Film Review: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021)

“Fuck the world.”

Calm down, dude, it’s just a superhero movie. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is far better than the theatrical cut, if only because it gives characters like Cyborg, The Flash, and, yeah, even Steppenwolf room to actually be characters with motivations and prominent roles in the story. Snyder makes the most of the four hours with these characters, and that’s the biggest reason I’m happy this cut exists now (not that I was clamoring for it, exactly).

Cyborg, especially, functions as the heart of the whole thing and the visuals of Barry’s scenes are almost Days of Future Past Quicksilver-level appealing so it’s mind-boggling that all this was left on the cutting room floor in service to a theatrical cut that just highlighted the most popular superheroes in history we already know about (but almost understandable given the rumored hard 2 hour runtime stipulation–you have to cut something, after all).

There are still problems, of course, some of which that were present in the original cut and some born out of the restored scenes. The grimdark path Snyder seems/seemed to be pushing the franchise down is, like, real edgy and dark, bruh, but devoid of much wonder, hope and a color pallette. Superhero cynicism has been all the rage for a while now, but it’s also kind of played out. Still, for better or worse this is a singular director’s vision and I would have been interested, at least, to see it play out over a few more movies.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Restore the Snyderverse? Nah, bring on the Starroverse. And the multiverse. The Snyderverse is in the multiverse, so there you go.”

Film Review: “The Little Things” (2021)

“More sucking than biting.”

A moody detective story that feels way too much like a bargain bin Se7en until it suddenly doesn’t and deliberately pulls away from those comparisons with some telegraphed (but welcome) plot turns.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Jared Leto is definitely playing a wonky vampire in this otherwise grounded detective flick and I don’t care what you say because that just makes the movie better in my head. It also low-key takes place around Halloween, which I feel lends credence to this being a vampire movie.”

Film Review: “Midnight Sky” (2020)

“Just us.”

A simple sci-fi story that feels a bit like it’s been done before while still being well made and effectively moving. The bleak outlook with only the slightest glimmer of hope puts it at odds with Interstellar, one of my favorite recent sci-fi pieces, but that actually works in its favor. We’ve had plenty of hopeful space stories; I’m down for one where we totally fucked up and there’s only a very slight chance that humanity can survive beyond the end of the movie. Considering it’s 2020, that feels more realistic. Maybe 2021 will be hopeful.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “George Clooney now employs a younger actor to play his character in his like 30s, but I think he overdubs the actor’s voice with his own creamy Nespresso tones. It creates a bit of a creamy Nespresso disconnect, though, because Clooney’s voice is pretty iconic and sounds wrong flowing from the non-Nespresso spokesperson mouth of Ethan Peck.”

Film Review: “The Rental” (2020)

“I’m not saying we’re not going to get away with it, I’m saying I don’t want to get away with it.”

A matter-of-fact unraveling of multiple relationships that takes the long, chill road towards becoming the entry in a hallowed horror genre it ultimately wants to be.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “The main characters are like the high school kids who somehow all successfully escaped one horror movie, grew into their late 20s and 30s, then found themselves caught unawares in another horror movie.”

Film Review “She Dies Tomorrow” (2020)

“It was a nice time. That period of time we spent together.”

A midnight meditation on death that will take me some time to parse. As of right now, mere hours from having watched this in a dark, dirt lot drive-in in New Jersey with Dolittle playing on the second screen just out of sight, part of me feels like I dreamed it.

And that’s perfect.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I know I’m probably not going to die tomorrow, but, like, well, I feel like I might now.”

Film Review: “The Trip to Greece” (2020)

“Do you want to continue?”

A fitting ending to a series of consistent comedy returns that finally nails the tonal dance routine they’ve been doing since The Trip.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “My partner says our relationship is exactly like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s in these movies, but I say that’s absurd. We don’t have nearly the amount of sexual chemistry that they do.”

Film Review – “Ash is Purest White” (2019)

“The bottom line is, we’re all prisoners of the universe.”

An endearing, gorgeous, at times hilarious and weird epic that’s as concerned with the journeys of its central characters as it is with the hyper development and modernization of a country.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Being a low-tier member in a group of gangsters seems pretty chill, for the most part, and it may lead to a cinematic journey of soul searching for me and my destined counterpart so I fully support it as a career path.”

Film Review: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2020)

“How do we know when it’s finished? | At one point, we stop.”

A romance at once somber, dreamlike, and mythic that uses the social restrictions of the period to tell a beautiful (if bittersweet) forward-thinking story. Yeah, my fave of the year so far.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I’m just going to talk about the sound and use of music now. Prominent sound and, especially, music (all non-diegetic) only features in a few curated moments. Otherwise, we only hear the loud cracks of a fireplace or waves under the cliffs to illustrate one character’s separation from community and intimacy. When we hear music, we savor it like she does and look forward to our next opportunity to hear it. This is a mere sampling of the sensory experience Celine Sciamma and company create with this piece. Dope!”

Film Review: “Birds of Prey” (2020)

“And that is why you should never partake in paying federal income taxes.”

An anarchic, fringe, Gotham Grungy team-up feature that has some of the finest practical (and practical-looking) fight choreography I’ve seen since whatever John Wick we’re on now and can just have fun and say “fuck” whenever it wants.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “I just wanted more of absolutely everything—especially the teaming up. Everyone is a kick-ass, leg breaking delight with great chemistry. I also want an egg sandwich.”

Film Review: “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)

“Terrible job, sir!”

riseofsw

The Star Wars movies have almost always been wildly and lovingly inconsistent, so let’s all just chillaxamundo and enjoy this fairly satisfying Star War spectacular that gives us some of the best C-3PO sass lines of this or any generation.

My VHS cover pull-quote: “Not as good as anything any of us watched when we were children filled with hope and optimism.”