"Ron's Gone Wrong" stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Zach Galifianakis, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Marcus Scribner, and Thomas Barbusca. Released on October 22, 2021, the film is about a young boy who receives a malfunctioning robot.
The film was directed by Jean-Philippe Vine and Sarah Smith. Smith is known for directing and co-writing "Arthur Christmas" and served as an executive producer for "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!". Technology is a friend to many people, especially kids. But like us humans, it also contains some flaws that may or may not overwrite its helpfulness. It goes to show that nobody's perfect, especially that one particular piece of technology. Last weekend gave us a break from all of the things that go bump in the night in favor of a more light-hearted affair for families. This film is the first to be produced by Locksmith Animation, founded in 2014 by Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart, as part of its former multi-year production deal with 20th Century Fox. Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Locksmith abandoned ship and formed a new agreement with Warner Brothers to produce films under the Warner Animation Group label. As a result, this makes "Ron's Gone Wrong" the only Locksmith Animation film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox (now known as 20th Century Studios, according to Disney). Whenever a new animation studio comes into play, it's always essential for that studio to make a good impression to compete with some big names like Pixar, DreamWorks, and even Illumination. For Locksmith Animation, its most significant test is a film about a faulty robot. Was it functional enough for me to recommend to its target audience, or should it be sent to the scrap heap? Let's find out.
The story centers on Barney Pudowski (Grazer), a socially awkward middle-schooler who's also the only kid in existence without a "B-bot". B-bots are technologically advanced robots that are programmed to be every kid's best friend. One day, Barney finally receives a B-bot from his father (Helms). Unfortunately for him, this particular B-bot, aka "Ron" (Galifianakis), has a few bugs in its system compared to the others. Barney gradually grows attached to the buggy robot while attempting to protect it from the company that plans to shut it down for good. This is another film that showcases people's reliance on technology, especially the ones that are walking, talking Siris. Unsurprisingly, it's also the latest family-friendly animated film that centers on the relationship between a human and a robot that has innocence and charm in its system. The formula is something that we've seen in similar films like "The Iron Giant" and "Big Hero 6", which is impossible to ignore like a virus on your computer. As usual, the execution of its storytelling is essential in determining whether a film is enjoyable or not. Fortunately for me and its target audience, "Ron's Gone Wrong" got that execution right. It doesn't have the perfect code in its programming to stand alongside other films with similar concepts, but it offers enough charm and humor to embrace its undeniable imperfection. The key element that worked in its story was not just the antics caused by a broken B-bot. It's the messages that drive the narrative. In addition to exploring the repercussions of kids' technological obsessions, the film represents the essential value of friendship. The B-Bots are designed to be flawless companions who offer the same interests as their human buddies. They're pretty much every kid's easy way to make friends and become famous, but as the film goes on, it turns out that that's not the case. It shows that you don't need to be perfect and have the same likes and dislikes to make a friend. You just have to be yourself, and sooner or later, people will like you for who you are. I thought the film did a suitable job delivering this message to the kids while providing some harmless entertainment in the process. Although, it does have a habit of relying on its formulaic elements from time and time, and it has stretched its plot out a bit too long. Nevertheless, it's a well-told story that's not only humorous and fun for the kids but also thoughtful and endearing for parents and adults. The characters themselves were delightful enough to get the message across, and they're backed up nicely by the voice cast. Jack Dylan Grazer was solid in his role as Barney, even though his acting was a bit underwhelming during a couple of scenes. Zach Galifianakis proved to be the main highlight of the cast as Ron, Barney's malfunctioning B-Bot. He offered a near-perfect mixture of comedy and innocence into the flawed robot, resulting in him being another worthy addition to my list of favorite film robots. I still prefer Scott Adsit's Baymax from "Big Hero 6" as my top favorite, but Ron came pretty close. Olivia Colman and Justice Smith were also good in their roles as Donka (Barney's grandmother) and Marc Weidell (the creator of the B-bot), respectively, especially the former. Man, Olivia Colman's on fire this year when it comes to her animated roles. First, it was "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", and now "Ron's Gone Wrong". I got to say that I'm impressed with her career choices so far. I also thought the animation was pretty decent. Like its story, it was simple yet very pleasing to the eyes, especially the backgrounds and character designs. It's not going to change how we see animated movies regarding the style, but it did show that they put some effort into making the presentation appealing. As for its humor, the film provided some good comical antics and charm without taking too many easy shortcuts like adding in pop culture references every few minutes. I'm looking at you, "Addams Family 2". The only part that got me laughing the most was, of course, Ron himself due to his innocence and programming errors. When that little technical goofball was able to make me smile constantly, that's how I knew that they did something right.
Overall, "Ron's Gone Wrong" is as imperfect as the titular character, and that's okay. While it's not without a couple of technical hiccups in its system, the film is functional enough to please many young viewers and plenty of older moviegoers. Thanks to its charismatic voice cast, animation, humor, and execution for its story and messages, the animated comedy prevented itself from being a glitchy system. It also served as a solid starting point for Locksmith Animation's future. It would be interesting to see if the animation studio can continue its momentum, mainly since it's now producing some upcoming animated films for Warner Brothers Pictures.
“The Harder They Fall” stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, and Deon Cole. Released on October 22, 2021, the film is about a cowboy who reunites his crew to seek the criminal who murdered his parents.
The film featured the directorial debut of Jeymes Samuel, also known as “The Bullitts”. If you want to get revenge, you need the best crew possible. That crew, in particular, happens to have a few familiar faces in the movie business. Netflix continues its approach in putting its films on the big screen with a Western film that combines an all-star cast with its energetic flair. What intrigues me the most about this film is not the cast themselves, but the people behind it. This is the first full-length feature film to be helmed by singer-songwriter Jeymes Samuel, who happens to be Seal’s brother, with rapper Jay-Z backing him up as one of its producers. It’s quite an interesting scenario to see artists get into the film business, whether on the screen or behind it, and “The Harder They Fall” managed to be one of those examples. The question is, are their musical talents worthy enough to provide some entertainment in the Western genre?
The story follows Nat Love (Majors), a cowboy who’s based on a real-life Western figure. He discovers that his enemy, a ruthless criminal named Rufus Buck (Elba), has been released from prison. Buck has committed devilish crimes throughout Texas, including murdering Nat’s parents in cold blood. Nat then sets out to round up his former gang and take down Buck and his crew for good before the villain can do more harm. Nat’s crew consists of his former love Stagecoach Mary (Beetz), his right and left men Bill Pickett (Gathegi) and Jim Beckwourth (Cyler), and an adversary-turned-ally. The only way I can describe this movie is that it’s “Django Unchained”, but without the Tarantino flair. Both films provide a mixture that combines the old-school Western elements with a modern filmmaking style and a funky soundtrack. The only difference between the two is the amount of blood that’s spilled onscreen. When it’s not trying too hard to become the next “Django”, it serves as an entertaining and stylistic revenge film representing the Black Western genre. The plot is about as formulaic and straightforward as a Western could get. However, it extensively relied on its cast, storytelling, and action to shoot its way past its mediocrity. Jonathan Majors led the bunch of highly talented actors with a satisfying performance as Nat Love, further showcasing his worth to be in the big movie leagues, notably the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang the Conqueror. Idris Elba as Rufus Buck also proved that he can still deliver the goods in villainous roles, and Zazie Beetz offered some well-earned moments as Mary. RJ Cyler as Jim Beckwourth happens to be the best of the bunch regarding his energetic charm and humor. In every scene he’s in, Cyler was able to entertain with a smile on his face. Seriously, why isn’t this guy getting any more roles like this? Jeymes Samuel had a lot to prove to see if his filmmaking skills were as good as his music career. While it’s far from perfect, his direction delivered enough vitality and style to the film’s Western vibes to impress fans of the genre and modern moviegoers. Unfortunately, its slick spirit started to struggle with the momentum during the middle act. It’s not to say that it’s tedious since the pacing and the cast managed to keep things moving along. It’s the fact that it didn’t offer enough wild ideas to fill its two-hour-plus runtime. Well, aside from that one gag involving a white town. That one was hilariously clever.
Overall, “The Harder They Fall” has enough firepower to deliver a fun and dynamic addition to the Black Western genre. While its story didn’t have anything beyond its revenge-seeking formula, the film compensated with its style and shoot-em-up antics. Thanks to its charismatic cast, direction, and entertainment values, this is a promising start for Jeymes Samuel’s future as a filmmaker. If it’s playing at a theater near you and you’re a fan of Westerns, it’s worth checking out. However, if you’re not ready to head back to the cinema yet, don’t worry. The film will be released on Netflix for you to watch at home soon. It’s a win-win for all of us.
"Dune" stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. Released on October 22, 2021, the film is about an heir who is thrust into a war for the desert planet.
The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who also directed films such as "Prisoners", "Enemy", "Sicario", "Arrival", and "Blade Runner 2049". It is based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. If you still don't think October is the new month of action blockbusters, maybe this film will help you change your mind. Acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve has returned to bring another science fiction film from our childhoods back to life on the big screen. Unlike "Blade Runner", this one was in dire need of a redo. Published in 1965, "Dune" has impressed every reader with its multilayered themes and futuristic setting. While the novel is considered one of the best science fiction books of all time, its film adaptation was a different story. The 1984 adaptation by David Lynch was seen as a box-office flop and was met with generally negative reviews, though it did develop a cult following over time. Due to its horrible reception, it seemed unlikely that Hollywood would ever attempt to give the complicated novel another shot at the big screen. That is until Villeneuve rose to the challenge. Ever since I saw "Prisoners" back in 2013, I've been showing some strong support for Denis Villeneuve. While his direction for the pacing can be a challenge to sit through at times, his bleak yet immersive scope and intriguing storytelling usually compensate for this minor flaw every time. So when I saw that he's helming another film adaptation of "Dune", I was curious to see if his vision can balance well with its complicated sci-fi concept. If he can make "Blade Runner 2049" work, then he can surely do the same for this film. With that in mind, let's see if that's the case for this highly-anticipated adaptation.
The story centers on the royal Atreides family in the far future of humanity. The family consists of Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac), his concubine Lady Jessica (Ferguson), and their young son and heir, Paul Atreides (Chalamet). Leto has accepted the stewardship of the treacherous planet Arrakis. Arrakis is the home of the most valuable substance in the universe known as "melange", which can extend human life, provide extreme levels of thought, and make faster-than-light travel possible. After a sudden betrayal by one of their own, Paul and Jessica fled the mining operation and encountered the planet's natives. Identified as the Fremen, the inhabitants are preparing for war against the enemy invaders, the House Harkonnen, and Paul happens to be caught in the middle of it. The film represents the first half of the 1965 novel, which depicts Paul's transformation into the Fremen messiah. This approach had me convinced that the source material has too much juicy stuff to cover in just one film, even with its two-and-a-half-hour runtime. While this idea works in introducing its massive world-building and characters, it also runs the risk of being a tragic waste due to its abrupt ending. If the film's potential sequels are put in the can because of its low box office income, then its conclusion will wind up being a pointless tease of something that'll never see the light of day. This is something that I hope would never happen because I'm highly interested in seeing what would happen next. Even though I haven't read the novel or watched the 1984 film, I thought "Dune" was not only fascinating in its storytelling, but it was also incredibly stunning in its scope and visual effects. It's like a combination of "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner" regarding its futuristic tech, abilities, and gorgeous locations, with little to no hints of droids, of course. Despite a couple of emotional moments that got overshadowed by its overwhelming grandness, the story in "Dune" significantly introduces its world and characters while providing a familiar yet riveting tale of a man chosen by destiny. Its ending did leave me feeling upset at first, but then I got over it once I realized that it's only "part one" of this sci-fi epic. The film's A-list actors were very engaging, notably Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa as Lady Jessica and Duncan Idaho, respectively. Timothée Chalamet continued to showcase his marvelous talent onscreen as Paul, even though his highly famous co-stars occasionally outpace him. Zendaya was also solid in her role as Chani despite her short screen time. My only minor issue with the cast was that they could be a bit hard to hear what they're saying when they're whispering their dialogue. It only happens a few times throughout the film, so I can't be too angry at that. Like Villeneuve's other works, primarily "Blade Runner 2049", "Dune" shines the brightest when its technical qualities are on display. From its immersive cinematography to the imaginative essence of its locations, the film delivered a breathtaking and dreary take on humanity's future as only Villeneuve can do. It further showcased the director's superb ability to transform a sci-fi blockbuster into cinematic art. This approach might not impress everyone who wanted a more traditional blockbuster. However, it will undoubtedly do wonders for those who want more out of its formula. I also enjoyed Hans Zimmer's score, which offered a futuristic and religious vibe to the film's nature. I wouldn't say that it's Zimmer's best work, but he did inject plenty of energy into its vocals to give the movie the proper soul it needed.
Overall, Denis Villeneuve's take on "Dune" is unsurprisingly astounding in its technical qualities, with its intriguing story being able to follow suit. Its minor narrative hiccups kept it from being a perfect science-fiction epic. Still, it's another strong example of an awe-inspiring experience that's only made for the biggest screen possible. Its talented cast, well-crafted story, and striking visuals make this film a captivating first half of the famous sci-fi novel. If you're planning on watching "Dune", I highly recommend seeing it in the theater to get the best experience. I should know because that's how I watched it.
“The Last Duel” stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck. Released on October 15, 2021, the film has two best friends engaging in a duel with one another.
The film was directed by Ridley Scott, who also directed films such as “Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “Gladiator”, and “The Martian”. It is based on the book of the same name by Eric Jager. Nowadays, we use communication to settle our differences, but back then, they had a much violent way to solve their problems. Ridley Scott is returning to the Oscar race this year with not one but two fact-based films to get audiences invested in historical events. This weekend, I’ll be taking a look at one that’s set years before technology was invented. So far, Scott has delivered some hits and misses recently, but there’s still no denying his ability to bring captivating tales to life with his direction and set designs. This latest drama appears to be no exception as it offered an all-star cast and a grim yet immersive perspective on medieval times. But are they enough to make the filmmaker a strong awards contender? Let’s find out.
The story is set in 1380s France, and it centers on a squire named Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and his beloved wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Comer). When Marguerite claims that she’s been raped by her husband’s friend Jacques Le Gris (Driver), Jean challenges Jacques to trial by combat, which would determine the fate of Marguerite and her husband. The film is based on real-life events that took place around 700 years ago, where France held the last legally sanctioned duel in the country’s history. It also explored the three main characters’ roles in the events leading up to the accusation and the trial. This piece of history was quite interesting in my eyes. It is not just because of the country’s final duel, but also because it reflects on today’s culture. The film showed that the whole “Me Too” movement happened way before it was even a thing. The essential part to remember is that it takes place during a time where women were often treated as objects to give men pleasure. While the film itself came close to being as impactful as its disturbing subject matter, “The Last Duel” is nonetheless another worthy piece of historical cinema gold by Ridley Scott. The film shines in being intriguingly dramatic, brutally violent, and thoughtfully challenging regarding the cast, direction, and production values. It only had a few scenes that either dragged or felt underwhelming, especially when taking its two-and-a-half-hour runtime into account. I also would’ve liked to see more of how Marguerite’s accusations impact women’s roles in the 1300s. That would have made the social commentary more exciting and emotional. Despite those flaws, the film is, without a doubt, Ridley Scott at his finest. The most interesting part of “The Last Duel” was its narrative, which was divided into three chapters. It explored the events leading up to the duel through the eyes of Jean, Jacques, and Marguerite. This narrative choice may sound repetitive at first, but you might be surprised to see that it wasn’t. It retold the same story three times through different perspectives. However, those perspectives happened to represent the story more differently than others, primarily the rape scene from the viewpoint of Jacques and Marguerite. It gives off that “he said, she said” vibe that challenges how we see these characters and their actions. If that’s the case, then I thought Ridley Scott and screenwriters Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon did a superb job handling this approach with care and intellect. The main cast did absolute wonders in gracing the screen with ease. Damon and Driver were both excellent in their roles as Jean and Jacques, respectively, while Jodie Comer delivered a performance that’s subtly riveting as Marguerite. In my opinion, Ben Affleck’s performance as Count Pierre d’Alencon was quite unusual compared to his recent dramatic roles. He can be a bit giddy at times, but thankfully, it wasn’t enough to negatively alter the film’s dramatic tone. Another element that worked in the movie was the production values. Like Scott’s other historical films like “Gladiator” and “Kingdom of Heaven”, “The Last Duel” envisions its historical period with its bleak yet gorgeous cinematography and a sense of authenticity. From the set designs to the costumes, the film continues the filmmaker’s strength in bringing natural history to life on screen. I also want to point out that the film can be disturbing for some viewers, but not to the point where it becomes unwatchable. The rape scene (which they showed twice) was quite uncomfortable, and the violence was undoubtedly brutal, especially the duel sequence at the end of the film. By the way, that sequence was highly engaging and well worth the wait regarding Scott’s direction and the brutality.
Overall, Ridley Scott has crafted another absorbing and thoughtful fact-based drama in the form of “The Last Duel”. It came very close to squeezing into my top ten list of 2021 films. Nonetheless, it’s a well-acted and beautifully grim depiction of misogyny that refuses to be silent. The actors were great in their roles, the storytelling was handled well by Scott, and the production values were incredibly authentic. It’s a successful start for the director this year, and I hope he can repeat that success with next month’s “House of Gucci”.
"Halloween Kills" stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Stephens, Nick Castle, and James Jude Courtney. Released on October 15, 2021, the film has Laurie Strode and her family facing the unexpected return of Michael Myers.
The film is directed by David Gordon Green, who also directed films such as "Undertow", "Pineapple Express", "The Sitter", and "Stronger". It is the twelfth installment in the Halloween franchise. It is also a sequel to the 2018 direct continuation of "Halloween", which David Gordon Green also directed. This son of a gun doesn't know when to stay dead, does he? It's not Halloween without Michael Myers, and this latest installment in the long-running slasher franchise is finally here to prove that theory. After a disappointing amount of sequels and reboots, the classic slasher film series made a miraculous return with the 2018 installment, which wiped the previous follow-ups out of existence. That film served as a welcoming return to the formula that made the 1978 film a terrifying experience. Now, the franchise is once again returning from the dead to continue its killing spree, for better or worse. The only installments I've watched from the "Halloween" series were the 1978 original and the 2018 film, both of which were solid slasher films for different reasons. So you can quickly tell that my interest in the horror franchise wasn't as high as many others. However, that didn't stop me from checking out its latest horror sequel, especially since it's leading up to next year's conclusion. With that in mind, let's see if it has enough kills and frights to continue the franchise.
The film takes place immediately after 2018's "Halloween". Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen Nelson (Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson Nelson (Matichak) have defeated Michael Myers (Courtney and Castle) and left him to die in a burning house…or so they thought. When Michael survives the fire and escapes, he continues his bloody rampage in Haddonfield. After hearing about Michael's killing spree, the residents, including the survivors from Laurie's past, band together to end his reign of terror for good. The potential "Halloween" trilogy resembles a horror novel, with "Halloween Kills" being the middle section of the gory story arc. Seeing that it's set after the ending of its previous installment, viewers would need to watch the 2018 film to understand the continuing story of Myers' recent return completely. If you've seen the earlier films in the slasher series, then you'll immediately know what you're getting yourself into regarding the concept. It's about people surviving against or getting murdered by a psychotic and silent serial killer with a mask, which is every slasher film in a nutshell. If you enjoy those installments because of that formula, especially 2018's "Halloween", there's plenty to endure in "Halloween Kills". It offered what audiences wanted out of a "Halloween" film, but it did come with the cost of being conventional. "Halloween Kills" didn't do much to add anything refreshing to the long-running franchise as it resorted to some genre tropes that we've experienced several times before. It also had this "middle chapter" vibe that made the film feel incomplete, which is understandable because it leads up to the upcoming final chapter. Luckily, David Gordon Green maintained the elements that worked in its predecessor to expand its tiring formula's immortality. One of those elements was its themes. "Halloween Kills" continues the representation of fear and trauma and how they affect the characters mentally. Even though the film focused on Michael Myers murdering innocent lives, it never lost sight of the people who were impacted by his actions, including the ones that Laurie babysat 40 years ago, Tommy Doyle (Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Richards). Its storytelling couldn't capture lightning in the bottle for the second time, possibly due to its tropes. Still, I respect it for providing enough interest in the characters amid the killer's murderous rampage. There were also a couple of moments in the screenplay that may not work for everyone, including Laurie's role and the ending, which I would not spoil if you haven't watched it yet. Fortunately, those moments weren't massive enough to overshadow its entertainment values in the kills and the film's gloomy and realistic nature. Speaking of which, Michael Myers' kills weren't anything too special, but they still contain a healthy amount of realism and fright in the grisly imagery without going too over-the-top with the visuals. What made them even more creepy was Green's handling of the film's tension and its respectable set of jump scares, which freaked me out a couple of times, by the way. The entire cast worked very well together in their respective roles, especially Curtis, who continues to shine as Laurie despite her small role. Judy Greer and Andi Matichak were also solid in their roles as Karen and Allyson, respectively. The main highlight of the cast was Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle, a character who was previously portrayed by Brian Andrews in the 1978 original. The spotlight focuses a bit more on Tommy rather than Laurie, and Hall made sure that every second in that spotlight counts. Hall nearly perfected the internal pain and anger Tommy has after his encounter with Michael 40 years ago, and it was quite a treat to behold. As for both Courtney and Nick Castle as Michael Myers, all I can say about them is that they still manage to creep me out every single time.
Overall, "Halloween Kills" delivered enough blood and chills to continue the franchise's killing spree. This is another entertaining installment in the iconic horror series despite its lack of fresh ideas, genre tropes, and average screenplay. With its solid cast, Green's direction, and good execution towards the kills and tension, the film is a suitable setup for next year's haunting conclusion. In my eyes, it's a small step down from 2018's "Halloween", but it should satisfy plenty of slasher genre fans regardless.