Bruised: Berry’s Career Receives A Knockout Blow

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In her first directorial role Halle Berry has to give herself the lead role of a disgraced UFC fighter trying to get back in the game, as no one else is offering her roles. It is funny how life mirrors art, though I suppose Berry isn’t disgraced simply forgotten.

If this is how Berry wants to get back into cinema stardom then she has gone the wrong way about it, casting herself feels cheap and more than a little narcissistic, this wouldn’t be so bad if she was able to provide the film with a good performance, sadly that is not forthcoming.

As I have said in many other reviews the actor turned director often doesn’t have a lot of luck making good films that are well received by both audiences and critics, this provides us with another example. Berry certainly throws everything she has at this film, but it isn’t nearly enough. The pace of over two hours is simply grotesque and the story of a broken former star trying to regain past glories is about as played out as they come. If the film had better material to work with then perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as it is.

As it stands this is just another bad and soon to be forgotten Netflix movie, though it does leave us with a lesson that not every actor has what it takes to excel behind the camera.

Overall, incredibly familiar, overly long and frankly an effort in egotism.

Pros.

It has a good soundtrack

The supporting cast are trying

Cons.

Berry

It is too familiar

It is too long

It is incredibly generic    

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He’s All That: Influencers Aren’t Actors

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A gender swapped version of She’s All That, the forgotten nineties film, this time with a random TikTok influencer because Netflix are cringe and seemingly more and more incapable of making good original content.

Whoever is in charge of original content development, or if one can call them that the film head, needs to be fired. The recent baffling stream of terrible content being churned out by Netflix would be enough to make anyone else in the space blush, but Netflix doesn’t seem to care because they don’t try and make good films they try and make ones that everyone will watch at least the first few minutes of.

The fact that this film stars and is about a TikTok star just speak to how desperate this film is to appeal to Gen Z, but guess what even Gen Z can see what a turd this film is. This film reads to me as though it was made by a group of out of touch old white guys who realised the kids liked TikTok so decided to base a film around it, whilst not really understanding what it is.

Moreover, Addison Rae has no business being in this film. She can’t act, isn’t funny and barely seems to have any on screen training at all. Whenever she said a line it was so painfully delivered that it took me straight out of the film and reminded me that the price of Netflix keeps going up and made me ask why am I still paying it?

Overall, if the quality of Netflix’s originals don’t start improving I will most likely cancel my subscription.

Pros.

It is unintentionally funny

Cons.

Rae

The TikTok focus

It has no reason to exist

When it is trying to be funny it is painfully unfunny    

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The Lost Daughter: Olivia Colman’s Unintelligible Trip To Greece

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Another actor who has achieved moderate success, this time Maggie Gyllenhaal, turns their hand to directing. The film follows a woman, played by Olivia Colman, who is not a natural mother and whilst on holiday becomes fixated on another woman’s life and family.

Being a well respected actor does not make you a good director, I feel this needs to be underlined. The films of George Clooney come to mind as I write this, with his directing fair ranging from passable to incredibly weak and pretentious. Gyllenhaal airs on the latter side.

The main reason this film has such a low score from me is because for the most part you will be hard pressed to understand what is going on without looking up the plot online. The way the film constructs its narrative is deeply flawed using flashbacks scattered in randomly which seem to contradict each other to try and fill in the back story, but again unless you look it up you are still unlikely to understand what is going on.

Colman is as good as ever, even if her character is immensely dislikeable but hey not every lead needs to be a good person or likeable. Colman seems to be having fun and manages to deliver a few funny lines here and there which help you to get through the rest of the film.

Overall, this is one that the Oscars Crowd and certain online critics will love and say is the best thing ever, but for most everyone else you will be left scratching your head and feeling like your time was wasted. I know I was.  

Pros.

Colman

I liked Ed Harris but thought his character was not developed anywhere near enough

Cons.

The flashbacks

It is hard to watch at times

It doesn’t make sense

It drags on

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Death To 2021: 2022 Doesn’t Look Much Better

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A comical stand-up of major world events from 2021.

For the most part I thought this was good, it made me laugh several times though not every joke landed. Moreover, I also appreciated the fact that though it covered some hot button issues it never really came down hard on one side or another politically and just tried to lampoon everything, that is how comedy should be.

In terms of the fictional talking head characters created for the special I thought Hugh Grant’s MBE wielding combater of the woke had many strong comedic lines and Cristin Milioti’s QAnon tinged Kathy Flowers once again stole the show. It is a huge shame that the world has yet to learn about Milioti’s fantastic comedic chops enough to land her leading roles in comedy films, hopefully soon that will be rectified.

My only real criticism would be that there were pacing issues in parts and not all of the jokes landed, these two things weren’t major issues but they did team up and when they did it led to a few bad segments where unfunny jokes were stretched out for far too long.

Overall, a funny stand up to an otherwise quite troubling year.

Pros.

Grant

Milioti

The jokes

It never chose one side politically

Cons.

Pacing issues

A few bad jokes

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Yes God Yes: Chat Rooms, The Portal To Self Discovery

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A catholic school girl, played by Natalie Dyer, learns the importance of self-love after she gives in to sin.

I thought this film was in many ways genius, I think for a long time the sex comedy genre has been heavily male dominated and in recent years we have seen more sex comedy films told from the female point of view and this is much needed, this is one of those films. I think it is important to do this to demystify ideas around female sex and masturbation and in many ways these have been stigmatised within society.

I would say the film is funny about three quarters of the time, not every joke lands but enough do that it still works as a comedy. In terms of the dramatic elements I think the film does a good job of making us see the repressed world of this catholic school girl just looking to explore her sexuality and shows the adversity she faces.

Dyer does a good job here and does more than enough to distance herself from her other role of Nancy Myers on Stranger Things, I think there is a believable naivety here and a believable innocence that really plays into the performance and makes it seem more genuine.

Overall, an important film for many reasons but one that doesn’t totally stick the landing.

Pros.

The female focus

Demystifying female sexual experiences

The jokes

The ending

Cons.

Not all the jokes land

Pacing issues, it may have worked better as a short

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Robin Robin: Whilst You Sleep At Night Mice Steal Your Food

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young robin called Robin, voiced by Bronte Carmichael, is taken in by a family of mice, but must then find out who she is after she realises she doesn’t make for a very good mouse.

My track record with Aardman Animation is mixed, I liked Wallace and Gromit and thought Early Man was okay, but I really didn’t like Chicken Run. So when it came to watching this I was mixed, however I have to say this is easily the best Aardman feature to date and if this is any indication for what they are going to produce through their collaboration with Netflix then I am very on board for what is to come.

I thought the film was sweet and really sold its message of being yourself and being proud of who you are well. I enjoyed all the characters and thought each had their moments to shine over the features run time. I thought the pace was well decided as well, as by keeping it short it allowed the film to have a real momentum that lead to it be constantly engaging and never boring.

Finally, there is a musical element to this film which could be hit or miss for people, for me I thought it worked and I enjoyed almost all of the songs, bar the final proper one during the third act, but for the most part I thought the songs added to the film’s charm.

Overall, a lovely little animated Christmas film.

Pros.

It is sweet

It is well paced

It has fun characters

The songs work well

Cons.

The third act could use work as it is a little played out  

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Tiger King Season Two: Series Overview

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

All of the supposed Tiger Kings and Queens are back for a follow up.

The biggest question I have for this show after watching it is did we need the second season at all? What did it add? In many ways, it just showed us more of the same and doubled down on a lot of the themes and narrative through lines of the first season. Including more of the unethical issues that many decried the first series for, to see an example of what I and others are talking about consider the issue of bias within the second season of Tiger King. There are clear heroes and villains in the overarching narrative of the show and this is less to do with who is or isn’t guilty but rather who the public latched on to. Yes, I am talking about Joe Exotic. The second season is incredibly in love with him, and decides to ignore his rather obvious animal abuse charges and instead paint him as some kind of falsely accused, for the murder for hire plot, folk hero whilst painting all of his enemies even the ones not convicted of any wrong doings as villains. You can see why Carole Baskin didn’t want to come back.

In the sense of a true documentary this series is and always has been an abject failure. It does not care about the truth but rather what is the most entertaining narrative, as such it is more akin to reality TV. It is in this sense I come to my review score because whilst this season did not need to exist I did find it entertaining whilst it was on, I enjoyed the roadshow as much as anyone else so whilst I can stand here and say it is bias therefore it is a bad documentary series, I think it is already aware of that and doesn’t care.

Furthermore, in some ways this second season provided comfort to me as we got to see a lot of the worst characters from the first season go to prison, or be on their way there, which restores some of my faith in humanity.

Overall, though it was unneeded and incredibly bias, I did still enjoy my time with the series.

Pros.

Dumb fun

The absurdity

Seeing some of the cruel animal abusers facing consequence

Cons.

The clear bias

It was needless

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Tick Tick Boom: Andrew Garfield Really Can Do It All

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film tells the somewhat real life story of Johnathan Larson, recounting the making of his first musical Superbia.

I have been decidedly negative on the work of Lin Manuel Miranda  for the most part, I didn’t like In The Heights, Vivo or his role in the Mary Poppins revival; the only thing I have liked from him has been his role in His Dark Materials. However, this blew me away and really resonated with me.

I thought this film was strong across the board, Andrew Garfield was splendid in the lead role, but when is he not? The songs were top tier and the emotion always rang true. I think the latter of those points is the feather in the film’s cap as the writing here has an uncanny ability to reach through the screen and tug at your heartstrings. There were multiple moments in this film were I was on the verge of tears; the writing is incredibly poignant and meaningful and Garfield sells this to the letter, in what may be one of his best performances to date.

Honestly Netflix needs to make more films like this as it might shake up their stale blockbuster wannbe slate and actually help to elevate them as a studio.

Overall, a magnificent film in many ways with only a few slight pacing issues holding it back.

Pros.

Garfield

The songs

The emotion and the impactful ending

It is inspiring

Cons.

Pacing issue

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The Princess Switch 3: Vanessa Hudgens Is A TALENT

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Vanessa Hudgens is back switching places with people who look exactly like her again, this time it is because an expensive Christ ornament is stolen.

I unironically like these films, yes I know many think they are trashy and they certainly won’t win any awards for their plot or their characters any time soon, but there is just something so happy and fun about them that I will watch them every year as soon as they come out.

Hudgens does a good job of playing three separate characters and giving each their own moments and character traits so they can feel different and important narratively. I think this film is a little Fiona heavy, she was the character introduced in the last film and is the bad cousin, however I am not complaining really as Fiona is probably the most fun out of the three. It is clear that Hudgens is having a lot of fun here and it is very infectious.

The silliness of the plot and the surely known cheapness only serves to make the film more endearing and likeable as you can’t help but laugh at how dumb it all is. Certainly this isn’t one that you need to pay attention to and can just space out whilst watching, but again that not a bad thing here.

Overall, the film is a lot of fun and if like me you enjoyed the previous Switches then you will most likely like this one too.

Pros.

Hudgens

The dumb fun

The feel good ending

How needlessly over the top it is

Cons.

Hudgens other two characters, who aren’t Fiona, could have done with a bit more

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Father Christmas Is Back: Daddy Issues At 40

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of posh people come together to celebrate Christmas, however an unexpected guest throws things out of whack and causes emotions to fly.

I thought this film was good, for the first hour and a half and then it didn’t know when to end. Indeed, the first hour of this film is quite good, everyone is funny a lot of the jokes land, the actors have good chemistry and it doesn’t feel too overly semimetal. However, then the ending happens.

The final act of the film goes out of its way to redeem Kelsey Grammar’s absentee father character, having him basically be a saint and having left as he was a victim of infidelity. He even saves the day at the end of the film if that isn’t enough for you. I think the moral ground that this film takes in this regard is shaky and falls apart the more you think about it. Moreover, the finale just feels bloated so whilst it is doing all of this grandstanding you just want it to end.

Overall, one of Netflix’s better Christmas films for sure, but not one without its own share of issues.

Pros.

John Cleese

It is funny

Two thirds of it are very good

Cons.

The moralising

The ending and its bloat  

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