REVIEW: No Time To Die [2021]

The past is not dead. The end of Daniel Craig‘s James Bond run is finally here—a year late. Five films in a decade-and-a-half serves as quite the accomplishment even if the quintet was marked by extreme ups and downs. Casino Royale impressively injected new blood to flip the script in numerous ways while Skyfall proved a high water mark for the franchise as a whole regardless of lead actor due to its aesthetic, craft, and dramatic gravitas. Sprinkled in-between, however, were Quantum of Solace‘s glorified epilogue to the former and…

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REVIEW: Venom: Let There Be Carnage [2021]

Responsibility is for the mediocre. I’m pretty sure there’s more exposition in Venom: Let There Be Carnage than there was in Venom. It’s not without reason. At the time of the original’s inception, Sony had their hands tied. The Marvel characters they had—namely those from the Spider-Man universe—couldn’t integrate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at-large without an agreement like the one that allowed Spidey into the Avengers. And since Spider-Man was an Avenger, he couldn’t interact with those characters either. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) was therefore on an island alone…

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REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings [2021]

It’s all about staying in the pocket. A big success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been its ability to adapt. Case and point: The Ten Rings. Here’s a terrorist organization utilized in the first MCU film ever, Iron Man, with a logo inscribed by Mongolian symbols that didn’t go over well. It’s been said that the idea was to tease Shang-Chi in The Avengers before giving him and Iron Man’s arch-rival, The Mandarin, exposure afterwards. So enraged by the connotations of that first use, however, the possibility that China…

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REVIEW: Copshop [2021]

I’m on it. When rookie officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) gets a disturbance call, the last thing she expects upon arrival is an all-out brawl between men and women in tuxedos and dresses outside of a wedding reception. That’s Vegas for you. Since they’re only hurting themselves, her sergeant stays in the car to finish his burger while she pulls her revolver to shoot into the air and break it up. That’s when Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) enters the frame with a sucker punch to Young’s jaw right before apologizing…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: La hija [The Daughter] [2021]

Nobody can know you’re here. The plan is simple, but risky. Javier (Javier Gutiérrez) has worked at a juvenile delinquent center for two decades, interacting with all kinds of troubled teens. After trying to conceive a child with his wife Adela (Patricia López Arnaiz) for almost as many, they’ve yet to succeed. As a result, Javier can’t help but see a new resident as a means to an end wherein both parties can benefit. Irene (Irene Virgüez) is fourteen, pregnant, and in love with a boy who’s currently in jail…

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REVIEW: Prisoners of the Ghostland [2021]

Time for us all to be free. How can someone who just escaped still not be free? It’s a question Bernice (Sofia Boutella) must ask at the beginning of Sion Sono‘s English-language debut Prisoners of the Ghostland without knowing if she’ll ever discover an answer. She and two others fled Samurai Town the night before, shuffling off to the cheers of other abused and oppressed women once the men all turned in. Not knowing what to do next, they get in a car and drive off only for Sono to…

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REVIEW: Free Guy [2021]

Don’t have a good day. Have a great day. Every day is awesome for Guy the bank teller (Ryan Reynolds). While so-called “heroes” in sunglasses run roughshod on Free City by wrecking it with explosions, crime, and debauchery, his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) and him get their favorite coffee (medium with cream and two sugars), talk about hitting the beach, and greet everyone the same exact way they did yesterday … and the day before that. If not for the hole in his heart where love was concerned,…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Indemnity [2021]

It’s not weak to ask for help. Theo Abrams (Jarrid Geduld) jumps into action with CPR upon waking to find his wife’s (Nicole Fortuin‘s Angela) dead body by his side. He then immediately clams up when a knock at the front door is accompanied by the declaration “Police!” mere minutes later. He doesn’t remember hearing anyone enter their room that night nor recalls a violent struggle. Add the fact that he just lost his job due to an inability to overcome the PTSD he’s been battling since blaming himself for…

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REVIEW: The Suicide Squad [2021]

Welcome to anything. The opening battle scene to James Gunn‘s reboot/sequel (with the addition of an article), The Suicide Squad, couldn’t have been orchestrated better. It has everything you’d want from an ensemble superhero film: action, humor, suspense, uncertainty, and—I cannot stress this part enough—death. Real death. The kind you can’t walk away from (unless you decide to go the MCU or Arrowverse route and dip a toe in the multiverse sandbox). We’re talking beaches of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan levels of carnage (no, I’m not saying it’s on…

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REVIEW: The Green Knight [2021]

I’ve got time. I’ve got lots of time. When you want something as desperately as Gawain (Dev Patel) wants to be a knight, you tend to cut corners without knowing it. Some, like him, might overcompensate a bit too. This is why he spends nights at the brothel with Essel (Alicia Vikander) or drinking at the pub. He lives his life as though he’s “someone” because in his mind it doesn’t appear he’s going to actually become that “someone” any time soon. And since his uncle (Sean Harris‘ King Arthur)…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Yakuza Princess [2021]

There are no harmless old men. We enter twenty years into the past at a birthday party in Japan. This wealthy family spared no expense for the celebration, but no amount of money can stop what’s coming. Swords are drawn, guns are fired, and soon enough everyone is dead save a little girl taken from her mother’s lifeless arms. The assumption is that the victors have stolen her to nurture as their own before the inevitable discovery of her real heritage and her subsequent desire for revenge. Learning the opposite…

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