Mega Movie Catch-Up #16

Haven’t done one of these in quite a while…

Violent Night (2022)
This is as cheesy and tropey as all of the films it takes after and it’s a helluva lot of fun!

This is another one of those instances where I was excited for a film but just never got my arse to the cinema for it. But I’m glad I finally got to watch it at home! If you can get past some of the cringey writing that sounds like it was from10 years ago, many of the contrivances, and even the attempts at over-sentimentality then this is really enjoyable. The pacing is a bit off, the balance between action film and heartfelt Xmas movie needs a bit of work, and the ending loses some puff but overall it’s a lot of fun.

It’s brutal, it’s bloody, and really quite graphic (although you can tell that some of that was toned back in post) and the hints of origin story for David Harbour’s version of Santa Claus really makes for some intriguing “I wish I knew more” even though it adds nothing to this story. Had this been released a decade or so ago it may be considered an ironic classic by now but for the time being it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend the afternoon.

Currently streaming on Netflix

Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (2023)
I’m not sure what I watched…

I don’t recall much about the previous live-action Asterix & Obelix films but I remember not being a fan of them (I much prefer the animated movies). However, 11 years after the last one starring Gerard Depardieu, I thought I’d dip the toe in again with this new cast… and I don’t know what to make of it.

It’s cheeky and irreverent as you’d expect and it has all the anachronistic humour (modern and contemporary references in an older/ancient setting, etc) like in the original comics but unlike, for example, Mel Brooks or even Shrek it seems to be very hit and miss here. It has its moments but that’s only if you can look past the casual racism, which is surprising for 2023 (there is no context for it even for the bad guys).

Currently streaming on Netflix

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always (2023)
Continuing the nostalgia with a one-off 30th anniversary special that is surprisingly pitch-perfect 90’s kids television.

I only watched the first couple of seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on and off back in the day after school (which is still A LOT of episodes) and fell off very soon after. However, this anniversary special still hits hard in the nostalgia and I think that’s the point.

At double-episode length, the dialogue is incredibly cheesy, the drama is very kid-friendly, and the performances are… sincere? I get the feeling that everyone wanted to be there despite past controversies, to make something that not only honoured the fans of the original but also pay tribute to the actors who had passed on. It resisted the urge to suddenly be as grown-up as said actors and fans and just be corny fun.

Currently streaming on Netflix

Assassin’s Creed (2016)
I fell asleep on my first attempt. When I eventually finished, it made me irrationally angry.

The games this film is supposedly based on don’t click with me (to each their own and I’ve only played the first one) so there is a presumption that this may work better for those fans but I don’t see how that is even possible either. This is so much more than just a terrible film, it’s a dull and boring one despite its potentially interesting premise. I’d call it pretentious too if it actually understood ANY of the ideas and themes it was presenting but it struggles to tell a coherent story let alone BE ABOUT something as it meanders from one scene to the next.

It’s also an ugly looking film. Absolutely hideous to watch as every scene is badly lit, poorly colour-corrected to the point where it’s just black masses of human moving about bland environments, so you never quite know who is doing what or what is even going on. And that’s during the clean shots. Almost every part of this dog’s breakfast is cloaked in either smoke, dust, or volumetric fog hiding the already shitty looking film.

Currently streaming on Netflix and Disney+ however avoid it like a millennial answering a phone call.

Strange World (2022)
Another in a line of animated films tackling the pressures of family expectations and generational trauma.

Walt Disney Animation Studios has always struggled to emulate what their colleagues at Pixar have been able to do so successfully for so long as far as resonating with audiences (Encanto is the closest they’ve come to achieving that). Sadly, Strange World continues that struggle.

While it has its moments, this is another case of having a heap of great ideas undermined by average or inconsistent execution. It goes from one moment to the next without really considering the greater narrative, focussed only on the moment. The aforementioned inconsistency also creates characters that are just annoying, and in some cases unlikable, because it’s not about what they’re going through it’s about the idea being conveyed. It feels less like the film makers genuinely dealing with their own experiences with family and more like hopping onto a trend of art-as-a-coping-mechanism (think Turning Red, Encanto, and Coco). I appreciate ticking all the boxes when it comes to character diversity, representation, even its clumsy environmental message but it’s somewhat wasted on this movie.

Currently streaming on Disney+

Extraction 2 (2023)
I do resent having to spend the first 20 minutes of the sequel watching them justify how Chris Hemsworth survived the end of the previous movie instead of Golshifteh Farahani just being the new lead…

There is an incredibly impressive 30+ minute “single shot” (made to look like a single shot) action sequence that totally makes up for that opening 20 minutes.

Like the first movie, which I bloody loved, Extraction 2 is a thrilling, balls-the-wall, roller coaster that is hard-hitting and intense. It’s clever and inventive so the long action set pieces never outstay their welcome nor do they overshadow the characters. It’s a good balance of making us give a damn about what happens to these people, hating the ones we’re supposed to hate. That’s often a tough one to pull off when the focus of a movie is more on the faster-paced stuff. The plot is basic enough but they’ve done so well to keep you engaged with what’s on screen,

Definitely one to check out as soon as possible!

Currently streaming on Netflix

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