Movie review: Spiderman: Far From Home

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to my once in a blue moon movie review blog! No surprise in what movie I’m reviewing – I’ll always crawl out of the cave for Marvel – so let’s discuss Spiderman: Far From Home!

Spoilers for Endgame and Far From Home!

Writing

The Spiderman sequel was written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers – a duo that was also part of the Homecoming writing team. They did a great job following up both their own first movie and Endgame. Far From Home was undeniably rooted in MCU and dealth with the aftermath of Endgame in an interesting and meaningful way. It also somehow managed to take Iron Man’s legacy (both legacy of his movies and legacy of the character) and do something unexpected with it. And yet, I do wish that for the third film, Spiderman would attempt to move away from Iron Man’s influence a bit more – he has to grow into his own at some point (and I think that that is exactly what’s gonna happen – the basis for that type of story was already laid in Far From Home). The way Mysterio was handled in the story was interesting too – I felt that his character development lacked in the first act but his story kinda found its footing after the twist. Thematically, Far From Home was all about fake narratives and people believing in them – quite a timely topic if I may say so.

Directing

Jon Watts returned to direct the Spidey sequel and managed to mush two distinct genres – a teen comedy and a superhero epic – even more perfectly than the first time around. Far From Home felt like a decade defining teen comedy drama overflowing with awkward encounters and timely problems for teens everywhere. It also felt like an amazing superhero flick that was both sophisticatedly high stakes enough and also silly and comic-booky.

The humour of the film, while a bit cringey cause of second hand embarrassment, felt light and easy-breezy – a nice and much needed break after engame. Still, the action scenes in the film were great – not Endgame levels of epic but highly deserving of praise for a standalone film. I especially loved how the illusion sequences were both visually interesting and carried an emotional weight to them. I also loved the European setting of a lot of the action scenes – it was a nice and familiar trip for me as a European (especially remembering how I walked on the same bridge in Prague when I was the characters’ age – I always appreciate a personal touch in movies).

Mid-credits and Post-credits

Far From Home also had two quite shocking ending scenes – dare I say, we haven’t had post credits scenes that raised so many questions in a while. The mid credits acted as an amazing twist and a set-up for a Spidey sequel (and featured a long awaited cameo from a fan favorite), while the post credits gave us hints about the future of the wider MCU (I say ‘hints’ but, personally, have no idea what the scene means exactly).

Acting

Tom Holland proved everyone once more that he is the best Spiderman we ever had. He was endearing in the role and handled both the awkward comedy and the heavy drama so well. Jake Gyllenhall was also amazing: really enjoyed all the layers of his performance. It was also nice to see so many familiar MCU faces – Samuel L.Jackson and Jon Favreau – whose characters both had interesting small arcs. Zendaya shined as MJ while Jacob Batalon was a friend we all wish we had.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Spiderman: Far From Home trailer

In conclusion, Far From Home gives Marvel fans a deserved break after Endgame while simultaneously building on the legacy of it.

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Movie review: John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of John Wick 3: Parabellum! The first two films have been pretty great but can they stick the landing of the trilogy?

‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’

IMDb summary: Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

Writing

John Wick 3 was written by Derek Kolstad (who created this series), Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, and Marc Abramshile. While the first film introduced us to the character, and the second one did wonders for word building, the third film had a goal of separating the first from the second, meaning it tried taking out the character out of his world. And while the film separated John Wick from the rules of his world of assassins, it only expanded the viewers’ familiarity with the different aspects of it. Thematically, John Wick 3 looked at what happens when human connection interferes with the rules and how order can never fully account for the human factor.

Also, apparently it’s not only Wick who loves dogs in this assassins’ world. In summary, the plot was perfectly fine for an action film. It was mostly there to enable the action but I don’t think it was purely there just to serve the action but could actually stand somewhat on its own. However, I don’t think the plot will be able to do that much longer. The ending of the third film made it appear as if John Wick 4 is in the plans and I feel like they maybe should have stopped with 3. I’m afraid things from now own will start making less sense or require even more suspension of disbelief.

Directing

Chad Stahelski returned to direct John Wick 3 and gave us what we expected: some finely choreographed and filmed action. The action scenes throughout the trilogy have certainly gotten more and more ridiculous. It’s a shame that the franchise is leaving its somewhat realistic roots behind as I thought these particular roots were one of its major strengths. I understand why they are moving away from them, even if not consciously: topping the action of the first two films is difficult when the bar they set themselves is this high. And yet, it’s becoming more and more obvious that some of the sets in this film were there just to look cool rather than to make sense. Also, some of the injuries really should have been deadly.

What was particularly great about the film’s action was that the movie made its violence count: the breaks, the cuts, the bullets – all left an impact not just on characters’ bodies but had a physiological impact on the viewer. In short, don’t watch this movie if you are squeamish. While some R rated films just work to desensitize the viewer to violence, John Wick 3 uses its R rating to make us care and think about that same violence.

Acting

Keanu Reeves shined for the third time as the titular character. Man of little words, Reeves was still both believable and enjoyable to watch in an action film that was made to serve his talents while hiding the things he may be lacking (action above dialogue). Ian McShane came back to sprout some cool sounding one-liners that one cannot think about for a long time. While the second film helped to kickstart Ruby Rose’s film career, this one seems to attempt to help Halle Berry resurrect hers (decently successfully too). Laurence Fishburne returned as the crazy pigeon dude. Asia Kate Dillon played the main villain role in the film and was fine but quite annoying.

On the representation front, John Wick 3 had a diverse cast. Still, I wouldn’t stay it had diverse representation, more like diverse inclusivity? More importantly, I don’t think John Wick 3 is the type of film that one really wants to be represented in (this being a movie about assassins and all).

In short, John Wick 3 might not live up to its predecessors but is a decent action film overall. Still, if the filmmakers are planning on moving forward with the series, they should go back to the drawing board and see what made the first films better: in my mind, a tighter plot and more realistic action.

Rate: 3.7/5

Trailer: John Wick 3

5 ideas about a movie: Hellboy

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a movie that I heard so much bad stuff about that it took me its whole theatre runtime to finally watch it. This is Hellboy on the last day that it’s playing in my local theatre!

IMDb summary: Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

  1. Hellboy was written by Andrew Cosby and directed by Neil Marshall. Cosby is both a comic book writer and a screenwriter, while Marshall is best know for directing some of the most amazing Game Of Thrones’s episodes. The 2019 movie is not only a comic book adaptation but a reboot of the previous early 00s adaptation – one that I really enjoyed. Sadly, I cannot say the same about this one.
  2. A lot of the faults with the movie are rooted in its script. Fantasy writing is not an easy thing: when done right it makes the viewer believe in the craziest things. When done like it was in Hellboy, it just comes across as illogical and stupid. Additionally, Hellboy also commits the sins that would break any movie: it has too many characters, too much-forced exposition, and too many steps in its plot (it feels episodic and choppy – maybe better as a TV series). It also has a hidden King Arthur movie within cause Hollywood just love making those (in actual King Arthur films and others, like Transformers 6).
  3. Hellboy has a plethora of action which would be quite good if it wasn’t trying so hard to be edgy and brutal. The film goes for cheap gory horror and I guess it delivers on that front. However, the movie is not better because of that achievement. In addition to nasty but still fake looking (some awful CGI is on display in this film) action, Hellboy also makes use of swear words that are just there to justify its R rating rather than to tell us something about the characters that use them. Hellboy also tries to tell the viewer how cool it is by having a rock-y score which is one thing I’ll let slide just because I did like the soundtrack separately from the picture.
  4. Hellboy features some scenes of set up for the future and also has a mid-credits stinger. That scene is just wishful thinking on par of the filmmakers: both wishful thinking in terms of expecting the viewers to be not bored enough to sit through the credits and for anyone to care about the sequel. And that sequel is never happening – the rotten tomatoes score and the box office made sure of that.
  5. Hellboy’s cast is not bad, its just too big. Stranger Things’s David Harbour is good and deals well with acting with so much makeup. Ian McShane is good too but it is him so are we really surprised? I also really enjoyed Daniel Dae Kim’s performance. The rest were so replaceable including Mila Jovovich who is just proving everyone that she will never do anything better than a B actioner (if Residential Evil is even a B level movie rather than D. Oh The Fifth Element times, how far gone they are).

In short, Hellboy is not worthy of attention (didn’t get any either) and forgettable.

Rate: 2/5

Trailer: Hellboy trailer

Movie review: Avengers: Endgame

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review 11 years in the making. This is Avengers: Endgame!

IMDb summary: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

Disclaimer: this review is going to be super vague as I’m trying to avoid spoiling even the smallest moments of the film. Still, I might not always manage to do that, thus, proceed with caution!

Writing

Endgame was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The duo has written a lot of previous MCU films, so they certainly have a good knowledge of this universe and these characters. And that shows as the script is just spectacular. So so so much happens in this movie: it is complex yet clear. Also, being the ‘end of an era’ type of a film, Avengers 4 really focuses on the core original Avengers, while the new characters kinda fade into the background. Focusing a film in this way makes sense to me: the newbies have to earn their right to be at the forefront. Moreover, Endgame also does a great job with setting up the future: both a couple of concrete films and just concepts that will hopefully turn into movies. Quite a few very comic-booky concepts too!

In my opinion, where Endgame shines the most is by being the sequel to end all sequels. It continues Infinity War perfectly and deals with all the issues head-on (like the ‘should have gone for the head’ gripe). It also references so so so much stuff from MCU that it makes Easter Eggs a part of the plot. Everything is referenced: lines, whole scenes, and Internet/fan jokes. It is so satisfying spotting the references or the subversion of the references: Marvel really rewards the loyalty of its longtime fans.

While I cannot really talk about the ending in this spoiler-free review, let me just say that it feels poetical. And though it may hurt, we all know it’s right.

Directing

I truly bow my head to Anthony and Joe Russos for giving me my new favourite MCU film (and their previous 3 films – Captain America 2 and 3 and Avengers 3 literally take up all the runner-up spots). The fact that they manage to portray such a complex story with clear editing is unbelievable. Plus, the fact that they succeed in making a 3h movie so engaging is also an achievement. I also appreciate all the different tones/genres that they squeeze into Endgame.

First, Endgame is a comedy: it has so many amazing comedic moments and is also a perfect conclusion (even if a temporary one) to MCU as the more family-friendly/lighter franchise. It takes that statement (that some use as a compliment and some as a critique) and owns it. I believe that these comedic undertones to the film come from The Russos’ directing roots as they did, in fact, made a name for themselves with Arrested Development and Community – two beloved comedy TV series.

Endgame is also a drama: it has depth and character moments aplenty. When I say there was no dry eye in my midnight screening, I mean it.

Endgame is also a superhero actioner through and through. It has all the CGI one would like but it also enhances it by actually making the viewers care about the characters involved rather than the third act just being a clash of random pixels. It has so many goosebump-inducing or so-called ‘money shots’. I especially loved one female empowerment shot that is hopefully not a one-off, but rather a signal to the changing times (though there was a severe lack of female viewers in my screening: really wanted it to be a 50/50 split but it was more like 80/20).

Acting

There is no way that I can possibly name all the cast members involved with this film but I believe that they all did a great job, no matter how short their involvement might have been. The core 6 – Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner – them I will mention by name because their performances should go down as one of the best ever in movie history. The actors got to showcase their dramatic chops so much because we really see the characters as just completely broken people. The fact that the actors also have perfect comedic timing (some especially) make their overall performances that much greater.

Post-credits

With Endgame, Marvel breaks the tradition that it created, and doesn’t have a post-credits scene. And I think that’s perfectly fine: there is nothing to promote or tease moving forward (Spiderman 2 is so separate and also already being promoted with trailers that it doesn’t make sense to stick it on there): Endgame is the end of not one but 3 phases, so let it feel like a definite ending. Besides, there are setups for the future before the credits roll. Also, I believe that the lack of post-credits is also good in that it doesn’t undercut the emotional weight of the ending of the picture. The last scene one sees and remembers is the end.

In short, Avengers: Endgame makes you laugh and cry and everything in between. It also makes sure that you will come back again. Not only for future films but to rewatch this one. Again. And again. And Again. (at least that’s what I’ll be doing).

Rate: 5/5 (I mean, are we surprised? Also, that number rating has never been about objectivity but rather included by necessity).

Trailer: Avengers: Endgame trailer

P.S. If you would like to take a trip down memory lane, these are my previous MCU reviews: Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Civil War, Doctor Strange, The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Age of Ultron, Guardians 1and 2.

5 ideas about a movie: Suspiria

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of one of the weirdest films I’ve seen in a while. And I don’t think I’m using the word ‘weird’ as a compliment in this case. This is Suspiria!

IMDb summary: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

  1. Suspiria was written by David Kajganich and directed by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash). It was a remake of a 1977 Italian film of the same name. To put this review shortly, Suspiria was an artsy, 3h long horror film with half of the dialogue in German. If that sounds like a hard sell, it is/was.
  2. The movie’s story was quite incomprehensible to me. Thematically, it tried doing something with ideas of motherhood and matriarchy. I feel like it also wanted to showcase female empowerment. Honestly, I don’t know what the movie’s message was. Is it because I’m stupid? Or that the movie was too pretentious?
  3. It also had a weird setting amidst political events that were not explained fully for a viewer to get. The movie should not assign its viewer’s homework but should be a full package! The ideas on Germany’s generational guilt were interesting but not given enough room to be explored.
  4. The movie was directed in quite an interesting way. It was slow and long. The visuals were disgusting and looked quite CGI-y at times. The focus on the diegetic noise made the movie into an uncomfortable sensory experience too (I swear 65% of the ‘score’ was just breathing noises). The dance sequences were visually pleasing and interesting, though.
  5. The movie had a good cast but I wasn’t really able to judge their performances as I was confused by the plot. Tilda Swinton played a couple of roles (don’t know why as one couldn’t really tell it was her playing one of the characters, thus, no ideas on doubling could be seen?). Dakota Johnson was also there: I guess arthouse films are better than Fifty Shades? I also feel like a lot of the cast mumbled through their dialogue which didn’t make an already confusing plot easier to understand. A film also had a lot of German actors and actual dancers in the cast.

In short, Suspiria was a trainwreck of confusion that reminded me a lot of mother! in a variety ways (thematically and visually).

Rate: ?/5 (confusion strikes again)

Trailer: Suspiria trailer

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Movie review: The Nutcracker and Four Realms

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a first Christmas movie of the 2018 holiday season. If the whole season will be as rocky as its start, then we can just cancel Christmas. This is a quite negative (as you have probably already guessed) review of The Nutcracker and Four Realms.

IMDb summary: A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.

Writing

The Nutcracker and Four Realms – a mouthful of a title, huh – was written by Ashleigh Powell. It’s a remake/reimagining of a classic fairytale and a famous ballet. Disney has been making quite a few live-action fairytales. Some of them crashed, like Alice in Wonderland and its sequel. Some blossomed like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. The Nutcracker seems like it will be joining the first group. I feel like there is a general fatigue of live action fairytales and only the really special ones turn into something. The Nutcracker, being a niche and holiday-specific fairytale, is already a hard sell. The fact that it’s premiering so early in November also almost guarantees that it will have a small opening. Maybe it will play for a long time?

Anyways, speaking of the writing: it wasn’t bad but wasn’t original in any way, shape or form. The message on how to deal with grief was a neat one and the young woman’s journey into self-confidence was also a nice thing to spotlight. The actual adventure was sooo by the numbers. The twist could be seen from miles away. The characters were also just meh. The nutcracker especially was so unexceptional despite being the titular character. The dialogue was very simplistic. It just seemed that this whole film was aimed at a very young audience. And by young, I mean babies.

Directing

The Nutcracker was directed by Lasse Hallström (of The Hundred-Foot Journey and A Dog’s Purpose) and Joe Johnston (of Captain America: The First Avenger) – what a weird duo of directors. And even a weirder end product. They did a good job with the visuals – I cannot fault the film’s production value. The CGI could have been cleaner. The pacing was way off. At least the runtime was fairly decent. To end on a positive note: the ballet scenes and the ballet-inspired credits were nice touches. The score, which included the classic melodies, was good too.

Acting

The Nutcracker’s cast’s performances were a huge letdown. Mackenzie Foy and Jayden Fowora-Knight were both wooden. Hellen Mirren and Morgan Freeman were folding in their performances and were still the best just because they are true pros and can outact everyone in their sleep. Keira Knightley was killing her career with every minute of being on screen. She was both a cartoon and a parody: everything about her performance – from the look to the speech to the behavior – were just so cringe-y. Her work her kinda reminded me of Anne Hathaway in Alice in Wonderland (another unfortunate comparison between the two less than good Disney fairytales).

The actor who played the father – Matthew Macfadyen –  looked like off-brand Armie Hammer. The British comedian Jack Whitehall also had a cameo role – good on him for finally getting into a Disney movie (even if bad one) after being cut from Frozen.

In short, The Nutcracker and Four Realms was a boring film that won’t bring anyone any Christmas joy. A basic narrative, oversaturated visuals, and some cringe-y acting – that’s this picture in one sentence.

Rate: 2.4/5

Trailer: The Nutcracker and Four Realms trailer

The_Nutcracker_and_the_Four_Realms

5 ideas about a movie: Halloween!

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a horror film by a horror-hater. This is Halloween!

IMDb summary: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago

  1. Me being a horror-hater, I have never actually seen of the previous numerous Halloween films. Thus, I went into this one knowing the premise and having decent expectations because of all the great reviews. And the expectations were met, in that Halloween was a food film. I’m not sure it was an effective horror film, though.
  2. This may just be a personal thing, but the things that terrify me the most are jump scars and psychological horror. Halloween didn’t have a lot of either of those things. It did look at psychological issues (Mindhunter-like) but didn’t really use them for scarces. The horror of the film was that of a gorry, disgusting kind – and I feel like I have become desensitized to it after watching plenty of R-rated action films.
  3. Halloween was written Jeff FradleyDanny McBride (actor-writer), and David Gordon Green (Stronger) who also directed the film. I enjoyed how the movie reversed some horror tropes and how it explored parenting. I also liked the cohesiveness of the writing as well as the runtime of the film. In a day when I watched two other 2+ hour films, this one felt like an episode of prime TV. I also appreciated how realistic the movie’s writing was and how the teenagers in the movie felt real (similarly to It’s realistic youngsters).
  4. John Carpenter – the director of the original film – was involved with this sequel and mostly worked on the music. It was actually quite a great experience hearing his iconic Halloween theme in a theatre cause, even though I haven’t seen the original or any other films, I did know the theme music cause of how iconic it was/still is.
  5. Halloween’s cast consisted of Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak: I absolutely loved how the 3 main characters of the film were 3 strong women of different ages!

In short, Halloween was a well-constructed film with some neat themes and some moments of disgusting horror.

Rate: 3.5/5

Trailer: Haloween trailer

Halloween_(2018)_poster

Movie review: Venom

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a movie I thought was better than everyone else did. This is Venom!

IMDb summary: When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.

Writing

Venom was written by Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Dark Tower, Jumanji), Scott Rosenberg (script doctor on Spider-Man), and Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr.Banks and Fifty Shades of Grey) and their script was okay (better than it had any right to be, looking at the mish-mash that is these writers collected filmography). This film was truly an origin story, so it was quite by the numbers but executed well enough. The set-up was successful and the movie did have callbacks to the things it set up. The science fiction ideas (and the villain’s plan) were definitely more fiction than science but its a comic book movie, so we should not expect anything else. I was quite impressed with the romantic plotline and thought that the dialogue between Hardy’s and Williams’s characters was really good. The jokes were also decent.

While Venom started out as a villain, he has become more of an anti-hero in the comics (so I have heard, haven’t read much of it). He was definitely an anti-hero type in this movie. My one gripe in the film was actually his switch from being a villain to a hero of sorts: I didn’t necessarily find that change of heart believable. Mostly because it wasn’t really explained fully.

Directing

Venom was directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer and he did quite a good job. First, I would like to applaud him for telling a comic book story in under 2hours. Venom was around 100 minutes long and that was perfect: not too short (and rushed) and not too long (and dragging)! The action was good too but not particularly original. Venom vs Riot fights were cool but messy and hard to follow. The CGI of all the symbiotes was okay: really good in some scenes and a bit messy in the scenes of heavy action. The soundtrack of the film had a lot of hip-hop and rap music and that came across to me as the film trying a bit too hard.

Acting

The cast was certainly the best part of this film. Tom Hardy (Mad Max, Dunkirk, The Revenant, Legend) was a great lead: he was both a believable everyday-man but also had that charisma of a Hollywood star. Michelle Williams was also great and it was nice seeing her in a more pop-corny film as she usually does more high brow films (Manchester by The Sea, The Greatest Showman, All the Money in the World, I Feel Pretty). Riz Ahmed (Rogue One, Jason Bourne) was also a great villain – he delivered a sleek performance of a self-controlling maniac.

Mid and Post Credits

Mid-Credits scene was a teaser for a Venom sequel and a promise that a certain character will show up in the sequel (celebrity cameo included!). Post-credits scene was a bit of a disappointment as it was a teaser for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. The trailer for that movie also had just come out and was actually showed before Venom. So, a trailer before the film and a teaser after seemed like a bit of a heavy-handed marketing/advertising strategy.

In short, Venom was an entertaining enough comic book movie. I didn’t have many expectations, therefore, I was able to have a good time.

Rate: 3.8/5

Trailer: Venom trailer

5 ideas about a movie: Mille 22

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the review of a typical Mark Wahlberg movie – Mile 22. Honestly, this review could stop here but I’m gonna try to squeeze out a couple hundred words out of this movie.

IMDb summary: An elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country.

  1. Mile 22 was written by Graham Roland and Lea Carpenter. The movie’s premise was interesting but its execution in the script left a lot to be desired. The quest to get the ‘package’ to a certain location was chaotic and hard to follow. The twisty ending also did not add anything to the movie. In fact, it made it seem as if the film lacked an ending or a conclusion.
  2. While this movie wasn’t based on any real events, it appeared to be claiming that. It was also interesting to see that Russians are now back as villains in Hollywood films. Still, the main antagonist of the film ended up being the character played by an Indonesian actor.
  3. Speaking of acting, Iko Uwais was the aforementioned Indonesian actor and his performance was the bright spot of the film even if the material that he was given to work with was more or less a typical terrorist role (even with all the double-crossing, of course, it’s him who is the villain). Other supporting roles of varying sizes were played by John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, and Ronda Rousey.
  4. The lead of the film was played by Mark Wahlberg (All The Money In The World, Daddy’s Home 2, Transformers 6) and this was one of the first times that I hated him in an action movie, mostly because of how his character was written as a cocky show-off with a slow temper. Wahlberg couldn’t make that character charismatic or appealing in any way. Seeing him just annoyed and frustrated me.
  5. Peter Berg, the longtime collaborator of Wahlberg’s (on Patriot’s Day, Lone Survivor, and Deepwater Horizon – all better films than this one) directed Mille 22 and did an okay job at best. The pacing was fine but the action itself was disorienting and hard to follow (or see because of the shaky cam). The action pieces were not particularly original either, just some shootouts in cars or buildings.

In short, Mile 22 is the first real dud in Berg’s/Wahlberg’s professional relationship that is definitely not worth paying for to see on the big screen.

Rate: 2.7/5

Trailer: Mile 22 trailer

Movie reviews: Crazy Rich Asians and Searching

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to the reviews of TWO films that are equally just important as Black Panther was/is! Today, we are discussing Asian representation in Crazy Rich Asians and Searching.

IMDb summaries:

Crazy Rich Asians: This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family.

Searching: After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Acting

Even though I usually start my reviews by discussing the writing of the film(s), I thought that these two movies warranted that we discuss the acting and the casting first. While Black Panther was a first big-brand film with a predominately black cast, Crazy Rich Asians was the first American mainstream film with an overall Asian cast (as the title suggests). More importantly, the film showcased the diversity within the Asian community by casting actors that were from or descendant from a plethora of countries: Taiwan, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, The Phillippines, and Singapore. The cast consisted of Constance Wu and Henry Golding (A Simple Favor) as the superb lead couple, and Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina (who was also recently in Ocean’s 8), Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, and Ronny Chieng among others in the supporting roles. Could more Asian identities/actors have been included? Yes. Did they have space for that in the film? Maybe. Did Crazy Rich Asians begin a process of change in Hollywood through which more Asian identities could be portrayed by Asian actors? I really hope so!

Searching didn’t have an Asian-only cast – it had a better thing – a blindly casted Asian lead – a lead that was Asian but his race never once came into play, played superbly by John Cho (of American Pie and Star Trek films).

What I loved even more than these two film’s (and their casts’) separately was the fact that the actors from the two films were so supportive of one another, especially Henry Golding and John Cho. Their mutual cross-promotion was one of the reasons why I put these two reviews together!

Writing

Crazy Rich Asians was a book adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name by screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim. Searching was an original screenplay by Aneesh Chaganty (who also directed) and Sev Ohanian. Both of these films took well known Hollywood tropes and genres – romcom and thriller, respectively – and made them feel brand new!

In Crazy Rich Asians, the romantic plotlines and the Cinderella-like tale were not as cliche as I was expecting them to be. The story also had more depth and sophistication than I was expecting. Some great ideas about the differences between Asian experiences (as a native and an immigrant/old culture vs new culture) were also expressed and added layers to the story.

Searching had a great showcase of father’s love and determination. On the flip side, it also showed the negative side of a parent’s love and how that love and ‘everything for one’s child’ attitude might be quite damaging. The end reveal of the plot was quite surprising and I don’t know if it worked completely. Nevertheless, it allowed the movie to look at a couple of more issues – toxic masculinity and obsessive relationships.

Directing

John M.Chu (of Step Up and Now You See Me 2) directed Crazy Rich Asians, while Aneesh Chaganty helmed Searching (both directors are also of Asian descent!). Chu handled the world building of Singapore beautifully (the glamour of the culture itself + rich setting made for a neat world to vicariously live in for the audiences a.k.a. me) and also nailed the pacing and the comedic timing of the film. My one critique was that the movie might have been a touch too long.

Chaganty and cinematographer Juan Sebastian Baron made Searching unique by having so much of that film be portrayed with screens on the cinema screen: the opening montage was just brilliant. I never thought that the movie portrayed through social media and technology (screens within the screen) could be so compelling and intense.

In short, Crazy Rich Asians and Searching were two films that not only did a lot in terms of representing an underappreciated group of actors and audiences but were just great movies in general!

Rate: both at 4.5/5

Trailers: Crazy Rich Asians trailer | Searching trailer