The Adam Project

Watched on: Netflix

What’s it about? The story follows a pilot from the future who encounters his younger self after traveling back in time. This narrative is very simple enough that it’s approachable for mainstream audiences, despite time travel being a very tricky plot device. There are some decent action sequences involved in this adventure but they are few and far between. There are some nice emotional tidbits that are prevented from being too tiresome thanks to the actors. Something neat to mention about the sci-fi concept here is how the protagonists ultimately decide to deal with it for the third act goal.

There are some blatant problems with this flick that just make this more standard forgettable rather than anything memorable. The antagonist is very bland in how they are written lacking much personality. The plot while simple and approachable, is predictably formulaic and overused. The dialogue is abundant with rushing through exposition so much that other relationships leave much to be desired in terms of chemistry such as a husband-wife bond.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell. Ryan feels like he’s doing less of his smart aleck schtick and brings some effort to the emotional beats. Walker holds his own fairly well in his scenes with Ryan in portraying that grieving kid who uses jokes against those around him. Honorable Mention goes to Jennifer Garner for feeling like she did the most with her limited screen time and solid effort. Dishonorable Mention goes to Catherine Keener who was phoning it in with such a lackluster role.

Overall Consensus: The Adam Project doesn’t do anything new for sci-fi with its overuse narrative and rushed exposition but fairs alright thanks to its lead performances, emotional bits, and decent action. Runtime: 1 hour 46 minutes PG-13

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Shawn Levy. You are in the mood for a competent watchable science fiction romp. You want to have something on as background noise at a party. You don’t mind predictable elements such as grief and time travel aspects.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Shawn Levy. You are bored with predictable elements of grief and time travel aspects.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? Following an encounter with a multiverse portal creating teen, the story follows the titular sorcerer protecting her from a desperate enraged Scarlet Witch. If there’s any fun elements to look forward with this outing, it’s the horror elements from director Sam Raimi. There are moments here where his flourishes of getting into grotesque and kooky aspects to help this sequel standout. There are some solid character moments that are kinda neat to see such as a realization regarding a past loved one. The action sequences are also fairly solid with some fun bits as well as some horror parts. As a Sam Raimi flick, there is plenty of entertainment value for fans of this filmmaker to bite from.

As a Marvel flick within this cinematic universe, however, there are some blatant issues that are hard to ignore. Because this is connected to the Disney+ mini-series WandaVision, transition of Scarlet Witch from the end of that show to where she is here felt rushed. A particular plot item involved on that isn’t explained well enough here on that end for those familiar with it. In addition to that, the newly introduced aforementioned teen is just a story MacGuffin lacking an interesting personality to make her memorable. Due to its multiverse premise, the narrative falls prey to trying to fulfill expectations to the point where it doesn’t explore interesting ideas and just zooms past them instead like the council of cameos sequence to mixed results. As a result the dialogue suffers noticeably in segments (unless it’s a comic book reference that goes over my head as I never read them). It should also be noted that this movie went though production issues behind the scenes with reshoots and rewrites that probably played a part in what we ended up with.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, and Xochitl Gomez. For all of its faults, Cumberbatch’s acting is one of the MVPs carrying this as his performance adapts to how all over the place it can feel at times that can help elevate things. Olsen is the other MVP that just embraces the pure powerful force she can unleash as her intense mindset can be read in her determined body language (it just needed a better script from a veteran screenwriter). Xochitl isn’t able to elevate the weak character writing she’s been given as she lacks chemistry with Cumberbatch and acts more stoic rather than having a personality (other than smart aleck teen). Honorable Mention goes to Benedict Wong just for being nice to have in any scene he’s in. Dishonorable Mention go to Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne mostly for being badly directed in their limited scenes (Raimi is bad at handling child actors).

Overall Consensus: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is an odd mixed bag with excellent lead performances, solid horror, and some cool scenes but is bogged down from pacing issues in script not exploring important plot elements. Runtime: 2 hours 6 minutes PG-13

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You are a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Sam Raimi. You want to see some spooky aspects in a comic book film. You saw WandaVision and want to see how she’s treated in this outing. You want to see how trippy some visuals get here compared to the first Doctor Strange.

Reasons to avoid it: You aren’t a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Sam Raimi. You are easily terrified of scary parts in general. You want to this to have a large effect on the wider MCU as a whole like a big event. You are hoping for this to fulfill your predictions and comic book expectations.

The Bad Guys

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? Taking place where humans and anthropomorphic animals exist, the story follows a criminal animal group who pretend to go good after being caught in a crime. It that should be mentioned immediately is how stylistic the gorgeous animation style is going for 3D visuals with 2D aspects to it that capture how crazy this adventure gets. The entertainment value involved can be seen in how random goofy things happen in character movements, running gags, and even the wild fun third act that doesn’t need to make sense. While the plot isn’t anything new, what keeps it engaging would be the interactions between these individuals and how real they feel just talking with each other normally. This is very much a Dreamworks movie where you can tell that they actually put effort that you want to see in future projects.

There are a few issues preventing it from being greater than this actually is. Unfortunately the writers didn’t restraint and snuck in a few fart jokes that feel out of place compared to the rest of the zany humor. The narrative isn’t that great as it goes into more predictable story content that Dreamworks has done before in their previous works.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Sam Rockwell and Marc Maron. Sam gives a pretty good performance that’s aiming for that classic “George Clooney” type of personality that gets called out and is engaging to listen to. Marc is good with the sarcastic crook archetype and has great dialogue with Sam. Honorable Mentions go to Craig Robinson, Zazie Bietz, and Alex Borstein for being fun standouts among the supporting cast.

Overall Consensus: Despite the story being nothing special, The Bad Guys is a fun adventure with good characters, zany humor, gorgeous animation style, and entertaining narrative. Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes PG

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors. You want to see how this compares to other Dreamworks movies. You like plots that revolve around criminals going into wacky shenanigans. You don’t mind a predictably story and a few fart jokes. You like seeing 3D animation that utilizes 2D elements.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors. You aren’t a fan of Dreamworks movies. You dislike plots that revolve around criminals going into wacky shenanigans. You are bored with a predictably story and a few fart jokes.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? The story follows a fictionalized version of Nicholas Cage who takes on a gig from a fan of his while dealing with the downsides of his professional/personal life. This is very much a self-aware little flick that acknowledges how predictable and stock their basic plot is. The primary strength in this comedy lies in the bromance between Cage and this guy who asked for his assistance as their chemistry is just delightful to watch. Their exchanges and shenanigans are just enough to make this romp watchable.

Unfortunately the power of that bond isn’t strong enough to hide the apparent weaknesses. The humor overall isn’t as great as it can be since the jokes don’t land that often. If Nicholas Cage wasn’t in this, there wouldn’t be anything unique as the main conflict is very recycled and forgettable.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Nicholas Cage and Pedro Pascal. Nicholas is definitely having a lot of fun here being in on the joke here and doesn’t hold back on his energy needed for this buddy flick. Pedro is a delight to see step into these lighter funny roles for a change while showcasing passion for his interest here. Honorable Mention goes to Tiffany Haddish who looks like she’s doing the most with her limited support role out of the cast. Dishonorable Mention goes to Ike Barinholtz for being the most underutilized out of the actors and not being able to do much to standout.

Overall Consensus: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent isn’t as great as it could’ve been due to a weak plot and inconsistent jokes, but is a delight thanks to the performances and chemistry of its two main leads. Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes R

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Tom Gormican. You are in the mood for a nice laidback buddy comedy to see with a group of friends. You don’t mind a handful movies being referenced by name.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Tom Gormican. You aren’t in the mood for a nice laidback buddy comedy. You are bored with movies being referenced by name and generic stories.

The Northman

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? Based on the Scandinavian legend, the story follows prince Amleth going on a revenge journey to avenge his father’s death at the hands of his uncle. If this premise sounds familiar, it’s because the fable this narrative is using inspired Shakespeares Hamlet, which makes this story appear basic (at least in theory). While this is arguably this directors most straightforward plot, it still leans towards being as authentic towards the Viking culture as much as possible. The faithfulness to the lifestyle is reflected in the dialect spoken, the brutality of violence/rape, slavery, pillaging villages, sacrificial rituals, and nearly (or fully) nude men yelling to pump themselves up for an upcoming battle. The visuals that accompany this entire experience are pretty to watch on the big screen between the surroundings and occasional mind tripping moments. Something interesting to note is none of these main characters are painted in a faithful light: they are deep in this culture with their good share of merciless nature of their actions, Amleth included. Basically, if you’re hoping for a mainstream action thriller of that era, this isn’t the feature for you as it’s a slow artsy independent movie.

While the atmosphere behind all of this is incredible to watch (including the visuals and score), there are some issues holding it back from being perfect. The pacing in this narrative is definitely slow, which becomes more of a problem in the middle chunk before the plot gets interesting. In addition to that, the runtime overstays its welcome by being 10 minutes longer than it needed to be. Something that will make or break it for others is the lack of investment in these characters given how this time period didn’t present them with much to do for their lives (those who want to preserve their legacy, those who want to kill just because, etc). As a result some of those relationships aren’t on-screen that much making a third act reveal a bit iffy (at the end of the film, one brave audience member yelled out his disdain with this as a whole “Finally it’s over! This movie sucked!”).

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Alexander Skarsgard, Claes Bang, and Anya Taylor-Joy. Alexander gives a great performance in making sure he balances the raging warrior side while trying to plan with new information. Claes is pretty good in terms of being that uncle you love to hate as his despicable demeanor is intriguing to watch when on-screen. Anya takes this supportive yet limited role and makes the most of it with an engaging performance while having good chemistry with Alexander. Honorable Mentions go to Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, and Bjork for giving amazing portrayals in their respective parts..

Overall Consensus: The Northman is a pretty good action drama with great authenticity to its culture, strong acting, beautiful visuals, and a familiar yet intriguing narrative but suffers from slow pacing issues and overlong runtime. Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes R

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Robert Eggers. You are interested in this lifestyle and wanted to see how authentic it’s portrayed here. You don’t mind slow pacing or slightly overlong runtime. You want to see how gruesome the violence gets here in the spread out action sequences. You liked Robert’s past movies, The Witch and/or The Lighthouse.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Robert Eggers. You aren’t interested in this lifestyle and wanted to see how authentic it’s portrayed here. You are annoyed with slow pacing or slightly overlong runtime. You are sensitive gruesome violence. You would prefer something mainstream like Everything Everywhere All at Once over something as serious, artsy, and harsh as this.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Watched on: Netflix

My Thoughts on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): I watched this classic this past weekend at the time of this review for the first time and noticed why it’s a classic in the horror genre. The massive strength going in its favor would be the atmosphere of the main setting in just how unsettling the scary house is and good camera shots. The creepiness that oozes from the the terrifying Sawyer family that hunts their new prey is the most memorable part about it with the trauma they bring to their victims. While the violence in it is tame, the way it’s handled adds some value to it thanks to the actors working with it. The main problem that holds this back with how uninteresting the group and how they mainly just exist for the menacing Leatherface to deal with trespassers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What’s it about? Taking place early 50 years after the events of the first film, the story follows a group of young entrepreneurs being terrorized by an old Leatherface. If there’s anything that can be mentioned as a positive for this messy reboot/sequel, it would be the quality of the kills. This is clearly aiming to match the 2018 Halloween entry and it manages to bring out some brutal deaths out of its victims in terms of the gore it manages to muster. In fact, the most satisfying aspect of this would be the bus massacre in the third act as well as the ending.

That being said, this doesn’t achieve its intended goal and becomes a dismal slasher akin to the divisive Halloween Kills. The main group of characters here are unlikable and more uninteresting compared to the predecessors. It doesn’t help that the dialogue to reflect this generation Z types are very rough to listen to (such as when one makes a phallic joke regarding an older local having a gun holstered). With how short this movie, another piece that’s added to this mess is school shooting-related trauma that one of the protagonists has, which is handled horribly. What pushes this into awful territory is the decision of have the survivor from the 1973 incident return similar to Jamie Lee Curtis in the recent Halloween entries (even same hairstyle). Unfortunately the way she is utilized is such an embarrassment to watch as its blatant what it’s trying to pull that it’s unintentionally funny.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Elsie Fisher and Sarah Yarkin. Elsie is probably the more recognizable member of this cast (she was the lead in Eighth Grade) and she is doing her best despite the rushed material she’s given. It helps that she’s arguably the only decent character in the narrative. Sarah arguably suffers most from being written as a despicable person who lacks chemistry with Elsie (they are sisters in this plot) and gives a weak stale performance. Honorable Mention goes to Nell Hudson for feeling like she did the most with her tiny screen time. Dishonorable Mention goes to Olwen Fouere for phoning in her acting in a role that lacked substance to begin with (the 1973 survivor).

Overall Consensus: Texas Chainsaw massacre is a messy terrible slasher with unlikable chapters, bland acting, and bad writing, despite benefiting from brutal kills. Runtime: 1 hour 23 minutes R

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You are a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker David Blue Garcia. You are a fan of this franchise and want to see how this compares to the other entries. You just want to see annoying generation z gentrifiers be attacked by Leatherface.

Reasons to avoid it: You aren’t a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker David Blue Garcia. You are a fan of this franchise but don’t want to see how this compares to the other entries. You are bored with stale slashers that have annoying characters you want to see suffer.

Fresh

Watched on: Hulu

What’s it about? The story follows a woman who dates a seemingly competent man until his malicious nature puts her in a dangerous surrounding. This thriller has a familiar formula of an individual who must deal with a maniacal predator that thankfully has enough in it to help be distinct from other similar films. The scenes regarding these 2 characters are the best parts of this as a reflection of their dynamic and the tension surrounding it. There is some decent commentary about how dating is for women who use online apps for that to set things up. As a directorial debut, it’s a solid entry to start off with in terms of giving something that’s digestible enough for mainstream audiences.

There are some problems with this horror thriller holding it back from being great. Any scene that doesn’t involve the two mean leads is lesser in quality that just feels bland and uninteresting to get to the next plot point. There are some tiny tidbits that try to fulfill the “we are trying to be a horror thriller flick” aspect with lame cheap jump scares. It doesn’t dive much into the potential with showing much about some of the background parts shown throughout. Parts of that third act feel rushed with needing stuff to have the climax happen (mainly an aspect with a best friend who finds herself in danger and there’s an action that’s unclear on what happened to her when we meet up with her for the finale).

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan. Daisy provides a solid performance with providing the audience with enough investment to want her to survive her predicament. Sebastian is the MVP of the cast as he balances appearing as a charming guy one moment and having fun being a maniac doing his activities. Honorable Mention goes to Jonica T. Gibbs for feeling like she did the most with what she was given out of the supporting cast.

Overall Consensus: Fresh is a decent thriller that’s a solid watch thanks to the dynamic and performances of the two main leads, but is held back from weaknesses in the script. Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes R

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You are a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Mimi Cave. You like solid “not as charming as they seem” narratives. You don’t mind seeing cannibalism in portrayed on-screen.

Reasons to avoid it: You aren’t a fan of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Mimi Cave. You are bored with “not as charming as they seem” narratives. You are sensitive with seeing cannibalism in portrayed on-screen.

The Tinder Swindler

Watched on: Netflix

What’s it about? This documentary follows the events regarding scammer Shimon Hayut (using the alias Simon Leviev) who scammed many women on Tinder out of an estimated $10 million globally. This is definitely a cautionary tale that’s still relevant nowadays given how often these types of predators still exist (including those who deal in Bitcoin). Considering the amount of people who try their chances for relationships with these dating apps, this is acts a deterrent to using those sites. Once this reaches the halfway point, the content gets more interesting with the investigation elements.

The documentary as a whole feels average and nothing special in execution that would fit with something like Lifetime. Due to the structure of how this is setup (first half consisting of the victims talking about how they were tricked and other half being the rest of the story with the investigation, aftermath, etc), the pacing drags hard with the length. It also doesn’t help that networks like TLC have shows that follow similar cat fishing shenanigans that feel more engaging to watch than what’s presented here.

Overall Consensus: The Tinder Swindler is an average unmemorable documentary with a somewhat interesting story and relevant commentary but suffers from pacing problems and not being distinct in its content or presentation. Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes R

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like watching documentaries or want to have one as background noise. You are in the mood for another catfishing scam tale that involves online dating sites.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike watching documentaries. You aren’t in the mood for another catfishing scam tale that involves online dating sites.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? Taking place months after the previous adventure, the story follows the titular hero encountering a returning foe and new friends in a dangerous conflict. If the first adventure was the training wheels needed for the main character to be developed, this narrative removes them to let the lore from the source material to let loose. With the addition of important figures from the series, the action sequences are better with how these talented furry individuals are utilized. The strength from all of this is best demonstrated in a strong third act where it follows familiar paths from that Sonic fans would recognize in an engaging climax with fun Easter Eggs (down to the end credits scene). With how high the strengths are here, this is definitely one of the best video game movies as it’s a step in the right direction for that troubled subgenre on the big screen.

For all of its highs, however, there are some hard to ignore issues that need to be brought up. As a family movie, the runtime for this plot is 10 minutes too long due to script problems that weren’t tightened up. The comedy is a downgrade from the previous outing with less of the jokes landing this time around, though a few of them do work. The humans (who aren’t the villains) are still a weak spot like before but to be fair, they aren’t that much of an issue here. As a result of these issues, the first half isn’t as good as the third act with pacing issues getting in the way.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey, and Idris Elba. Ben continues the solid energetic performance he put in from before while having fun with the new additions to the cast. Jim…Carrey-ed over his antics as the villain into this outing with more hammy gusto this time around with puns in his dialogue (I will not apologize for that lame “Carry-ed” joke, if the movie can use weak jokes why can’t I?). Idris is pretty good in a role that he slips into well between portraying that strong warrior type while being comedic. Honorable Mentions go to Colleen O’Shaughnessey and James Marsden as it’s great seeing a voice actress from that series reprise Tails here while the latter is solid in his limited screen time.

Overall Consensus: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a step in the right direction for video game films due to great action, fun third act, and good performances, despite pacing and script issues. Runtime: 2 hours 2 minutes PG

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Jeff Fowler. You are a fan of the series being adapted and are curious about the fan service/easter eggs in it (stay for the end credits scene). You enjoyed the previous film from 2020 and want to see how it continues. You are in the mood for a wacky family flick and don’t mind cringe parts in it.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Jeff Fowler. You didn’t enjoyed the previous film from 2020. You are bored with wacky family flick with cringe parts in it.

Morbius

Watched in: Theaters

What’s it about? The story follows a doctor who becomes a living vampire after curing himself of a rare disease. There’s definitely potential to be mined with this lesser known Marvel character, who has a history with Spider-Man, where there can be minor horror elements in those antics.

Unfortunately, the execution ends up as a bland comic book flick reminiscent of the 1990s-2000s era of that genre that almost all studios moved away from. The lackluster effects used in the actions scenes definitely showcase that into being hard to see what’s going on. The core issue lies in the script that’s rushed in terms of forcing underdeveloped conflict with characters that leave much to be desired. It feels like the producers didn’t glue the parts of the plot together as nothing feels natural or makes any cohesive sense. This is reflected in relationships that are missing investment as well as the anti-climatic conclusion. What turns this from underwhelming into terrible are the end credit scenes showing that Sony hasn’t learned from their past mistakes. Veterans of the MCU’s movies will know why it’s an issue after viewing these scenes.

How are the actors? The actors to focus on are Jared Leto and Matt Smith. Jared and Matt are both talented in their own right but the aforementioned problems clearly affected how much they were able to salvage what they were given. They aren’t bad here but even the best actors can’t make anything from the screenplay feel natural due to the disjointed nature. Dishonorable Mention goes to Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal.

Overall Consensus: Morbius ruins its opportunities due a botched script execution, lackluster action, underdeveloped characters, bad end credit scenes, and an unmemorable predictable plot. Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes PG-13

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Daniel Espinosa. You are curious about how this compares to Sony’s Venom films. You want to see how awful this is.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors and/or filmmaker Daniel Espinosa. You aren’t fond of anything similar to terrible 1990s-2000s superhero flicks with hard to see fight scenes that utilize dated slow-motion techniques. You dislike disjointed stories that lack investment in blockbusters.

Reely Bernie

This hobby blog is dedicated to movie nerdom, nostalgia, and the occasional escape. In the late 90s, I worked at Blockbuster Video where they let me take home two free movies a day. I caught up on the classics and wrote movie reviews for Denver 'burbs newspapers and magazines. Currently, I am enjoying my new life as a new dad, but when there's free time, movies are standard. Comments and dialogue are always encouraged. Happy Moviegoing!

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