Friday, December 24, 2021

Black Widow (2021) directed by Cate Shortland


The long awaited solo Black Widow finally arrives this past year and while it's a fun film to watch with some nice performances by Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, it's sort of too little too late for it to make a big impression. 

The story takes place between other Marvel movies, obviously before Black Widow dies in Endgame and involves her finding her lost sister and reconnecting with the rest of her "family who were really just Russian agent from a shadowy secret group training girls from childhood to be "black widow" assassins. Shenanigans ensue and the characters are lively and fun to watch with nice action set pieces and some ridiculous scenarios... how long would a giant floating fortress take to fall to the ground? Hours apparently! None of that gets in the way enjoying the action and it move along fast and furious with Shortland's excellent direction. 

It's pretty good fro a project that was in development hell for so long but it does suffer from a little too much Marvel in universe referencing and doesn't set itself apart from a typical superhero movie except in one area. The main characters are not really all that super. The two woman leads are highly trained assassins and much of what happens is more like a Bond film than anything else plot wise and that was much appreciated. If this had been  released 10 years earlier it would have had a much larger impact and being released now takes that thunder away. It simply isn't needed and adds very little to the Marvel universe or what we need to know about Black Widow in the end. 

Enjoyable, yes. A much watch? Sadly,  no. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

La guerre des tuques (1984) Directed by André Melançon

Well this is one NOT to watch.
SPOILERS but read anyway! 

Yes I know this is holiday classic, beloved by all of Québec. A light romp, growing up story of a snow fight "war" between children around a huge snow castle/fort. I understand fully that is a commentary on actual war using the children as proxies. Whatever. 

The filmmaking's below par, it has many elements I can't stomach like "funny" music to tell you when things are funny and the images overall are sort of muddy. This can be excused, many films are not beloved because of their stunning cinematography, etc. but because they represent a time or a place in the lives of people having lived through similar times and places. How and when you saw the film can make a big difference in how it affects you and how you think about it late in life. 

At the end of the "war" part of the snow fort collapses, killing the much loved dog of one of the main characters. The two sides stop fighting and bury the dog... then fun happy music and funny shots from the film are played over the credits - like nothing TERRIBLE happens at all. War metaphors aside, I don't think this film is great for young children, especially those with pets. The dog is crushed and suffocated to death because of the actions of horrible, selfish children. Anti-war point made - cue the goofy happy music! 

There was a cartoon version remake in 2016 which does try and handle the subject better, but still kills the dog in the end so there's that. 

The cavalier way the dog's death is handled and the all is well now the "war" is over really rubs me the wrong way as if you couldn't tell.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 2021 directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

 At the start of this films mother bestows a special pendent to her children as she puts the pendent around her son's neck, I said out loud to my brother also watching the film: "One day you wake up wearing this pendent totally hot looking and shirtless". And that is exactly what happened. This is not to say that this was any more predictable than other Marvel films, it isn't and it has plenty of nice touches that puts it apart from the growing library of superhero movies already produced. Not far apart, but enough to make it a pleasant watch. The leads are good and the supporting cast ids even better. Michelle Yeoh is in it and that alone makes it worth watching. 

The story is more complicated than some action movies and covers a long expanse of time as the Xu Wendy discovers 10 rings that give him power and immortality which leads him to conquering and exploiting the world until he falls in love and give it up. He is the father of the two children I mentioned with the pendants and he returns to his powerful rings and habits after his wife is killed by criminals seeking revenge on him for his past deeds, The son is taught to be a tough fighter while the daughter is ignored but teaches herself to fight and be ruthless. The son finally runs away from his family and leads a fairly normal life until he is attacked for his pendants the story really begins. Great fight scenes and action pieces ensue and they are certainly fun to watch. He does this all with the help of his quirky best friend Katy and the actress, Awkwafina, is really good in the role. The two end up on and dangerous adventure where family secrets are revealed and a secret magical land is discovered. The two leads do not become romantically entangled, no one does and for that alone makes this a stand out movie for avoiding all those tired tropes. It's nice to see friendship shown so strongly in any film. 

There is, of course, the fight between good and evil forces which doesn't always work or make complete sense but it's entertaining and the supporting cast brings it all to life. I would love to see what Disney and marvel does to include these characters in their universe.