Enola Holmes is a Better Mulan movie than Mulan 2020 (a Review)

Sherlock Holmes might be one of the most perfect properties in the public domain ever created. The skills of deduction, crime solving, and wit can be used, rearranged, deconstructed, reconstructed, parodied, and everything in between. That makes anything after the original stories more an exercise in expanding the scope of what a Sherlock story can be (you know, like secret sisters and my favorite story being turned into a dog and not a secret society of people with red hair). This leads to a varying range in the quality of said stories too.

This preamble takes us to the Millie Bobby Brown star vehicle, Enola Holmes. She too is a secret (or more surprise to us the audience) sister to Sherlock and Mycroft, only this time left abandoned with her mother after the death of their father and her brothers leaving. She was then raised to be strikingly independent by her mother. Teaching her life lessons and skills over a classical education. It was a good life that is thrown off course when her mother disappears leaving only a box of coloring utensils and book of flowers. When the Holmes brothers return Mycroft threatens to send Enola away. Enola, in turn, realizes the secret message her mother was trying to send and runs off in search of her. Upon her travel she runs into the son of a nobleman, next in like for the House of Lords whose life is in danger. It is then up to Enola to find out what her mother is up to, save the life of the young lord and evade capture from her brother. The game is truly afoot.

The film is surprisingly good. Not shockingly good. It’s not an amazing film or anything, but when all the trailers painted the film as a cringe fest it was a nice surprise to get a smarter film than that. A film that is actually about something, seeks to use its protagonist in a compelling way, make an actual role model for young girls, and when watching those same clips in the film are clearly more to be cheeky jokes than taken absolutely seriously.

Cheeky is often the tone of the film. It does have some far more hard boiled moments that are reminiscent of the Guy Ritchie films, but is often far poppier, lighter, and closer in tone to a mid-90s Disney live action film. The world can pop but is often rather basic in terms of sets and world design. Not a visionary style, but works.

It is more of a detective story than it seems on the surface. It takes quite a while for the plot to fully reach the surface, but when it does it is satisfying enough. You could put the clues together easily, feels fresh for a Holmesian mystery, and focuses on the stories main theme.

That is right, a movie about Sherlock Holmes having a smart, strong willed sister who must go out on an adventure alone in and use the skills she acquired by her feminist mother to save a white man does far more than dress the part. The film is expressly about the future and the power women have in that future. It uses the strict Victorian setting well in that respect. Enola gives a strong contrast to the rest of the women she runs into, and is shown to be competent but still make mistakes (even though no one would complain if it was Sherlock who did the exact same things but made no mistakes). It is helped that Millie Bobby Brown is a phenomenal actor.

Millie Bobby Brown seems to be the Emma Watson to Finn Wolfhard’s Daniel Radcliffe. As in to say (the internet ruined me because I know there are creeps who are waiting for her to turn 18 and proclaim how attractive she is in gross ways. Just like Selena Gomez Ariana Grande, or the Jenner Sisters) she is certainly a far stronger screen presence that can flow from emotion to emotion with ease. Can adapt well to any scenario she is in all while still feeling like a kid. She is truly a standout in the film and by far the best part in it. She turns what should be cringey dialogue into believable phrases that feel almost iconic. Some of her 4th wall breaking chats do get gratting, and the she can’t make the opening and closing voiceover work to save her life (no one could), but she does great.

The only other standout is Henry “The Chin” Cavill as Sherlock. It is no secret that British men were often incredibly withdrawn folks. Cavill plays him that way and forgoes the excentric weirdos of Rober Downey Jr and Benedic Cumberbatch and focuses on that. His Sherlock seems to have a lot more going on under the hood. Refined, but still ever observant, sharp, and quick with hints of that outgoing nature. An interesting take that, along with the lack of a Watson, makes it feel like he’s still early in his career.

This film shares an odd amount in common with the 2020 crime Mulan. Both have highly competent women going out into the wider world in search of a cause connected to family, and deal with larger political themes around a less interesting male. They also are saved from being stabbed by the trapping they hide themselves in. difference, of many, is framing and character. Enola works hard, is shown to be outgoing and easy to like. She is shown struggle and works through it, and deals with the political issues directly as a example of why they work. The future is women not because they sometimes have super powers to help the totalitarian government, but because they are just as capable when given the proper education and challenges. They will rise (also the mother, played by Helena Bonnem Carter, because of course, is kind of dropped with no follow up which is weird but not movie breaking).

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Vampires vs The Bronx is on the Neck (a Review)

It’s finally spooky season. Yes I am late. Writing for 5 days a week is kind of draining so I needed a recharge (still do probably), but the movies stop for no one (not even a plague). That takes us to the first really horror film out, and it’s a throwback no less, Vampire vs The Bronx.

Vampires vs The Bronx is a throwback to the kids vs monster sub-genre of horror movies popular in the 80s and 90s. This one updated to follow Miguel and his friends Luis and Bobby. They are middle schoolers growing up in the Bronx and see it changing. Business going from small time owners to fancier white people brands all headed by one real estate company. When Miguel finds out that the company is run by vampires trying to buy out the Bronx and use everyone left as their meal ticket he teams up with his friends, the owner of a local bodega, and crush, Rita, to slay the vampires and keep everyone safe.

As far as one of these types of films go it is pretty solid. The cast is really good and has a real easy chemistry. Netflix consistently finds amazing kid actors for these roles. The side cast isn’t the best, but are memorable. The cinematography is great but it’s clear they are working on a limited budget. Some of the big action scenes feel lacking because of that limitation. It’s not bad, gives it some charm in fact, but does hold it back from being what the team probably envisioned it could be. A solid film that is way too on the neck-I mean nose.

The themes are what honestly set it apart and make it stand out. Vampires targeting marginalized groups is not new, neither is them choking out neighborhoods in order to get what they want, but the change in scenery to a minority heavy location makes everything more obvious. That clash between uptight, posh, European vampires acting like they’re in a classic film going against more grounded level crime and gangbangers is where the heart of the films fun and thoughts come from. Those moments lead to the best scenes. The film also uses those moments to help lift up what it considers good about those diverse communities while making it pointedly obvious what harms the communities… kind of.

The film is short. Just under 90 minutes and that is a shame because it could have used that time to better hone in on the central question the film poses. It sets up how siding with those who have money is better than giving into the dangerous criminals you know if it helps you escape. It sets up a gangsters vs vampires idea that it doesn’t follow through on. Instead it positions them as a secondary antagonists. That’s not wrong. It makes sense with the arc of one of our principle characters, but also feels it misses the point of its own movie. If both are supposed to be rejected then they need to be given a deeper dive. It gives some reading into how they’re the same but should do more.

It sounds like I want to change the movie. I do but don’t. The movie wants to be more fun, light, and a good early age horror film. It succeeds at that. But it clearly wants to be more and succeeds at that from time to time; it just could be more.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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The Devil All The Time is Bafflingly Bad (a Review)

In the Babysitter post (it’s good- you should read it) I mentioned the impossible balance Netflix must walk with its two heads. The content head, having material enough people will want to watch, but has to be diverse but unified; along the production head that must find stories they think good enough to fit on their platform while also confirming to their brand. Well that gets more complicated when you add in big name star. The Babysitter had character actors at best, but when you try to make an A-List, star driven story while also meeting the above criteria that makes it even more impossible to come out with anything amazing. Then double it when it comes to an adaption of a novel.

Set after World War II the story follows an ensamble cast along the border of West Virginia and Ohio. It principally follows Tom Holland’s Arvin, an orphan forced to move back with his grandma, uncle, and step sister of a sort (it’s complicated). Life gets hard when their town preacher leaves and a new preacher played by Robert Pattinson comes to town. Meanwhile a Bonny and Clyde-esqu duo kill hitchhikers all covered for by the female half of the duo having a brother for Sheirff.

This movie is bad. Quite bad in fact, but it’s not all bad. The production values and purposeful throwback style to older dramas give it a distinct feel. Match that with a mostly good cast and a couple of strong, but not movie saving, scenes, it can work at times. Unfortunately it misses far, far, far (I could keep going) often.

Out of the two movie killing plays this film takes the worst is the pacing. For around 75% or more of the film nothing is happening. I thinks characters are making changes that will inform them later, but it honestly drags all of that out. To give an example, it takes 40+ minutes just to get Tom Holland on screen. Once he arrives the movie must then juggle every other character that he gets lost. To make it worse the editing is attortious. Strange cuts. Weird non-flashback flashbacks. A non-linear story that doesn’t realize it is non-linear, but also wants to try and act like it is. All of it makes for an ungodly slow movie. Despite being just over two hours, the time drags by worse the being carted on mud by a horse. A defense of these choices would go back to the films themes. I would agree, but there is a catch. What the movie thinks it is doing, is showing a family or group of people having to deal with the throws of religion and high powers thrust upon them. Unfortunately it handles these themes and the ways they are gotten across with all the ease of dragging a person through the woods with a horse (I keep going to that metaphor but that’s not a movie reference).

One of the hot debates in cinema is the voice over/narration. If done well no one would even notice. It is not inherently bad, just how it’s used. This movie uses voice over and makes me feel dumb in the process. The film begins in voice over and that is a fair enough choice. A staple in many films. Give us a setting and tone, but then it keeps going. It goes so long that it informs us the viewers of character motivations that don’t seem present in the film. The ultimate in telling, not showing. The voice over will explain what events or perceived higher power drives someone. To make it worse when it doesn’t do that in scenes it feels off. It holds your hand so much that when given any freedom it feels like your let loose in a field surrounded by horses carting dead bodies. I mean to say your lost and confused. On top of making you feel dumb because it has to tell you everything that happens, it also slows the pacing down and show the movie doesn’t trust the story it’s telling. It seeks to need to fill the cracks it’s own narrative can’t fill. It’s sloppy.

The film was based on a novel by Donald Ray Pollock, as well as voiced by him. I’m sure the book is okay, even pretty good, but the strict adherence to the books prose, scene transitions, and narrative style make for a choppy, hand holding experience. Books can flow into different scenes within a paragraph or two. Movies can, but need more care. If done wrong you end up with a film like this where scenes stop, start, and will cut with no warning or rhyme. Similarly, books can say what characters are thinking straight out. Doesn’t make it better than showing through action and interaction, but is a more natural thing to read than to have explained to you while pictures on screen convey the exact same themes and ideas. It’s just clunky and ruins anything the book could have done well by wasting it on accuracy to the source material.

As baffling, confusing, and kinda pretty this movie is to look at, the most confounding thing is how it makes Tom Holland look like a better, more brutal (cause apparently I’ve been reading the wrong Batman comics/watching the wrong Batman TV shows all my life and people think he’s just a brutalizer… yay…) Batman than the already cast and currently in production zone with Robert Pattinson. Doesn’t mean he’s bad, but Tom Holland really does shine in the film and it is a shame he is stuck with such limp, dead-horse drawn-body material.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Unpregnant more like Abor(what? What do you mean I can’t have that word in my title?That’s just what the movie is about. Okay, nevermind) – a Review

Despite being apart of the same network, it seems like HBOMax has been struggling to find programming to put on their service. That makes the edition of original movies interesting, especially simple road trip movies. Though, like romantic comedies, they are a staple of cinema and a good palet cleanser. A movie that can be made for any age group really. It’s almost genius unless they did something crazy like make it center around a hot button political issue. Then that would be crazy!

Wait, oh no…

Based off the book of the same name, the movie follows valedictorian Victoria. When she takes a pregnancy test and it comes back positive she scrambles to find a solution. Her only solution, however, is to travel from middle America Missouri to Albuquerque if she doesn’t want to tell her parents. After planning her route and trip she hits a snag when her boyfriend, who knew his condom broke, wants marriage and to settle down while her friends seek to sleuth out who is pregnant when the test is found in the school dumpster. This leads Veronica to turn to the only person she can trust to take her is her former best friend, who accepts. Once they hit the road however it is far from smooth sailing or driving in this case. Troubles with the law, anti-abortion freaks, an unhinged limo driver played by Giancarlo Volpe, and a stalker boyfriend are all mountains they must climb for something she should be able to get done down the block.

Road trip movies are built off of two things, chemistry between the leads and the detours the trip takes. This movie is passable on both. The two leads played by Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira give an all too standard former friends that were torn apart by growing up, home issues, and then eventually societal school pressures. Nothing about them feels very fresh outside of the, what unfortunately passes as progressive, differences. Thankfully one of them is played for more of a joke as we find out her friend is a lesbian and that she’s been out, but just didn’t tell Veronica about it. Bailey also gets more to work with, like trying to reconnect with her dead-beat dad while Veronica has her procedure looming.

The detours are hit and miss. Some, like borrowing a car without asking permission leading it to be seen as stolen and impounded feels a little too normal. Same with a trip to a a very Texas stock car race and carnival. But then it takes a turn with the above referenced anti-abortion people which leads to a full on desert car chase. They don’t find a good balance between just kind of weird without being outlandish and normal but not being dull. That same sentiment can go for the end of act two spilt and get back together. It just doesn’t quite find that center.

As much as those are problems, that’s not what the movie is about. It’s instead about abortion. Well in-so-far as it treats it like a normal procedure women should just be able to get, and that constant interference is unfair. Most of this comes out when Veronica has her mid-movie freak out. Stating rightly how back home she needs parental consent to get one but not to have to child, and just the lunacy of the whole stigma around it. None of it helped that her normal friends spend most of the movie playing “Veronica Mars” to find out who is pregnant and seek to mock whoever it is. It’s message is clear when you get to the procedure and the movie decides to just factually state what it is like and how it will go. It’s a scene that wants to empower and provide real information instead of playing “debunk the obvious lies.” If it fails in anything on that front, it would be how the movie still points to the stigma around abortion being that it’s a few bad apples who don’t understand and just need education instead of the systemic policing of women’s bodies (and failure to hold the separation between religion and state) that it is.

The movie is fine. Nothing that will change the world even as it seeks to deal with a heavy topic in a straightforward way, but maybe that’s enough. The movie is PG-13, and though it is on HBOMax, maybe teens will find it and see that they are not alone or that they don’t have to conform to what is told to them. It’s a fine enough movie for me, but I can see it making an impact on the right person.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Two Nights with The Babysitter (a Review of Babysitter and Babysitter Killer Queen)

Netflix as a studio is strange when it is compared to Netflix the streaming service because their needs are so different. Netflix streaming needs to have content, their own or someone else’s, available to share and watch that is so diverse that anyone could find anything to watch. Meanwhile Netflix the Studio has to make movies they think will be good and watched, but also fit on their steaming platform in a way that anyone in the mood could watch it while being its own piece. That is a difficult tightrope to walk, for sure, and I think The Babysitter and it’s newly released sequel fall into that category. They have to be made for anybody to find while also being of a certain genre and piece that can be marketed to certain groups to produce a unique set of films.

The Babysitter is the first film I’m reviewing in the conventional sense that I have also watched before. Technically speaking. I watched it once then forgot about its existence until the trailers for its sequel started coming around, so with fresh eyes and appreciation for (best actress every) Samara Weaving its time to dig into the original.

The Babysitter follows 12 year old Cole, a classic nerdy, shy kid who just so happens to have to coolest and most attractive babysitter ever, Bee played by Samara Weaving. After a bet with his childhood friend, Cole says he’ll stay up after he’s supposed to go to bed and see why Bee is really up to. He’ll live to regret that when he finds out Bee has a classic posse of cliché horror teens, but with a twist. Instead of running from the demons they are the monsters. Now Cole must go lethal Home Alone in order to survive the night.

Never has a movie, even one I only had vague feelings about, gone up in appraisal and estimations so drastically. The only thing that ever stuck around was it not feeling finally consistent. A black comedy horror movie where the tone isn’t sure if it’s supposed to be a children’s movie with an edge or a comedic splatterfest with a child at the center. That still persists this time around. It feels like the film wanted to be a throwback to 80s teen horror and Goonies-alike adventure films but had to push itself into a harder R to compete with the more modern and gruesome horror fair. But there is so much more to appreciate.

The biggest, most obvious standouts is the casting. After her star making roll in Ready or Not, Samara Weaving is a force to be reckoned with. She is just so expressive, and can portray any emotion with compete earnestness. Of course she is not alone. Her chemistry with Cole and the rest of her team is impeccable. The horror troope in particular feel all just weird and original to stand out. The jock who wants a challenge and forces Cole to stand up for himself, or the ditzy cheerleader with a head on her shoulders and ambition. They stand out. Unfortunately not all of them do. Some are just around for the deaths.

Calling this a deadly Home Alone feels apt. It feels like all the fan theories about what would happen to the Wet Bandits if they didn’t live in a cartoon world, and they are all fun, satisfying, and unique. Dropping a guy onto a diamond award to have through their neck, blowing someone up with a giant firework, hanging someone by the neck so hard their spine breaks off. They are all perfectly comedic in the amount of gore and fun.

Of course, the film is shot well. It’s utterly stunning just how confident, bold, and oddly professional it feels. That seems obvious, but it looks like the standard for what all horror/horror-comedies should be. Strong sets, good use of shadows and reveals, and just solid camera work all hold the rock solid character arc together.

The main through line is that character arc. A nerdy kid learning to grow up is classic and this movie makes it work by making the obvious fresh. Every setup, even as they are screamingly obvious, all feel earned by the end, and ultimately tragic as Cole must let go of his first love and one of his best friends. It’s really effecting and heartfelt even as the comedy is hit and miss.

It’s overall a solid film that seems both obvious and odd to get a sequel for.

The sequel, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, is a more ambitious film than its predecessor but comes at the cost of being less focused and reliant on some minor sequelites.

Set two years after the last movie, Cole is not doing well. After Cole tried to tell the real story of what happened that night he was labeled a pariah, crazy, and someone in need of being taken to a psych ward. To make it worse, a new kid in school, Phoebe, enters the pictures When Cole decides to ditch school and a trip to said psych ward to go with last films crush, Meleanie, and her friends to a boat house party the night takes a turn. It’s revealed Meleanie was part of the original cult the whole time, and to add insult to injury, the original posse returns with a one night pass to make good on last movies threat. When Phoebe enters the picture at the wrong time it is up to Cole and Phoebe to survive the night while Cole and Meleanie’s parents try to find them.

From a summary like that alone it is clearly far more complicated with many, many additional moving pieces. Not just plot and story wise, but they up the gore and splatter stakes in something closer akin to an Evil Dead sequel of that TV series. The posse die in new and more gruesome but ridiculous ways that all have one foot firmly planted in the cartoonish. Well that and a socialists wet dream of CG, whether it looks good or not. That’s not even taking into account the amount of skits, gags, and exaggerated imagery used to push the whole piece into something more farcical and wild.

For just a taste here is a factual list of images the movie gives: decapitation through a surf board, getting stuck a well endowed person stuck between a cliff and pulling them down till their neck snaps, a retro video game fight scene, a “sex” scene where the imagery is all disco dancing and clips that a 50s movie might use to depict sex, and impalment with a deer horn chandelier.

None of that should still doesn’t discount the plot which is both unpredictable on how it will all play out, but once the end arrives it feels like it wasn’t going to play out any other way. Some of the scenes feel like they are playing for time and comedy longer than they need, and not all of the new characters get enough screen time, but in the moment it all feels like it could go anywhere.

That spontaneous energy and storytelling carries over into how Samara Weaving’s Bee returns and her overall role. It, like everything, feels stupidly obvious (especially a reveal in a character’s past), but still satisfying.

The casting is still great. The new characters, though they don’t get a lot of screen time, do feel distinct and stand out from the old cast. Not all of whine feel as fresh. Some like Robbie Amell’s jock character feel like a breath a fresh air and a friendly face while others feel like they’re back by obligation. The reuse of old bits and jokes don’t help the matter. They try to spice it up by seeing a snippet of their backstory being recruited by Bee. They just aren’t fleshed out enough or funny enough to make up for the reused jokes (again, except for Robbie Amell. Guy is freaking perfect).

The overall filmmaking isn’t as strong as the previous either. The above mentioned reliance on CG, and wanting to reuse old tricks makes the film feel restricted. However, when it’s time to get bloody they do not hold back.

Even with those problems it is still a really fun time and makes for a satisfying dual watch with the previous film. They are both fun, energetic horror comedy movies that still don’t feel like they know who the audience is for. It’s too comedically gory to be for adults, but too sexual to be for kids. With Cole being older it helps, but still feels like it is adult for the sake of appearance more than choice. But, that audience problem is one problem many Netflix films have, and no Samara Weaving can save them from that fate.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!Everest

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The Broken Hearts Gallery can Heal (a Review)

Despite being a Hollywood staple it always struck me as odd how prevalent romantic comedies are in cinemas. Not to say they don’t have artistic merit, again Mean Girls is my favorite film of all time, but just that they don’t feel like they ever truly use the medium of cinema’s scope and scale in meaningful ways. Probably going back to how they historically were mostly star vehicles for famous acting duos to play off each other and have a good time. Both that, and their box office dominance have dwindled thanks or because of Netflix and Halmark. The caliber of actors playing in rom-coms is not what it used to be, and they don’t rake in money. That makes it all the stranger to release a rom com with unknown actors during a pandemic when a Chris Nolan movie barley made 10 million dollars.

Written and directed by Natalie Krinsky, The Broken Hearts Gallery follows Lucy, a girl who holds onto mementos from every heartbreak. After a very bad one, and accidentally riding in someone’s car over an Uber she finds Nick, a hotel architect. When Lucy starts bringing her past heartbreaks to the hotel she starts a small gallery for all to bring their damage and let go, to heal. After a strong social media push and Nick losing the backing for his hotel they get pushed apart, but maybe that’s not the end. For, a heartbreak is just the start of a new beginning.

Broken Hearts Gallery is structurally conventional. It’s not a difficult movie to “call,” or predict. It’s also not trying to be. Instead it wants to focus on the idea of holding on, letting go, and healing. All those words feel utterly pretentious when applied to a romcom and they are, yet it reaches for that anyway. The way it does so is interesting, using interludes and cutaways that are either a comedic joke or heartfelt and earnest. It’s an interesting device but could have been used more.

It is not quite as successful at reaching those heights as it is following the romcom playbook, but it’s characters are strong, and that makes up a lot of these movies. Lucy, played by Geraldine Viswanathan (last seen in Bad Education as the student that outed the principal’s illegal doings), skirts the perfect edge between adorkable, earnest, and realistic. Her backstory really helps sell her “this is only a thing in the movies” quirk. Her two roommates played by Molly Gordon and Phillipa Soo have a great chemistry and feel like honest to goodness friends. In fact most of the chemistry between the cast really works. The one time there is no chemistry makes it feel almost purposeful. That chemistry is also the only thing making Dacre Montgomery’s Nick an interesting character, because outside of a bad breakup and case of the broody loner he isn’t much.

The same cannot be said for the cinematography. As strange as it is a thing to say, this movie is beautiful and should be seen in theaters. This is mainly speaking for the wide shots that are so detailed, colorful, or impactful that it is impressive. The bright neon against a cold city aesthic this movie lives in is always striking. Not every shot is like that. It has its clumsy or basic moments, but those feel like the bland cereal part of a marshmallow-filled cereal. You gotta have some basic shot-reverse shot sometimes.

In terms of comedy it is nothing spectacular. It is mostly banter between characters, and since they have chemistry it works. They feel like human comedic moments that don’t stray too far into mumble-core or cringy awkward comedy. There are some great lines but nothing that will stick out.

For a movie that plays it too safe. So safe in fact that the 2nd act breakup feels utterly out of character and the worst part of the film, it tries. The concept of starting a gallery of heartbreaks as art. Give objects a deep connection to show people aren’t alone in pain, is strong. The fact the movie had to say out loud what Lucy’s deal has been the whole time feels too easy, but it’s use is well measured and help make it the uplifting film it is, but it is still centered on very millennial feelings. From the fact the gallery grew from social media, and the focus of grief older generations don’t feel the same, it has a target demographic that it won’t hit in theaters. Despite using its medium well to give scope, beauty, and loneliness it will have to wait and get found when it hits streaming.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a Great Superman Origin (a Review)

It is still so impressive that Warner Brothers and DC have continued to release direct to video animated films based on their characters. Something that is so utterly 2000s surviving this long shows some skill and ability along with ranges of storytelling and chabges in art style over the years help show how the teams have evolved and change. They already went through one of the biggest changes in ending their New 52-alike universe with an utter banger of a film and have been looking for smaller solo films. Deathstroke was a fine enough revenge feature, but to truly be a new step forward you should always go back to the OG superhero, the man who originated that name.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow acts as an updated origin story for Superman. Taking place in a time where Clark knows he’s an alien and has powers he uses as the Flying Man, his status quo changes when space bounty hunter Lobo shows up looking for the price on his head. After a showdown and intervention from a Martian, J’onn, a man gets hurt in the crossfire. When hotshot reporter Lois Lane, hot off of her outing of Lex Luthor as a criminal, gets on Clark’s trail to find out who he really is Clark must find out for himself before he is exposed and a new monster wrecks the city.

What makes this such a great Superman movie is multifaceted. The biggest standout is how they have a Superman that acts like a Superman. He saves lives, protects people, and is kind hearted. Though it is carried by the expert performance of Darren Criss. But the whole cast is utterly brimming with talent and energy for days. Zachery Quinto of Star Trek fame is an utterly devious and charismatic Lex while Alexandra Daddario (last seen on this show as playing the insane Alexa from We Summon the Shadows) plays the exact opposite as a strong willed and hard driven Lois Lane. There is not a single weak link in the cast.

Of course a good cast is supported by expert art design. The characters brim with personality. The solid mix between classic comic and updated style shows a strong attention to detail while the Metropolis feels utterly perfect and futuristic. Though there aren’t many, the fights that break out all feel weighty and well choreographed with expertly timed highs and lows.

It’s not a perfect film after all, it does have lows. Clark not being the one to figure out about his past and needing help feels wrong and cuts down on his journey of self discovery. There is a second act death that is revealed to be a twist that isn’t really explained but works to tie in the idea of being the last of their kind, and this film breaks the cardinal sin of Superman (before you know, people thought he should kill others). That sin being Superman getting his costume idea, even tangentially, from Batman. To clarify, Batman doesn’t show up, but does have a cameo in the Daily Planet and has his costume used as inspiration. Outside of that it is just an all around tight movie that feels effortless in making Superman feel plausible.

Though the movie is good, and it is, it doesn’t feel high energy and that was worrying. It had good pacing but didn’t feel like it was going anywhere fast. That was until the climax. In the climax everything fell into place so well, and gave a strong self sacrifice that showed how anyone can internalize what Superman stands for. It is bold, bright, uplifting, and all around a good time and a strong start for whatever movie they do next.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Scattered Thoughts on Tenet

I am not reviewing Tenet. Not for any ethical issues I have with them releasing a movie during a pandemic where people can still get sick and die, and if they don’t die catch the same virus again. No, that’s a larger problem with our society that one movie can’t be held responsible for. Maybe the director pushing for it to be the first blockbuster out, maybe him. I’m off track. I’m not reviewing it because co-king Shane is a massive Nolan fan. He even liked Interatellar (poor guy) and this was probably his most hyped movie, and he can’t see it cause there is no theater close to him. So, I will not steal that honor away from him. Instead I’ll give some scattered thoughts on the film.

Tenet is a film that should be experienced for a second time. More specifically it’s a film that you should have already seen and watched for a second time. It’s means it is strangely compelling to see Nolan simultaneously weave a fine enough story that is just barely more clever than it thibks it is with the ability to emmerse yourself into it that you see the twists coming but still feel the impact of them.

The film is also oddly complicated. Not complicated in the way most Nolan things are. Instead it’s complicated in the way Sucker Punch is complicated. It feels like the long way around in order to just get to fun set pieces and cool ideas. For Nolan, instead of a strange multi-dream trip, he opts for the second worse option, a spy film. This means that the actual plot of the story is exceedingly simple, save the world by finding out who is doing the bad. It’s the details that get overly complicated for no reason and turns makes most exchanges purely transactional.

Movies with mostly transactional exchanges works for Nolan considering he manages to get great actors to basically give vague exposition. It’s a good thing then that the great actors are great and make you care about their characters with very little. The downside is how much one climax centers around a character’s emotional resolve and other than generally empathizing with their plight there isn’t much to them or make people care.

It, too, is thankful most people do not go to Nolan for deep complex emotions. They go for the strong action set pieces. And, man, are they really strong this time round. Many so impressive and massive they make him flipping a real truck in Dark Knight looks tame, and is a new bar that Mission Impossible needs to climb, and those aren’t even the ones that deal with the temporal shenanigans the film gets up to. With those additons, even if they make no sense no matter how much or little is explained about them, some scenes and ideas are so fun it’s hard not to like.

It is easy, however, not to like the mind bending science this time around. It feels somehow too loose and under explained while hand holding through the simple explanations people could reasonably know. An example would be explain the grandfather paradox while not explaining how the time is perceived to work in the way it does other than simply, atomic radiation. It makes for an interesting idea of if choices are made because they already happened or choosing them causes them to happen, but doesn’t take it far enough.

By the end the film was finally picking up and making good on its promise of time bending action. It’s just unfortunate it takes so long to get there, no matter the obvious payoffs that still work. Hence why it feels important to see have seen the movie for a second time without having seen it a first time. The slower beginning and payoffs will feel tighter and more of the dialogue and ideas might sink in, but for a first watch it is a good movie that works by being so different in all the right ways.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Mulan 2020 Misses the Point (a Review)

The animated Mulan film is one of my favorite Disney and normal films of all time. It’s got amazing art, characters, the best Disney song until Moana released, and a strong message for not just woman, but people of all types who are held back for one reason or another. That made the announcement and production of a live action version both suspect and intriguing to me. Now, after copious COViD related delays it’s released on Disney+

The plot of the film remains close to that of the animated counterpart. China is invaded by northerners and the emperor conscripts an army in order to fight back. When it comes time for Mulan’s family to send it’s soldier all who is available is her ailing father, so Mulan takes up his sword and armor in his stead. From there it is up to Mulan to keep her true nature secret while training to face the invading army. In the process her secret is exposed but so it’s the Khan armies plan to assassinate the emperor. Mulan must work with her former allies and show she is just as capable as any soldier.

The changes the film tries to make in broadening the story makes sense, and with its similar structure it is able to build what should be a fine enough story. Unfortunately the film fails in every way it was trying to succeed and misses the point in the process.

It is hard to deny the films beauty. Every frame is gorgeous, every shot unique and expressive, and clearly has a form of passion brought into it. That makes it all the more sad that it wastes every gorgeous set, costume, angle, and frame. Part of this is the film’s frinetic pacing. In an attempt to be impactful but fails so many shots are made to be quick and hit hard. The best example would be Aquaman. That too could be called frinetic, but that same energy is used to make sure the picture is clean, readable, and given time to process. This is most noticeable in the action scenes. In a film that looks like an epic and should want to show off incredible fight choreography to match other martial arts and kung-fu films it instead is often too close or too cut up to give the action full, fluid movement. It is not the same as a jump cut or shaky cam. Instead it is closer to losing frames between shots.

This editing style hinders the broad, mostly slapstick comedy, making it near unintelligible. So many quick cuts to pan to a large gag feel off. The comedy outside of that is all stale, bargain basement war buddy shtick with no flare. It is all the worse that the film has very little comic relief in it. There has been much made before the films release at the lack of Mushu, but now that the film is out his absence is the symptom of a larger problem.

Most of the characters in the film are dull. An argument could be made about many in the original, but the animated feel and exaggerated voice acting allows for some personality to filter through. This movie seeks to fix that by giving everyone no personality. Instead most characters are wrapped in talking about virtues, honor, and truth over any substance. This leads to what little chemistry and romance that exists to be so far in the background it could have been cut out all together.

Those problems make a bad, inconsistent movie. Unfortunately it gets worse because it didn’t seem to get the point of the story it’s a remake of. Mulan is about honor, but it’s more about how anyone of any gender can bring honor by following their path. This film thinks it’s about that. The problem is that it overcomplicates everything making Mulan special.

The only thing that set Mulan apart in the original was her sex, and a not all that helpful ancestral dragon. She could do everything a man could do, proved her worth and then put a twist on it with the climax where they had to do something only women could do in order to save the emperor. That’s now changed to Mulan having magical chi that is good for men but bad for women to have. So, now Mulan doesn’t do everything a man can, but can use magic to help. This is tried to play in contrast to the witch the invaders use. She too is a woman of high chi that was exiled for it and decided to turn against China. Only it fails.

The reason the compare and contrast between Mulan and the witch fails is what feels like missing scenes or unclear filmmaking. The big push that sets Mulan apart, supposedly, is her bond with the army and how she is such a great and brave soldier. The problem is that there are no scenes of that, that the rest of the garrison saw. There is one fight where she uses chi and it impresses the soldiers but that is it. Outside of one scene it’s played like she is a tight part of the army despite hardly being with them. This all makes the redemption arc for the witch character make no sense because she was clearly not accepted and it is unclear what the difference is other than the side they chose to fight on. It would have made more sense if it was against oppressive people, but that’s not discussed. It’s just that Mulan is working for the emperor and people like her. In fact, she was expelled from the army because she lied, not because she was a woman. That makes it feel all the dumber she had to cross-dress since once the final battle comes not even the emperor seems to mind.

The focus on her lying over her gender could be interesting if it was drilled into the viewers heads that women shouldn’t be soldiers. Though, in retrospect that seems more like a garrison rule to not fraternize with women and her father’s restrictive world view. It would help if the society was explained more and given a context and not just told. Because, as the movie is now, the bigger lesson is that it’s bad to lie to your family and it’s more important to be devoted to them even if they hold you back until you do something big to prove them wrong… which you shouldn’t have needed to do.

This must be how people who cares about Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, or Dumbo (haha I kid, no one cares about Dumbo) felt. I had no drive to see those films because I didn’t care about the originals. I saw the originals but they aren’t important to me. Mulan is important to me, and making it a war epic is such a strong idea that is totally squandered by the lack of characters, societal world building, hacked up editing, and no coherent thematic through line. A

lso it’s about protecting China and clearly hyper-made to appeal to their market. (Mandatory thing about how Chinese people are not bad, but they are under a repressive regime that uses communism in the wrong ways) A push to make movies marketable in China makes sense as it is a growing industry and world market, but forcing changes to fit with what they (by they I mean both audiences and the content review board that makes sure the government likes the film) like removes any authorial creativity and keeps companies subservient to a country that regularly abuses human rights.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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New Mutants is an Experience We’ve Been Waiting for A Long Time (a Review)

New Mutants is an experience so many of us have been waiting for, even if you don’t care about the movie, because it’s a return to the cinema. That is, on top of a movie that has been in delayed and development for years, even after being completed. That makes it all the more exciting and terrifying to see how if it lives up to any sort of hype.

Following Danny Moonstar, a girl whose reservation is destroyed in a tornado, she awakens in a strange facility and learns she’s a mutant. She’s allowed to work on training her still mysterious powers, and meet with the four other mutants at the facility in hopes of leaving to join a second school. Unfortunately her appearance at the facility has coincided with strange visions and haunting dreams arresting the patients sanity. Now these new mutants must find the source of the nightmares and find out who is truly running the facility in order to be free.

The film is strongly compelling. Not necessarily in any bad ways, but more in how it feels like a movie that was supposed to be realessed years ago. A movie late to a trend that it should have rode to great success but now is stuck in this limbo state as Marvel and Disney come up with plans for the X-Men in the MCU.

New Mutants is much more of a hang-out, talk-it-out mood piece with horror elements than it is a horror film, or action film. This works to its benefit in setting up the cast. Each of the five mutants feels very distinct and accurate to their comic counterpart. That accuracy does not make it good, but shows the team mining material already there to give a more grounded spin. This results in a film that focuses on the real trauma people would have when they find out their mutants. The damage, dread, and regret that is only ever hinted at in the pages of the more mainstream books is brought fully out and on display. They’re all tragic figures trying to work out their deal and be better. That is all present and feels X-Men.

The particulars of that, and how a story like this: one more comfortable having characters hold conversations about how damaged they feel and why they may or may not be able to movie on, deals when it has to end with a big climax and have twists to reveal is less than satisfying. Without giving anything away, the source of the monsters is revealed just as the true purpose of the facility is exposed to them. This leads to a climax where the group must come together and finally use their powers to help save their friend. It ends well enough and is resonate with the theme of understanding and patience over force but is lacking.

It reminds me in some ways of Project Power. The difference is that Project Power needed a climax and came up with a boring solution. This film felt like I should have had a climax, or, if it did, it should have been something far more subdued. Instead the film feels like it was forced to find a way to have a big action scene at the end and did their best with it.

All of this makes it a compelling movie now, but should have been a better movie at release. The more grounded, character driven, slow burn origins were all the rage. Heck they tried and failed to do that with Power Rangers, but this one had a chance. These characters do honestly come alive as their guarded personalities fall to reveal their true selfs and they bond to form a team. It feels purposeful, with the horror only used to accentuate and manifest what the characters are feeling. Turning the abstract in the physical. It works at that, but does feel compromised to get it there.

Also, despite the long production time for the film, none of that time was used to clean up the effects. Some, like spoilers for X-men fans I won’t give away, look good. Others are very bad and hinder the horror when it looks far more cartoony than scary.

This movie wanted to be Buffy. I don’t mean that in the sense that most things want to copy what Whedon and his ilk did with their respective shows. I mean Buffy, literally. They play it all the time in the background and it is distracting (because I’d rather watch that. It’s season 4 if you’re interested). It makes diagetic sense, but also is used as foreshadowing. The issue is that Buffy, though dealing with the same general theme, is far more focused on building a threat to fit the story and arc, not the other way around. Buffy doesn’t spend its time talking until a monster shows it. It’s about the monster in all of us. New Mutants is about that too, but doesn’t hit the mark.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!