2020 Mini-Reviews

So… it’s been a while. At the end of my favourite movies of 2019 list I said, “I can’t wait to keep sharing my thoughts and opinions on films in 2020,” or something along those lines. And ever since the post I haven’t written a single review, list, or editorial. Now with a global pandemic upon us, theatres all across the world have been shut down and movies have pushed backed. It’s a very strange time we live in. I’m not qualified or well educated enough to be talking about what’s going on in the world and what my opinion is on it, but I do know one thing. And that thing is movies, and there are five 2020 films that I’ve seen and have not talked about yet. So, to do a little catch up since there is nothing really new to talk about, here are 6 mini-reviews (in order of which I saw them starting in January).

Underwater

As previously stated in my Crawl review from last year, I am a big sucker for creature feature flicks especially ones that take place in the water. Underwater takes place in an underwater facility housed by a crew working for a drilling company. At the very bottom of the ocean, the crew encounters a race of sea monsters that start to take apart the station and kill them. The survivors of the initial attack now have to make their escape to the surface and escape their impending doom.

First off, this film has quite the cast to boost, a unique cast as well. Kirsten Stewart, T.J. Miller, Vincent Cassel, John Gallagher Jr. are all excellent actors in their own right and work well together in this flick. T.J. Miller is probably my favourite character in the film. There’s just something about his humor and timing that gets me. But no one comes to this kind of film for the characters, they come for the monsters, damn it! The sea creatures are genuinely pretty scary. I would be terrified if I ever encountered one of these things in real life. The scares and the intensity of the situation are a ton of fun. I enjoyed this film as a straight-up popcorn flick. Didn’t take it too seriously and just enjoyed some underwater horror. I think if you go into it with that mindset, you can’t be disappointed. It’s not a great film, but I never expected it to be. Underwater is my type of flick. I know lots of people didn’t like this one, so maybe you can call this a guilty pleasure of sorts.

Rating: C+

The Gentlemen

You’ve got to love it when a director returns to form and goes back to a story that made them so great in the first place. Guy Ritchie is known for his crime films. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch are classics of the genre. Since then Guy Ritchie has done very different films. From the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock films to Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, I’ve quite enjoyed his ventures out into new territories. Hell, I might be the only person who even enjoyed his King Arthur movie. But with The Gentlemen, it is clear Guy Ritchie is at home. This is the kind of story that put Ritchie on the map. Here he is able to pull no punches and go full out with his unique style. The film is alive with its sharp dialogue, interweaving storylines, dark humor, and a bloody fantastic cast. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see my boy, Matthew McConaughey, in a good movie again giving a top-notch performance. As much as I love McConaughey, I have to say that Colin Ferrell and Hugh Grant stole the show. Some of their best work ever is in this film. If you like classic Guy Ritchie, you will love this film. If you love crime movies, you will love this film. If you like dark humor and great performances, you’ll love this film.

Rating: A-

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

First off, Stupid title. Not only are the Birds of Prey only in like 20% of this movie, but it’s also a terrible name to market your film with as shown in the poor box office results. Don’t let the title fool you, this is first and foremost a Harley Quinn story. I’m a little confused about this movie. On one hand, I liked the style and the R rating, the action was some of the best in all the DCEU, and the cast was pretty great… but on the other, there’s just something off about this film. Like I said the cast is great, obviously, we know Margot Robbie is going to be fun and the new additions like Ewan Mcgregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are a lot of fun on screen. There’s just something about this film, again, that feels off. They try to make Harley Quinn Deadpool by having her narrate most of the film and increase the harsh language and violence with the R rating. It just doesn’t work so well, they try too hard to make her something she’s not instead of letting her character shine through. And as I said, I like the cast quite a bit, but for the most part, they are all pretty well wasted. Sure each of them has their moments but in the grand scheme of things their involvement is minimal. The Birds of Prey seems like an add on to the film. It never once takes focus in the movie, again a very misleading title. I still however liked the film enough to encourage people to go see it at least. The action is stellar, I believe some of the guys who did the John Wick movie’s stunts helped out with the action in this movie and it shows and it is awesome. This is not the worst DCEU movie by far, but it’s not the best either.

Rating: B-

The Invisible Man

I am so glad we got this version of The Invisible Man and not the planned Dark Universe Johnny Depp movie. Leigh Whannell’s third feature film, The Invisible Man, comes right up to the line of a full-blown horror masterpiece. It just misses it with a weaker third act, but still manages to create a terrifying atmosphere and a compelling story led by a brilliant performance from Elizabeth Moss. Whannell understands that suggesting something or just eluding to a scare instead of outright showing us all the time is far scarier. The thought of thinking you’re alone at home but having someone in your house without you knowing might be one of the scariest concepts in horror. The Invisible Man wisely updates the material to today, going more technology-based and less potion drinking. The suggestion of someone turning invisible seems fairly realistic in this concept. In the spotlight of this film is a story of a woman trying to escape her abusive boyfriend and being haunted and tormented by her experience living with him. When weird stuff starts to happen, she believes it’s the boyfriend coming back to get his revenge. When no one believes her, she now not only has to fight an invisible force that is attacking her, she needs to prove her innocence and find a way to end this. The only thing that holds this film back from being one of the greatest horror films of all time, is the third act. The first 2 acts in my opinion are perfect. The tension and pace paired with the fantastic story lays the groundwork for a masterclass horror flick, but the third act makes a few choices that doesn’t ruin the film but holds it back from being one of the greats. There are a few twists and turns that don’t play out as well as I think Whannell intended them to. The Invisible Man is an excellent suspense horror film that I loved. Don’t miss it!

Rating: A

The Way Back

The trailer of this film affected me so much. From the trailer alone I knew this would be one of Ben Affleck’s best performances ever. Also, Bon Iver’s Heavenly Father was an excellent pick for the trailer song. The Way Back is a conventional sports movie. It follows most of the cliche we’ve seen time after time and sticks fairly close to the formula. However, Ben Affleck’s performance in my opinion brings this film to a new level along with an ending that doesn’t stick to the formula. This is a personal film for Affleck, he’s gone through much of the same things his character Jack has gone through. Ben Affleck has gone to rehab for his alcohol addiction and has recovered from it and has recently gone through a divorce. His character Jack is an alcoholic dealing with the divorce of his wife. It hits close to home for him. Watching his performance, you could just feel the pain and suffering in it. It felt so real and raw. Gavin O’Connor, who is no stranger to this type of film, frames the character in a way that doesn’t look down on him but brings us to his level and helps us understand the very human issues that led him down this path. Gavin O’Connor understands empathy and how to use it in a film like this. And like I said, the ending is unconventional for a sports flick. It takes a route that I didn’t expect but appreciated and in fact loved because it was the most realistic way to end the film. I really loved this film. Sure it’s conventional in most parts and is a formulaic sports film, but Ben Affleck and Gavin O’Connor’s direction pulled me in and connected with me on an emotional level that the flaws and conventionalism of it all didn’t bother me.

Rating: A-

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