Category Archives: Action/Thriller

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The Witch: Part 2. The Other One (2022) Movie Review

Park Hoon-jun’s The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion was a financial success upon its release in 2018, and it garnered some accolades in South Korea and beyond, particularly for its lead performer Kim Da-mi. It is altogether an exciting film, blending gritty action with more fantastical, comic book adjacent tropes (the medical experiments central to the premise are similar to the Weapon X program of X-Men lore). For its reported budget of US $5.5 million, the film looks slick. It’s a fun time.

The Witch: Part 2. The Other One does some typical sequel things. Namely, it expands the world of this story. The Subversion is predominantly concerned with the narrative of Ja-yoon (Kim), an adopted young woman whose past catches up to her. Her unique abilities and ailments point backwards to her origin as the victim of a medical experiment. We follow her Continue reading The Witch: Part 2. The Other One (2022) Movie Review

Top Gun: Maverick (2022) Movie Review

When I went to see Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I was more excited by the “extended look” at Top Gun: Maverick than I was by the movie I had come to the theater to see. The ad was the dogfight training montage sequence that occurs early in the film, in which Tom Cruise’s Maverick hunts the helpless young Top Gun graduates with an all-out aerial assault, all set to the tune of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

It is a cracker jack sequence, very exciting and well-edited. Within the context of the film, you realize that the joke of the sequence—that the first person to get “shot down” by Mav has to do 200 push-ups—doesn’t track across the entire montage. For some reason, the rules change halfway through the montage so that everyone who gets shot down by Mav has to do push-ups. But as an isolated sequence where the rules are not very important, it is a superb set piece.

This ad was the first time I felt genuinely excited for Top Gun: Maverick. Sitting in the theater for this sequel, coming 36 years after Tony Scott’s original, I soon realized that Continue reading Top Gun: Maverick (2022) Movie Review

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) Movie Review

In my review for Spider-Man: No Way Home, I didn’t call it superhero fatigue that fueled my lack of enthusiasm for Marvel. It was ambivalence. No greater evidence do I need for this ambivalence than meeting the trailer for a movie directed by Sam Raimi, one of my favorite directors, called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with a resolute shrug of the shoulders.

The very premise of this movie should boggle the mind. A superhero sorcerer from Marvel comics with a sentient cape and a young woman trying to control her power to jump between universes are tasked with stopping Continue reading Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) Movie Review

The Northman (2022) Movie Review

I think Robert Eggers is one of the most fascinating American filmmakers working today. The Witch is my favorite horror movie of the 2010s. It was an accomplished debut. Instead of going down the road of the “horror auteur,” though, Eggers turned to something more experimental in The Lighthouse, a film which sits unsteadily on the boundaries of multiple genres (I would call it a psychological horror fantasy dramedy sea shanty fever dream, maybe).

Now, with The Northman, Eggers forays into a Viking action adventure film which mixes revenge drama with Continue reading The Northman (2022) Movie Review

Deep Water (2022) Movie Review

Deep Water, following a rocky release schedule hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, finally landed on Hulu this weekend. It is a less-than steamy erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne, a director known for his work in the genre (most notably the 1987 film Fatal Attraction). The film is Lyne’s first crack at directing in 20 years, and it stars former couple Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck as spouses whose marriage is on the rocks.

Vic (Affleck), a retired microchip engineer, has tolerated a tacit agreement with Melinda (de Armas) in which she escapes their passionless marriage by making “friends” with a few local bachelors. Her flirtations and flings are Continue reading Deep Water (2022) Movie Review

The Batman (2022) Movie Review

With many iterations of DC Comic’s caped crusader littering the last 40 years of blockbuster cinema, Matt Reeves’ The Batman may seem at first blush simply another go around the same old song and dance. It is certainly not without its comparisons. Most clear among them is this film’s affinity with Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, which DC has taken noticeable steps to visually and tonally distance itself from in recent years. Perhaps that is why this critic—more a fan of Nolan’s Batman than Zack Snyder’s—was immediately more engaged by Reeves’ take on the character.

But The Batman is no carbon copy of The Dark Knight. It comes with its own style. Nolan’s sleek and wide vision of Gotham City is replaced here with a decidedly more Continue reading The Batman (2022) Movie Review

Kimi (2022) Movie Review

As we are now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it only stands to reason that the entertainment industries are beginning to react to it with films and television which occur, diegetically, during the pandemic. Kimi is not the first, of course. Rob Savage’s Host, the Zoom-call horror movie, received quite a bit of attention on its release for its ultra-low-budget pandemic conditions. A fine, if not thin, riff on the found footage setup.

I bring up that Kimi features an in-fiction COVID pandemic only because its existence has impacted the agoraphobic protagonist, Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz), at a fundamental level. While most people around her have moved on with their lives, returning to office life, riding public transit, most not wearing masks, the thought of leaving her flat sends Angela into a panic attack.

Luckily, Angela works as a tech troubleshooter for the Kimi AI, an Alexa clone whose success is leading its company to Continue reading Kimi (2022) Movie Review

Watcher (2022) Movie Review

Watcher premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is competing in its U.S. Dramatic competition.

Chloe Okuno’s feature debutĀ Watcher is a thriller in the Rear Window tradition. Americans Julia (Maika Monroe) and Francis (Karl Glusman) move to Bucharest after Francis receives a promotion. Julia does not have a job here and does not speak Romanian, two facts which isolate her in her new environment, leaving her on edge as she goes about her days largely alone. And it does not help that Continue reading Watcher (2022) Movie Review

A Very Loose Review of Spider-Man: No Way Home (and every other 2021 Marvel movie)

Warning: this review hints at major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

I haven’t posted on this site since October 15, almost two months to the day that I’m writing this. But I’m going to pretend like that’s not the case, and that I’m a normal film critic and not a graduate student with a job who has realized that it is hard to find time to balance one’s responsibilities with film critic hobbyism.

Anyway…how about that Marvel Studios, huh? Bouncing back from a rough year at the theatrical box office, Disney’s theatrical cash cow had four movies in the can for 2021. Following a glorious financial success with Avengers: Endgame, the studio needed a firm reset of its film properties (its streaming series properties have done their own legwork in moving the IP forward).

Which is what made Black Widow such a strange property. Arguably Continue reading A Very Loose Review of Spider-Man: No Way Home (and every other 2021 Marvel movie)

Review: The Sadness — Fantasia Festival 2021

Robert Jabbaz’s debut feature film, The Sadness, takes place in the midst of a pandemic. In particular, it takes place during a point in a pandemic where people have stopped worrying about mutations and have largely gone back to their normal day-to-days. Against this backdrop, young couple Kat (Regina Lei) and Jim (Berant Zhu) have planned a vacation. They begin the movie arguing over Jim needing to take on a job during the same week Kat has taken time off of work. Given where this film eventually goes, it is a somewhat banal place to begin the film.

There are many who will turn on this movie. It certainly gives you plenty of chances to turn as events in this Taiwanese city shift from Continue reading Review: The Sadness — Fantasia Festival 2021