Tag Archives: film

Soundtrack News: Black Adam Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is Available Now

WaterTower Music is excited to announce the release of the soundtrack to the New Line Cinema action adventure Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson. The first-ever feature film to explore the story of the uncompromising DC antihero comes to the big screen under the direction of Jaume Collet-Serra (“Jungle Cruise”). Earlier this month, prior to this full soundtrack release, WaterTower Music released two of Balfe’s themes from this film, the Black Adam Theme and The Justice Society Theme

“It was exciting to get into the Black Adam theme, and I really wanted to capture his essence as the DC comic book world’s anti-hero,” explained the composer. He went on to note that “this movie is a reintroduction to to the legacy of the Justice Society and I am excited for the public to reacquaint themselves!”

Balfe further elaborated as to his overall musical and philisophical approach to Black Adam:

“My goal was to get the emotion and darkness of the main characters back story across to the audience, whilst simultaneously intertwining the old themes and familiarities of the DC comic book world and introducing a new class of superheroes.” He further noted “One way to bring in the feeling of an ancient world together was to collaborate with traditional instruments from Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East. A particular highlight for me was a percussion session I did where we enlisted several musicians playing various  traditional instruments together to achieve this specific sound. Further, we had a large brass section across the score to give the weight and power of the main character’s past, which I balanced out with high tempo, more melodic sounds to give the audience that more familiar heroic feel. We also experimented a lot with choir on this project which was able to contribute a unique and classical sound that ties in nicely with Black Adam’s story.”

TRACK LIST

  1. Teth-Adam 
  2. Kahndaq
  3. The Awakening
  4. The Revolution Starts
  5. Introducing the JSA
  6. Shaza-Superman
  7. Our Only Hope
  8. Change Your Name
  9. What Kind of Magic?
  10. Is It the Champion?
  11. Your Enemies
  12. Black Adam Spotted
  13. Not Interested
  14. Just Say Shazam
  15. Ancient Palace
  16. Little Man
  17. Time to Go
  18. Release Him
  19. Father & Son
  20. Black Adam Theme
  21. Fly Bikes
  22. Nanobots
  23. Through the Wall
  24. 23lbs of Eternium 
  25. Is This the End?
  26. It Was Him
  27. Lake Baikal 
  28. Capes and Corpses
  29. Hawkman’s Fate
  30. The JSA Fights Back
  31. A Bad Plan Is a Good Plan
  32. Dr. Fate
  33. Prison Break
  34. Wet Rocks
  35. Not a Hero
  36. The Doctor’s Destiny
  37. Slave Champion
  38. Legions of Hell
  39. The Man in Black
  40. Adam’s Journey
  41. The Justice Society Theme
  42. Black Adam Theme (iZNiiK Remix)
  43. The Justice Society Theme (iZNiiK Remix)

Will you be checking out the soundrack for Black Adam?

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Soundtrack News: The Banshees of Inisherin (Original Soundtrack) is Available Now

Hollywood Records is excited to announce the release of The Banshees of Inisherin (Original Score) with music composed by Academy Award-nominated Carter Burwell. The 21-track album debuted on October 21 on all streaming platforms. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin is directed and written by Martin McDonagh.

A frequent collaborator of McDonagh’s, Academy Award®-nominated composer Carter Burwell previously worked on three of his films, starting with In Bruges. He also worked on Seven Psychopaths, as well as his Oscar-nominated score for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, their last collaboration.

“We have similar sensibilities,” explains Burwell. “Martin’s writing is very particular – it involves a dark view of the world, a really vicious sense of humor, and a lot of humanity. That combination is something we have in common.”

McDonagh has always involved Burwell at script stage before the film is shot. “I approach every film as its own world. Even though Martin and I have done several films together and they’re all Martin McDonagh films, they’re all different.”

Initially McDonagh already had, for one section of the film, a piece in mind that’s performed by a Balinese gamelan ensemble – mostly metallic instruments. “I happen to be a big fan of gamelan music,” continues Burwell. “It’s also a bit strange for a movie taking place in Inisherin. But I kind of like the strangeness, and I found myself weaving gamelan instruments into the score as an experiment.”

In addition to the gamelan Burwell used three main instruments:  the celeste – a keyboard that plays bell sounds – the harp, and the flute. He says, “These are all very pretty, almost childlike instruments, which wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy tale. They fit Pádraic, who is a little bit of a man-child. As you follow the dark road that the story goes down, the music starts to feel more ironic. Even though these were all very light sounds, the tunes are not.”Burwell also worked with a small but strong orchestra at Abbey Road in London.

The Banshees of Inisherin follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), endeavors to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádraic’s repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend’s resolve and when Colm delivers a desperate ultimatum, events swiftly escalate, with shocking consequences.

The Banshees of Inisherin Soundtrack Original Score Album

Tracklisting –

  1. Walking Home Alone 
  2. Night Falls on Inisherin 
  3. Marking The Calendar 
  4. The Island Comes To Church 
  5. Doesn’t Time Be Flying 
  6. Standing Prayer 
  7. Delivering Milk But No News 
  8. Colm Takes The Reins 
  9. Padraic Wakes – Driving Into The Rain  
  10. The First Finger 
  11. Padraic and Jenny 
  12. Padraic Keeps Quiet 
  13. Colm Throws The Balance 
  14. Jenny and The Fourth
  15. Dark Padraic 
  16. Siobhan Leaves 
  17. The Slow Passing of Time 
  18. Padraic Leaves The Church 
  19. My Life Is On Inisherin 
  20. A Smoldering New Day 
  21. The Mystery of Inisherin

Will you be checking out the soundtrack for The Banshees of Inisherin?

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My Thoughts on: Inu-Oh (2022)

*Note: this review was originally published for Patreon subscribers in August

I’ve been doing my best to see as many anime films as possible in theaters this year and thus far Belle and The Deer King have both proved to be entertaining. However, while I previously maintained that Belle was the greatest animated film to come out this year, I think that title must now be relinquished and given to Inu-Oh because this is surely the greatest animated film that will come out this year.

Inu-Oh premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021 and is based on Tales of the Heike: Inu-Oh by Hideo Furukawa. The film follows the titular character, Inu-Oh, a brilliant dancer cursed with an unimaginable deformity, and Tomona, a blind musician who makes incredible music with the biwa. Ostracized by most of society for their respective impairments, the two form a musical troupe intent on taking the world by storm. But political events outside their control threaten to derail everything Tomona and Inu-Oh have created….

Inu-Oh was directed by Masaaki Yuasa and he did an incredible job. The story starts off as a mesmerizing tale of ancient Japan, largely sung in a traditional manner by an off-screen narrator playing the biwa. But what truly makes the film brilliant for me is what happens partway through: once Inu-Oh and Tomona meet and decide to make music together….the movie becomes something of a rock opera. That’s probably not the right word to describe it but I can’t think of anything better. The performances get turned up to 11 and each one feels like a modern rock concert was brought to ancient Japan, only played with traditional instruments. This development initially caught me by surprise, but once I settled into the music I found it quite lovely. 

The intertwining stories of Tomona and Inu-Oh are equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking, each for their own reasons. Of course the biggest element of the story is how and why Inu-Oh looks the way he does. Without revealing any details, I will say that I LOVE how this mystery was explained and it is absolutely worth sitting through the film to find out the full story of what happened (you get hints at the beginning of the film but the full story isn’t explained until later).

Tomona’s story….oh wow, it’s just as powerful as Inu-Oh’s if I’m honest. This kid goes through a huge roller coaster ride, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, with an ending that shocked me to my core. You really are made to feel for this character, and I won’t forget his story any time soon.

One more time, I want to come back to Inu-Oh’s performances. Like Tomona’s concerts, they feel almost shockingly modern, but with a twist of traditional Japanese dance that makes them mesmerizing to watch. And each dance is completely different, as Inu-Oh’s body changes throughout the film (I’ll say no more on that due to spoilers). But it’s Inu-Oh’s final dance that captivated me the most. It’s performed before the shogun and it is nothing short of animated perfection. Whereas the earlier performances were more frantic and loud (for lack of a better word), this final dance, at least the first part, plays out like a dream. 

Inu-Oh is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year and I urge all of you to check the film out in theaters if you get the chance.

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Animated Film Reviews

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The Princess and the Frog “Friends on the Other Side” (2009)

Well, it’s been a long time since I did one of these, but I thought it was high time I got back to blogging about the amazing songs one can find in Disney’s animated films. And I decided to start with a film that I really should have covered several years ago back when the blog is new and that’s The Princess and the Frog. This 2009 film is an update of the classic tale of a prince turned into a frog, all set in the city of New Orleans.

There were a number of songs I could’ve started with in this film, but I decided to start with my favorite: “Friends on the Other Side.” This is the song that introduces Dr. Facilier, the film’s villain, to the story and sets Naveen’s dilemma (being turned into a frog) into motion. This song has striking similarities to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid, in that Dr. Facilier is offering Naveen a deal in exchange for what the prince thinks he wants and he uses his magical voodoo powers to make it happen.

Watch for yourself:

Keith David absolutely kills it as Dr. Facilier. Like any good Disney villain, Dr. Facilier oozes charm and menace in equal proportions and this song shows off both sides. Also, like any classic villain, Dr. Facilier cannot STAND to be disrespected, which is made pointedly clear in the beginning of the song:

Don’t you disrespect me, little man
Don’t you derogate or deride
You’re in my world now, not your world
And I got friends on the other side


(He’s got friends on the other side)


That’s an echo gentlemen.
Just a little something we have here in Louisiana
A little parlor trick. Don’t worry.

Sit down at my table
Put your minds at ease
If you relax it’ll enable me to do
Anything I please

I can read your future
I can change it ’round some, too
I’ll look deep into your heart and soul
(You do have a soul, don’t you, Lawrence?)
Make your wildest dreams come true

I got voodoo, I got hoodoo,
I got things I ain’t even tried
And I got friends on the other side


(He’s got friends on the other side)

Now while Dr. Facilier might initially come off as a charlatan (indeed Lawrence accuses him of being as much right before the song starts), what’s coming up with the cards implies that there really is some magic at work here. Note how Facilier twists the images to match everything Naveen seemingly wants (namely, money, which he’s currently cut off from until he gets married).


The cards, the cards, the cards will tell
The past, the present, and the future as well
The cards, the cards, just take three
Take a little trip into your future with me


Are you ready


Now you, young man, are from across the sea
You come from two long lines of royalty
I’m a royal myself, on my mother’s side
Your lifestyle’s high, but your funds are low
You need to marry a lil’ hunny whose daddy got dough
Mom and Dad cut you off, huh playboy?


Eh, sad but true.

And if the similarity to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” wasn’t already clear, that last line above from Facilier to Naveen about the latter being cut off from his money is another callback, because it reminds me very much of the comments Ursula made during her song (Remember her “Pathetic” line?)


Now y’all gotta get hitched but hitchin’ ties you down
You just wanna be free, hop from place to place
But freedom takes green

It’s the green, it’s the green
It’s the green you need
And when I looked into your future
It’s the green that I seen

But it’s this last verse below that really makes things interesting. Dr. Facilier is pulling double duty in this song, as not only is he offering a deal to Naveen, he’s also offering one to Lawrence, Naveen’s butler. Pay close attention to Lawrence’s reactions in this last verse, as it quickly becomes clear that the butler isn’t nearly as loyal as he looks (more like Edgar from The Aristocats than Grimsby from The Little Mermaid if you get my drift).

On you little man, I don’t want to waste much time
You’ve been pushed ’round all your life
You’ve been pushed ’round by your mother
And your sister and your brother.
And if you was married you’d be pushed around by your wife
But in your future, for you I see
Is exactly the man you always wanted to be

Shake my hand, c’mon on boys
Won’t you shake a poor sinner’s hand
(both Naveen and Lawrence shake Facilier’s hands)
Yes…
Are you ready?


(Are you ready?)

One last note, I find it really cool how Dr. Facilier transforms his face to do his voodoo magic. It’s a simple transition but oh so effective. Plus, it makes Facililer ten times scarier. Also, I can’t help but notice the fear on poor Naveen’s face once he’s tied up by the magical snakes, he realizes far too late that he’s in way over his head.


Are you ready?
Transformation Central
(Transformation Central)


Reformation Central
Reformation central!


Transmogrification Central

Naveen:
(As Facilier’s Talisman bites him) Ow!


Can you feel it?

You’re changing, you’re changing,
You’re changing all right
I hope you’re satisfied
But if you ain’t, don’t blame me
You can blame my friends on the other side
Ha, ha, ha


(You got what you wanted)
(But you lost what you had)
(Ohh…Hush!)

It’s really interesting how the film holds off from showing the result of Naveen’s transformation (even though the trailer kind of gives it away). Lawrence’s reaction is really telling: even though he’s basically agreed to betray his master, I don’t think he was expecting THIS. He’s clearly spooked by Facilier’s voodoo and probably wondering something along the lines of “What on EARTH have I gotten myself into??”

And there you have it, my thoughts on “Friends on the Other Side” from The Princess and the Frog. It felt nice to get back to reviewing Disney songs and I can’t wait to do more.

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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My Thoughts on: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

I seriously can’t believe I almost didn’t go to see Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters. I meant to see it when it originally came out at the beginning of July, but between work stress and general burnout….well, let’s just say that didn’t happen. And were it any other movie I probably would have just let it appear on Disney+ and checked it out then.

HOWEVER.

I couldn’t let Thor: Love and Thunder pass me by like that because this movie adapts one of my favorite comic book stories, or rather it combines two of my favorite comic stories together. Namely, this movie adapts the story of Gorr the God Butcher and Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor (iconic helmet and all). The instant it was revealed that Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor would be appearing in the MCU, this movie had my full and undivided attention. I am a huge fan of the Mighty Thor and the opportunity to see this character realized on screen was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss. It was worth it too, because Natalie Portman absolutely KILLS it both as Dr. Jane Foster and as the Mighty Thor. I only wish that we could see more of this Thor on screen, but given that the multiverse is now a thing in the MCU…who knows? I won’t complain if we get to see the Mighty Thor again.

Then there’s Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. Actually let me back up for a moment: the bulk of this movie adapts the God Butcher storyline where Gorr is on a mad quest to kill all the gods and I do mean ALL of them, spurred on after he loses his only daughter and discovers his own gods don’t care about him. The film only loosely adapts Gorr’s story to the film, with some notable changes being made (particularly with Gorr’s ultimate fate) but I found that I liked these changes as the film fully explains them and makes it work in the context of the story. They’re not changing things on a whim, and in the end I found Gorr’s character arc to be immensely satisfying.

But before we got to that end….my god….Gorr has to be one of the most terrifying characters ever encountered in the MCU to date. I thought Wanda in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was the scariest thing ever…nope. It’s close but I have to give the nod to Gorr, he’s downright terrifying. Especially when he’s got that Necrosword in hand. The way he handles it….it just made my hair stand up on end. I’m so glad Christian Bale was convinced to take this role, I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than he did.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of the Guardians of the Galaxy than what we got, but I take comfort in the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on the way. And who knows, maybe Vol. 3 will pick up where their appearance in Love and Thunder leaves off.

Battle sequences with Gorr aside, I think my favorite part of Thor: Love and Thunder is Omnipotence City where all the gods of the universe can be found. I was a little unsure about Russell Crowe playing Zeus, but within sixty seconds of Zeus opening his mouth I completely understood and approved of the casting because you quickly learn everything you need to know about this version of the god (none of it good). Now, this is a minor spoiler if you still haven’t seen it, but I’m very excited by the notion that Crowe’s Zeus will be appearing in future MCU films, at least I hope that’s what that one post-credits scene implied. But back to Omnipotence City itself: it was beautifully rendered. It’s like….it’s exactly where you’d imagine all the gods would live if they had a single home to go to, it’s like Mt. Olympus on steroids, etc. The point is, it’s beautiful to look at.

One other quick note: I giggled when the acting troupe from Thor: Ragnarok showed up, acting out a scene from that movie no less. I sincerely hope they continue to be a running gag in future MCU films, not just Thor films either, they’re free to appear in any of them as far as I’m concerned.

And finally, I am thoroughly in love with King Valkyrie. I think this is what will finally push me to go watch Thor: Ragnarok (yes, I know, I’m terrible for not seeing that movie yet), because I know that’s where she first appears and I want to see more of her. Seriously though, Valkyrie is an amazing character and I love pretty much every moment she has in the movie (particularly a few of her moments in Omnipotence City).

I’m not sure where Thor’s story goes from here, but the final credit promised that Thor would return so hopefully sometime soon we’ll see what’s next for the God of Thunder. I really hope that at some point Thor finds out that a version of Loki is still alive, that would be a fun reunion to watch.

Let me know what you think about Thor: Love and Thunder in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Crimes of the Future (2022)

Note: this review was originally published on Patreon

From the moment I heard about Crimes of the Future, I knew this was a movie I needed to see. Consider the following if you will: this is a film by David Cronenberg (he who gave us The Fly), it stars Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, AND it’s in the body horror genre. Put all of that together and I couldn’t possibly stay away from this movie.

And what a movie. David Cronenberg has crafted an amazing story that ultimately led me to question everything I thought I knew about what it means to be human. Although, it does take some time for that picture to become clear. Cronenberg tells the story through several threads that don’t weave together into a single picture until midway through the film. And even then, the ending of the story is still left deliberately ambiguous (though I can take a guess as to what it means, I won’t due to wanting to avoid spoilers).

Let me start at the beginning: Crimes of the Future takes place in what is implied to be the near future, in a time when most humans have ceased to feel any level of pain due to what is implied to be an ongoing evolution in humanity. As a result of no one really feeling pain anymore, increasingly elaborate plastic surgeries have become a fashion trend, and it becomes clear throughout the film that people are going to increasingly greater extremes in order to feel something, anything at all. In the middle of this bizarre and yet frighteningly understandable world is “performance artist” Saul Tenser (Mortensen), whose act consists of having the bizarre organs his body randomly generates cut out by his assistant for an audience.

Woven in with this story is the tragic and seemingly unrelated fate of another character (I’m being deliberately vague because, again, spoilers). But as the story goes on, it becomes clear that it’s all connected, and the implications about where the human species is going is mind-bending. Were I not so much in love with the film as it is, I would almost beg Cronenberg for a follow up on the concept because I want to see more of where he’s going with this.

What really interests me apart from the story itself is the setting. When I read a description of this film and it said it was in the “near future”, I envisioned a world that was slightly sleek and shiny. But instead, Crimes of the Future takes place in a world that literally appears to be falling apart. Analog technology is everywhere, there’s no smart phones that I could see, and everything is dirty and decaying. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say this story is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The only hint that this is in fact the future is the advanced technology used to perform most of Saul’s “performances.” 

Mortensen is amazing as Saul Tenser and I love the chemistry he has with Léa Seydoux, who plays his fellow performance artist. Watching those two interact is one of my favorite parts of the film. The one thing that did disappoint me though was Kristen Stewart, in that I wanted to see more of her in the film. The way the trailer was set up, I thought we were going to see a lot more of her, though I did enjoy the performance she gave.

Despite minor issues, I thoroughly loved Crimes of the Future. It’s a film that will definitely make you think about what it means to be human and where we as a species are going in the future. Is that future good or bad? I feel like Cronenberg definitely leaves the answer to that question up to us viewers. This was the kind of the film where it’s okay to have a less-than-definite ending. 

That’s all I’ve got for Crimes of the Future (I could say more but I don’t want to spoil the entire plot).

Have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Music Room (1958)

Yesterday, for the first time in a while, I sat down and watched a movie from my collection. I’ve actually seen The Music Room before, but I hadn’t blogged about it, so today I decided to change that.

If you’ve never seen Indian cinema, then The Music Room (Jalsaghar) is a pretty good place to start. The film was directed by the legendary Satyajit Ray and was released in 1958. I believe the story is set sometime after India achieved its independence from the British Empire in the late 1940s, a time of great change for millions of people. But for Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas), the main character of the story, all of these things don’t concern him in the least. He’s a zamindar (landlord) from a noble family and he happily spends his days throwing parties and music recitals instead of managing his lands or his dwindling finances.

Biswambhar Roy’s financial difficulties, and indeed his decline throughout the story are set in direct contrast to the rise, well, the attempted rise, of Mahim Ganguli (Gangapada Bose), the son of a moneylender, who works and invests his way into great wealth by the end of the story. It is made painfully obvious that Mahim is attempting to buy his way into the polite society that Biswambhar Roy belongs to, thinking that money alone is all he needs to get in. But what Mahim fails to understand is that, in this society at least, money is not what makes one noble, but rather one’s background. That’s why, despite eventually being left with no money, Biswambhar Roy still receives more respect from the locals than Mahim can ever dream of getting.

However, don’t think that this is only a story about Mahim Ganguli rising where Biswambhar Roy falls. While that is a significant side plot, the crux of the story is with Roy and the end of life as he knows it. As I said at the beginning, Biswambhar Roy is obsessed with giving music recitals, indeed he’s obsessed with music in general (even his wife comments on it). And it’s this obsession that leads to the downfall of the family. Even though Biswambhar Roy is cautioned that the money is running out, the zamindar is determined to prove that he can still provide the entertainments traditionally expected of men of his status, especially if it shows up upstarts like Mahim Ganguli. This he does….but with tragic consequences that bring Roy’s world crashing down upon him in a scene of pure heartbreak.

Speaking of music, part of what makes The Music Room so notable is that the film highlights Indian music and Indian dance and incorporates both into the story. We are treated to several vocal performances from some of India’s greatest musicians of the time (I particularly highlight Begum Akhtar’s performance as the singer in the film’s first music sequence). The Music Room was the first film to do this and I feel it captures a perfect snapshot of Indian music and dance from that era. Indeed, if I ever found myself teaching a music class again, when the time came to discuss world music I would have my students watch this film because it highlights so much of Indian music so well.

Ultimately, The Music Room is a tragedy of the highest order. No matter how much Biswambhar Roy wishes it, the glory days of his family will never return and watching this man lose everything is a heartbreaking experience that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Let me know what you think about The Music Room in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Men (2022)

*Note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon in May

*minor spoilers below*

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. After seeing over ten movies in theaters (so far) this year, I’ve finally seen a movie that completely disappointed me and that is Alex Garland’s Men

What really hurts about this is I was genuinely excited, if slightly nervous, about seeing this movie. I’ve been a fan of Garland’s directorial work since his debut with Ex Machina. I also saw Annihilation in theaters and I liked that film quite a bit (though Ex Machina remains his best work). Based on that history, it seemed reasonable to assume that I would enjoy Men to some degree as well.

Well….that didn’t happen.

The biggest issue is, I sat through the entire movie and I still can’t tell you what Men is supposed to be about. This didn’t bother me for most of the runtime, because I figured a last act twist was coming that would explain everything. Well, there were some last act twists all right, but they did absolutely nothing to explain what the BLEEP was going on in that movie. I don’t mind when movies don’t completely spell everything out for you (Garland’s first film Ex Machina is a prime example) but Men doesn’t come close to explaining what is happening or why.

An equally grievous fault is that Men is trying way too hard to be clever about its subject matter (whatever that is). It’s almost like Garland thought that by filling the movie with lewd, disgusting men who are *minor spoiler alert* ultimately defeated by a woman, that he would find a receptive audience. But, if anything, the male characters in this film were a complete turnoff for me. Perhaps if Garland had done a better job explaining what was going on in the story, it might have been more palatable. But as it is, we were subjected to a litany of offensive comments that at times had the audience commenting out loud about how offensive they were (especially when the priest character tried to justify the spousal abuse that the main character suffered). That moment disgusted me and in hindsight I probably should’ve walked out at that point.

For a time, it almost seemed like the film had an interesting premise going. It seemed to me that our heroine was encountering the manifestation of an ancient pagan god (depicted on an ancient basin used as a baptismal font in the village church) who was interested in acquiring a mate because, well, that’s what fertility gods do. But then, as I alluded to earlier, there was a last act twist that not only blew that theory to ribbons, it also completely confused me because it seemed to come completely out of left field.

I will say this much for the film: Rory Kinnear puts on the performance of a lifetime in this movie. I lost count of all the characters he played, but there’s such a wide variety it’s stunning to think that he pulled them all off himself. I also enjoyed Jesse Buckley’s performance as Harper, especially in the latter half of the film when the action starts ramping up.

The only other detail of this film that I thoroughly enjoyed was the music. As with Garland’s previous films, the music was composed by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow and it is superbly done. Indeed, had the music been not so good I don’t think I could’ve made it through the film.

I can’t in good conscience recommend going to see Men. It was overall a complete disappointment for me and it is far from Alex Garland’s best work.

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My Thoughts on: Jurassic World Dominion (2022)

After Jurassic World fell flat with me, I swore I would stay far away from the franchise, a decision that felt justified when Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom didn’t do all that great. And when Jurassic World: Dominion was announced, I didn’t feel particularly inclined to check the film out. But then I saw the news that Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern were reprising their roles as Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Ellie Sattler and I realized I couldn’t stay away this time.

Even though I hadn’t seen Fallen Kingdom, I simply had to see what happened when the heroes of the original Jurassic Park met up with the protagonists of Jurassic World. The result was completely and utterly glorious. I’m not sure what people are so upset about, I had a complete ball watching this movie.

Jurassic World: Dominion is set several years after the events of Fallen Kingdom and sees Owen and Claire raising Maisie off the grid, having formed a loving, if dysfunctional, family unit. At the same time, the world is trying to come to grips with the reality of humans living side by side with dinosaurs. Their lives are upended when Maisie, as well as Blue’s baby are both kidnapped, forcing our heroes to go on a continent hopping journey to get them both back. Meanwhile, Dr. Ellie Sattler is pursuing her own investigation, one that will eventually lead her to cross paths not only with Ian and Dr. Grant, but also Owen and Claire.

One of my favorite things about this movie is the sheer volume of Easter eggs scattered throughout the film. If you’ve seen all of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movies, then you will see call-backs and references everywhere, some bigger than others. There’s even, to my surprise, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to The Lost World that I didn’t even realize I’d seen until I checked the trivia for the movie. I like all of these callbacks though because it really made this movie feel like the grand conclusion to an epic, if occasionally flawed, saga. Honestly, if they made no more Jurassic World movies, I’d be happy with this being the final entry.

The one criticism of this movie I do agree with has to do with the film’s ultimate antagonist. And the reason I agree with this criticism is because it’s not the dinosaurs that are the big problem, which is what all the trailers led us to believe. No, it turns out the problem is something ELSE that humans created. Now, while I thoroughly believed this other thing was a viable threat, the fact is, if you watch a Jurassic World movie, you’re watching for the dinosaurs, bugs just aren’t going to cut it. I’m also really not a fan of when trailers make it seem that Thing A will be the big threat, only to introduce Thing B out of nowhere once you actually go to see the movie.

Back to what I loved about this movie: another thing I loved was the film’s frequent, and I mean FREQUENT citing of Jurassic Park’s iconic theme as created by John Williams. Just like the “Superman March” has a way of turning up in any story about Superman (excluding Man of Steel), it feels like an absolute requirement for the Jurassic Park theme to show up at some point and Michael Giacchino quotes this theme to great effect throughout the story.

I also, minor spoiler alert here, like how the action is more global in this film. Usually the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World films are largely confined to one specific area outside of the prologue or epilogue. This film though, moves through the United States, Malta, and Italy and it was a really nice change of pace for the story.

I also want to say that I really enjoyed how the various dinosaurs are realized throughout the film. They’ve come a long way since the original Jurassic Park. In line with how our understanding of dinosaurs has changed, we see many feathered dinosaurs throughout the story, though thankfully Rexy (the T-Rex from the original movie, yes she’s in this movie too) retains her original appearance. What I really liked is how not all of the dinosaurs are CGI, there are clearly animatronics being used in several places, though I don’t mean that as a criticism as they’re very well done. I just mean that it’s nice to see the movie used practical effects at times instead of digitally creating everything.

All of this is to say that I really enjoyed Jurassic World: Dominion, which was quite a pleasant experience for me as I really didn’t think I was going to when I went to the movie theater. This was a great way to tie the entire story together and I think if you give this film a chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Let me know what you think about Jurassic World: Dominion in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: The Bad Guys (2022)

*note: this review was originally published for subscribers on Patreon

If you’ve followed my writing for any length of time than you know I am a sucker for most animated films (with minor exceptions). Therefore, when I saw the trailer for The Bad Guys, I knew I had to check it out because it looked really cute.

And you know what? It is!!

The Bad Guys is one of my most favorite types of films to see in theaters: a cute family-friendly film that doesn’t require too much thought to understand and enjoy. The story is relatively simple: The Bad Guys are a criminal gang made up of a bunch of stereotypically “evil” animals: Mr. Snake, Ms. Tarantula (“Webs”), Mr. Shark, Mr. Pirahna and their leader the Big Bad Wolf. They pull heists all around the city with ease and seem to have it made….until Mr. Wolf decides to pull one last job that changes everything. Consequently, Mr. Wolf realizes that maybe he doesn’t want to be a “bad guy” for the rest of his life.

Despite being made for kids, there’s a great lesson to be learned in this movie. It’s a fairly obvious lesson: the movie practically screams “Don’t judge by outward appearances” for almost the entire length of the story but it’s a good lesson so I don’t really mind.

Actually, what really impresses me about this movie is the twist it manages to pull off. Fairly early in the story it’s obvious that a twist is coming. After all, since the Bad Guys are shown to be…well, not that bad, it made sense that someone or something else was going to be the big villain of the story. I *thought* I had the twist pegged. but boy was I proven wrong. What’s more, the actual villain of the story is kinda scary once they reveal themselves. Okay, maybe not really scary but….certainly demented.

Of all the members of The Bad Guys gang, I think I liked Ms. Tarantula, also referred to as Webs the best (and not just because she’s the only female member of the gang). She’s a really cool character (she’s a computer hacker) and I just really like her.

There’s not too much more to say about The Bad Guys. The animation is solid, the twists were only somewhat predictable, and there was actually a decent sized opening for a sequel that I wouldn’t mind seeing. 

If you get a chance to see The Bad Guys, I highly recommend it. It’s a fun little movie and a great way to relax for a little while.

That’s all I’ve got about The Bad Guys. Have you seen the film? Did you like it? Let me know what you thought in the comments below and have a great day!

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