Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. Last time, we counted down my top ten favorite films of 2021. Now, it's time for me to list the ten movies that are as contagious as the coronavirus. These are the top ten films that left a sour taste in my mouth throughout the year. This list was about as tricky as my top ten best list. It wasn't just because of the small number of bad films I watched in 2021. It was also because of the ranking, mainly the top three movies, which were so terrible they gave me brain farts as to which one was more unforgiving than the others. Now there were a few other films that everyone thought were bad, such as "Tom & Jerry", "Space Jam: A New Legacy", and "Dear Evan Hansen" for some ridiculous reason. But I managed to find some movies that I believe deserve more hate than those I mentioned. As always, this list is in my personal opinion. If you happen to like any of my selections, that's perfectly fine. I'm always glad to see people enjoy these films more than I did, even though I don't entirely agree with their opinions. Just make sure you lock the doors at night if everyone else doesn't feel the same way. As always, you can find my selections on my "2021 Reviews" page if you want a more in-depth reason why I didn't enjoy them as much as others. With that said, let's count down the worst of the worst!
Let's start this list with a long-awaited sequel to one of the comedies that define Eddie Murphy's career, "Coming to America". "Coming 2 America" is not only another follow-up that fell extremely short of its predecessor, but it is also the top contender for the "laziest sequel title" award. The film benefited from Eddie Murphy's irresistible presence, its focus on Zamunda, and costume designs. Sadly, they're overshadowed by its familiarity, weak humor, and obsession with nostalgia over storytelling. It's a toned-down retread of the original that's not worthy enough to wear the crown.
If you think the snowy weather outside was frightful, then you haven't watched this icy dud of an action thriller. "The Ice Road" is another film that features Liam Neeson in action star mode. Nothing more, and nothing less. While his presence on screen was once again tolerable, it wasn't enough to carry the film through the ice road unscathed. Its weak supporting cast, cliched screenplay, mundane direction, and terrible visuals immediately put this forgettable thriller in the deep freeze. It's a fine watch for those who enjoy Liam Neeson as an action star, but for everyone else, it showed that the actor deserves a better movie with warmer temperatures than this.
This year, I've seen plenty of animated films that didn't match the quality that Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli offered in their movies. Some were tolerable, some were subpar, and some were downright irredeemable. "The Addams Family 2" is another example of the latter. The film is a narratively bland and uninspired animated sequel that's not as spooky as its 2019 predecessor and the live-action adaptations. The voice cast and the animation still did wonders in portraying the macabre family and their characteristics. However, they're not enough to overcome its formulaic plot, tedious humor, one-dimensional supporting characters, and weak direction. This is one road trip that's just as gloomy as the titular family, and not in a good way.
It didn't take the people from Hollywood too long to revive the "Resident Evil" franchise with a reboot. Unfortunately, it made me wish that they didn't. "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City" seeks to correct course by sticking close to the source material, mainly the first two games. The result is a mediocre and thinly-plotted reboot that might satisfy a few fans of the games and no one else. The film showcased some good intentions in its cast, atmosphere, and production design. However, they're not enough to help the horror reboot survive the zombie apocalypse. Its cheesy dialogue, weak plot, underwhelming direction, and rushed finale made me realize that it's time for this horror franchise to stay dead.
You would think that Ben Falcone couldn't go as low as his last feature, "Superintelligence", but this film happened to prove us wrong. "Thunder Force" was Falcone's latest collaboration with his wife Melissa McCarthy that lacks the power and the humor to punch its way to victory. Like "Superintelligence", the film took an intriguing concept and squandered it into a generic and forgettable mess. Despite some okay moments in its cast and action, "Thunder Force" was quickly defeated by its cliched script, mediocre humor, and Falcone's poor direction. Remind Nick Fury not to let Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer join the Avengers.
There's no doubt that I was always interested in seeing unique takes of the fairy tale formula thanks to the "Shrek" franchise. Unfortunately, the movies that tried to copy the DreamWorks Animation classic's formula weren't as magical as a bag full of fairy dust. My number five pick for the worst of 2021 happened to join that list, which is "Charming". I know it came out three years ago, but it was first released in Spain, and it didn't get a United States release until 2021, when Netflix picked it up. Because of that and the fact that I live in the U.S.A., I will count that as a 2021 release. You probably haven't heard of this little animated stinker, and to be honest, you're better off not knowing what it is. Despite its okay-ish animation and a fitting message about love, "Charming" is a charmless and painfully mediocre fairy tale that suffers from its dull story, forgettable characters, weak performances, and an unbearable script. This is one tale that you don't want to read to your kids.
What could've been an intriguing and unique sci-fi approach on reincarnation turned out to be a bland eyesore that's infinitely boring. Out of the original movies released on Paramount+ this year, Antoine Fuqua's "Infinite" was undeniably the worst thing to come out of the streaming service. Despite its okay action scenes, the sci-fi action film was a dull and incoherent imitation of the well-received films that came before it, mainly "The Matrix". Fuqua's direction was weak, the characters were uninteresting and wooden, the plot was inconsistent, and Mark Wahlberg delivered his worst performance of his career so far. It's an endless cycle of badness after badness, resulting in the movie being the low point for Wahlberg and Fuqua.
"The Forever Purge" is another installment that refuses to let the popular horror franchise die. Whether you like these movies or not, you can tell how unnecessary and tasteless this latest sequel was regarding the current state we're in now. The cast and its political themes, including immigration, were dumbed down by its soulless scares, by-the-numbers storytelling, and mediocre characters. Unfortunately for us, they're already working on making more "Purge" films as of this writing, which means it'll be a while until we see the end of these senseless acts of violence.
"Home Alone 3" started the unfortunate trend of mediocre sequels that failed to capitalize on the success of John Hughes' comedy classic and its sequel. "Home Sweet Home Alone" managed to make this trend even worse than before. Released as part of Disney+'s second anniversary, the sixth installment in the "Home Alone" franchise was an unpleasant and unrewarding sequel that didn't understand why the first film was beloved in the first place. However, I would give it credit for providing a couple of fresh ideas to spice up its formula, such as injecting some sympathy into the "burglars". Unfortunately, the execution for these ideas was about as torturous and humorless as the traps themselves. The cast was mediocre, Mazer's direction was mundane, the characters were unlikeable (mainly Max), and the comedy was forgettable. Not only was it the worst film to appear on Disney+, but it was also an unnecessary follow-up that left a massive dent on the beloved holiday comedy franchise.
I've constantly been switching the top two films for weeks, figuring out which movie is worse than the other. It's a struggle that's just as stressful as finding the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone. After thinking it over for a while, I have finally decided which one deserves the top spot in my least favorite list. The only thing that I despise more than COVID-19 and the previous movies I mentioned this year is Chris Rock hunting the Jigsaw copycat killer. Like "The Purge", "Saw" is another horror franchise that overstayed its grisly welcome with its tasteless violence and lackluster storytelling. The only evidence I needed to prove that theory was the latest installment in this twisted and gory film series: "Spiral". Long story short, if you've watched the previous "Saw" films, then you've already seen "Spiral", a repetitive and unoriginal cash-grab that wasted its talented cast, ideas, and my time. Despite a fresh direction and some promising elements, the film heavily relied on the tiring formula that quickly wore itself thin instead of taking advantage of its new ideas. From its unlikeable characters to its lackluster thrills and kills, "Spiral" is a surefire sign that the game needs to end before it does any more damage to the brand. In my eyes, it is the worst installment in the ultra-violent franchise, and it is also my biggest stink pile of 2021.
That concludes my top ten least favorite films of 2021, thus ending another year filled with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of cinematic art. The same goes for everything else that happened outside of our movie-going experience. If there's a bright side I could find regarding my list, it's that these films did what they could to impress their target audience, even though their flaws were as irritating as being isolated in our homes. As I mentioned before, this was a hard list to make because of the number of terrible movies I watched this year compared to the many fantastic ones. But I gathered enough willpower to complete it before reaching the new year. With that in mind, I hope you enjoyed the hard work I put into making this list, and as always, have a safe and happy new year.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. It's that time of year once again, ladies and gentlemen. 2021 is reaching its end, and we're already looking forward to 2022. That means it's time for me to count down my ten favorite films of the year. As usual, there were a ton of movies released both in theaters and on streaming services that I enjoyed, more so than others, but only ten of them are perfect enough to make it onto my list. I'm also going to include a couple of films that were released last year before expanding wide in 2021. The question is, which ones will be on my top ten list? As usual, this is my personal top ten list. Some of you may agree with my choices, and others may not. That's the magic of having opinions. Also, I want to apologize in advance for not being able to see all of the movies that came out recently before making this list, including "Nightmare Alley", "The Power of the Dog", and "Don't Look Up". I heard many good things about them, but I couldn't find the right time to watch them. Don't worry. I'm still planning on reviewing them soon. If you want to know more about why I adored the films on my list, you can search for them on my "2021 Reviews" page. With that in mind, let's not waste any more time. Let's get to the countdown!
Let's start the countdown with the recent adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, courtesy of Mr. Steven Spielberg himself. "West Side Story" was a remarkable experience from start to finish in my eyes. Not just because it was my first exposure to the source material, it's also because it's a superbly-directed and highly engaging musical that honors the narrative and themes. The only reasons it's sitting at the bottom of my list were its beefy length and Ansel Elgort's average performance as Tony. Other than that, it's a thought-provoking and tragic love story that boasts significantly from its cast, Spielberg's old-fashioned style, Leonard Bernstein's score, and lively musical numbers. Unfortunately, it's one of the recent movie musicals that sadly went unnoticed due to its underperformance at the box office. Hopefully, it'll get more attention once the Oscars roll in.
After bringing "Blade Runner" back to the big screen, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve is back to revise another science-fiction epic from our childhoods, and boy was it a grand one. Not only was "Dune" a significant improvement over David Lynch's 1984 adaptation, but it was also a well-crafted and majestically immersive first half of Frank Herbert's novel. Its cast was engaging, the technical aspects were incredible regarding the scope, and Hans Zimmer's score was delightful. If you want another reason why Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, watch this fantastic movie. I hope he continues that success with next year's sequel.
Since it acquired 20th Century Fox, Disney has been having plenty of issues connecting audiences to the former's recent titles regarding the box office. My number eight pick, however, managed to be an exception. "Free Guy" can be seen as an entertaining piece of escapism from director Shawn Levy, but it is also a hilarious and thoughtful allegory about life. Ryan Reynolds delivered one of his best performances in his career, its satirized humor was balanced well with its heartfelt moments and visuals, and Levy's direction was lively and effortful. It may not reach the high score, but it earned enough points for me to place it on my list.
2021 saw three Sony Pictures Animation films being released on Netflix due to the pandemic: "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", "Wish Dragon", and "Vivo". These three films continue the animation studio's quest to compete with Disney and DreamWorks with stellar results. But only one was able to rise above the rest, and that is "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", my seventh favorite film of 2021. I usually put a Disney film in my top ten list just like I did every other year, but like "Into the Spider-Verse", this film managed to be great enough to earn its place on my list. While I did enjoy "Wish Dragon" and "Vivo", "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" was top-tier animation gold regarding its visual uniqueness and storytelling. It's incredibly entertaining, intelligently hilarious, and heartwarmingly relatable. From its delightful voice cast to its imaginative animation, the film gleefully celebrates the power of weirdness and a connection more reliable than the internet.
The Williams sisters have maintained their success in tennis for years, and it's all thanks to their father. "King Richard" brilliantly showcased Richard Williams' journey through its excellent cast and infectious spirit. Will Smith turned in an incredible performance as Richard. The narrative was thoughtful and full of heart despite its sports biopic formula. The cast's chemistry was as refreshing as the sisters' tennis skills. It's an uplifting and well-directed sports drama that should get Reinaldo Marcus Green more directorial gigs in the future.
The legend of King Arthur has been told through different types of media for many generations. This film offered a new tale that centered on his nephew and his own accomplishment, and the result is undeniably incredible. David Lowery's "The Green Knight" is a visually striking and thought-provoking medieval epic that succeeds in its scope and narrative. However, it can be a slow burn for modern moviegoers due to its runtime and lack of high-stakes action. Regardless, the film was a marvelous piece of medieval cinema regarding its cast, Lowery's filmmaking style, and fantastic technical qualities.
Okay, I know that my number four pick was released in 2020, but I wasn't able to watch the film earlier since it was in a small number of theaters during that time. So I had to wait until next year to witness this critically acclaimed drama for myself. I'm happy to say that the wait was worth it. "Minari" saw writer/director Lee Isaac Chung depict a fictional portrayal of his upbringing in the rural United States. The result is a gorgeous and authentic piece of lifestyle cinema that shows that rural living isn't what it's cracked up to be. Thanks to its splendid cast, Chung's ambitious direction, a remarkable screenplay, and sublime cinematography, the film is an endearing and heartfelt drama that reminds us about the importance of life and family.
This is another movie that came out last year before it expanded wide in 2021. But since I watched it this year, I'm counting it as a 2021 movie. Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" is another slice-of-life drama that's worth supporting for its authentic storytelling and brilliant filmmaking skills. What made it a bit better than "Minari" in my eyes was that Zhao truly understood the basics of a nomad lifestyle, both the good and the bad. Because of that, it became a sentimental and grounded portrait of people living life on the open road. Of course, it wasn't without its tiny issues with its pacing and repetition. Still, its brilliant cast, Zhao's direction, and gorgeous cinematography made "Nomadland" a beautifully delicate experience that honors those people and showcases Zhao as one of the most ambitious filmmakers to date.
What do you get when you combine Larson's creative struggle with many musical numbers and Lin-Manuel Miranda? You get "Tick, Tick… Boom!", another fantastic musical that explodes with energy, emotion, and songs. Andrew Garfield was undeniably brilliant in his role as Jonathan Larson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has proved himself to be an impressive director regarding his infectious liveliness. Along with its supporting cast, musical numbers, and compelling storytelling, this is one production that deserves your time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started the year on the right foot with a slew of enjoyable streaming shows for Disney+ and a couple of decent films that introduced some new heroes to its audience. So it's a no-brainer to see the franchise attempting to finish the year strong with another crowd-pleasing experience that hopes to rival "Avengers: Endgame". What better way to do that than with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? It was a challenging mission to accomplish, but the MCU team managed to pull it off with flying colors. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" not only works as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Marvel fans, but it also works as an emotionally driven and visually riveting conclusion to the webhead's MCU trilogy. The story was well-balanced with its fan service and blockbuster aspects. The cast was irresistibly charming, the characters were nicely developed, and the direction in its action and drama was handled incredibly well. In addition, it served as an incredible love letter to the people who have followed Spider-Man for years, whether it's from the movies, television, comics, or even video games. It's a fantastic Spider-Man sequel that's also my favorite film of 2021.
There you have it, folks. Those are my ten favorite films of 2021. While it sucks that we're still waiting for things to go back to normal, I'm glad that we had some great movies this year to keep us from going insane. Again, I apologize for not being able to see every film that came out before making this list. That's what happens when I try to balance my movie-going schedule with my personal life. Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for the next episode of "Movie Talk", where I share my top ten stinkers of 2021.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. The DC Extended Universe has many interesting stories behind the scenes, but none of them intrigued me more than the "Justice League" scenario. In 2013, visionary director Zack Snyder was brought on board to helm a retelling of Superman's origin story. That came to be known as "Man of Steel". Despite receiving a polarizing response from critics and audiences, the film became a financial hit, resulting in Warner Brothers fast-tracking a DC cinematic universe to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What happened afterward is where things got a little…troublesome. The next two films in the DC Extended Universe, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad", were met with generally negative reviews from critics and fans even though they gained a respectable amount of money at the box office. Although the "Wonder Woman" film managed to become the best-reviewed installment in the franchise, so there's that. But the studio's problems didn't get worse until the release of "Justice League" in November 2017, not just the film in general, but also what happened behind the scenes. During production, Zack Snyder left the project altogether when his daughter committed suicide in March 2017. As a result, Warner Brothers hired Joss Whedon, the man who helmed "Marvel's The Avengers" and was responsible for rewriting the "Justice League" script, to take over as an uncredited director. Whedon's direction happened to be brighter and more humorous than Snyder's darker style for the DC Extended Universe. Sadly, that direction proved to be far more disastrous than the "dark and broody" aspect. When it premiered in November 2017, the film became a critical and financial disappointment, resulting in Warner Brothers losing around $60 million. It was heavily criticized by reviewers and DC fans for its writing, tone, characters, and over-reliance on CGI, officially derailing Snyder's "Justice League" arc for good. This resulted in the studio changing course to focus more on making standalone franchises in the DC universe, like "Aquaman", "Shazam", and the upcoming "Batman" reboot with Robert Pattinson.
After the release of "Justice League", or "Josstice League" as fans like to call it now, an online petition was created to tell the studio to release the "Snyder Cut" of the film. What seemed to be another pointless petition by a so-called "fan" turned out to be a revolution as multiple people showed support for the movement. After years of outcry and a bunch of clues showcasing the existence of Snyder's original cut, the studio finally decided to allow Snyder to finish what he had started, and the rest is history. So the moral of the story is that if you complain long and hard enough, you'll get what you want. It worked for the Sonic design, and it worked for the "Snyder Cut". Fans are weird sometimes. This was something that caught me by surprise after everything that happened with the original cut. Even though I enjoyed watching "Justice League" when it first came out, I can understand why people weren't that impressed with it in the first place. When I first found out that the Snyder cut of "Justice League" is officially moving forward, I became intrigued and excited, mostly the former. I was delighted to hear that Zack Snyder was given a chance to release his own version of the film as an HBO Max original. However, I was also interested in finding out whether it'll make much of a difference or not in terms of quality. It made a difference with the extended version of "Batman v Superman", so the same could be said with "Zack Snyder's Justice League", right? In today's episode of "Movie Talk", I will be finding the answer to that question as I take a look at Snyder's own version of one of the more divisive films in the DC Extended Universe.
Before I begin, allow me to bring you up to speed on what "Justice League" is about in case you haven't seen it. The film featured an all-star cast that consists of Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller. The film's story takes place after the events of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice", where Batman (Affleck) attempts to unite the other heroes with special abilities following Superman's (Cavill) death. Those heroes consist of Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Momoa), The Flash (Miller), and Cyborg (Fisher). These heroes must learn to become a team to protect the world from the vicious Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, along with his army of Parademons, seek the three Mother Boxes on Earth. The director's cut of "Justice League" obviously has the same plot as the 2017 version, but it also offers a lot more content that Snyder had initially intended to include in his film before he left. It has many additional scenes, new characters, and plenty of world-building elements that tease the upcoming installments in the DC Extended Universe. This resulted in its runtime being a whopping four hours compared to the original's two hours. Not only that, but it also got a rating upgrade because of the additional content. Instead of the kid-friendly PG-13 rating that Joss Whedon's version had, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" got slapped with an R rating due to its amount of violence and language. Prepare to hear Batman drop the F-bomb. Now an R-rated DC Extended Universe film is nothing entirely new as "Birds of Prey" was just released with an R rating last year, and that was the original cut. The extended edition of "Batman v Superman", which Snyder directed, was also released with an R rating. As usual, an R rating doesn't always translate into a good film, let alone an upgrade to a PG-13 rated property. See the "Hellboy" reboot and the 2020 version of "The Grudge" for example. It's the storytelling quality that determines whether or not the film is watchable for its audience. Because of its runtime, the film is divided into six chapters, or parts, for the HBO Max release as well as an epilogue so that viewers can take some small breaks during their viewings. Since I already did a full-on movie review of the original cut of "Justice League", I will be doing something different for the director's cut. I will be looking at the individual parts one by one (with or without spoilers) and then give my overall thoughts on the film based on my thoughts on them. That way, it will be easier for me to talk about it in full detail rather than watch it all the way through and then do a review format on it. I'm okay watching a film that's between two-and-a-half and three hours long in one sitting, but a film that's over that limit? That's not happening. If you haven't watched "Justice League" already, please do so before you read any further, whether it's the 2017 version or Snyder's own version. Anyway, without further ado, let's dive right back into the DC "Snyderverse" and see if it really is the definitive version of "Justice League".
Part 1: Don't Count on It, Batman
Let's kick this experience off with the first 30 minutes of the director's cut. Following the title sequence that represents Superman's death scream being heard from across the globe, part one showcases extended sequences of scenes that were in the original "Justice League" cut, such as Bruce Wayne convincing Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, to join his team, Wonder Woman saving the children from terrorists, and the battle between the Amazonians and Steppenwolf. "Don't Count on It, Batman" immediately sets the stage of what viewers will expect in the remaining chapters in terms of the technical aspects. The aspect ratio was different, the lighting and tone were more muted, it's more violent, and the dialogue has been changed to fit Snyder's style. Heck, even the musical score was changed for the director's cut. Instead of Danny Elfman from the original cut, the score in "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was composed by Tom Holkenborg, also known as Junkie XL. The score reflects more on the emotion in its epic scope than the light-hearted "Avengers"-like tone. It reminded me a bit of the music from "300", especially during the Amazonian sequence, but in a good way. The big highlight of part one, in my opinion, was the Wonder Woman sequence in which she battles the terrorists. In terms of Snyder's direction, the scene successfully showcased how violent and intense the filmmaker intended to represent in his own version. Also, I found it cool to see Wonder Woman kick some butt in R-rated fashion. I would also like to mention Steppenwolf, who got a major makeover from the original version. His armor was more detailed and spikier than his original design, and he's much more ruthless when it comes to his personality. While the CGI for Steppenwolf was still noticeable at times, I like what they did with this version of Steppenwolf so far, thanks to Hinds' menacing performance. Whether or not his role will change will depend on the rest of the parts that follow. Overall, "Don't Count on It, Batman" is a solid beginning to this four-hour-long heroic journey. It instantly showed that this isn't Joss Whedon's "Justice League" or even DC's "The Avengers". This is "Zack Snyder's Justice League", plain and simple.
Part 2: The Age of Heroes
The second part is where the expanded story truly shines. "The Age of Heroes" included a much larger perspective on not just the heroes but also its world-building and the villains. Part 2 has Bruce and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) continuing to search for more heroes. At the same time, Diana discovers the greater danger that's to come thanks to the fire arrow sent by the Amazonians. This segment offered more insight on specific elements such as S.T.A.R. labs, Steppenwolf's backstory, and Bruce's redemption arc after Superman's death. It also introduced some characters that didn't appear in the original cut, including Arthur's mentor Nuidis (played by Willem Dafoe), DeSaad (Peter Guinness), and the big bad God himself Darkseid (portrayed by Ray Porter via motion capture). I want to point out that I was really impressed with the design of Darkseid. He's exactly what I imagined him to be like in live-action form. Menacing and frightening. How much screen time he'll have after this part remains to be seen. I also liked the scene between Arthur and Nuidis, mostly because of how it sets up Arthur's path that's later explored in the solo film. It didn't feel like an unnecessary addition since the film has elements that teased the other DC films that came after it. The flashback sequence showcasing the war between Darkseid and the "Defenders of Earth" was also nicely detailed and shot in terms of the cinematography and script. Some of the CGI was still far from perfect, but it compensates by giving the viewers more understanding of its history. Then there's Steppenwolf himself, who happens to have a much bigger purpose compared to his role in the original version. Instead of him being a by-the-numbers villain, he's now a threatening and determined villain who seeks to end his banishment from Darkseid by collecting the Mother Boxes and enslave humanity. "The Age of Heroes" kickstarted its purpose of showcasing more depth in its story and the characters on the right foot while also teasing the reunification of Earth's mightiest defenders.
Part 3: Beloved Mother, Beloved Son
The third segment provided extended backstories for two characters: Barry Allen, AKA The Flash (Miller), and Victor Stone (Fisher). Barry Allen attempts to obtain a degree in criminal justice to clear his father's name for the murder of his mother. Meanwhile, Victor is dealing with the aftermath of a car accident that killed his mother and left him critically injured, resulting in his father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) replacing his body with cybernetic parts. Not only does it introduce its viewers to Barry's love interest Iris West, played by Kiersey Clemons, but it also showcased more of Cyborg's tragic backstory as well as his complicated relationship with his father and his abilities. Zack Snyder has mentioned that Cyborg is depicted as "the heart of the movie" in his own cut, and after seeing this segment for myself, I can understand why. Cyborg is shown as an outcast who hides himself away from the world because of his new appearance and what his father did to save him from death. Not only was the Cyborg section effective in terms of character depth and direction, but it also showcased more of Fisher's solid acting skills, resulting in it being one of my favorite parts of the film so far. I also liked that the film represented Victor testing his abilities to help the poor mother pay her rent. It shows that people with gifts can make a difference. As for Barry Allen, I still enjoy him in this version just as much as I did with him in the original cut, if not better. Ezra Miller still did an outstanding job with his performance and his deliverance of his humor, especially during the pet store scene. The visuals and slow-motion sequences for Barry's ability were still top-notch as always. You can't deny the fact that Snyder was the perfect choice to showcase Barry's perspective of the world around him when he's going fast. However, Barry's running style still proved to be pretty awkward. The part also contains extended sequences of Steppenwolf obtaining the second Mother Box from the Atlantians and the Parademons kidnaping the scientists from S.T.A.R. labs. Oh, and there's more screen time for Amber Heard's Mera, but I'm sure you don't really care about that. "Beloved Mother, Beloved Son" was given a chance to explore more of The Flash and Cyborg, and it succeeded with ease.
Part 4: Change Machine
The fourth part centers on Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Cyborg rescuing the S.T.A.R scientists from Steppenwolf and the Parademons. Afterward, Cyborg explains about the Mother Boxes' powers, which Silas used to save him, leading up to the idea of bringing Superman back to life. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf discovers the location of the "Anti-Life Equation". The battle between Steppenwolf and the heroes played out the same as the original cut, just with additional and alternative scenes and Tom Holkenborg's score. Other than that, it's an ordinary superhero action scene that's filled with CGI and a boatload of epic-ness. After that, the film offered more details on the Mother Boxes and a surprising reveal of another DC character that I wouldn't spoil if you haven't watched it yet. One of the things I enjoyed from this part was Darkseid's second appearance. We've seen what he looks like back in part two, and now we get to hear what he sounds like. For someone who's unfamiliar with the character, Ray Porter sure did knew how to make him sound more ominous in terms of his impressive vocal performance. Better move over, Thanos, because there's a new tyrannical alien in town, and he's not a very nice guy. The scene involving Lois Lane (Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) was also a respectable addition to the director's cut as it explored their own mourning towards Clark's death. "Change Machine" serves as a decent climax to the film's four-hour narrative filled with action, humor, and character depth.
Part 5: All the King's Horses
Part five sees the heroes breaking into STAR labs to revive Superman. They succeeded, but at the cost of confronting him and losing the final Mother Box to Steppenwolf. Now, this is where things get even more serious. This segment showcased plenty of stuff that happened to one-up the original's take in almost every way, such as the character interactions and the fight against Superman. Don't worry. Superman doesn't ask Batman if he bleeds in this version. Personally, I am glad that they kept in Barry's reaction to Superman seeing him when he's in super-speed mode. The look on Barry's face still gets me every time. It also featured the last couple of moments between Cyborg and Silas. While I would like to see more of this interaction between the two, it's still pretty heartbreaking to see how their relationship ended. Other than that, "All the King's Horses" was able to put Superman together again. Narratively, of course.
Part 6: Something Darker/Epilogue: A Father Twice Over
The sixth and final part concludes the epic journey with the showdown between the Justice League and Steppenwolf. This is another sequence that managed to improve upon the original cut. Not only were the visuals a bit better, but the whole scenario was changed to raise the stakes for the characters, including Cyborg, who plans to separate the Mother Boxes by force. There's no Russian family to save, and the humorous dialogue between Superman and Cyborg was completely removed. They also fixed the sky, so it has a dark bluish color instead of red. It focused more on the exhilarating battle between Steppenwolf and the heroes, which the studio should've allowed Snyder to include in the first place. This was another main highlight for me because of those reasons. Then we have the film's epilogue, which took the pages right out of "The Return of the King" by showcasing multiple conclusions. That can be an annoyance for some people, but other than that, it was a respectable ending that concluded some of the characters' story arcs in the film and offered plenty of teases for what's to come in the sequels, if Snyder and the fans have their way, of course. Overall, "Something Darker" and the epilogue combined themselves to make an ending that truly lived up to the film's epic scale.
In conclusion, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was quite an experience for all of the right reasons. Was it a flawless masterpiece? No. Was it better than the Joss Whedon cut? Absolutely! The Snyder Cut succeeded in providing something that the 2017 version lacked: a soul. Not just in its storytelling but also in its characters. Its four-hour runtime did seem excessive, especially for those who're planning on watching the whole thing in one sitting, but the pacing and its riveting story helped kept my attention from start to finish. There were also a couple of parts where the CGI looked a bit rough. Despite those flaws, the Snyder Cut is bigger, better, and more heroic in every way thanks to some solid performances from the cast, Snyder's direction, Chris Terrio's screenplay, Tom Holkenborg's score, and its entertaining action sequences. From my personal perspective, I wouldn't consider this as an ordinary director's cut. I would consider this as a gift. A rewarding gift to the fans who showed their support for Snyder's vision of the DC Extended Universe, even though "Man of Steel" and Batman v Superman" were understandably flawed. It's more of a way of saying "thank you" to those who pushed the studio to allow the director to make the "Justice League" movie he wanted to make without interference. Sure, it's not going to impress everyone, but in the end, all that matters is that the fans actually did something good for once. It brought the "Justice" back into the "Justice League". If I were to grade this film, I would gladly give it a B+. This is a superb upgrade to the heavily flawed 2017 version that I will highly recommend to DC fans and general audiences. As for the young fans of DC, I would advise them to watch it with a parent or guardian. Oh, and don't forget to plan out your bathroom breaks before you start. You're going to need them. If you're reading this, Mr. Snyder, congrats on making your own version of "Justice League" a reality, and I can't wait to check out your next project on Netflix in May.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. In the last episode, I showcased my top ten best films of 2020 just to light up the darkness in this horrific year. Now, it’s time for me to count down the top ten stinkers of the year, just to add insult to injury. Great, it’s bad enough that I had to deal with surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, now I have to talk about the ten films that I wasted my time on. 2020 was a very interesting year for me. For those who are new to my top ten list, I do the best I can to explain why I didn’t like my personal choices on this list in a mature manner because let’s face it, we don’t need any more of this stinking negativity. Just like with my top ten best films of 2020 list, this list is from my own personal opinion. If there’s a film on my list that you actually like, that’s completely fine. Don’t let my opinions change your own views on it because again, everyone has their own perspective on film, especially critics, and they have the right to share them without being judged. With that in mind, allow me to share mine as I count down my worse films of 2020.
Let’s start this list off with the latest comedy from the husband-and-wife duo, director Ben Falcone and comedian Melissa McCarthy. Or was it a romantic comedy? An action romance comedy? “Superintelligence” is a glitchy system that has no idea what it wants to be, resulting in it being one of the biggest disappointments of the year. Aside from its respectable cast and a passable final act, the film suffered from a series of malfunctions such as Falcone’s direction, its poor execution on the humor, and its tedious story. It didn’t take an artificial intelligence to figure out what went wrong with the final result.
Peter Berg is known for making some of the best fact-based thrillers in his promising career, but he’s also known for some of his disappointing misfires. His latest film, “Spenser Confidential”, is one of them. The film adaptation of Ace Atkins’s 2013 novel Wonderland saw the reunion of Berg and Mark Wahlberg, and while it’s a bit more tolerable than “Mile 22”, it’s another underwhelming collaboration between the duo. Despite a suitable cast and some decent action scenes, this action thriller from Netflix wasn’t able to provide plenty of riveting mystery elements because of its underdeveloped characters, its uneven tone, and its bland screenplay. This is a pretty big slap in the face for me and the fans of the source material.
Family films with talking animals usually spell trouble for critics, save for “Babe”. While cute in their own way, their stories can be a bit too nonsensical for their own good. My next pick happens to be one of them, but sadly, it wasn’t as entertaining as it could’ve been. “Dolittle” took a more faithful approach to the source material it’s based on, but its execution lead it to become a bland and CGI-bloated mess that’s more accessible to kids rather than their parents. To its credit, it did its part in providing some charm in its messages and the voice cast for the animals. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent the film from being a mediocre voyage that’ll make several people question Robert Downey Jr.’s career choices outside of his Marvel Cinematic Universe role. With its poor screenplay, unmemorable characters, and its stale humor, this latest iteration of Hugh Lofting’s character made the Eddie Murphy version look like Shakespeare by comparison.
A not-so-good comedy from Happy Madison Productions and Netflix? Surprise, surprise. “The Wrong Missy” is a forgettable and unsatisfying romantic comedy that may not impress people who aren’t fans of the recent works that Adam Sandler and his gang were involved in. While I admittedly enjoyed Lauren Lapkus’s performance, I’m afraid that she wasn’t enough to save this disastrous blind date because of its cliched screenplay and its mediocre humor.
With the combination of the Disney brand and a popular book series it’s based on, this could’ve been the next “Chronicles of Narnia” or the next “Harry Potter". Instead, it wound up being one of the studio’s biggest disasters in its recent years. “Artemis Fowl”, which is available on Disney+, failed to impress both the fans of the source material and newcomers who are unfamiliar with the characters. I wasn’t expecting this film to that bad, but to my surprise, Disney managed to prove me otherwise. The plot was extremely thin, the characters were one-dimensional, the narrative was way too rushed and underwhelming, and some of the performances from the cast weren’t really that impressive. This is definitely something that the studio should leave behind in order to maintain their dignity.
There were times when a film not only failed to meet our expectations, but was also overshadowed by backlash due to their concepts. “The Last Days of American Crime” is one of those times. Controversy aside, this latest thriller from director Olivier Megaton is an overlong and tasteless experience that tried way too hard to be an epic and thought-provoking crime blockbuster. With its excessive runtime, uncaring characters, and its lack of strong thrills, the film has committed a crime that should not go unpunished.
There are good horror films, there are bad horror films, and there are horror films that made me pretty angry. This film belongs in a category where “angry” isn’t enough to describe my reaction towards it. “The Turning” is the type of horror film that managed to turn my head for all of the wrong reasons. Despite its gloriously creepy atmosphere and a passable cast, the film was an infuriating experience that’s neither scary nor captivating enough to capitalize on its gothic tone. The scares were forgettable, the plot and the characters were poorly-handled, and the ending…my God, the ending. That has got to be one of the worst things I have ever experienced in my life. If you want to know why I hated the ending, go read my full review of the film. This was another horror experience that completely wasted my time, and the same should be said to those who dare to view it themselves.
What seemed to be a dream come true for fans of the “Fantasy Island” show from the 1970s actually turned out to be an unwatchable nightmare. Helmed by Jeff Wadlow, the guy behind the terrible “Truth or Dare”, Blumhouse’s “Fantasy Island” attempted to transform its light-hearted premise into a full-fledged horror film about the dangers of wish-making. This resulted in a cliche-heavy and tame dream that’s extremely easy to forget. Due to Wadlow’s weak direction, mediocre characters, and a severe lack of scares, this is one vacation that you shouldn’t take. The film also shows further proof that Jeff Wadlow should take a break from the horror genre and move on to something else.
Yes, this film existed. Yes, the title was meant to be a joke, and yes, it’s as bad as you thought it would be. After directing the entertaining “Stuber” last year, Michael Dowse immediately went downhill with a comedy that wasted the cast’s talents like they were pieces of unused paper. Lazy, repetitive, offensive, and downright unbearable, “Coffee & Kareem” is quite possibly the most embarrassing buddy comedy that Netflix had to offer. It was a massive joke that’s more insufferable than funny.
What a way to end off this year’s top ten worst list: with the first 2020 film I reviewed way back in January. You know, before the virus showed up and kept us inside our homes for months. There were plenty of films this year that reeked of horribleness, but none of them reeked as badly as the latest installment in the “Grudge” franchise. The 2020 version of “The Grudge” got the same treatment as the “Hellboy” reboot, in which it received an adult rating compared to the PG-13 rating that the previous installments had. While the “Hellboy” reboot was an okay watch despite its easy-to-digest flaws, “The Grudge” is an intolerable experience that used the R rating as an excuse to justify its existence. It just goes to show that just because a specific franchise got a rating upgrade, it doesn’t make it better. From its dull story to its poorly-developed characters, the continuation of the horror franchise is not only a major disgrace to Takashi Shimizu’s version, but it’s also one of the most painful theatrical experiences that I had ever sat through and the absolute worse film of 2020 in my eyes.
There you have it. Those are my ten least favorite films to cap off the year. Overall, 2020…was an ugly introduction to the new decade. Every year has a series of ups and downs, but this year happens to be special for all of the wrong reasons. Every time we have some good news, they’re immediately replaced by something that kept dragging us down to the abyss, especially the coronavirus deaths. If you happen to be one of the people who have been deeply affected by the virus, whether it’s one of your family members that died or the fact that you’ve been tested positive, I would like to say I’m sorry this happened to you and I hope you get through it okay. After everything that we’ve been through, including the COVID-19 lockdown and the infamous presidential debate, it’s safe to say that this is one year we all want to leave behind and never look back. As we all look forward to a new year filled with highly-anticipated films, let us all remember that as long as we show our continued support for one another and keep ourselves strong and healthy, we’ll return to our normal lives sooner rather than later, and we can go back to celebrating the art of cinema at our own cinemas. With that in mind, everybody, stay safe out there and have a happy new year.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Well, guys, we finally made it. 2020 has officially wrapped, and my God, it has been one heck of a year. Not just for us, but also for the film industry. We had a share of good moments this year, like getting a decent “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. However, those moments were quickly overshadowed by the coronavirus. As a result, most of the films that were supposed to come out in 2020 were either pushed back to next year or released straight to streaming. There were also some pretty bad stuff that happened this year, such as losing so many people to the virus, the death of George Floyd that sparked a ton of “Black Lives Matter” marches, and the loss of many talented people from the film industry like Sean Connery and Chadwick Boseman. Yeah, I guess you can say that this is a pretty horrible start to a new decade. But you know what they say, in every bad year, there’s always a silver lining, which is seeing some of the best films either in the theater or on streaming (mostly the latter). That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I am once again finishing off the year with my top ten best films list. Now this list was a bit challenging for me compared to my previous top ten lists because I haven’t got the chance to review all of the movies that came out in theaters or on demand or on a streaming service and again, almost all of the films I wanted to see were delayed to next year. I also realized that there were also some more well-received films that came out already in the theater or on demand, but due to some circumstances such as saving money and staying safe, I wasn’t able to get to them. So for those who wanted me to review something like “Wolfwalkers” on Apple TV+ this year, I apologize for not getting to watch it before I make this list. I heard a lot of great things about it, but sadly, I got enough streaming services on my plate as it is, and I already used the free trial deal to review “Greyhound”. If you’re wondering why I didn’t use it again to review “Wolfwalkers”, the only answer I can give you is…I have no idea. As always, this is my personal list of the films that I believe were exceptional or just plain fun experiences. If you’re expecting it to be like the other critics’ top ten lists, then you’ve come to the wrong place. With that said, let’s count down the winners.
Let’s start this list off with a documentary that you might not have recognized until I mentioned it. After premiering in theaters two years ago, “Howard” finally made its way to our televisions as a Disney+ original, and it’s something that should not be missed, especially for Disney fans. This is such a heartwarming and informative tribute to one of Disney’s most inspiring workers of all time, Howard Ashman, the man behind such memorable songs like “Under the Sea” and “Be Our Guest”. With its unique presentation, its passionate essence, and a subtle musical score, “Howard” is a fascinating and interesting look at the songwriter’s career and how he inspired those around him. He may be gone, but his work will live on forever.
Christopher Nolan has reinvented the scientific wheel in his films for quite some time, and the final results were nothing but spectacular, and this film is no different. “Tenet” saw the filmmaker combining time and quantum physics with its spy thriller elements to create one of the best theatrical experiences I have ever witnessed. This was one of the first two films I saw in theaters since they reopened back in late August, the other being “The New Mutants”, and while I can admit that it has problems, it reminded me why I enjoyed the cinematic experience in the first place. It’s far from Nolan’s best film due to its troubling sound design and its uninteresting main character, but it’s an engaging and well-directed thriller that features a talented cast and some incredible technical qualities. Yes, the story can be convoluted for some people, but that’s what makes Nolan so special to begin with. He likes to challenge his audience’s brains as well as entertain them. Once you get used to its complexity, you’ll also be enjoying the ride in no time.
If I have to choose which day I want to relive over and over again, it would have to be the day when I first experienced this charming time-loop comedy. “Palm Springs” is a refreshing and humorous take on the plot element that was made famous thanks to the likes of “Groundhog Day”. Max Barbakow’s directorial debut features plenty of suitable moments that overshadow its rom-com cliches, such as the irresistible chemistry between Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, its humor, and a well-executed screenplay by Andy Siara. If you have a Hulu subscription, make sure you put this film on your watchlist.
We can all agree that war is just as hellish as 2020, but we can also agree that no one can represent that nightmarish death trap from an African-American veteran’s perspective better than Mr. Spike Lee himself. “Da 5 Bloods” was the first great film I saw this year, and it deserved to be on my top ten list for numerous reasons. It’s ambitious, it’s honest, it’s unnerving, and more importantly, it’s crucial to the current problems we’re facing today in terms of race. Lead by a strong cast (most notably Delroy Lindo and the late Chadwick Boseman), Lee’s direction, and a stellar screenplay, the film honored its sole purpose and delivered an emotional story about a broken brotherhood in the midst of greed, war, and trauma. Its grisly imagery and its runtime might be a bit too much for those who are squeamish, but for fans of the brilliant filmmaker, it’s another call to action that must be answered.
Two years ago, Aneesh Chaganty made himself known to the public thanks to his directorial debut, “Searching”. Now, he managed to continue his winning streak with another amazing low-budget thriller. “Run” is a tension-filled and small-scale thrill ride that’s packed with tons of surprises and plenty of effective scares. Sarah Paulson delivered her most frightening performance of her career, and Kiera Allen made a stunning acting debut as the wheelchair-bound teenager. Combine them with Chaganty’s direction and its splendid use of anxiety-inducing suspense, and you get one of the best thrillers in recent years. Here’s hoping the filmmaker can maintain his success with his next project.
The next film on my list is something that’s completely different compared to my other picks because this isn’t really a film at all. It’s actually a live recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s successful Broadway musical, “Hamilton”. I know that this isn’t technically an actual movie, but hey, how else am I supposed to fill up this empty slot? I had not watched “Hamilton” when it first came out, but thanks to the power of Disney+, I was now able to, and honestly, it’s just as fantastic as everyone said it was. The cast was phenomenal in their roles, the music was energetic and catchy, and its narrative was unique, but also respectable given its culture. Excessive runtime aside, the musical succeeded in celebrating both America then and America now. This is one of the reasons why you should subscribe to Disney+.
In order to be successful, you have to find your own voice. This is another film that you may not be familiar with, but is worth checking out. “The Forty-Year-Old Version” recounts the real-life experience of Radha Blank’s career as a playwright and a rapper through the eyes of the woman herself. This is an inspiring and well-written comedy-drama that’s not only gorgeous to look at in terms of its black-and-white cinematography, but also subtle and truthful with its social themes. Lead by an outstanding performance by Blank and her direction, the film signals a bright future for her as both an actor and a filmmaker.
You want to know what living with hearing loss feels like? Try checking out this small film from Amazon Studios. “Sound of Metal” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its subject matter, and because of this, it transforms itself into a realistic and well-made representation of the difficult struggle towards acceptance. Riz Ahmed delivered his best performance of his career, and the sound design perfectly reflects the perspective of the person who’s experiencing hearing loss. Darius Marder also did a fantastic job at understanding the process and paying respect to how the deaf community operates in terms of his direction. Not only does it work as an engaging and thoughtful drama, but it also works as a learning tool for its viewers because it gives them an idea on what they would expect if it would happen to them. These things alone make this a must-watch for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Haven’t heard of this part of history before? Don’t worry, this film has got you covered. This couldn’t have come at a better time when it comes to the racial tensions we’re dealing with today, and the fact that it’s brilliantly well-handled and no one has ever mentioned the trial it’s based on makes its existence even more worthwhile. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is an emotionally-driven and thought-provoking legal drama that showcases Aaron Sorkin as a gifted screenwriter and a skilled filmmaker. The performances from the cast were spectacular, the dialogue-driven sequences were heart-pounding and powerful, and its screenplay honored its political and legal themes through stellar dialogue. This is one film that you definitely don’t want to miss out on, especially during this time.
I’m pretty sure you guys saw this coming a mile away. Given how much I love Pixar and animation, you should already know that the studio’s latest film is worthy enough to join this list as my number one pick. Pete Docter returned to take audiences on a life-changing journey through creativity and animation, and boy, was it a marvelous one. “Soul” is not only beautifully animated, but it’s also emotionally compelling when it comes to its visual storytelling and its themes. It shows why Pixar is one of the best animation studios of all time and why Pete Docter is one of the best animation directors ever. They create stories that entertain the kids with their charming characters and colorful worlds as well as the adults with their meaningful messages and emotional depth. I’m happy to say that “Soul” is one of the films that fit that description perfectly. The story was superbly well-told, the characters were great, its screenplay was smartly-written, and the animation was sensational. This is something that I can easily relate to because I have a strong passion for movies, and I always dream of being a part of the film industry. After watching the film, it made me realize that life is more than just following my dream. It’s also about spending every minute with the ones I love and the world I live in. The film serves as a perfect reminder to appreciate every little moment we have in our lives, and that is why it deserves a spot as my favorite film of 2020.
That concludes my list of the top ten best films of 2020. While the year will be remembered for its infamous moments, it will also be remembered for its amazing films, whether they’re in theaters or on a streaming service. I also want to apologize for not including an “honorable mentions” section on this list, which happens to be a first for me in terms of top ten lists. The reason why is that I haven’t seen enough films this year that managed to impress me as much as the films on my main list. Hopefully in 2021, I’ll have enough great films to bring that section back for my next top ten best list. Until then, this will have to do. Stay tuned for my next episode where I share my top ten least favorite films of 2020.