The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Emmy says:
A pretty fantasy that’s fairly predictable. Fun to watch. 6/10.

Jeff says:
Snow White and the Huntsman was part of a Hollywood fever dream in the early 2010’s that involved remaking classic fairy tales into something else (a couple of years later Maleficent would do a much better job of it). Somehow, a sequel – that became a spin-off that wrapped around the first movie – got made. It went through various creative types and took a while to make up its mind what it was. I’m not sure it ever really sorted itself out. This was a by-the-numbers, wholly predictable, uninspired spin-off to a movie that wasn’t that spectacular to begin with. 4/10.

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Jumanji

Emmy says:
Although the CG has dated the story holds strong. A wonderful disaster of a game with spectacular consequences. Very enjoyable 7/10.

Jeff says:
Sometimes a movie calls for a remake – not because it was bad, but because it deserved better. This movie deserved better than the CGI used to create the animals. Even for the mid-90s the effects were bad. Sadly, any remake would mean losing Robin Williams, and that isn’t worth it. There’s a reason why this movie took so long to get a sequel … and was considered such a risk when it did, this movie is a gem. 9/10.

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Jumanji: The Next Level

Emmy says:
A great sequel that shows the talent of these actors. A lot of fun but I feel it fell just short of Welcome to the Jungle. 8/10.

Jeff says:
Wow, the acting just gets better. Sure the NPCs aren’t as well developed, but that’s often the case in simple linear games. Once again our avatars do an incredible job of portraying their players … and it’s clear as day when it’s someone else. Great work all around, still enjoying the people and the central conceit … but it’s the law of diminishing returns – rewatching Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle still brings a level of joy that this one doesn’t quite have. Don’t get me wrong: I had a blast, and can’t wait for the next instalment that is clearly planned. 8/10.

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Emmy says:
Surprisingly entertaining for someone who has never watched the cartoon. Great casting, wonderful settings, fun humour. 7/10.

Jeff says:
What on earth was that? I am too old to have seen the cartoon, but I am aware of it and it’s place in the cultural zeitgeist of youngsters. This … both leveraged off that and went in a new direction at the same time. Entertaining and outright funny in places, other parts were cringe-worthy as I struggled with the reality-breaking call-backs. Still, an engaging film with a lot to offer. 7/10.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Emmy says:
Absolutely overstuffed! So much in this movie but unfortunately no time to appreciate it. I’m exhausted from watching a marathon at sprinting speed. Some great scenes and dynamics, only I didn’t get a chance to take them in before the next plot point was being shoved down my throat. 7/10.

Jeff says:
That was a lot of action in a short runtime. As always, I enjoyed returning to the galaxy far far away … but there was just so much happening that it was tiring and not because we were at the midnight session. While I appreciate the need to wrap up loose threads, there were some that were left unresolved while unnecessary (albeit pleasing) fan service took the moment instead. Some moments even hearkened back to trivial beats in the original 1977 film! Mostly done well, and there were definitely some outstanding elements that hit hard and were still harder to shake. 7/10.

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Joker

Emmy says:
A truly uneasy film to watch with a narrator so unreliable I have no idea what actually happened. Some great camera work with the constant face only close ups juxtaposed with scenic shots of a narrow/confined environment. The acting by Phoenix was fully immersive and I found it seriously unsettling. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I did not enjoy this film. It was exceedingly well made, and tells the story in a way that is thought-provoking. The characters are well-acted. Unfortunately, the story ‘punches down’ – making mental illness the spectacle and wallowing in someone’s misery. While effective, this is never something I can enjoy (personal preference/viewpoint). I also have a few other issues, in terms of how some characters are served (or rather, not served) by the story. For a movie trying to be edgy, some of the choices made seem safe – and the movie suffered as a result. 7/10.

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Knives Out

Emmy says:
A great who-dun-it with an amazing cast. The delivery of information is wonderful with the audience getting the characters memories contrasted with what they say. Absolutely love the setting and knitwear! 9/10.

Jeff says:
I knew I wanted to see this the moment i heard about it … this cast, this director, a whodunit? What’s amazing is that it didn’t disappoint – it was BETTER than I had anticipated. The amount of detail given out through unreliable narration gives the armchair sleuth much to mull over. Even with the knowledge we are granted, there’s still tension leading into the denouement which is a feat in and of itself. An instant classic. 10/10.

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The Lion King (2019)

Emmy says:
My reaction after watching: what was the point? It’s almost a shot for shot recreation of the original with some lines changed. Timon and Pumba delivered laughs again, most notably as bait, but this does not make up for the butchering of ‘Be Prepared’ that was done. 6/10.

Jeff says:
From a technical standpoint, this is an impressive film. It looks gritty and real … why does it have to look gritty and real? It’s a Disney movie with singing animals! There’s the problem: this makes sense as an animated feature, but less as a ‘real’ animal movie. Some of the changes just make you want the old movie back, although some of the new gags were actually very good. Sadly, they almost felt like they were the voice actor’s improvisations that miraculously made it in, rather than a deliberate scripted choice.  I also can’t forgive them for butchering ‘Be Prepared’ when ‘Hakuna Matata’ is essentially unchanged. 6/10.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Emmy says:
Vibrant and packed with detail this film takes you on a journey that is a non stop roller-coaster. I am stunned at the set designs, costumes and visual effects. This film would benefit from multiple watchings as there’s just too much on screen to catch in one sitting. 9/10.

Jeff says:
Luc Besson. Need I say more? Even more than that it’s based on a comic that started in 1967. The comic was inspired by classic sci-fi literature and in turn has inspired many of the tropes common in Sci-Fi cinema (or so it is said). A visual feast, the pre-title sequence is possibly one of the most beautiful in cinema (a big call, I know). The rest of the film seems too full and therefore feels rushed by comparison – it’s hard to fully enjoy a moment when you’re already into the next before you get a chance. This film was panned, and I’m not sure why – it’s a fun ride that is Besson at his best. 9/10.

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Doctor Sleep

Emmy says:
A wonderfully crafted film with great actors and stunning music. Loved the visuals especially the long travelling shots in the Overlook. I loved it. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Wow. Just wow. I don’t know what to say about this one – and I’m not usually lost for words. A spectacular sequel to both a movie and a book that had very different endings and story styles, while being an adaptation of the book that was the sequel to the book alone, and yet manages to tread its own path in a well acted, well shot, well directed tale that I honestly can’t imagine being done any other way. The recreation of the original Overlook was impressive, and the homage shots that you know were coming were better and more subtle than you might expect. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. 10/10.

IMDb

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Emmy says:
A lot of fun and very moving. 9/10.

Jeff says:
I think there’s a level of … exhaustion … going around. I was reminded of Kiki’s Delivery Service as a result of Patrick (H) Willems’ video Kiki’s Delivery Service & YouTube Burnout, which left me wanting to watch the film again. Little did I know that at the same time, I was going through my own exhaustion patch (I wouldn’t quite say it was burnout). We have not watched a movie at the cinema since IT Chapter Two because we’re both just so tired. Life imitating art without even trying. Watch this film. It’s gorgeous, relatable, and just a delightful way to pass some much needed time. 9/10.

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The Sting

Emmy says:
This was a fun film, and I was conned to the end. 7/10.

Jeff says:
A movie I have always loved, watching it after more than a few years (and a lot more awareness of films) some things stand out to me: the choice to emulate movies of the 1930’s (such as the lack of extras) to fit with the setting of the piece; the lack of background music/noise throughout much of the film despite the film being famous for the ragtime score. A classic in every way, and Redford and Newman are just excellent. 8/10.

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