Movie Review Weekly Roundup: January 16 – January 22, 2022

Revenge (2017) is directed by Coralie Fargeat and stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz.

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.

Aquaman (2018)

DIRECTOR: James Wan.
WRITERS: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall (screenplay), Geoff Johns (story).
GENRES: Action, Adventure, Fantasy.
LENGTH: 2h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English, Russian, Maori, Italian.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2022.

Aquaman is a plot-driven movie. The characters serve the purpose very well. Am I watching a video game sequence or a movie? It is difficult to tell with the constant movement of the camera position during every action scene. I enjoy the earlier works from director James Wan. I did not enjoy this superhero movie as much.

Miss Bala (2019)

DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke.
WRITERS: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer.
GENRES: Action, Crime, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 44min.
LANGUAGE: English, Spanish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 17, 2022.

I would like to be supportive of women filmmakers by going to the movie theater and spending money on an admission ticket. Miss Bala is directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Her previous films include Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. Those two movies are entertaining and well-made. This movie is a disappointment in comparison.

Brightburn (2019)

DIRECTOR: David Yarovesky.
WRITERS: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 30min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 18, 2022.

Isn’t there a What If comic book issue of Superman published for this scenario? It is thinly disguised as an origin story of an evil Superman. It takes place in a small town in the state of Kansas upon a ranch owned by a childless couple. The positive side of the movie is the wonderful production value they put into making it. But just too bad it feels like a feature-length adaptation of a limited-run What If comic book series.

Aladdin (2019)

DIRECTOR: Guy Ritchie.
WRITERS: John August, Guy Ritchie.
GENRES: Adventure, Comedy, Family.
LENGTH: 2h 8min.
LANGUAGE: English, Arabic.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: January 19, 2022.

It seems like more than half of this live-action remake is CGI-animated. So, does it still qualify as live-action? Several of the shots with Aladdin doing his parkour training across the rooftops is physically inhuman and could only have been digitally enhanced. Plus, there are quite a few shots that were clearly sped up to match the timing with the beats and cues of the music. There are several moments of this “cheat” from a lot of the dancing sequences.

Midsommar (2019)

DIRECTOR: Ari Aster.
WRITERS: Ari Aster.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 2h 28min.
LANGUAGE: English, Swedish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: January 20, 2022.

I want to love this movie. I wish I could like it. But I could not fall in love with any of the characters nor with their stories. Most all of the main characters, except for Dani and Josh, are hallow shells of humanity. Dani’s story arc is a sad trip into a psychological meltdown. Her boyfriend, Christian, is completely shallow. He is an endless supply of narcissism and selfishness. He holds very little interest in other people. His college buddy Josh is the only other character to have a well-rounded personality. But Josh suffers at the hands of being a plot point to move the story along. I was coming into my initial viewing of this movie after seeing Ari Aster’s previous film, which I enjoyed. I had high expectations for this one. But it seems they were placed too high.

Revenge (2017)

DIRECTOR: Coralie Fargeat.
WRITERS: Coralie Fargeat.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 48min.
LANGUAGE: French, English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 21, 2022.

Overall, the movie is an entertaining revenge story. I think the motivational plot point to kickstart her rage and anger against the bad guys should have been altered to a variety of other alternatives besides a sexual assault. Raped by a socially inept guy who thought he deserved some action from a woman just because she was dancing provocatively by the swimming pool the night before. Beyond this one story element that had me wondering why it was chosen instead of alternatives, the rest of the movie was horrifically fun.

Parasite (2019)

DIRECTOR: Bong Joon Ho.
WRITERS: Bong Joon Ho, Jin-won Han.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Thriller, Comedy.
LENGTH: 2h 12min.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★★ | WATCHED: January 22, 2022.

Bong Joon-ho keeps stepping up his game with every movie he directs: The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013), Okja (2017). And now the Palme d’Or winning movie: Parasite (2019). This movie contains wonderful pacing. It is a slow cooker with an explosive face-off in the final act. The humor scattered throughout the story is a perfect way to ease the tension before the characters cannot stand it anymore.

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