fast and the Furious movies are just big ol live action anime mecha movies now with cars instead of giant robots. Tyrese is questioning whether or not they’re all invincible superheroes during the entire movie, but they’re not. They’re all just anime characters in a mecha movie, going through the dramatic motions until it’s time for the next big set piece when they can suit up and hop into their giant robots/cars to do impossible stunts while chasing some increasingly sci-fi macguffin or something. Plus family.
Fast10 better have a laser sword.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Flashbacks to 1989 throughout the movie explore Dom’s father’s death and its effect on the Toretto FAMILY. The actor playing Dom’s father has a similar SoCal accent to the late Paul Walker, which suggests to me that Dom saw and heard a bit of his father in Brian when they met all those years ago and that helped build his trust in Brian. These movies have layers, okay?”
A less inventive sequel that has lost the novelty of the original but not the spirit or solid filmmaking. It relies too much on the ‘people making dumb decisions’ trope in horror movies, though, and doesn’t do enough to separate Cillian Murphy daddy figure from John Krasinski daddy figure. I’m definitely into the world, that main characters, and I’m looking forward to parts III – IX and beyond as long as it’s profitable. Like The Purge. Did you know there’s a new entry in the Purge series called The Forever Purge coming out?? What even is that?
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Spoiler, but let’s stop killing Djimon Hounsou in movies. He was a cool, chill character who died stupidly just because they needed him out of the way for the ending.”
Demon Slayer works because of its animation, fight choreography, violence, and wacky anime hijinks, sure, but it’s the vulnerability of the characters compared to other shonen anime that really lets it stand out in the canon for me. The emotional toll the traumatic past has taken on the main characters (and even the demons they slay) is always palpable in their actions and thoughts. Perhaps most critically, tears flow so freely throughout the story, normalizing strong emotions in stereotypically strong individuals.
The downright stellar animation in Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train bolsters heavy emotional character moments that move the characters forward in meaningful ways and pretty much destroy me and my tear ducts every time I think about them. While the film starts out feeling like just a batch of episodes strung together in a film format, the scale and weight of the overarching theme becomes clear about halfway through. This arc of the story needed to be a film, and I hope they use the feature length format again to at least cap off the series, if not earlier.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Season 4 finale ‘Restless’ continues to inspire dream narratives across the globe.”
Another impressive video game gauntlet that continuously asks the age-old question of how can John Wick get out of this one? in inventive, bloody ways. Now with battle dogs!
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The greatest bits in the first John Wick were the nods to a greater mythology and world of assassins behind a simple revenge plot. Now we are steeped in that grand mythos, which — while interesting — sometimes threatens to impede the kinetic pacing of these things. Either way, I’ll still watch JW Chapter 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…”
I remember–in the Before Times–when these movies that have somehow been a constant in my life were about street racing.
My VHS cover pull quote: “New career plan: get a PhD in film studies. Write dissertation focusing on the trajectory of Universal’s Fast and the Furious franchise. Chart its course from hollow street race flicks, to halfway clever heist movies that almost have a theme and care enough about character and reverence to pull bro tears from bro sockets, to a straight up comic book superhero picture that just does whatever the fuck it wants. Get tenure. Bring in guest lecturer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bring in guest lecturer Vin Diesel on the same day by ‘accident’ so we can get to the bottom of this on-set beef. Bring in Vince McMahon. Oh shit, bring in Stone Cold Steve Austin. Here comes The Undertaker out of retirement!”