‘Space Jam 2: A New Legacy’ (2021) Review

'Space Jam 2: A New Legacy' (2021) Review: Nostalgic Noise I’ll admit it. It’s fun to be (at the movies) in 2021. The recent slate of blockbuster movies have been a reminder of how good they can be. The winning combination of state of the art visual effects with compelling and fantastical stories. It’s been a good ride, but all things must come to an end. That end comes with ‘Space Jam 2: A New Legacy’, the year’s first major disappointment. It’s hard to call something a disappointment if there wasn’t much hope for it to begin with. This sequel to the 1996 original features Lebron James as himself, trapped by a movie studio algorithm, played by Don Cheadle, one of the movie’s few saving graces. Lebron is forced to play a game of basketball to save his son. As nonsensical as it sounds, it’s a comfort that ‘Space Jam 2’ doesn’t spend too much time on its premise. More time is spent keeping up with the James’. Lebron’s fictional family anchors the basketball legend as a flawed protagonist. He loves his wife, his kids, but his son would rather create an entire video game than pick up a basketball. He’s a father struggling to understand his kids, while trying to show them who he is. It’s an endearing role, full of pathos, and not one Lebron James is remotely capable of pulling off. In every scene the main character looks befuddled and confused, whether…

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‘Black Widow’ (2021) Review

'Black Widow' (2021) Review: Marvel Gets Mature When on the run from the United States Government for her crimes in ‘Captain America Civil War’, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff takes some much needed vacation time. Camping out in hiding doesn’t last long though, as she’s soon under attack by a living weapon, Taskmaster. An enemy with the capability to perfectly mimic its opponent. To survive, the Black Widow will need to confront the past she’s been running from her entire life.That past includes a contentious family reunion, and a reckoning with Natasha’s past sins. Sometimes at the same time. Florence Pugh plays Yelena, Natasha’s estranged and adoptive sister, who is an assassin herself. Their relationship is the most compelling aspect of the movie, with Florence Pugh almost stealing the limelight from her co-star. The movie brings humour in their sibling rivalry, but ultimately finds its way back to a heartfelt tale as they set out to confront their shared childhood trauma, and try to put a stop to it ever happening to anyone else. ‘Black Widow’ doesn’t try to make light of its story, and makes that clear from the beginning. The film opens in 1995 as a young Natasha Romanoff is taken from her idyllic family life into one of pain and suffering. A hard cut to 21 years later and ‘Black Widow’ sets the audience up for a film that puts away childish things. For the most part, Marvel films are disarming. Even…

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‘F9: The Fast Saga’ (2021) Review

'F9 : The Fast Saga' (2021) Review: Big & Boastful. It’s hard to think of a film series with more humble beginnings. What began as a gritty exploration of underground street racing, has evolved into a spy action adventure franchise with the kind of special effects one used to expect from movies with either superheroes or dinosaurs. 'F9: The Fast Saga' is the culmination of 20 years worth of history, but more than that unprecedented achievement, the series is now trapped in an unending pursuit of bigger and better visuals to justify its existence.Whereas Marvel films operate on a superhuman basis, Fast and Furious maintains that its protagonists are in fact human. The job of the film is to put these ordinary heroes into countless situations that by all accounts should leave them either intensely injured or fatally wounded. F9 is exceedingly good at visualizing these dangerous situations, but is less interested in explaining how exactly the crew does the impossible again and again.Truthfully, the film would be worse for it. The movie is most entertaining when it moves at a nitrous speed from one action event to the next. Any attempt to make sense out of it would surely kill the fun F9 brings to audiences. The film flexes the kind of self awareness to push the series into full blown parody, while still showing some mileage left. That mileage will run out once the films stop being fun. Fast 9 thankfully…

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‘Cruella’ (2021) Review

'Cruella' (2021) Review: Emma vs Emma Of all the Disney villains in history, there are none quite so devious as Cruella De Vil. Royal traitors like Jafar and Scar take the prize for most ambitious, but there’s a particular black heartedness to planning the murder of a hundred adorable puppies simply for something nice to wear. A coat which, by all accounts, Cruella would have likely forgotten about or thrown out the moment she was tired of it. There’s no sin more original than that, so it’s easy to understand why you’d want to make a movie about that person. Why ‘Cruella’ decides to tell the story about such a villain with a sympathetic view? Your guess is as good as mine. Still, that’s the tale that is told in the live action ‘Cruella’ in which Emma Stone plays a relatable young fashion designer with a bit of a mean streak.Early in the movie Cruella’s life as a young girl named Estella, shows that mean streak in its infancy. She’s hot tempered and will get herself into trouble as naturally as a dalmatian wears its spots. Rarely though is her bad action unfounded. Her methods are extreme but the film always roots her reaction in empathy. Cruella is a protagonist you can easily get behind, especially given her storied past.Soon after, Estella becomes Cruella proper, and unfolds the mystery of her past, while making an explosive entry into the London fashion scene. Standing…

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‘The Mitchells Vs The Machines’ (2021) Review

'The Mitchells Vs The Machines' (2021) Review: 21st Century Family In high school, the thing to talk about with the same passion and fervour that I spoke about seeing 'The Godfather' for the first time at 12, was football. I distinctly remember trying to fake my way through conversations about Chelsea & Liverpool. Names that meant nothing to me since I knew neither their history nor their ability. The World Cup was always a Godsend because at least countries I could keep track of. Still, I always yearned to find people who I could get into long winded discussions about film and entertainment. There was a time when I would've given anything to care this much about anything else, but you can't choose what you love.I’d like to think my story of self love is pretty interesting, but it can't top a dysfunctional family road trip coming of age story, set against a robot apocalypse, brought about by a sentient scorned smartphone for which hell hath no like fury. The honour of such an interesting story goes to Katie Mitchell, the main protagonist in the epic and wildly entertaining ‘The Mitchells vs The Machines’.Katie, played by Abbi Jacobson, is the misunderstood oddball who goes to bed dreaming of seeing her name in lights - preferably for her work behind the camera. She sees the world through a filmmaker’s lens, a stark difference from her dud of a dad Rick, brought to life…

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‘Army of the Dead’ (2021) Review

'Army Of The Dead' (2021) Review: Roll of the Dice Making a movie in a beloved genre is a tricky thing. Mostly because those genres come with a set of rules. Depending on how you view it, these rules can be a beneficial guide, or a restricting hindrance. Adhere too closely to the rules, and you're making something done before. Bad movie. Drift too far away, and you end up disqualifying the film from any association with the genre. Good movie, bad attempt at the genre. Most of this depends entirely on how exposed the viewer is. Every film is someone's first after all. It depends then on what the movie wants to do. Will it add to what's come before? Subvert expectations? Or simply make another entertaining movie in a familar space.Some genres are more established than others, and can develop tropes as a result of the many films in their purview. For Zack Snyder's ‘Army of the Dead’, the risk is two fold. Being both a zombie movie and a heist movie, the expectations surrounding the film are already working against it. Then again, maybe by mixing the two together, you get the best of both worlds like a cinematic fry in a milkshake. At the outset, this tale of two genres has a pretty distinct tone. Soldiers codenamed the four horsemen travel with an unspecified truckload. The little we know is that it's valuable but dangerous. The soldiers leading the…

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‘Mortal Kombat’ (2021) Review

'Mortal Kombat' (2021) Review: Press X to Skip As a kid, I had only one view of Mortal Kombat. That it was a hyper violent game that would certainly corrupt me and possibly take away my soul. This of course was not the case, as I remain uncorrupted and soulful. The second and more accurate view, is that it’s the most fun fighting game there is. A tournament of fighters who engage in a deadly battle for supremacy, and the fate of the human race. Those fighters include cyborgs, several ninjas, four armed men, women with jagged teeth, a man with a razor sharp Captain America shield as a hat, and, my personal favourite, an acid spitting lizard with a world renowned disappearing act. Believe it or not, that barely scratches the surface of what the world of ‘Mortal Kombat’ has to offer. It’s a vast world of monsters, magic, and mayhem. Which is why it should come as no surprise that, given it’s low budget, the runtime of under 2 hours, and its first time director, the 2021 Mortal Kombat film can be aptly described as lacking. At the outset, Mortal Kombat is a movie that's doing everything right. It opens with grit and conviction, establishing its tone and its penchant for supernatural visuals. A young family is slaughtered at the hands of an ice wielding killer, and it carries all the weight a home invasion should. It's tense and the film, at…

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‘Godzilla vs Kong’ (2021) Review

'Godzilla Vs Kong' (2021) Review:Best Frenemies Forever What a strange ride it’s been. It started out with a historic remake of a beloved classic, one that painstakingly refrained from showing its titular titan, and strived for an authentic aesthetic. As noble an attempt as this was, it ended up being mostly effective at splitting audiences. The loudest voice being the one that cries foul on the movie for its sparing use of a ginormous lizard with fire breath and a huge spiky tail.Whether you prefer a more contemplative look at your kaiju, the fact is, these films have gone the way of hollow earths, and ancient giant monster rivalries. Which brings us to the latest in the Monsterverse. Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats for the battle of the beasts streaming straight into your living room. This ain’t pay per view folks, this is HBO MAX, giving you the mythological Manny and Mayweather. In one corner you have the all american underdog, the soulful simian from skull island, Kong. In the next corner, fresh off his championship bout with King Ghidorah, it’s the reigning champ, the legend, the thing your mother sees when she looks at a croaking lizard, Godzilla. This ring isn’t big enough for the two of them, so it’s an all out battle for supremacy. These two are after the bestiary bragging rights that only an alpha can claim. You’d think that after being crowned King of the…

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‘The Harder They Come’ (1972) Review

'The Harder They Come' (1972) Review: A Classic Sitting In Limbo When you hear about the greatest films of all time, you will inevitably come across a few typical names. Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Chinatown to name a few. Films that examine their setting with a critical eye, and give a new perspective to the norm. They challenge audiences. Make us question the society we live and take part in. They show us the world as it is, and leave it to us to consider what is right and what isn’t. These movies justify cinema, and one of the most challenging of them all is the indisputable classic 1972 film, ‘The Harder They Come’. My first instinct is to call ‘The Harder They Come’ timeless. Yet as accurate a description as that might be, it feels misleading. ‘The Harder They Come’ was made on a budget of US$200,000 (The Godfather was released in the same year for US$6 Million), and was released almost 50 years ago. There are scenes where the film is so dark the characters are indistinguishable from the environment, and one particular fight scene looks like it was filmed as quickly as possible sparing as much film as they could. Yet despite these aesthetic qualms, ‘The Harder They Come’ is chock full of picturesque cinematography that are not only beautiful, but inform the telling of its complex and compelling story. That is the story of Ivanhoe Martin, a young…

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