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Suburbicon (2017)
4/10
A Tonally-Confused Mess That Should Have Been Better.
4 May 2018
"Suburbicon" should have been great. It has a great cast, a capable director, and has a script by the Coen brothers. So how is it that the end result is such a mess? The trailer sold it as a black crime comedy in the vein of "Fargo", but the actual film feels like three different movies mashed into one, and never coheres into a successful whole. One minute, it's a quirky satirical comedy where Matt Damon escapes from an explosion on a bicycle. The next, it's a serious crime drama with some pretty intense and bloody scenes. And the next, it's about a black family who moves into the neighbourhood and are met with prejudice and harassment.

The biggest issue with the racial subplot is that the black characters are utterly devoid of character, and their scenes feel like they belong in a different film entirely.

The central plot involving Matt Damon and Julianne Moore is hampered by the fact that none of the characters are likeable even as anti-heroes - the Coens are normally good at writing about characters who are entertaining to watch despite not being "good guys" in the traditional sense, but these people are simply impossible to like.

There are some bright spots - the production design is impressive, and some scenes are legitimately funny. But without a doubt, the best part of this movie is a scene-stealing cameo from the always-brilliant Oscar Isaac, who brings an energy to his performance that the rest of the film sorely lacks. It's in his scenes that we get a sense of the film this could have (and should have) been, but for the most part, this is simply a disappointment. It cannot decide if it wants to be a satirical comedy or an angrily dark film noir that deals with racial tensions, and ultimately does not really succeed at either.
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6/10
Some good choices, but a lot of baffling ones too.
8 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Any list is subjective, so of course not everyone will agree with every choice made in this countdown. But some of them are just confounding. Firstly, the biggest shocker: "RETURN OF THE JEDI" RANKS HIGHER THAN "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK"?!?! How does that make sense? "Jedi" is perfectly watchable, but how is THAT the highest ranking "Star Wars" Movie? And yes, "Back To The Future" is a great movie, but #1? Really? I'm not sure I'd go that far (especially when "2001" is only #27). Still, it's a fun stroll through some of the best Sci-Fi movies ever made, and enjoyable if you can get past how low some great movies are ranked.
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Upstart Crow (2016– )
8/10
Very Underrated
6 October 2017
I came across this on TV a couple of weeks ago, and I was surprised by how funny it was. I wasn't aware at the time that it was from the writer of "Blackadder", but it certainly shows in the quality. The cleverest thing is the dialogue. It's a great mix of Shakespearean phrases and modern English brilliantly rolled into one. The jokes are very funny, and the cast well-chosen (Mitchell is excellent as Shakespeare). If you haven't seen this, I'd recommend checking it out. It's well-worth your time if you like British Comedy.
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8/10
Clever spoof of comic-book shows
12 July 2017
Essentially, this is a spoof of superhero movies and shows, with numerous in-jokes about the tropes and clichés of the genre. And on the whole, it is very successful. The cast have solid comic timing, and the jokes hit their mark more often than not. It mocks everything from how bad most superhero movie villains are to how overly Dark DC movies can be, and its cheeky, self-aware sense of humour ensures that it succeeds most of the time. It isn't perfect - and the jokes will probably go over your head if you aren't into the superhero genre - but it makes me hope for more scripted content from the Screen Junkies crew. 8/10.
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Deadpool (2016)
8/10
A cheeky, funny and hugely entertaining superhero parody
2 July 2017
Now that it's one of the most successful R-Rated movies of all time, and has started a new wave of comic book movies targeted at the older crowd (such as "Logan"), there is little doubt that Deadpool will be a cult classic in the future. So is it as good as you've heard? In spite of a few reservations... yes, it largely is. Right off the bat, Ryan Reynolds is the key to its success. His performance is a perfect match for the character of Deadpool, and is among the best portrayals of a comic book character on screen of all time. It's easy to see why he got a Golden Globe nomination. Still, not everything works. There's a little too much time spent on the origin story, and the villains are too weak. You get the impression that they're meant to be parodies of generic movie villains, but there's nothing particularly memorable about them, save for a few good scenes. This leads to a finale that isn't quite as subversive or clever as the rest of the film. Now, back to the positives. The action is stylish, particularly in the opening scene, and the jokes are mostly hilarious. Sure, some of them are a little crude, but whether it's breaking the fourth wall or poking fun at past X-Men movies, the gags Land more often than not. Overall, in spite of some shortcomings, Deadpool is a blast for comic book fans, and Ryan Reynolds is perfect as the title character. Looking forward to Deadpool 2!
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4/10
Dull, overstuffed and contrived.
24 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
With the MCU currently making millions at the box office, it was inevitable that DC would eventually get in on the trend. The trouble with "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" is that it tries to cram too much set-up into one film, and the result is a jumbled mess that that feels like multiple movies crammed together. I'll start with some positives. Ben Affleck is surprisingly good as Batman. His portrayal of the character is by far the best thing about the film, delivering a surprisingly intimidating and engaging performance that almost makes you forget how angry everyone was when he was cast. I also don't think Jesse Eisenberg was as bad as he was made out to be. Sadly, Superman fares less well. Once again, Zack Snyder has mistaken "stiff and boring" for "gritty and conflicted", resulting in a Superman that we're never given a reason to care about. And the actual "fight?" It lasts about eight minutes and ends because their Moms have the same name. No, I'm not making this up. Even Wonder-Woman, one of the few highlights of the film, feels shoehorned into the plot for no good reason. She certainly shows promise as a character, but Gal Gadot is let down by a poor script that doesn't give her much to work with. Overall, "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" has its moments, but it's a bumpy start to the DCEU, and fails to deliver the epic fight we were promised in the title. Perhaps if it had been all about Batman, it could have been better.
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Fences (2016)
8/10
Flawed, but a powerful and terrifically acted adaptation.
24 May 2017
Watching "Fences", it isn't hard to tell it was based on a play. It is very dialogue-heavy and much of it takes place in and around the same house. In the beginning, it can be hard to keep up with the dialogue, but eventually it becomes easier to understand. The performances are superb. Denzel Washington is terrific, making his character sometimes difficult to like, but entirely human throughout. Viola Davis is also astonishing (it's no wonder she won an Oscar), and Washington's direction is also commendable. As I mentioned, some may find it too talk-heavy, but it's still well-worth viewing for the strength of its performances and emotional resonance. 8/10.
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