When the Barbie movie was first announced years ago I thought it could be interesting. I wasn’t sold on Amy Schumer being the lead. It feels like that version of the film was going to be more about her not looking as slim as the other models and doing her typical schtick. We saw this movie from her already in I Feel Pretty. It’s not to say they needed a slim actress in the role, but they needed a better in for the film that is self deprecating without hitting the same boring notes that all of those types of films hit. A few years went by and Amy Schumer dropped out due to creative direction. My interest in the Barbie movie went from meh to must see when Greta Gerwig was attached to write and direct.
Greta Gerwig has been nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay in her last two films Lady Bird, and Little Women. She also directed the lead actress and supporting actress to Oscar nominations. Greta Gerwig is the modern Sofia Coppola. Even if Amy Schumer was still attached I’m sure Greta would have steered the film perfectly. The movie even feels like it has been cast perfectly with Margot Robbie, and Ryan Gosling in the leads as the most iconic dolls globally. With all the important pieces in place this movie should at least be successful.
The latest teaser trailer showed us this movie is going to be a mega hit.
The first teaser trailer didn’t give too much. It did give a hint of how smart this movie was going to be even though it is a Barbie movie. By parodying it to the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey there was clear intent that this was more than a cash grab. With the latest trailer we see just how well thought out the comedy is as it opens with Barbie stepping out of her high heels and still counting the Barbie doll arch in her feet. There’s some great wordplay that feels as though it’s coming from her time on Lady Bird.
These two teasers have given us a lot of tastes of the movie. We still don’t know what the story is about, apart from them trying to leave to the real world. They may not even leave the Barbie world and on their journey out it could be like Pleasantville where it just infinitely loops around without exit. The Barbie movie is going to make a lot of money worldwide. This is a property that our grandmothers were playing with as tikes. I wouldn’t think it will hit a billion dollars, but never say never.
In 2013 the game studio Naughty Dog released The Last of Us. The game was a departure from the studio’s jovial action-adventure Uncharted series. Unlike Uncharted, The Last of Us was carried with dark undertones, horror, and survival elements. As time goes by the esteem this game garners has only grown, and today has solidified itself as a landmark game that is still stylised by PlayStation first party titles. A sequel was released in 2020 taking place after the events of the first game. Lastly a remake of the first game was released last year bringing the game up to scuff with modern gameplay and graphics in anticipation for the HBO show.
Since the launch of the game The Last of Us had been in the process of being developed into a feature film with Sam Raimi at the helm. Many video game properties were stuck in development hell finding it difficult to take an interactive property into a passive form of entertainment. The floodgates seem to be opening for video game adaptations now that HBO’s The Last of Us has given a workable blueprint to exploring an adaptation. Through standalone episodes and expanding on the world’s mythology HBO has made The Last of Us a unique television event that no longer belongs with gamers, but to everyone.
The Last of Us starts off with an interview from 1968 with a scientist talking about how he believes fungi is potentially much more worse than a virus or flu if there was to ever be a pandemic. The story then cuts to the day of the outbreak in 2003. Joel (Pedro Pascal), brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) and Joel’s daughter Sarah (Nico Parker), experience their last normal day letting us get a glimpse into their life. The day unfolds with things happening in the background that show things are not right, much like how Shaun of the Dead reveals the zombies to the audience unbeknownst to protagonist Shaun. Once nightfall hits everyone is consumed by the chaos. Joel, Tommy, and Sarah leave their homes immediately for an escape as they experience the terror of this “zombie” outbreak. Not everyone survives the night as (Redacted) dies in a shocking scene that is also a revelation of how gone society is.
Twenty years later and we’re in 2023. The world didn’t recover, it’s barely surviving. The government is corrupt, and fighting with a resistance group called the Fireflies. Joel is changed, his humour is gone, and his occupation is smuggling. Between the infighting Joel has made a steady living for government rations. After a smuggling deal goes wrong Joel finds himself forced to smuggle the teen girl Ellie (Bella Ramsey) for the Fireflies to another town. The episode ends with another reveal that will answer what Ellie’s importance is to the Fireflies. The two will journey across the country over the span of a year to smuggle Ellie to her destination, between raiders and zombies this will not be easy. This is just the beginning of the journey and what an adventure it will be.
The high point of the season comes from the stand alone story of Bill and Frank found in episode three. Joel and Ellie bookend the episode to fit the story into the overarching narrative. The episode chronicles Bill (Nick Offerman), a conspiracy and survivalist hermit, and Frank (Murray Bartlett) who finds haven in Bill’s Town come to live in this world post outbreak. It is one of the most moving episodes of television that will bring tears to your eyes. It’s an episode that shows us why these people choose to live in a world filled with fear and destruction. The answer is love, and the fact that these two can share that for twenty years is why life is worth fighting for. If there was an episode you wanted to show off to someone uninterested in the show, put this episode on and this will have them invested.
HBO has always been particularly good with standalone episodes. By using them in The Last of Us reveals how we can learn more about the world and leave the confines of the game in favour of new material. After the reception to the Bill and Frank episode I’m sure HBO is looking into a spin-off show that can look at new characters and stories in the world. The thing about Joel and Ellie is it’s just one small story in this world, and there are so many more that can be explored in other characters if they can find an interesting narrative thread worthy of a spin-off.
The greatest weakness of The Last of Us is that we don’t get to spend enough time with Joel and Ellie together. The game has one of the greatest bonds and as Joel we would do anything for these two characters because we share so much time together. In HBO’s The Last of Us we spend small bursts with the two characters together. Two episodes of the nine are stand alone episodes, one has Joel out of commission, the first episode barely has Ellie in it. Overall, there are like five episodes where there is any time for the two characters to bond, but I don’t know if that’s enough time to earn the emotional payoff to come in the next season.
The Last of Us season one is a show well executed. I wouldn’t say it is one of the greatest shows ever, not even close, but it’s fun event television. The show will not replace my enjoyment or my continued replays of the game in the future. It’s nice knowing that the story and characters are breaking outside the sphere of gaming and into the greater pop culture. I fear the wait for season two will be a couple of years away, so you have time to experience the two games in the mean time. If you are yet to experience it, The Last of Us is a must watch.
Many great shows have come, and yet most have known when to end. It’s hard to understand how a show like The Walking Dead could still be going, and with plans to continue in spin-offs. I’ve always been under the assumption that a zombie show would see survivors move from place to place looking for security until that security is inevitably breached. I mean how else could it go? Now that the mainline series is coming to an end I thought I would finally see what all the fuss was about. Three seasons in and I don’t understand how this show was a movement. It’s absolutely fine. Season one at least gave the characters an anchor to questions relating to a cure, or hope. With the CDC literally blown up in the finale of season 1 it’s hard to understand where the hope for the characters is in this world.
As I continue watching I’m waiting to be pulled in to a larger arc for the characters. Give me a reason to see them fighting this futile future. If it was me I would have ended my life. And I have to say that the most poignant moment thus far was them choosing to live or die at the CDC when it was to be blown up. If there is a reason for each character to be living I want to see what they are fighting for… because as far as we see it, this is the end of the world.
The show itself lost show creator Frank Darabont midway into season 2 over budget restraints. Understandable as the show did set up something that had a lot of potential at the end of season 1 to staying contained to a farmhouse setting for the entirety of season 2. Popularity grew by the end of season 2 to accommodate a much bigger budget in season 3. It seems as though if Frank Darabont had been given the full control he would have continued to steer the show in the stronger direction he cemented in season 1.
I have to say this is one of the ugliest looking shows on tv. I wish we saw more colour than the bleak saturation that is a constant of the show. The editing of the show itself is odd as they will jump cut from what could have been a more interesting scene than the one that followed. It feels like a budget issue and at times it takes away from the pacing of the show and feels jarring. In the future I may give Fear of the Walking Dead a look and see if it has the same shortcomings.
Overall, unless something changes I’m not sure how long I will continue to watch it for. Maybe the drama will strike me or I will find some characters endearing enough to see their journey play out.
You have to admire what the original Superman nailed with tone. They got it right back in 1978. More than a decade later was the first Batman film which had a daring take that gave a very German expressionist look at a comic book film. Next was Spider-Man, and then of course Nolan’s Batman films before these tonal shifts and very different takes become funnelled into two very trite styles by Disney’s Marvel and Warner Bros. DC. Disney has championed the comic book films by copy and pasting the foundation with different genres, a branching narrative and of course the comedy. Warner Bros. on the other hand since Man of Steel has tried to counter act Disney by having films with a darker tone. Warner Bros. for the most part has tried to mirror the success Disney has reached, but for audiences it has been unearned as the films constantly alternate between bad and good. So what can Warner Bros. do?
Warner Bros. parent company was acquired back in 2018 and it seems we’re starting to see the changing of hands over there. Starting last year with HBO Max’s push of having simultaneous theatrical releases being available on the streaming platform day one. This year CW has seen plenty of regular shows axed, including multiple shows in the “Arrowverse“. While there have been many world tragedies, the greatest may be the attention the Depp V Heard case gathered over everything else. Neither came out looking good, Heard especially, and now Aquaman 2 stands to be boycotted by her involvement. Ezra Miller, known for playing The Flash has also been the subject of discourse as allegations pile on him. While Amber Heard plays a supporting role in Aquaman 2, Ezra Miller is the title star of The Flash, and the allegations are serious enough for Warner Bros. to seriously reconsider how they move forward with the project.
It has been announced that Batgirl has been shelved indefinitely, which is rather unusual for a film that is in post production and has already cost an estimated $90 million. Similarly a sequel to Scoob has been shelved. It seems that the case with both films appears to be this middle tier they tried to make for straight to stream films, but the costs they believe are too great, and want to make $40 million dollar films for the service instead. A $90 million price tag is a lot of money, although it is probably close to half of most blockbuster superhero films today, and wouldn’t compete if it’s of subpar quality. Considering how much Warner Bros. is hurting of late its good that they are finally committing to quality, as they’ve spoken to working on a ten year plan for the DC Universe. They’ve talked about plans before and this time appears different as they’re being heavy handed. Hell, I may become interested in comic book films again if they consolidate their plans into pursuing quality superhero films.
So what do we think of the state of Warner Bros.? Are they trying to clean house so they can hit the restart button once they can finally offload Aquaman 2, and The Flash? I sure hope so. However, it is a shame to see Scoob’s sequel be squandered, but we sure don’t need more mediocre superhero films.
Three games that I consider perfect are Gone Home, Virginia, and What Remains of Edith Finch. All these games are walking simulators, however Edith Finch is like a vignette of poems.
The story follows Edith Finch as she goes back to her abandoned family house to unearth the secrets buried within. The Finch family have all died in unusual circumstances, as if the family was cursed, and for the majority well before their time. Edith traverses through each room reading the notes and diary entries of her departed family members, and you play out the way they die in the most fantastical of ways. Each story is played bright and cheerfully which is contrasted against the ironic way they die. In light of this you’re playing with a pit in your stomach because you’re not taking the story lightly when it clicks as to how they are going to die. Each story strengthens the game’s greatest achievement, the house. It is layered with clues and mysteries as delve deeper and deeper.
I first played this game five years ago after hearing a lot of positive reviews, and yet the selling point for me was the game length. You can easily complete this game in two to three hours. It requires no challenge, just an unforgettable experience. The PlayStation 5 version released this week and is a free upgrade to owners of the PS4 version, which makes a beautiful game shine even brighter than before. For trophy aficionados there is a platinum this time around that nearly matches the original list.
In another five years I suspect I’ll be ready to play this game again and once more visit the Finch house. Developer Giant Sparrow hasn’t made a game since this game so hopefully we hear of what they’re working on soon, and with any luck it will equal the quality of this one.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a perfect video game that you should check out.. and maybe bring the tissues.
Jurassic Park was such a groundbreaking film to me, and one I don’t think has ever been surpassed. This was the first film that really utilised CGI and changed the future of modern cinema forever. Since then CGI has been used to completely change everything within an environment, but back in Jurassic Park it was just used to bring dinosaurs to life on the big screen in all their glory. Dinosaurs were hella big in the 90s outside of Jurassic Park, whereas kids today probably think of them like dragons and other fanciful creations of fiction. For myself and others, we knew dinosaurs were real and our imagination was limitless, at least we thought so, until we saw Jurassic Park and the horror if we were actually faced with these creatures.
The first time we see the T.Rex on screen is terrifying, even now the scene has me anxiety ridden. It’s such a magnificent movie moment that buying this LEGO diorama set was essential. You also get a mini-figure of Tim, Lex, Alan Grant, and Ian Malcolm. Each of them is covered in a mixture of rain and mud, with alternate expressions, except Alan. I love the Jurassic Park logo print piece and quote piece they have on the front.
Each character has a marker on the ground to show where they belong on the set. I love this for being able to recreate the scene as shown on the box. Even the footing for the T.Rex is easy to place with these markers. Surprisingly this set has quite a few moveable pieces that are not locked down. Both vehicles can be plucked right off the set, however the overturned vehicle is fashioned in place by a perfect lego shaping in the ground for it. That vehicle is also held in place by the T.Rex’s foot, while the other is held in place by cheese wedge Legos.
There are so many fun details to be found in this set from Tim’s night vision goggles, to T.Rex footprints in the ground, and even the chain that held (ahem) a goat. It’s a massive set measuring nearly sixty centimetres in length if you have the tail stretched out straight, so it will take up a bit of room.
I hope LEGO makes more movie scenes like this in the future and it’s nice to see they are getting into the gaming space as well, with a Horizon Zero Dawn Tall Neck coming next month.
For now I’m going to need to find a space for this incredible set.
Well, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein may be what you’re looking for. It has everything. It blends comedy, romance, action, and drama all while holding the air with tension the entire time.
Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a show that begins with an unbeatable shootout against the main character, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin). By seeing the ending we have an expectation that our protagonist is going to do something that will land him in the iron sights of everyones guns. Next we see Vikrant as a normal child at school being pursued by Purva, a powerful politician’s daughter. Vikrant sees Purva as a source of bad luck for him and refuses her attempts at friendship. Many years pass and Purva is a long forgotten memory, as we see Vikrant having just finished college. At this point in Vikrant’s life he has found the love of his life, Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), although their relationship is being hidden as her parents share major political differences to Vikrant’s family. Without a well paying job Vikrant’s father brings him into the politician’s tendrils. Vikrant now finds himself working with Purva (Anchal Singh), who has been counting the days since their last meeting. Every time Vikrant pushes to escape Purva and her family, he is met with life threatening pushback, to him and his loved ones. Finally without his consent he is betrothed to Purva, and this is only the beginning of the story.
This was a show I knew nothing about and decided on it after seeing a preview for it while scrolling Netflix. Sometimes I challenge Netflix shows to captivate me in five minutes before I opt out, and this one certainly did. I finished it over two sessions. Due to the flash forward we see at the start of the show I thought it was going to be a one and done series. However, by the end we don’t see how Vikrant gets to we where we see him at the start. In hindsight it appears that producers saw the potential hit in their hands and opted for a second series to continue the story instead of finishing it off here.
I highly recommend everyone watching this fantastic show.
Every end of the world movie I adore gives almost no detail as to what will end the world. These movies are more about watching the characters deal with their own existence in the face of a shared extinction. Don’t Look Up spends the entire film talking about the fact that the world is going to end, and barely scratches the surface of the characters. I was hoping for something closer to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and instead we got Mars Attacks.
Don’t Look Up starts with Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) discovering a new comet, which becomes a celebratory event for the observation centre. The celebration ends abruptly as Dr. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates the size and trek the comet will take towards Earth. Within hours the two are flown to the White House after the revelation that the comet will become a world ending event on impact. President Orlean (Meryl Streep) refuses to take action after hearing the facts as she is more concerned about re-election. So Kate and Dr. Mindy take it upon themselves to get the news out to the media. Roadblock after roadblock, it’s a fight to be heard so action can be taken throughout the movie and essentially the rest of the film.
Kate and Dr. Mindy are the only characters that share any relatable qualities, as everyone else is purely a satire of the role they are playing. It leaves no surprises and doesn’t play as well as I think it’s supposed to. With every one of these roles filled by star power and over the top acting it seemingly resembles Mars Attacks. By the end every character shows so little intelligence, you may wonder if they’re even worth saving.
In the end, Don’t Look Up is just another film about the government not listening, it’s just the stakes are higher in this one. The characters spend the film shouting to be heard, but we just want to know what they are thinking. It’s fine and forgettable after you see it. It would have been good if the material was thought provoking enough to carry conversations about it long after the film, alas it won’t.
Ten years after the first Hotel Transylvania we have a fourth and (for now) final instalment. In terms of animated franchises, I have enjoyed this one. For children it’s an animated adventure with monsters, and for adults it’s a parody of the Universal Monster movies. I absolutely chuckle to the jokes that poke fun at holes in each monster everyone has always taken for granted.
Unlike the previous films, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is skipping theatres and is available right now on Amazon Prime Video. This must have cost Amazon a lot, considering the last film grossed over $500 million at the box office. As a new parent this was a good move for both parties as parents are more afraid to take their children out into public during the pandemic which ebbs and flows. You won’t see this happen with Minions 2 however, as that first film grossed over $1 billion at the box office and they’re waiting to recreate that once more.
Transformania once again is about Dracula’s coming to terms with moving on. And this time it’s about him retiring and passing on the hotel to his daughter Mavis, and son-in-law Johnny. Dracula being afraid of the hotel turning into a chaotic “surfer dude” paradise reverses his decision and tells Johnny that it simply cannot happen because Johnny is not a monster. Now we come to the Transformania part of the movie where Johnny succeeds in finding a way to turn into a monster. The device for turning into a monster can also turn monsters into humans. Dracula and most of the Transylvania gang find themselves turned into humans. For what was simple to become human, becomes a quest to reverse.
The transforming gimmick was a great way at making some of the retreading plots feel fresh this time around. The anchor of these films has always been Adam Sandler voicing Dracula, yet you wouldn’t know that he was absent from this film, as well as Kevin James. If it was because of contract disputes he was easy to replace as Sandler has always played Dracula with a somewhat parody voice of Dracula, so it never felt original to begin with. Besides everyone has always used that Dracula voice at every costume party.
Overall Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is another solid entry in the franchise. It doesn’t give a satisfactory end to the franchise as a whole, but who is to say another one won’t be made in a few more years. It’s worth the watch with your family on the weekend for the price of an Amazon Prime Video subscription and they even have the older entries on the service too.
These are a list of movies that evoke a type of ecstasy from me. I’m so passionate about these films that they help to define my love of cinema.
Lawrence of Arabia
This is perhaps the most stunning movie ever made. I have no idea how such a movie was made without the use of CGI. It is without a doubt flawless filmmaking.
The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford
I never heard a peep about this movie until watching it on a whim nearly ten years after its release. More people need to see this film. It’s like watching a haunting poem with one of the best film scores ever.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
For many years this was my favourite film. Even after tens of viewings the movie retains the spark of director and writer, Shane Black’s darkly comedic voice.
La La Land
Musicals are so hard to make good. We only see a handful every year if we’re lucky and maybe a great one every few. La La Land is a great one that combines my love of Hollywood with a beautifully devastating love story. It’s just as somber as it is bright.
Every year I become overly attached to one film that I want everyone to see and last year it was Parasite. Parasite may have been the best film of the decade. I am so very glad that it will be seen by more and more people after winning Best Picture this year. Mum’s the word on this one, just see it.
This is no ordinary romantic comedy, and it’s deeper than any other. By the end of the movie your chest will tighten as your tears seep. There’s a scene that you will relate to if you’ve had a close bond with a parent. For me it’s my grandfather and it makes it all the more hard to watch.
There may be no better family film than this. If this was released this year it would be nominated for Best Picture and perhaps even win because it’s the uplifting film the world needs right now.
The Wizard of Oz
Take me to the land of Oz anytime. If I was to enter any fantasy world, this is the one. There is nothing to dislike in this beloved classic. It’s always a source of inspiration for me.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
As I watch and rank the Disney Animated films, I’m yet to see anything come close to the masterpiece that is Beauty and the Beast.
Shaun of the Dead
It may not be a scary movie, but it is my favourite horror movie. All the horror trademarks are here and they’re hilarious. I can watch this on repeat, and I do.