Movie Review Weekly Roundup: April 25 – May 1, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) directed by Adam Wingard and starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, and Rebecca Hall.

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.

Mortal Kombat (2021)

DIRECTOR: Simon McQuoid.
WRITERS: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham, Oren Uziel (story).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Adventure, Fantasy.
LENGTH: 1h 50min.
LANGUAGE: English, Japanese, Chinese.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or HBO Max.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: April 26, 2021.

It is a movie adaptation of a graphically violent video game. The viewer should intentionally go in with low expectations about its story but anticipate a heavy amount of blood and guts to splatter everywhere. The violence is on par with a horror movie, and it leaves very little to the viewer’s imagination. From a broad perspective, I liked the movie. It knows where the game has drawn a line in the sand, and the movie went toe to toe with it; no holds barred. The climactic fight scenes between all the characters in the final act seem a bit too much intercutting back and forth at a high pace that I could not keep up for a moment or two.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

DIRECTOR: Adam Wingard.
WRITERS: Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein.
GENRES: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 53min.
LANGUAGE: English, American Sign Language.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or HBO Max.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: April 30, 2021.

Visually amazing to watch from start to finish, but the movie holds very little substance with the story. It is merely a hollowed tentpole to support the wonderfully crafted computer-generated visual effects. The expository scenes only exist to connect one action scene with another. It is supposed to be a part of an ongoing multi-part movie universe, but only a small handful of the human characters are pulled from one of the other movies. Even with their appearance in this film, it does not feel like they are contributing anything of value. I guess it might be a good time to go back and watch Kong: Skull Island again. That movie feels like it had more substance with its story while also being visually stunning.

Next of Kin (1982)

DIRECTOR: Tony Williams.
WRITERS: Tony Williams, Michael Heath.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 29min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: April 30, 2021.

Boy, what a surprising little gem of a horror movie! The movie seems like a mystery story with a sprinkle of a horror story in its first half. The terror does not really begin until Linda begins to experience firsthand the haunting events described in her deceased mother’s diary. I found the story highly entertaining and captivating. It is definitely worth picking up a copy to own so I can re-watch it again later on.

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

DIRECTOR: Kevin Lewis.
WRITERS: G.O. Parsons.
MPAA RATING: TV-MA – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Comedy, Horror.
LENGTH: 1h 29min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: May 1, 2021.

I never thought I would see the day when Nicolas Cage engages in foreplay with a pinball machine right before kicking the living daylights out of a group of nightmarish versions of the robots from the ShowBiz Pizza Place and Chuck E. Cheese restaurants. This movie is intentionally bad, and it knows this already. Anyone who watches the movie should already be fully aware of its awful intentions beforehand. I doubt this movie would fair well for anyone suffering from anxiety or might have a panic attack after lighting up a joint during the movie. The biggest takeaway from my viewing of the movie is how much Cage loves pinball machines and soda.

Nomadland (2020)

DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao.
WRITERS: Chloé Zhao (script), Jessica Bruder (book).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 47min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Hulu.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: May 1, 2021.

Chloé Zhao wore so many hats for this movie. I am thrilled about the numerous big-time awards she won for her work on it. She adapted the screenplay, produced and directed it, and then edited it all together during the post-production. The movie is also beautifully shot with as much natural and practical lighting as possible. The entire production and its story are clearly designed to provoke the emotional feeling of reminiscence, nostalgia, and personal reflection. The same feelings a person would experience while flipping through a very personal photo album about one’s own life. The traditional plot structure is stripped down to the bare necessities, if not just completely gutted out. Life does not follow a traditional story arc, but it mostly meanders from one pit stop to another like a collection of moments that are non-linear in nature. These moments do not all directly associate with each other. But they might contain recurring appearances from the same group of people or a swath of emotional sentiments associated with each encapsulated moment. This movie reflects that ideological path of life very well.

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