The Gentlemen and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films
Directed by Guy Ritchie
So hey! Now that we’re talked about our collective complicated relationship with Michael Bay, we might as well get to Guy Ritchie as well! I actually haven’t seen most of his movies, even the ones that everyone else seems to like (no, I haven’t seen Snatch) but the general consensus is well known and can be seen even in the few films I’ve sat through; an over reliance of style over substance which coupled with the wrong material is utterly disastrous. He SOMEHOW didn’t crash and burn with Aladdin even if that isn’t a great movie, but King Arthur was an absolute garbage fire of a movie; one that I’m sure we’ll all have fun laughing about for years to come. Then again, his adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a surprising fun little ride, and with him returning to his comfort zone for this movie maybe he’ll get back into the groove of things and give us something truly enjoyable once again! Can Guy Ritchie still knock it out of the park when he’s doing the one thing we know he’s good at? Let’s find out!!
Told to us by way of Fletcher the journalist (Hugh Grant), Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is the biggest grower and distributor of marijuana in the UK, and despite being so successful and sacrificing so much to keep his business afloat, well he’s approaching that age where there are more important things and so he decides it’s time to sell it. His buyer to be is the much more respectable Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) who will need to pay a pretty penny for it as that kind of infrastructure will be primed to make BILLIONS once pot is legalized in the UK, but as it turns out there’s someone else vying for a chance to get it from Mickey; namely the Chinese-British gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) who’s uncle George (Tom Wu) basically controls all the other drugs in the country. Mickey isn’t planning on selling to anyone else though and politely tells him to shove it which was probably the right move to make but still ends up causing headache for Mickey and his crew including his right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) who coincidently is the person that Fletcher is telling this story to. Kind of seems odd that he’s telling Raymond about things that he was already there for, but Fletcher assures him that there’s a twist to this story that he won’t see coming and is one that he’s certain Raymond and Mickey will be more than willing to pay twenty MILLION dollars to find out. With so much at stake, what will Mickey do (or perhaps have already done given the framing device) to keep his empire from crumbling right before the big sale? What could Fletcher possibly have that Raymond and Mickey don’t already know, and is it really worth as much as he says it is? Will this be the redemption of both Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie after that disastrous King Arthur movie!?
It’s not always easy to look past a REALLY blatant issue in a movie to see everything else that’s great about it, but this might be a case where that effort is warranted. It’s such an oddly paced and weirdly structured film that about an hour into the movie I legitimately thought we were still in the first act, and yet almost every individual scene works in its own isolated little bubble. It’s almost like a sketch comedy movie, like if Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s framing device was a guy reading the book out of order, and if you can look past how bizarrely this whole thing is paced (and a few moments where the crudeness and violence sail right past good taste) then you’ll find a really fun and interesting gangster film here. If only Guy Ritchie wouldn’t get in his own way the whole time, then we could have had something great, but at least he’s back in his element and isn’t trying to turn King Arthur into… I don’t even know; Robin Hood crossed with Dragon Ball Z and Dark Souls? Now that I think about it that does sound amazing, but trust me; he DID indeed find a way to screw that up.
Alright everyone! Now that we’ve had our fun with the GOOD list, it’s time to put on some work pants as we start wading through the unimaginable dreck that was yet another “fun” aspect of the abysmal year that we all had to suffer through. You know what though? Most of us made it through to the other side, so if looking back at the year that couldn’t beat us and having a laugh (or one last bitter tirade) at the pathetic excuses for entertainment that made daily life just a little bit worse, well I think we all deserved it, don’t you?
Anyway, let’s not beat around the bush any longer! WE’RE DIVING RIGHT IN!!
Dishonorable Mentions: Death Note & Bright
Since I didn’t even bother trying to watch another Adam Sandler movie this year, this dubious distinction goes to two OTHER Netflix features; albeit it for very different reasons. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t particularly mind either of these films as I think they had some good ideas buried within their mediocre (and cheap looking) execution with Death Note having an interestingly different take on its main character (a whiny little punk with issues of inadequacy instead a megalomaniacal genius) and Bright having an ALRIGHT set up for what is essentially a weaker version of 16 Blocks. That said… yeah, these films are REALLY flawed and in glaringly offensive ways. As much as I like the idea of taking some of the pomp and circumstance out of Death Note and reframing Light Yagami to be a less foreboding figure, I don’t see why that necessitated him to be white since they never play with that change in his identity within the text of the film. There could have been a component of White Privilege to the story (especially with L being black), but that seems to have never been the intent on the part of the filmmakers who simply seemed to associate AMERICAN REMAKE with WHITE AS DEFAULT. Similarly, the half-baked and ham fisted social commentary in the script for Bright creates one of the most cringe inducing screenplays of the year which has Orcs standing in for Black People in a world that still has Black People, and it even finds an excuse to get Will Smith to say “Fairy Lives Don’t Matter” before beating said fairy to death. Sure, the movie picks up once it gets away from its proudly ignorant views on race and becomes a straight up chase film with Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (who’s under a decent enough make up job), but that’s hardly enough to excuse everything that it gets wrong in the process. Now I don’t want this to come across as Netflix bashing because they DO put out quite a bit of decent content as I’ve heard good things about First They Killed My Father, Beast of No Nation, even The Babysitter, and while it wasn’t my favorite King Adaptation this year I thought Gerald’s Game was pretty good too. That said, they’ve had quite a few stumbles over the years, pretty much starting with their awful Adam Sandler deal, and these two movies are just further examples of their awkward steps towards becoming a media empire of their own; something they’ll need to keep working on now that Disney is gonna own everything else in the world and will eventually come out with their own streaming service to try and crush them. If Netflix wants a chance to survive the Disney/Fox merger, they’ll need to avoid having clunkers like this clogging up their service.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Guy Ritchie
I don’t know about you, but the definitive King Arthur movie was already made by Monty Python in 1975, so unless Charlie Hunnam is gonna be fetching shrubberies for the Knights who say Ni I’m gonna have a hard time taking this movie seriously! Okay, so clearly we’re not gonna get a movie as good as Holy Grail (which admittedly is an impossibly high bar to set), but I did like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. well enough which was Ritchie’s last film, and while I never got around to seeing the Sherlock Holmes movies I hear they’re solid as big budgeted adaptations that favors style over substance, even if they did get overshadowed by the BBC show once that became a hit. The point is, we haven’t had a good King Arthur movie in quite a while and Ritchie is usually reliably competent with this kind of bigger than life myth making material, so maybe he’ll have a chance of clearing that very low bar set by the likes of Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur movie and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court. Can this movie manage to at least be better than those? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins long before Arthur becomes king; namely when his dad Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) was ruling shit and killing dark wizards! It’s just too bad that the guy had to have a brother because as we all know, the only purpose they serve in medieval stories is to kill the current king and assume the throne! That’s just what Vortigern (Jude Law) does here, but little Arthur just barely manages to escape after being drifted down a river on a small boat (I think we’re mixing our mythologies here). He’s found in a nearby village, grows up in a brothel, and turns into Sexy Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) who for some reason has no idea that he’s ACTUALLY the rightful king of… wherever the heck they are. They keep referring to it is as Londinum, so I guess it’ll become Camelot in the sequel. ANYWAY! You can’t keep a hero from fulfilling his destiny, and he manages to pull the sword from the stone (similar to how Link pulls the Master Sword out of the Temple of Time) which gets everyone under Vortigern’s thumb hunting his chiseled ass down so they can finally kill the Born King once and for all! Along the way, Arthur teams up with a mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) who is NOT Merlin but close enough, Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) who replaces Terry Jones’s mustache with a goatee, and several others; some of whom are from the original stories and other who are clearly not. Can this rag tag group of Merry Men… I mean Honorable Knights, take down the deceitful king once and for all? Will Arthur face his responsibilities and destiny with grace and composure, or will he first have to run away from them like any good Joseph Campbell hero? Did anyone proof read this script before shooting it, or was everyone on board with the giant elephants, anachronistic dialogue, and the random excursion to Monster Island?
Crimson Peak and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Well at least SOMEONE decided to release a horror movie in October! Seriously, why don’t we get horror movies during Spooky Month anymore? Is it too obvious or something? Well NOTHING’S too obvious for good old Guillermo Del Toro who’s bringing us a good old late Victorian era Haunted House feature that might as well come straight from Hammer Studios! Can his Spook House thriller bring some life back to the genre which has been surviving off of found footage scraps for years now, or is he going to indulge way too much in what he loves to see to the point that he ends up only appealing to a niche audience with his big budget feature? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring writer of ghost stories who’s having trouble getting her magnum opus published. Despite being the daughter of a rather wealthy contractor in New York city with plenty of connections, no one seems interested in selling a ghost story written by a female and would rather have her write some tween love story. I guess ghosts are next on the list for Twilight-ification (if they haven’t been already) but Edith is not willing to compromise on her vision, especially because it comes from a very personal place. Edith’s mother died when she was fairly young and a couple of days later she was visited by her ghosts. Now it doesn’t seem like Edith has seen a ghost since then, but that night has stuck with her since then, especially considering that her Ghost Mom could see the future and warned her to be wary of CRIMSON PEAK!! While struggling with this, her father is visited by a British Baronet named Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) who’s trying to get her father to invest in his clay extraction machine while also getting moon eyes for the lovely Edith. He’s not alone on his journey however and has come to America with his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) but all she seems interested in is standing off to the side and giving off bad vibes. This doesn’t deter the budding romance between Edith and Thomas however and after some horrifying event befalls the young Edith, she leaves the United States and is whisked away by her knight in shining armor to be his bride. Once at the family home though, it’s clear that there’s MUCH more going on than Thomas led on during their courtship which I think was about a month. What secrets does the rickety manor have that Thomas and Lucille are trying to hide? Will Edith’s power to see ghosts come in handy or be a curse that slowly drives her mad? If we can’t have Silent Hills, is this at least a decent replacement!?