Quick-Thoughts: Robert Eggers’ The Northman

I think it’s awesome how Eggers shot this like a Naughty Dog video game. God do I f**king love long takes.

In all 137 minutes of brooding, virtually heartless, and testosterone-wedged human malice, Robert Eggers only offers his audience but a brief glimpse of mercy that wanes away though so forthwith that your attempt to catch a breath is ominously meant to disorient you even more so for the rest which ensues. Bearing in mind that this is a contemporary big studio production, I am quite shocked by how much is supposedly not held back — because it seems as if nothing is. Manifesting the hunger of a carnivore, socializing the captured to rape, massacring children for your own future; the hardcore yet truthful nature of what’s shown here is excruciating. Thus, get this through your head right now: every character in The Northman was forged from the depths of hell. The sole value they possess though that could make you believe them tender: to prosper a worthy bloodline in their eyes, in the name of Valhalla. 

From accounts of the Salem Witch Trial, to writer Edgar Allen Poe, and now to the play king himself William Shakespeare, The Northman is another expert cinematic adaptation on behalf of Eggers. In the name of Hamlet (1603) though, it’s not quite a Lion King (1994) level accomplishment in terms of either augmenting or rejuvenating the household story — if anything, it sort of bludgeons such superior venture to smithereens with its masculine, narrow-minded drive back from any intellectual or morally alternative meanings which is, to be fair, appropriately consistent with the dominating vibe of the film’s historical pawns and perhaps the surface of the Amleth mythology’s revenge loop of equitably blamable scapegoats that’s needed to represent the savage Viking custom accurately. So in spite of the dramatic source material it tells being familiar, it’s rather how the film is told with its detail-oriented concentration on the ancient Icelandic time period and heightened visual surrealism to compliment their inhabitants’ fantasy-esc superstitions for which turns the picture into a visual spectacle that artificially yet ever so gorgeously pierces our interest and respect as it should given it mimics the perspective of these foreign, over-speculative characters, even if they are disagreeable to our modern ideologies. Like Eggers himself once said: “You can’t be judgmental of the characters and the time period. You can’t rewrite history to conform to the zeitgeist.”

The Northman doesn’t flow seamlessly in every respect — conflicting editing decisions stalk over its fidgety progression — but every isolated moment of Anglo-Saxon theater performance or calculated violence is so hypnotically accomplished on their own rights that it’s difficult to not be in a trance with them, at least individually, similar to how Eggers’ previous efforts operated. If anything, they connect well enough regardless because of this expected dream logic chronology that has always been a trademark of the director’s unparalleled aesthetic. Sincerely to general blockbuster audiences reading this, prepare yourselves for some serious culture shock… and gore. *this and Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) would make for an INSANE double-feature* 

Verdict: B

2022 Ranked, Robert Eggers Ranked

“The Northman” will be playing in theaters April 22nd.

Quick-Thoughts: The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Once

“Complete knowledge” is actually one of the central topics that I plan to base my filmmaking career on: the idea that the more you know (or the greater your awareness) the more insensitive you become to the valued things that reside in humanity. I appreciate how The Daniels have covered it all here in their sophomore debut: both the nihilism and the optimism in it. The bravery that the two directors flaunt by ambitiously exhibiting these connected thoughts have graciously inspired me to be a little more comfortable with expressing my own takes on the subject matter in the future. Therefore, a toast to this fun action comedy that also gives you an existential crisis!

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a story where you can see almost exactly where it’s heading and ending in terms of character arcs, yet not a whole lot as to how they’ll be expressed. Actually, make that a “pretty much not at all” with a cautious asterisk next to it when recollecting its in-and-out habits. From its single location primary that’s however adequately networked into dozens of flashbacks / forwards or multiverse settings, and to its entire second half being literally dedicated as THEE climax — though, partially to a lethargic fault where the last-minute, desperate pathos adds of brain-spieling messages across get easier and easier overtime to pick out and query over given how slowed down our glances at them become —, this reconstructive blockbuster is evidently f**king nuts.

In all sincerity, this works its absurdism and uniqueness best when applying it for laugh-out-loud comedy and headache-accumulating philosophical discussions on the glorifications and washouts of human desires — that everything-bagel analogy, wow! — but personally not as much in regards to being a mother and daughter or wife and husband life circumstance acceptance journey despite that seemingly being what the core yearns to manifest; the mother to family relationships are particularly limited in literal context to a point where we are left to just assume what the extent of them could be (for “artistic” merit or not depending on who you are) based on tiger-parent, dorky-dad, and rebel-child stereotypes and the one-note incidents that have negatively defined or impacted them, and even still so despite its many creatively spectacled trials of emphasis that try to decrepit them throughout. Because of something this over-stimulative from having countless evolutionary stages, so much ends up feeling forced to either initiate or conclude briefly and repeatedly, therefore often foreseeably too, as if this were just a more adrenaline-spurted take two (to one million?) on Pixar’s Turning Red. It’s essentially a relatively conventional skeleton of a tale on overcoming and rectification that’s hammered to death with tastefully nuanced and aggressive theoretical greeds and insecurities within an allegorical multiverse to make it stand out especially from the parroting Hollywood crowd — although, this bipolar hammering should be MUCH preferred over the latter of it not existing at all in the first place akin to most interchangeable movies that idealize human decisions and revelations instead of vulnerably counterbalancing them with their relatable narcissistic drawbacks. 

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this complex methodology to connect us to the characters’ growths is an illusion that I appreciated and, for the most part, thought worked enough, yet is an illusion that doesn’t entirely fool us as much as I think it could’ve, especially in regards to expanding on its evident generalization of the Chinese American immigrant experience. The Daniels bite off a little more than they can chew, but by God is there so much to chew to really get that upset at them for it. If anything, for what they did do, that alone is already lightyears more commendable than what you could say about a majority of filmmaking efforts today. 

In hindsight, what ends up divulging the impressiveness of Everything Everywhere All at Once the most is really its surface technicalities: the insanely hyper-specific camerawork and blocking, intricately jumbo-footage-assembled match-cut editing, and unusual variety of special effect styles and pop culture references; the sheer amount of effort here is something impossible to not find admiration in even if they don’t all perfectly translate the story’s desired emotional resonance, which howbeit, again, feels inevitable given something that crams this much content into its runtime. And, like I mentioned before, the amalgamation between comedy and action here is just sublime: the duo truly take the rules of their universe to each’s fullest, absurdist potential in the funniest, slap-stickiest, and blissfully immature-ist (like that attempted spelling) possible ways, never holding an ounce of expression back. If this movie proved anything, it’s that The Daniels are worthy of becoming the hard-working modern-day Chaplins and Wachowskis for this meme-led generation.

Also, is it just me or does anyone else find The Daniels and Lord & Miller to be quite similar filmmakers? It’s hard to explain, but this movie gave me serious Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) / The LEGO Movie (2014) vibes. Either way, a collaboration between the four of them sounds orgasmic. 

Verdict: B

2022 Ranked

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is now playing in select theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Jeen-yuhs A Kanye Trilogy

Act I is easily the best segment of Jeen-Yuhs. It’s hard not to be enlightened witnessing the hip-hop scene during the time opposing diversification, leading to Kanye’s accumulating struggle to accomplish his dreams but also provoking his accumulating motivation to change their minds; that boiling of stress and emotion is strung together so well during this preliminary third. Act II though is sort of just self-satisfying as a massive fan of The College Dropout (2004), witnessing the album being assembled under the resourceful guidance of studio hopping and promo missioning; the BTS of creating the LP’s track-list alone is enough to entertain fans like me, but will probably leave people unfamiliar with Kanye’s debut less engaged than Act I and especially considering that “proving others wrong” and “rise to fame” story is essentially recycled here again. Act III, however, is where a time span is really ruminated in a flash. Covering fifteen choppy years of content between Coodie and Kanye’s relationship, the first half is dedicated to viewing the icon’s career and mental fluctuation only from a distance, and there is undoubtedly a value to feeling that frustration of being limited by strictly media knowledge. Although this act did test my patience more than the first two, mainly because of its over-reliance and over-compiling of manipulated news footage throughout, I do appreciate that it doesn’t just feel like b-sides to Act I as did Act II, and actually progresses the arc of Kanye further.

It is pretty mind-blowing to think that this documentary has been twenty years in the making; it paid off enough as a moderate follower of one of the 21st century’s most prominent celebrities. Nevertheless, there’s still questionable narrative structuring to it that could’ve been revised by using the revelatory footage wiser, especially if it’s heavily emanating from a documentary as polished as Hoop Dreams (1994), which Jeen-yuhs noticeably lacks. One thing is for sure though: cut most of Coodie’s narration from this and you would have yourselves a closer to solid than just serviceable documentary. Sorry man, but you don’t need to state the obvious while also reassuring us your biases during every moment!

If you have the time though, definitely watch Act I at least; that alone is a great film in of itself. 

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked

“Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy” is now available to stream on Netflix.

Quick-Thoughts: The Outfit

Sure, The Outfit isn’t remotely close to perfect, if at all, good overall — it jumps through a s**tload of hastily tacked on and convenient plot points to absolute its intricate “suit-cutter” allegory with the lead character’s backstory, who was honestly more compelling when director and writer Graham Moore let the craft speak for itself in terms of who this man could be rather than making sure his origin clichés gave the story a right to some obviously inaugurated pathos — but it is admittedly refreshing to experience a single location period piece this conceptually original released in theaters today. Even if every reveal isn’t too staggering, and more often than not just serviceable enough to keep an audience’s attention, the narrative did consistently engage me because it extensively leaves viewers on thin ice for the true perspective by alternating between so many misleading possibilities during its escalating whodunit. Ultimately, I can’t imagine myself rewatching this again, but I don’t necessarily regret watching it once, especially in cinemas. 

Although, this making zero dollars at the box-office right now is just going to give Hollywood even more of an incentive to not make these types of movies. Aw-shucks, time to get Netflix on the line, Moore.

Verdict: C+

2022 Ranked

“The Outfit” is now playing in theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 (2021)

Yo, they got the Russian James McAvoy in this! 

A film that falls for its familiar premise’s — “the unlikely friendship’s” — dramatic conventions maybe far too frequently, but one that at least feels personal enough in its presentation of them to humanize the narrative and therefore relate its audience. Juho Kuosmanen fabricates quite the effective sense of abandonment in this; phone calls sound more and more suspicious when departed farther and farther away from our partners! Naturally, he also communicates to us how brief moments of loneliness can punish us as if we were experiencing an eternity, and how that fattens our intimacy towards strangers. We often seek people not because we’re aware of who they are in their entirety, but rather for their time and the nostalgic memories we can make of them simplistically. The charm of or, perhaps even more so, the attraction towards people can certainly stem from their unconventional ambitions, whether we understand why they exist or not; we just know they must for a reason, and that’s what brings us back down to earth: noticing there are others who merely want to share that “time” caused uniquely by them; we live for dedication to another and their dedication to ourselves. There’s no doubt that the intentionally chosen ambiguities of the two main leads in Compartment No. 6 have helped communicate this across the board, as well as their persuasive performers. 

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked

“Compartment No. 6” is now playing in select theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Ti West’s X

Okay, but even at the end of the day, you have to admit: that was couple goals.

X really benefits from the fact that it’s not only just a horror movie that is a, quote on quote, “love letter” to classic slasher technique and visual aesthetic, which has become a more prevalently phrased excuse in recent times for copying and pasting formulas to ironically access larger box-office incomes, but that it’s also a crowd-pleasing comedy to help sustain its originality. During my viewing, I couldn’t help but occasionally see this as a more entertaining and witty take on M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit, and one that uses the cheaply written or flagrantly contrived thrills of something like A Quiet Place to rather soften its audience with self-aware laughs at these known timing tropes. For these reasons alone, I recommend seeing this film in theaters with as large of an audience as you can find; the very responsive screening I went to certainly made my experience better. 

Sex and violence: we can have them both, we can have just one, but barely can we maintain having none. This premise of the primary “sin-labeled” and “animalistic” desires of the human race make way into Ti West’s commentary on how institutionalized religious suppression of ancestors can cause their projection and envy that we often see on the sexual freedom of the youth. West has stated before that he’s planning on making a prequel and sequel to X, and I can only hope he expands on what he sets up here: the late 70s time period of radical Christian order in southern America is used to roughly counteract some life ethic philosophy that’s however translated with a modern liberal tongue; it works itself into a parallel between the entertainment industry of porn and horror for which we both consume addictively today more than ever, but furthermore one admitting the reality of generational “regrets” that we uncover more and more of as moral diversification reaches younger kins to impulsively combat these “mistakes”. Sure, this messaging gets a bit blurry at times — I couldn’t quite tell if this was siding with the younger characters’ beliefs or also poking at the hippie optimism of them that wants to thwart repeating our forebears or just aging in general as if they literally were embodying the incessantly spry pornographic body clichés of horror to achieve such; the ambiguity here is semi-problematic less so completely introspective to me as of now — but when the film alone acts more so as a light-hearted take on thrills and kills, it’s at least fun to watch regardless if their linked parts manage to come out perhaps too raw. Again, X prequel and sequel, do us some franchise justice by reinforcing these interesting ideas!

Verdict: B

2022 Ranked

“X” is now playing in theaters.

Quick-Thoughts: Pixar’s Turning Red

“Four is the worst number.”

Oh man, if only y’all knew how many times I had to hear that comment from relatives too, haha. 

As a once extroverted child turned introverted teenager and subsequently adult, and as someone who knows that the root of it came from how insecure I grew to be of backlash towards my true feelings and imaginations, I got to say, this hit. Then again, Turning Red isn’t nearly just about that…

The phrase “Pixar magic” has created such an obnoxious set of expectations from fans that it literally sets them up for disappointment when going to see perfectly fine movies like Onward — a socially nuanced effort that offered just the bare minimum of pathos which likely led to its moderate yet finally deserving (for the studio) reception. These days, it seems that whenever Pixar is not trying to drench the absolute crap out of your emotions via some of cinema’s most blatantly contrived manipulation there is known to the modern animation field, it’s automatically disapproved of having that sort of “magic”. 

Arguably Pixar’s greatest and, in fact, first feature-length ever made Toy Story rarely did this, and yet, it evokes such a deep offering of humanity to the audience simply from what we observe of Woody and Buzz’s competition for attention and validation that it doesn’t need a third act spelled-out and blown-out emphasis — like Toy Story 3 or Monsters University or Inside Out or Finding Dory or Coco, etc. — to make you tear up. Sure, maybe you need that hero’s journey “all hope is lost” moment in the climax to get you more on hooks, but it isn’t what should completely control the grip. Ratatouille almost does the same thing too: aside from a literal scene involving ratatouille to nicely release this hook, its countless ongoing themes are simply enough to let you emote from your own mind piecing the real life parallels together; you don’t need a plot-banking finale to convince you that this is the kind of story worth emotionally connecting to all of a sudden; it convinces you by simply trusting how personal it already was for the audience the moment it started. 

It’s unfortunate to see that Turning Red doesn’t exactly fall into this category of Pixar’s most mature, and once again revels in this over-exaggeration of pathos through plot at the sacrifice of believability just to make sure that it got us on a weeping leash by the credits, even though it had me on there since the first half. So, while newcomer Domee Shi’s writing may have not impressed me in every instance, I did respect her non-Pixar-esc flamboyant style. It’s more so Sony’s The Mitchells vs. Machines-esc if anything, considering it hearkens to internet age animation. It’s not going for super detailed and technical textures, realisms, or masterful action-packed thrills like a handful of Pixar’s work, but the moments regarding visual indicators, transitions, or facial exaggerations are made to be quite outgoing — in a good way given its exuberant characters!

As with a lot of Pixar’s recent efforts though, the plot towards the second half this time features an unreasonable volume of negligent conveniences and ultimatums to stir up conflict and revelation in the narrative that tonally outbalances the first half which prioritizes commentary over loud plot-building. Instead, it would’ve been rather rewarding if that commentary was neatly paced throughout the entire runtime, distracting us from the plot and especially making it feel less crammed next to the movie’s speedy momentum. One intricately connected series of coincidental reveals used to mark the act two disaster, in particular though, was so utterly unimaginable that it jolted me out of the moviegoing experience more than I’ve ever been watching something in a while, which really hammered my investment with the rest of the runtime. While the commentary isn’t that predictable, the plot again certainly is with how formulaic it becomes, and the third act has a lot of ideal resolution happening between characters that I couldn’t possibly envision just occurring out of the blue like it does in this movie, knowing… you know… how real people are with upholding their beliefs. 

However, let’s talk about that “commentary” now on the plus side.

From my recollection, this may be the most substance-focused Pixar has been in over a decade. The “panda” represents a lot of things. Puberty given all its awkward body changes and added hormones, wanting to rush childhood but also being afraid to let go of it, and even the misogynistically yet socially unwanted characteristics of women who are free-spirited, which is devastatingly bottled up in traditional Chinese culture. The “panda” is treated by our lead characters as a cultural inconvenience to the family’s new world, and the desire to suppress it with guilt is so heavily felt considering that I too naively had so much shame for my own cultures because of encouraged racist norms forced onto me as a kid.

I think the irony of the mom character is so telling too, where she has a distaste for other cultures — the NSYNC knock-off band — yet is perfectly fine with keeping some of her culture to herself in order to please Toronto norms; this exchange of what we choose to keep and show amongst the many cultures we consume and obsess over is universally relatable, as we all deal with internal racism / sexism. Then there’s also the “drug hustle” part where Mei and her friends literally exploit their culture (the “panda”) for money when it becomes convenient, cause isn’t it nice to brag about what makes you special once people finally start liking that part of you? If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the classic coming-of-age “parent and kid drifting apart as they find new people and cultures to love”, which weighs the central crux of the narrative. Now tell me this isn’t the most socially aware Pixar movie since WALL•E, or at least, the most socially aware Disney movie since Encanto?

In other words, and despite its flaws, where was Turning Red when I needed it? 13-year-old me would’ve really appreciated a movie like this! 13-year-old me also would’ve really appreciated a spin-off about Tyler suppressing his feminine urges too! 

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked, Pixar Ranked

“Turning Red” is now playing in theaters and available to stream on Disney+.

Quick-Thoughts: Fresh

I totally agree though. F**k Ariel. Literally the most overrated Disney princess out there. 

Mimi Cave deserves her share of directorial hirings in the future considering she shoots her stylistic debut Fresh quite creatively, especially under the support of the so far great cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski, and Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan are just marvelous in this despite how incomplete their characters appear (among many other things) because of a doomed script. Those first thirty minutes of the movie also showed such promise thematically — a sneaky photo-snap to keep of the person who doesn’t have their life’s story uploaded on social media, wi-fi dependency has become a productive safety net for us so when it’s gone our vulnerability just maxes out to unbearable degrees, i.e it looks as if we’re heading into a socially aware piece! Then after that opening (and literally when the title first shows up) the movie garnishes this lethargically avant-garde release of the remaining plot, and yet the most it accomplishes from this is letting you, within this upsettingly new + taboo + abusive environment, linger on its one “would you rather” / “you gotta do what you gotta do” question, given how hollow the rest of its content is if you can forget about the side-plot purposely disguised as the Get Out (2017) side-plot that’s happening in the background.

Nonetheless, this moral question is admittedly sometimes beefy enough to make your experience with the story feel some existential pressure, but it could’ve been pushed a trillion times harder for the better in a numerous amount of occasions especially for what interesting concepts it does bring up. What’s even more disheartening though, is what decides to proceed this part’s sunbathing of black market culture. It suddenly flips its heels with what almost became just the pinnacle of what you’d expect from a generic horror climax cloaked though by a few “wink-heavy” subversions. The “…are the f**king problem” line went off at least? #dontsubmittoyourenvironment

So sure, it’s nice (and relieving) to keep seeing big studios make intentionally stomach-triggering s**t like Fresh still, but predominantly spending your time hammering in that kind of “edge” can only get you so far, and it becomes even more of a tease too when there are clear ambitions here to look at that “edge” and think higher of it than your usual mediocre flick for which it, however, ultimately came to be.

Verdict: C

2022 Ranked

“Fresh” is now available to stream on Hulu.

Matt Reeves’ The Batman Warrants its Stay by Setting the Caped Detective in our Digital-Driven World of Today

Over the past decade and a half, Matt Reeves proved he isn’t exactly no stranger when it comes to meddling with original properties, or if not just that, one occasionally experimenting with genre such as in his feature-length directorial comeback Cloverfield (2008) where the redux-effect of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2005) and the extortionate glut of the found-footage era hits audiences familiarly, yet in that same space, differently from its intense reconstruction of their formulas. His (allegedly) bloody Let the Right One In (2008) American interpretation and Planet of the Apes “prequel sequels” (2014-2017) are undoubtedly where we do see that reboot-fueled perimeter of his craft though, and after the acclaimed success of those surprisingly weighty mo-cap chimp dramas in particular, it’s not too surprising to see him at the head of possibly the biggest superhero property yet. If anything can be verified of Reeves as of now, it’s that he’s one of the better Hollywood blockbuster directors working today, as what usually comes attached to someone with a crystal clear passion for intimate storytelling that ironically doesn’t abide entirely to its genre’s now outrageous necessities as seen in so much of what comes out from the market today. 

I had “recency bias” issues in 2019 regarding when I first saw Todd Phillip’s Joker and gave it a positive score, and have now, however, succumb to being polarized by its content. Suffice it to say, I get a little too hyped up for any sort of live-action Batman property, and I’ll fair-warn all reading as of now that there is a chance this “bias” may be masked as of reviewing, because I must confess: I liked The Batman

If Tim Burton’s Batmans were the epitome of the delusional fantasies one could extract from both Gotham’s absurd heroes and villains for which they miserably haunt over together, and if Nolan’s were to show the pushing point of no return for Gotham’s public mania through uncanny noir realism, then Matt Reeves’ are looking to be the b-rate versions of investigative David Fincher thrillers that are, however, set on the streets of a comparable noir and delusion-driven Gotham City, making them marginally more entertaining and rewarding of a watch than they would be otherwise in an environment less personal to us. Although, The Batman isn’t necessarily trying to break a lot of ground for the noir it takes from outside of the obvious that it’s now placed in the current superhero scene — if anything it’s trivializing the best of its capabilities minus its ambitions to at least attempt modern social / political climate parallels — but it is well put together enough to please people looking for elaboration to the live-action Batman mythos. If you ever want to test whether a mystery was truly spectacular or not, then the one-time watch shouldn’t feel like it was enough, and should therefore make you want to watch the movie again knowing the answers so that you can spot out all the neat clues, but Reeves and Peter Craig’s hints are pretty undemanding when glancing back from memory, and it doesn’t draw me personally with a dying need to see the film again anytime soon.

The action in The Batman may be set to a significantly lower pulse compared to your average superhero spectacle-fest, but there’s no question that when we do get action it’s usually great. The car chase sequence in particular is such a uniquely conceptualized use of minimal shot space and undoubtedly riveting if you can look past how insanely destructive it ends up being after suspending the disbelief that Bruce wouldn’t give a hoot about all those risk factors — although, one could tie that into his ego-driven ignorance as this obsessive early-stage Batman. Reeves also, as always, includes touching poetic moments to reconcile some humanity for the picture; one moving scene in particular made up for the third act climax it’s in, which was the flimsiest piece to this whole puzzle. Reeves knack really shines though from the tension he builds within The Riddler’s terroristic murders — that Kahoot live scene went harder than any moment from Spiral: The Book of Saw (2021), I can tell you that much.

As of now, Robert Pattinson is a compelling Bruce Wayne whether you like why that is or not; the entire movie has ambitions to prove that he isn’t wisely going about this caped crusader business by choosing one life over the other — The Bat to The Bruce. He’s still flopping (literally) a bit in this initial era of his vigilante career, and yet, this entirely new and refreshing addition to his life’s purpose seems to be something he’s bathing in with blissful ignorance like a game of lashing out more so than reinforcing it cautiously with also the power that his billionaire presence can have on the city of Gotham. You could even argue that this carelessness is what’s inspiring mayhem amongst Gotham’s spectators rather than mending them with the security they need.

What really ended up being my favorite element in the entire film though was the slow-burn of The Riddler’s intricate nature and the hike of learning that he is not as all-knowing as he sets out to be; we witness his own hypocrisies as he unconsciously gets parts of his banking “narrative” wrong; the tape-faced renegade seems representative of the radical clique from the poor of Gotham that assumes all immoral actions as only having one possible inception of equitable immorality, and in the ever-growing online cancel culture of today where people love to act *anonymously* as the morally authoritative and superior figures of society, it feels freakishly relevant — unlike Phillip’s Joker (set in the 80s…) which tries to accomplish something similar by having a man start killing people to simply say: “hey! That’ll happen cause of corruption: death!” and it’s essentially left at that degree of elaboration besides if you’ve seen The Batman already and know how DEAD similar that one reveal in the Riddler’s plan is to a plot point in Joker, and I must give Phillip’s credit for introducing it to the live-action outlet first howbeit. On the plus side, The Riddler’s interrogation scene in The Batman (as seen in the trailers) almost feels like a callback to The Dark Knight (2008) regarding the reason it comes up in the first place, and Paul Dano’s socially capricious presence and facial gestures alone are enough to make you as uncomfortable as you probably were in any given scene from Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019).

Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman serves as the premeditated antagonist of the story, essentially channeling The Riddler before “The Riddler” vibes, but really that’s there to give Batman a mind to tussle with and save in his eyes as per their usual relationship amidst the Batman lore. It was charming to see Commissioner Gordon and Batman so hand in hand, giving us slivers of that The Nice Guys (2016) comedic yet genuine electricity to grant the film considerable levity. Oh yeah, and Colin Farrell as the Penguin? What a solid visual take on the character so far that isn’t just some prosthetic gimmick for clout; there’s undoubtedly potential for his brief interpretation to sprout triumphantly in the hopefully near future of this saga.

Evidently, almost everything here is what we’ve come to expect from a live-action adaptation whether it be found in Bruce’s revelations or look at capital corruption; it just has one moderately huge microscope hovering over it this time and a modern-day mindset to help warrant it. Like Joker, The Batman wants to show us examples of the outrageously privileged rich causing the poor to combat corruption via anti-villain mayhem, but this time through heavy narration and intricately established or momentarily hidden crime connections / social hierarchies that create a picture wide and clear for the audience unlike Phillip’s misguided ambiguity. Maybe once the Marvel Cinematic Universe juice runs out, it‘ll be time to expect some more noir appropriations that the still dominating superhero genre will take the form of from there on forward.

Verdict: B-

2022 Ranked, The Batman Ranked

“The Batman” will be released in theaters March 4th. 

Quick-Thoughts: Uncharted (The Movie)

In conversation with the Tom Holland blockbuster phenomena, at least Chaos Walking had the decency to be kind of original and meekly intriguing under those circumstances…

Sully: “I got a question: how f**ked up are you?”

Nathan Drake: “…”

Sully: “Your father is another goof. He gets busted selling off your mother Cassandra’s possessions to collectors among many, many, many other departures from our normative behavior.”

Nathan Drake: “And what’s this got to do with me?”

Sully: “Why are you pretending to be a treasure hunter?”

Nathan Drake: “…”

Sully: “Your brother was a f**king hump from Southie. Long-time thief, right? Family’s all criminals except for the old mom, huh?”

Nathan Drake: “And a couple nuns since you seem to know everything.”

Sully: “Last I heard she was happily married to a 12-year-old girl living on a beach in Thailand. F**king family’s dug into the Southie projects like ticks. Three-decker folk at best. You, however, grew up on the North Shore, huh? Well la-di-f**king-da. You were kind of a double kid, I bet, right? One kid with your nuns, one kid with your older brother. You’re all Saint Francis on the weeks, then you’re dropping your eyes and hanging out in the Southie projects with your brother, the f**king donkey on the weekends; I got that right?”

Nathan Drake: “?”

Sully: “Yup. You have different accents? You did didn’t you you f**king snake? You were like different people!”

Nathan Drake: “Umm… you a psychiatrist?”

Sully: “Well, if I was, I’d ask you why you were an actor making a dozen million a year, and I think if I was Sigmund f**king Freud I wouldn’t get an answer. So tell me: what’s a web-crawling f**ker like you doing in the thieving business?”

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake: “Umm… well, families are always rising or falling in America, am I right? Hehe…”

Director Ruben Fleischer: “Who said that?”

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake: “Umm… Hawthorne.”

Sully: “Pfff. What’s the matter smartass, you don’t know any f**king Captain Charles Johnson?”

Director Ruben Fleischer: “We have a question. Do you wanna be Nathan Drake, or do you wanna appear to be Nathan Drake? It’s an honest question. Lot of guys want to appear to be Nathan Drake. Gun, ring necklace, pretend they’re in a video game.”

Sully: “Yeah and a lot of them just want to slam another treasure hunter’s head through a plate glass window.”

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake: “I’m all set without your own personal job application, alright Mark Wahlberg.”

Mark Wahlberg as Sully: “What the f**k did you say to me trainee?”

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake: “With all due respect sir, what do you want from me?”

Mark Wahlberg as Sully: “Hey asshole, he can’t help you. I know what you are, okay? I know what you are and I know what you’re not. I’m the best friend you have on the face of this Earth and I’m gonna help you understand something you punk. You’re no f**king Nathan Drake! NOW IT’S MY BIG TREASURE AND I WANT TO PLUNDER!”

And… scene!

Anyways, if you really want to see a decent Tom Holland movie about brotherhood, just watch Onward (2020). 

The plane sequence in this is genuinely a cool piece of action though! 

Verdict: D+

2022 Ranked

“Uncharted” is now playing in theaters.