"Firestarter" stars Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley, Michael Greyeyes, and Gloria Reuben. Released on May 13, 2022, the film has a father protecting his daughter, who has pyrokinesis.
The film is directed by Keith Thomas, who also directed "The Vigil". It is a reboot of the 1984 film of the same name, which is based on the 1980 novel by Stephen King. Last weekend, the summer movie season started on the right foot with a mind-bending superhero traveling through the multiverse. While it wasn't as most Marvel fans have anticipated, it offers enough to get many people back to the cineplexes after two years of isolation. Now, we have another type of super-powered being looking to set the summer box office on fire, literally. This latest horror film is another adaptation of Stephen King's novel, centering on a young girl setting people on fire with her mind. The stuff this guy came up with in his books never fails to amaze me. It is also another addition to a long line of movie adaptations that's been unsurprisingly hit-and-miss throughout the years. While some of them are stellar pieces of work like "The Shawshank Redemption", "The Green Mile", and 2017's "It", others like "The Dark Tower" and "Cell" remind us that some stories are better off as just books. So, where does this "reboot" land regarding this category? Let's find out.
The story centers on Andy McGee (Efron), a man who participated in a mysterious experiment with Vicky Tomlinson (Lemmon). The experiment resulted in them gaining telepathic abilities. Vicky can read people's minds, while Andy can control their minds despite it making his eyes bleed. After they married each other years later, they birthed a daughter named Charlie (Armstrong), who developed the power to control fire. Unfortunately, this catches the attention of the secret government known as "The Shop", which seeks to capture her and use her powers for nefarious purposes. As a result, Andy attempts to protect Charlie from the government while teaching her how to defend herself with her dangerous ability.
I watched the 1984 version of "Firestarter" before heading into the reboot to get a clear idea of what I was about to expect. Long story short, it was a fine adaptation. It's a bit overlong, and some of the scenes weren't very exciting, but the visuals and the young Drew Barrymore were enough for me to give it a pass. The reboot, which horror expert Jason Blum produces, looks to correct the original's flaws for a couple of reasons. You have a filmmaker who previously worked with Blum in the critically-acclaimed horror movie "The Vigil", and it is shorter than the 1984 film, which was close to two hours. But, of course, just because it has those elements doesn't automatically make the movie good. It all comes down to the execution of its plot.
The film follows the same storyline as the source material and the 1984 adaptation. A girl sets people on fire, and a secret organization wants to harness her powers. That's it. It's a basic premise that leads to some frightening imagery and the dangers of harnessing unexplainable things. However, it did offer some differences to stand apart from the previous adaptation. The 1984 version started with Andy and Charlie already running from "The Shop" and some flashbacks showcasing the events beforehand. For the reboot, they decided to take a traditional approach to its narrative by building up the mystery of the characters' unique abilities. I found this direction a bit better than the 1984 version because it has the advantage of developing the characters more, mainly Andy and Charlie, and emphasizing its thematic depth regarding people with differences. It would've made the entire movie a decent improvement over the original, but sadly, it turned out to be the complete opposite.
There's some potential for the movie to be good, especially when considering the director's previous film, Jason Blum's involvement, and the Carpenters, who provided the score with Daniel Davies. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, with their efforts being wasted on a highly generic and poorly-handled adaptation that constantly fizzles without a single spark. The story does showcase the McGees a bit more before they're forced to run from home, which is an acceptable approach, in my opinion. However, the execution for it was as bland as my leftover seafood Alfredo, and the easy-to-spot tropes that overshadowed it didn't help much either. I'm not just talking about the horror tropes, ladies and gentlemen. I'm talking about the cliches you would see in a superhero movie. You read that right. They made "Firestarter" into a superhero film instead of a horror movie. A terrible superhero movie, to be exact.
The reboot not only used every trope in the book, but it also handled them in a way that resulted in it being ridiculously underwhelming and disappointingly tame. Scott Teems, who wrote "Halloween Kills" with Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, gave me a script that fails to take advantage of its ideas and frightening content and provide any exciting characters. The cast did what they could to deliver fine performances, including Zac Efron as Andy and Ryan Armstrong as Charlie. Sadly, they're not enough to save their bland and underdeveloped characters from immediately burning to a crisp. I would also say that Teems's screenplay is infamous for its frustrating finale. I won't say how it ended in case you wanted to see it for yourself, but I will say it's one of the worse endings I've seen. The choices some characters made for the finale and its lack of tension were enough to make me groan in disbelief and frustration.
Now, when I say that the film was underwhelming, I mean that it's not that scary. "Firestarter" is known for showcasing some disturbing depictions of people being set on fire. It is a terrifying sight that might leave you feeling uneasy, especially when the fire is caused by a young girl. The 2022 reboot retains that representation, but the direction towards it lacked the wild impact it was going for, resulting in these scenes being forgettable and grimly tedious. There were also a couple of scenes where the editing looked a bit clumsy. It's almost like they shortened specific sequences to fit its 94-minute runtime, resulting in it being a rushed mess.
Overall, the 2022 adaptation of "Firestarter" is a wasted opportunity that immediately bursts into flames, but not in a good way. Despite the talent on board, the film is a disdainful and trope-heavy assault on what Stephen King delivered in his novel more than 40 years ago. From its weak storytelling and boring characters to its insulting conclusion, the film gains the reputation of being surprisingly worse than the 1984 version. It definitely deserves to be burned for its crime against King's work. This should've been something that'll set the world on fire, but instead, it only made a tiny fizzle and nothing else.
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. Releasing on May 6, 2022, the film has Stephen Strange facing a new threat after casting a forbidden spell that opens the multiverse.
The film is directed by Sam Raimi, who also directed films such as "The Evil Dead", "Darkman", "The Gift", "Spider-Man", and "Oz the Great and Powerful". It is the sequel to the 2016 film "Doctor Strange" and the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The multiverse has always been a concept that people knew absolutely nothing about. Since it's recently been unleashed on our universe, I guess now would be a good time for them to start learning. With the release of Disney+ shows "Loki" and "What If" and the MCU's previous theatrical outing "Spider-Man: No Way Home", the multiverse is officially front and center in the massive superhero blockbuster franchise. It displays multiple opportunities for fresh ideas and possible returns of former Marvel actors from previous years. It also inspired the likes of Sony and Warner Brothers to get a piece of that multiverse cake. This weekend sees another superhero confronting the multiple bizarre universes, and it's the one who brought them here in the first place. I guess that's what happens when you use a magic spell to try to help a web-slinging high school teen. This latest installment in the MCU marks the first time we see the franchise kickstart the summer movie season since 2019 due to the pandemic. Additionally, the film marks the first directorial effort for Sam Raimi since 2013, when he helmed "Oz the Great and Powerful", and his first superhero movie since the original Spider-Man trilogy. This is a splendid change of pace for the filmmaker after only producing some cruddy movies for almost a decade, save for "Don't Breathe" and "Crawl", which I would highly recommend. Plus, I enjoyed some of Raimi's previous films and his unique approach to the horror elements, so it's a no-brainer that I was ecstatic to see what terrifying tricks he's got for the superhero sequel. I also had a blast watching Doctor Strange perform plenty of incredible magic in his previous outings, especially his first solo film in 2016. So was this trip through the multiverse crazy enough to start this year's summer movie season, or was it an overblown mess that's more maddening than madness? Let's find out.
The story once again follows Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch), a Master of the Mystic Arts. He's struggling with the actions he performed in his previous adventures, mainly the one where he opened up the multiverse in "Spider-Man: No Way Home". One day, he and his friend Wong (Wong) encountered a teenager named America Chavez (Gomez), who has the ability to travel between dimensions. She's on the run from those who want to use her power for nefarious purposes. This puts Strange on a dangerous mission to protect Chavez, which leads them on an adventure through the multiverse. During his quest, Strange comes face to face with Wanda Maximoff (Olsen), a former Avenger gone rogue, a mysterious group called the Illuminati, and his former mentor-turned enemy Karl Mordo (Ejiofor).
One of the things that maintain the franchise's freshness is the exploration of distinctive sides of Marvel's larger-than-life universe. "Doctor Strange" invited audiences to the world of the mystic arts and introduced them to the dimensions beyond our own. As a result, the film is a trippy yet exciting superhero origin movie where the visuals served a vital role in the story and world-building. "Multiverse of Madness" expands upon this part of the universe by delving deeper into the multiverse and injecting plenty of horror elements into the MCU sequel. Since the franchise did pretty well in combining different genres with superhero elements, it's no surprise that it wanted to provide more creepy stuff in the strange world of magic. Plus, with the multiverse still playing a significant role in the franchise's fourth phase, the possibilities for this film seemed to be endless, especially after the experience that was "Spider-Man: No Way Home". Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness", but that doesn't mean I didn't have a good time watching the strangeness unfold.
Despite being another installment where the multiverse comes into play, the movie offers a contained story that continues the arcs introduced in the previous projects and envisions a surprisingly darker take on the concept. So if you're hoping to see the characters visit tons of different universes or witness hundreds of cameos from the other Marvel properties, you might be a bit disappointed with this movie's direction compared to "No Way Home". Although, the Illuminati did compensate for its lack of huge surprises. However, if you just want a straightforward superhero sequel filled with dazzling visuals and immersive action, "Multiverse of Madness" offers enough in its plot, world-building, and style to please plenty of Marvel fans. My only concern with its storyline is that it features crucial elements from the other MCU properties, mainly "WandaVision" on Disney+. So it does provide a challenge for Sam Raimi and screenwriter Michael Waldron (who also wrote the Disney+ series "Loki") to explore those details for people who haven't watched those installments. Fortunately, they managed to make it work by briefly referencing those events without breaking the film's pace. It shows that you don't have to watch "WandaVision" or the other Marvel projects to understand "Multiverse of Madness", but they are necessary to get the full emotional context of the characters, especially Wanda.
Aside from that, the story may not reach the usual heights of the other MCU follow-ups like "The Winter Soldier" regarding the narrative choices. However, it does deliver some terrifyingly good fun without overusing the genre tropes, like the jump scares. Yes, there is plenty of jump scares in the film, but don't worry. They're utilized very well by Raimi, who's no stranger to the horror genre. More importantly, the plot has compelling character arcs that work in providing some decent emotional weight, even though some of them aren't as effective as others. First, you have Stephen Strange, who's still reeling over the decision to protect the world instead of being with his former lover Christine Palmer (McAdams) and his fear of expressing his feelings towards her. Then, you have one of the new characters, America Chavez, who's afraid of her powers and has trust issues. Finally, there's Wanda, aka the "Scarlet Witch", whose personal quest puts the entire multiverse in danger. Wanda's arc continues to be one of the more intriguing parts of the franchise, as it further explores her journey of grief and loss that began in "Age of Ultron". As someone who witnessed every installment involving the character, I thought this film did a great job building up this character from her previous misadventures. Additionally, I would give big props to Elizabeth Olsen for fully committing to her performance as Wanda regarding her character's complex emotions and obsessions.
Benedict Cumberbatch also did exceptionally well with his performance as Stephen, further proving himself to be one of the best casting choices in the franchise. Xochitl Gomez, known for her role in the Netflix series "The Baby-Sitters Club", had a lot of shoes to fill for her role as America. America is another lesser-known character from the comics making a first appearance in the MCU. Not only that, but it is also Gomez's first big role in a feature film, let alone a superhero blockbuster. It's safe to say that she fit those shoes effectively. Gomez's performance was spot on, and her character offered enough solid moments to continue her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Another element I enjoyed the most was the direction. It's easy to notice that the film has Raimi's name written all over it. You have the immersive framework, its unique transitions, the frantic nature of the editing and visuals, its grim and violent tone, and some frightening imagery. This was marketed to be the MCU's first horror movie, and man, was it able to prove me right. Scott Derrickson did a decent job combining the superhero elements with some scary moments in the first film. However, for the sequel, Sam Raimi took the combination a step further by making it more disturbing than ever while still retaining the magic and action that made the predecessor an enjoyable ride. Although I will say that its dark tone and violent sequences may turn off some younger fans of Marvel, so you might want to think twice before taking your kids to this film.
In "Doctor Strange", the visual effects expressed some creativity in its surreal spells, action sequences, and immersive dimensional settings. The bizarre imagination that the film provided helped overshadow the formula we've seen in the other superhero-origin movies. While the visuals in "Multiverse of Madness" didn't have the same wow factor as the ones in its predecessor, they still work in providing some eye-catching action sequences and creepy images. I also didn't mind the musical score by Danny Elfman, who previously provided music for Raimi's previous films like "Spider-Man".
Overall, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" continues the franchise's long-running streak with a mind-bending and frighteningly bizarre sequel that's visually appealing and consistently entertaining. It has some minor issues in its spellbook that kept it from reaching top-tier Marvel gold regarding its execution, but it compensates by being a satisfying piece of superhero entertainment. From its impressive cast to Raimi's visual flair, this recent trip to the multiverse is a terrifyingly delightful treat, even though it doesn't reach the full amount of madness as I would expect it to be. It also serves as an excellent comeback for Marvel's tradition of starting the summer movie season with a bang. The film is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy some of Raimi's previous directorial efforts and Cumberbatch's portrayal of the Mystic Arts sorcerer.
“Memory” stars Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce, Monica Bellucci, Taj Atwal, Ray Fearon, Harold Torres, and Ray Stevenson. Released on April 29, 2022, the film is about an expert assassin who struggles with severe memory loss.
The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed films such as “Edge of Darkness”, “GoldenEye”, “Casino Royale”, and “The Foreigner”. It is based on the novel De Zaak Alzheimer by Jef Geeraerts and a remake of the Belgian film “The Alzheimer Case”. People just can’t get enough of Neeson’s action-packed antics, which is one of the things we’ll never forget for a long time. As usual, we’ve reached the calm before the storm this weekend, and that storm is the multiverse of madness. There aren’t any big movies that dare to open the week before Marvel takes over the month of May, so leave it to good ol’ Liam Neeson to fill that void. In addition to being Neeson’s second outing this year, the film is also the latest to be helmed by Martin Campbell, whose last project, “The Protege”, didn’t make much of an impression in my eyes. It’s far from terrible, but it isn’t something that packs a huge punch either. So now the filmmaker is hoping to give audiences something to remember because we don’t want another “Green Lantern” incident on his hands. With that said, let’s see if this latest thriller offers enough memorable moments to satisfy us before the summer movie season.
The story follows Alex Lewis (Neeson), a skilled assassin working for a dangerous criminal organization. While his expert skills are nothing but impressive, Alex has one weakness that affects his duties: he has memory loss. When he refuses to kill a young teen due to his code to not murder kids, the organization immediately puts a target on Alex’s head, forcing him to go on the run. Additionally, he’s hunted down by the FBI, led by Vincent Serra (Pearce), and Mexican intelligence. During his quest for vengeance, Alex is constantly affected by his faltering memory, making him question his every move and whom he can trust.
Do you guys remember Dory, a famous character from “Finding Nemo” who also suffers from memory loss? Imagine her being a ruthless killer instead of a fish, and behold, you get “Memory”, an action-packed thriller that sees the central character taking out bad people and trying to remember his hotel room number. Of course, killing people is what Neeson did in every thriller he’s been in for years, and this film shows that things haven’t changed, for better or worse. The only exciting part of this formula is that Neeson’s character Alex has advanced Alzheimer’s, which gradually affects his memory as the film progresses. So this seemed like a perfect opportunity to provide intriguing twists and stakes for the character and the scenario. But, of course, it is a Liam Neeson thriller I’m dealing with, so I shouldn’t expect too much out of its plot, especially after what happened with the actor’s previous film “Blacklight”. Unfortunately, even with my expectations set on neutral, “Memory” still managed to leave a disappointing impression on me.
The film’s story focuses on two characters. One of them is Alex, who’s on a quest to murder every member of the human trafficking syndicate while dealing with his faltering memory. The other is Vincent Serra, who’s tasked to hunt down the person responsible for the murders. Both characters had riveting arcs that provided suitable thrills and enjoyability in their manhunts. But, of course, it’s easy to admit that the plot is an uninspired carbon copy of much better thrillers, and its storytelling is understandably mundane. The movie also came close to overstaying its welcome by a couple of minutes, especially when considering its pacing. Nonetheless, I enjoyed some moments in the film’s first two acts, more so than “Blacklight”.
However, the movie’s potential to be somewhat average faded away as quickly as Alex’s memory when the final act comes into play. It went in a different direction that ultimately betrays the elements set up in the two acts, resulting in a disappointingly dull mess that only made its formula worse than before. Even its twists near the end weren’t enough to regain some excitement in its stale narrative. I don’t mind certain movies going in different directions in their climaxes as long as they have something that’s worth my time. Sadly, “Memory” does not have that. There’s also a slight chance that the third act may disappoint specific Neeson fans, depending on their expectations. Without giving anything away, I was pretty saddened when that one twist happened.
Now, that’s not to say that Martin Campbell is to blame, as he’s only hired to bring this story to life with his vision. Campbell was an acceptable choice in providing the movie’s presentation regarding the style and action scenes. While I still think his direction in “Casino Royale” and “The Foreigner” was better, Campbell offers enough intensity in “Memory” to keep me engaged until he took a nosedive in the third act. I would also not blame the cast, mainly Liam Neeson. They all did the best they could to keep the movie going, even though their performances were anything but spectacular. Neeson delivers the usual standards as he did in his other films regarding his role as Alex. It’s nothing too special, but I’m sure it’ll satisfy plenty of the actor’s fans regardless. Guy Pearce also turned in a respectable performance as Vincent, which helps make the character’s arc as interesting as Alex’s. The only thing I’m blaming for the film is its screenplay by Dario Scardapane. It had some exciting things that I hoped would pay off in the end, but then it quickly wasted them with an underwhelming and head-scratching finale that felt more frustrating than shocking.
Overall, “Memory” may have some tolerable moments in its presentation, but they’re not enough to make this lackluster thriller worth remembering. Despite the efforts made by the cast and director, the film squandered its intriguing premise in favor of a run-of-the-mill and soulless Neeson vehicle that serves as another low point for the actor and filmmaker Martin Campbell. With its formulaic plot, weak screenplay, runtime, and a frustratingly dull finale, the movie is nothing but a faded memory. I did find it a tad better than “Blacklight”, but that’s not saying much. If you like Neeson as an action star, you might find some enjoyment in this one, even though you might forget about it in a day or two. Otherwise, you’re better off saving your money for the big summer blockbusters, including the new Doctor Strange movie.
“The Northman” stars Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe. Released on April 22, 2022, the film is about a prince who goes on a perilous journey to avenge his father.
The film was directed by Robert Eggers, who also directed “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse”. The story of Hamlet has been told multiple times throughout history in many different types of media. Whether it’s through film, books, or television, William Shakespeare’s tale of revenge has lived on as one of the author’s most iconic works of all time. Most of the adaptations we got aren’t precisely direct adaptations of the source material, but they did take inspiration from it, especially Disney’s “The Lion King”. I mean, where else did that film originate from? “Kimba the White Lion”? Today, we have another movie that’s inspired by the Shakespearean tale, mainly from the legend of Amleth, and it’s set in a world filled with Vikings and revenge-seeking warriors. Don’t expect this one to feature characters breaking into song every few minutes. This film sees acclaimed filmmaker Robert Eggers stepping away from the horror genre for the first time in favor of helming a historical epic filled with violence and vengeance. However, he still has the same dreary nightmarish style that made him a household name. I became a fan of Eggers after watching one of my favorite films of 2019, “The Lighthouse”. His directorial debut, “The Witch”, was decent, but his terrifyingly nerve-racking sophomore debut was what really got me intrigued with his talent. So I was pretty excited to see him take on another movie that’s more action-driven than his previous efforts. Plus, who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned revenge film set thousands of years before technology? With that in mind, let’s dive into this brutal world and see if it marks another strong hit for the filmmaker.
The story takes place in A.D. 895 and follows Amleth (Skarsgård), the prince of the Irish coast kingdom and the son of King Aurvandill War-Raven (Hawke) and Queen Gudrún (Kidman). After returning from his conquest overseas, Aurvandill decides to bestow his responsibilities to Amleth. One day, masked warriors sent by Aurvandill’s brother Fjölnir (Bang) ambush the father/son duo, with Fjölnir murdering the king in cold blood and seizing the kingdom. After escaping, Amleth is eventually found by a band of Vikings and raised among them as a berserker. Years later, Amleth treks across the dangerous lands to avenge his father’s death and save his mother from his selfish uncle. During his quest, he comes across several characters, including Olga of the Birch Forest (Taylor-Joy), a Slavic sorceress.
The movie is basically “Hamlet” in the Viking era, in which Amleth comes of age while journeying through Hell to overthrow a family member. From my perspective, I would identify it as an R-rated “Lion King” without any talking animals and musical numbers. Instead, this Shakespeare-inspired historical epic presents only death, violence, sorcery, and despair for the adults to witness. I heard plenty of people saying that it reminded them of “Braveheart”, but since I haven’t watched that film yet, I can’t tell if I agree with this comparison or not.
“The Northman” has the look and feel of an epic blockbuster that consists of a revenge plot and action set pieces to get people’s hearts pumping. However, the movie represents more than just your ordinary fantasy adventure. It’s along the lines of a complex, character-driven action drama about a former prince driven by vengeance and trauma. It’s an old-fashioned revenge tale about a man internally tormented by his past and seeking to find peace within himself while avenging his father. This direction serves as both a strength and weakness depending on what people prefer. Like Eggers’s previous movies, “The Northman” is an arthouse film disguised as a modern genre movie that drives people to the cinemas. They believed that they were getting a blood-knuckled historical action blockbuster. Instead, they got a slow-paced, dialogue-driven, and weirdly disturbing action drama that happens to look like a modern blockbuster. The people who wanted the former would possibly find it either boring, alienating, or both. However, other people might enjoy it for its distinctive narrative and originality.
I belong in the group that didn’t mind “The Northman” being an arthouse blockbuster, mainly because I loved every minute of this incredibly bizarre and magnetically absorbing revenge epic. Sure, the pacing, small amount of action scenes, and its two-hour-plus runtime may be mind-numbing for modern audiences, but they rarely reach the point where they make the film an aimless snooze-fest. At least, from my perspective. Every scene is a bleak and majestic piece of eye candy that resembles cinematic art through its production design, lighting, creepy imagery, and visual effects. It also helps when it has an engaging and somehow poetic plot. Those things make for another unique and visually enthralling experience from one of the most imaginative filmmakers in recent memory.
Additionally, the cast was compelling enough to match the film’s masterful quality, especially the collaborators who previously worked with Eggers. Skarsgård was incredibly riveting in his role as Amleth, as he effectively captures the character’s internal pain and rage with raw intensity. Kidman and Bang also delivered some great performances as Gudrún and Fjölnir, respectively, especially the former for the one scene with Amleth alone. Anya Taylor-Joy continues to provide her impressive talent onscreen regarding her performance as Olga, and Willem Dafoe is still a delight, even though he’s not in the film that much.
Eggers is mainly known for providing distinguished visual storytelling and rich dialogue in his films regarding his direction and screenplay. However, he’s also known for delivering grimly nightmarish and unnerving scenes without relying on jump scares and over-the-top gore. While the stories may not be acceptable to everyone, the filmmaker knows how to leave a lasting impression with his quality and disturbing essence. “The Northman” is no different, with Eggers blanketing its sadistic historical period with his gloomily gorgeous vision and eye-catching imagery. The film also marks the latest collaboration between Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, following “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse”. Blaschke has delivered some of the best-looking shots in Eggers’s previous works, ranging from his still shots to the panning shots. His cinematography in “The Northman” is just as impressive as in those films. He successfully captures the fantastical and savage nature of the film’s grim world and the violence. The music by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough was also superb in capturing the aesthetics of the movie’s historical setting.
Overall, “The Northman” is a gripping revenge epic that also works as a grimly majestic piece of cinematic art. Its pacing and lack of constant action may be daunting tasks for those who dare to take on this quest. But, if they’re brave enough to make it past these obstacles, they might be rewarded with something truly remarkable. That’s what I did, and let me tell you, the reward was worth it, in my opinion. From its irresistible cast to Eggers’s incredible vision, the movie further establishes the filmmaker as the new master of cinema. So, if you loved the director’s previous works, or maybe you’re in a mood for something original, this bloody quest is definitely worth taking.
"The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" stars Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tiffany Haddish. Released on April 22, 2022, the film is about a celebrity who attends a super fan's birthday party.
The film was directed by Tom Gormican, who wrote and directed "That Awkward Moment". There's always a specific actor who's not afraid to express their energetic side, no matter the quality of their movies. There's Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy, just to name a few. However, there's one other actor who's so uniquely bizarre that he offers a new meaning of "over-the-top". That actor is Nicolas Cage. When he's not starring in serious dramas, Cage is known for being in movies that allow him to unleash his pocket full of crazy, like "Ghost Rider" and the infamous "Wicker Man" remake. While those movies are hit and miss for the actor (mostly the latter), there's no denying that Cage is one of the most entertaining actors on the planet due to his distinct acting ability. This weekend sees Cage continuing his recent comeback in the film industry with a film that has him taking on his greatest challenge yet: being himself. I enjoyed Cage in some of the movies he's been in, especially the animated ones, so it's no surprise that I was already willing to see him in action once more. Can the movie live up to the actor's unbearable weight of insanity and meet his fans' wild expectations? Let's find out.
The story follows Nicholas Cage (Cage), a famous actor on the last heels of his career after failing to get the significant role he wanted. Before calling it quits to spend time with his family, he's assigned by his agent Richard Fink (Harris) to take on his biggest role yet, and no, it's not for the third "Croods" movie. Instead, he's assigned to attend the birthday party of a billionaire named Javi Gutierrez (Pascal), a massive super-fan of the actor. Javi arranges to pay Cage one million dollars to spend an entire day with him. Unfortunately, things swiftly take a left turn when two CIA agents, Vivian (Haddish) and Martin (Barinholtz), arrive at the scene. They informed Cage that his so-called "fan" is a notorious arms dealer who's behind the kidnapping of an anti-crime politician's daughter. As a result, Cage will have to use his talent from his iconic movies to help the CIA bring Javi to justice and save his family.
The movie easily falls in the category that satirizes any part of the film industry. That includes studio businesses, shooting processes, and, more importantly, celebrities. In this case, it humorously reflects on Nicolas Cage's film career and over-the-top performance that has been capturing our hearts for years. I always appreciate these types of movies because they show that Hollywood isn't afraid to make fun of itself every once in a while, whether it's through their controversial mistakes or the audience's different perspectives on cinema. Unsurprisingly, "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" is another strong example of this category. Its mixture of entertainment values and meta-comedy makes this another gonzo treat not just for fans of the actor but also for people who grew up watching his movies.
The film is something that should've been made years ago when Cage was at the high point of his career. You know, before he starred in some very mediocre projects, including the Ghost Rider sequel. Thankfully, his recent roles in modern movies and bizarre concepts that most people miss help make "Massive Talent" feel more relevant in any decade. It works in serving as an ever-lasting gift for the people who followed him since the beginning and a good introduction of the actor for newcomers. As for the story itself, the movie is undoubtedly a wildly exciting ride that has the actor confronting a dangerous situation while attempting to reconnect with his wife (Horgan) and daughter (Lily Sheen). While it falters in its execution near the end, the plot has enough leverage in its humor, pacing, and screenplay to capitalize on the actor's on-screen presence.
The cast was also strong in providing a source of entertainment in their roles, mainly Nicolas Cage, who remains in top form, thanks to his performance as his fictionalized self. This is the movie that felt like it was made for Cage. A way for him to express his love for craziness and corny acting while fearlessly making fun of himself. This led to him delivering plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and some tiny bits of sincerity without becoming a tasteless version of himself. If you enjoy Cage when he's at his over-the-top finest, there's a good chance you'll like his performance in this movie. Pedro Pascal was also a great surprise regarding his role as Javi and his glorious chemistry with Cage. I was a bit worried that Cage would overshadow his supporting actor throughout the movie. However, my worries silently flew away after seeing him act effortlessly alongside the actor. Pascal's brand of humor helps make the "bromance" between Nick and Javi one of the best, if not the best, aspects of the movie. It also shows that Pascal can do comedy effectively with the right concept and script. Barinholtz and Haddish were also fine in their roles, even though they didn't do much besides being CIA agents.
I didn't recognize the movie's director until I did some research on him. It turns out that this is Gormican's second film as a director, with his first being "That Awkward Moment" almost ten years ago. I haven't watched that film, but it's probably for the better based on its negative reviews. Regarding the direction for "Massive Talent", I thought Gormican did a pretty good job providing the combination of the absurdness of the situation and the witty narrative. He doesn't go out of his way to inject many adult-rated vulgarities to force some laughs as most R-rated comedies do. Instead, Gormican balances the adult humor and meta-references with a story that's both sincere and contained. As a result, the film immediately puts Gormican on the right path in his directorial career.
The dramatic moments in the film, mainly the relationship between Nick and his family, were good enough to carry it to the next "bromance" scene between Javi and Nick. They may come off as predictable or, dare I say it, cheesy, but the film isn't afraid to express that. If it were to take them so seriously, then that's where it would easily fall apart. I also think the movie's third act could've been done better regarding its absurdity. While the previous acts have plenty of fun moments, its finale appeared to have run out of ideas. It's still enjoyable, but I was hoping it would do something crazy to cap it off as Cage did in his previous gonzo films.
Overall, "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" is a clever and satisfyingly delightful love letter that honors the absurdity and charm of the great Nicolas Cage. Even though it's not as highly surreal as I hoped it would be, the film is a humorously entertaining meta-comedy that pays tribute to the actor's bizarre career. With its diverting cast, solid humor, Gormican's direction, and a compelling screenplay, the movie is as untamed as Nicolas Cage himself, and that's the undeniable truth. It is worth checking out if you're a fan of the actor and his massive talent.