“Security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has twenty-four personalities.”
I remember when Unbreakable came out in 2000, a year after The Sixth Sense. I was excited to see what M. Night Shyamalan‘s second installment was going to deliver. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the revelation that this mysterious drama was merely about uninteresting comic book-like super humans. A lot of people I know loved this movie, and I even watched it again to see if it was just me…and nah. I still felt the same way almost 13 years later.
Fast forward 16 years and I go to see Split, another M. Night movie. Other than James McAvoy’s spectacular performance playing multiple personalities, I found it to be a very average film. It failed to make me care for the victims who were bland and unbelievable, and just like Unbreakable, it seemed like everyone else loved it. I don’t know why. The twist in this film was that it was connected to Unbreakable and all of a sudden, a franchise we weren’t expecting (or asked for) was about to unfold.
Now it’s 2019 and the 3rd installment of a trilogy we didn’t even know existed until the end of its 2nd second installment has hit theaters and well…expectations are not high. Honestly, I didn’t hate the first two movies, but I didn’t care for them enough to look forward to this one.
Once again, James McAvoy delivered a great performance carrying the weight of multiple personas in the mind of the character, Kevin Wendell Crumb. That’s about it. Bruce Willis feels like he’s given up on acting in his last few films, and Samuel L. Jackson spent most the movie just staring at the camera.
The story didn’t gain much momentum specifically because you know what to expect from these characters and nothing new was brought to the table. It’s evident that M. Night really believe’s that people would care about this world he developed like we care about the MCU, but the problem is that NO ONE ASKED FOR THIS.
The finale of the film was particularly embarrassing because he was trying to make it EPIC with horns blaring like the end of The Dark Knight, but it just ends with uncaring disappointment.
The movie couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a respectable character study drama or a superhero movie and M. Night decided to just mash them together into an unbalance mess of tones. It left me feeling like this was an egomaniacs attempt to say he can create a shared universe and shove it down our throats whether we liked it or not.
Overall Grade: C-
Listen, I don’t hate the movie. I’m not even disappointed in it. My expectations were low and it met those expectations. I think we just need to stop expecting great things from M. Night because when we do, it usually turns out crappy.
Bonus Material: I think we’ve come too far along in Hollywood for the prosthetics on Mr. Glass’s mom’s face to look so damn fake!
The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right
Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.
Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.
Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.
Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.
At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.
The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.
Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again
Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.
Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.
You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.
Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.
Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.
No villain in comic book history has been more praised, dissected, and interpreted than the Joker. His enigmatic past has given several authors opportunity to give their take on his origins, yet never stapling him down to any legitimate background. This film is another folklore to add to the potential rise of a mad man.
If you’re expecting a superhero movie, you have definitely come to the wrong place. This film is a character study of a man suffering from trauma, abuse, and mental illness. It relates less to the Batman comics and more to a blend of Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver & King of Comedy which ironically both star Robert De Niro. It dives deep into the descent of a delusional man pushed to his absolute limits as he begins to find his ultimate self in the bowels of a maddening society.
Joaquin Phoenix was spectacular in the role, embodying the look and characteristics of the villain we are all familiar with, yet adding a twisted perspective that humanizes his actions and roots it in many forms of anguish. His body twisting in macabre movements added to a tone which conflicted its viewer between rooting for him or slowly separating ourselves from his bizarre antics.
The environment of the movie is perfect for this character: New York City in the early 80’s, which is how we’ve been conditioned to stereotype Gotham. It’s dirty, dreadful, ugly, and cultivated all the elements needed to allow sickness to thrive.
The supporting cast added value to the movie without standing out more than Joaquin, who is impossible to outshine.
Only two big flaws I found with the movie:
1. It was very slow-paced. Just surpassing two hours it felt like it dragged during certain scenes and some tighter editing could’ve cured some of that.
2. I would’ve love to have seen more of the clown make-up. Even though Arthur Fleck was interesting on his own, there was a certain level of superhuman strength he dawned with the clown paint. He was evil, he was scary, and inhuman, and that would’ve been just as intriguing to observe.
Other than that. It was a pretty solid movie.
Overall Grade: B+
Joker was more fascinating than I anticipated, and strikes a good balance between comedy and tragedy. I recommend it to anyone that is happy cringing through some really foul human behavior.